Ralph Hagen can remember the actual moment he started cartooning as if it were yesterday. Hagen says that he was about four when he saw a cartoon pencil sketch hanging on his grandfather’s porch drawn by a second cousin of his, who eventually grew up to become a commercial artist. The drawing was a rendering of Alfred E. Neuman of MAD Magazine, exclaiming, “What, me worry? “
The young Hagen would cut open paper grocery bags for drawing paper and draw until there wasn’t an inch of space left. In first grade, Hagen would turn over the handouts and draw before he had done the school work on the other side. “Now, why wouldn’t my teacher and her wooden yardstick approve of that?” he kids.
Hagen sold his first cartoon at age 17, and thought, “Cool! People will pay money for these? Bonus!” He was hooked and couldn’t stop cartooning if he tried. Hagen said that if he lost his hands, he would draw with his feet —“those cartoons would just have to come out”.
Hagen has been procartooning since 1976 when he landed a job as editorial cartoonist at his local paper. Hagen also did the color work on the strip, ‘Mudpie’ for renowned artist Guy Gilchrist, of ‘Nancy’ and ‘Muppet Babies’ fame.
Hagen says that he owes Guy Gilchrist many thanks for entrusting him with his panel and all the support Gilchrist gave him over the years. “He truly is one of the best”, says Hagen.
In the early years, ideas and punchlines were harder to come by said Hagen. He really had to work at it. But after 23 years of professional cartooning, Hagen seems to have taught himself a different way of thinking, “one that comes naturally now,” says Hagen, “without effort.” In fact, now he says it’s hard to shut it off.
Currently, Hagen does editorial work for two papers as well as his panel SCREAMS syndicated by DBR Media. He freelances and has been published in hundreds of magazines and papers such as The Saturday Evening Post, The Reader’s Digest and The Birmingham Post Daily.
Hagen has also done illustration work for preschool books as well as assignment work for clients and businesses throughout the US and Canada. Hagen says, “I produce quality work and believe the customer’s needs come first.”
Ralph Hagen lives north of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, with his wife, three kids, two horses and “the odd moose”.
See the hilarious dive cartoons Hagen creates for X-RAY MAG on t-shirts, calendars, posters, mugs and tote bags. Visit X-RAY MAG’s new online store at: cafepress.com/xraymag
For more information about the cartoonist, please visit Ralph Hagen’s own website at: www.hagenstoons.com ■