With a passion for drawing, dinosaurs and dentistry, Grant Snider pairs words with pictures, and threads a great concept through them both to keep readers on their toes. Introspective, witty and with a train of thought that nudges you along with its logic effortlessly, his comics have a unique and engaging style.
Snider is an illustrator studying orthodontics at the University of Colorado Denver. His use of colour and comfy lettering are both marks of his signature style, as well as his funny, clever, and endearing voice. Tongue-in-cheek, and often with an art, design or a creative theme at their heart, each of his comics makes you feel like you’ve learnt a little more about the world around you.
Some of his art bears quotable idioms: ‘forget what you’ve heard, introverts know how to party’ and ‘your ideal career is non-existent’ are just two of these wisdom-snippets that have lodged themselves in my mind.
We spoke to Snider about stegosaurus, comics and tropical beaches.
What kind of comics were you interested in as a child?
My absolute favorite comic growing up was Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes. I read it in the newspaper every day, but my favorite was Watterson’s first book collection, ‘The Essential Calvin and Hobbes’. In early adolescence I got a hold of ‘The Big Book of Hell’ by Matt Groening, a collection of his strip ‘Life in Hell’. In some ways, ‘Life in Hell’ and Calvin and Hobbes are opposites: Groening’s strip is subversive and occasionally caustic whereas Watterson’s is mostly sweet and endearing. But both are hilarious and above all, truthful.
What superpower do you wish you had?
I was going to say flight. But I think I’d prefer the power to float around aimlessly.
Can you tell me where your first comics were published?
I first submitted a drawing to my college newspaper, The University Daily Kansan, at the end of my sophomore year of undergrad. By junior year, I was drawing a daily cartoon for the paper. Seeing my drawings published was highly addictive.
How do you get your ideas?
I keep a sketchbook for life drawing and unformed thoughts, and I also keep a couple other scrap piles of pieces of writing for future use. Most of my good ideas involve revisiting, reworking and expanding a scribbled idea in my sketchbook. Once I settle on an idea to work into a full comic or illustration, it’s a fairly painstaking process of layouts, inking, re-inking, and digital coloring.
You’re currently training to be an orthodontist, did you consider taking illustration?
I actually started out in engineering in college, then fell into dentistry and illustration by chance. Illustration and cartooning was a good outlet during the strenuous studying of dental school, then it somehow grew into more of a second career. I think studying illustration would have been fun, but I feel like learning it at my own pace and following my own creative whims was helpful for developing my abilities. Also, it’s nice to make things without getting a good grade in mind.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Asleep on a tropical beach? Actually, I would like to have my student loans paid off and be immersed in exciting, fulfilling creative projects. I’m excited to see what form these projects take – I love the medium of webcomics, I enjoy the challenge of editorial illustration, and I hope to write and illustrate picture books for children and grown-ups alike. If I can balance these pursuits with part-time work as an orthodontist and the full-time demands of helping my wife raise our young family, I’ll call that success.
What breed of dinosaur is your favourite?
I’ll go with my childhood favorite, the stegosaurus. But I think the iguanodon is highly underrated.