Stephen Notley
is the cartoonist who for more than 20 years has written and drawn the genre-hopping, politically satirical, gonzo fanboy comic strip Bob the Angry Flower about an evil, brilliant, and super-enthusiastic flower named Bob.

Notley got his start in cartooning at the University of Alberta Gateway newspaper where he also became the editor in chief. He went on to a successful career in the Seattle video game studio Pop Cap, but he’s never left cartooning, and has put out numerous Bob the Angry Flower compilation books and appeared at many major conventions including San Diego Comic Con. He has a vast following and counts among his fans no less than Joss Whedon, who also blurbed one of his collections.
In today’s episode, Stephen Notley discusses:

  • The personal significance for him of acclaimed socially satirical cartoonist Keith Knight
  • How San Diego Comic Con used to be before it went corporate
  • His own pre-Bob the Angry Flower superhero satire cartoon strip called The Germ
  • How cartoonists develop their own style and content, and how and why newspaper cartoon syndicates constrain both
  • When mainstream cartoons such as Peanuts and Garfield were groundbreaking
  • How Notley’s personal life influences his cartooning, and
  • How he maintains humour in his political and social commentary without ever becoming preachy.
Full disclosure: Steve Notley is a sponsor of MF GALAXY, and we’ve been friends for over 25 years. During our discussion, Notley names mutual friends and fellow cartoonists including the arts reporter Fish Griwkowsky and the late video game journalist and writer Darren Zenko, after whom the character Darwin Zenko is named in my novel The Coyote Kings.

Stephen Notley
spoke with me via Skype from his workplace in Seattle, Washington on November 20, 2014. The date is noteworthy because it’s just over five months before May 5, 2015, the day of the provincial election in Alberta. Stephen is the son of the late Alberta NDP leader Grant Notley, and the brother of Rachel Notley, the recently-elected and first-ever NDP premier of Alberta. And yes, he’ll talk about his famous family in this interview.

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