Creative Lives Podcast — Alex Norris talks blobby heroes, emotional intelligence and managing popularity

Posted 12 April 2018 Written by Marianne Hanoun

Alex Norris is the cartoonist behind Webcomic Name – a deceptively simple, three-panel comic featuring a blobby pink character, and always ending with the phrase, ‘Oh no’. Since launching in 2016, Alex’s daily web comic boasts over 175,000 followers on Instagram alone, and has spawned a legion of online fans. But it might surprise you to learn that Alex was not traditionally trained, taking an altogether different path to creating comics. He talks to us about what it’s like having your audience as your client, why accessibility is central to his practice, and his planned demise for Webcomic Name and its pink blobby hero. 

Interview by Marianne Hanoun

Alex Norris

Job Title

Comic Artist

Based

London

Education

BA English Literature, University of Bristol (2010-2013)

Previous Employment

Freelance cartoonist (2013-current)
Cartoonist for LINE Webtoon (2015-2018)
Front-of-house at Science Centre, (2014-2015)

Website
Social Media

Growing up with a love of The Beano, and despite early ambitions of becoming a cartoonist, Alex went on to study English Literature at Bristol University. However, as someone always looking to challenge the status quo, a growing interest in web comics saw Alex step away from the world of high art and literature, to focus on drawing and developing his own characters and stories. 

Landing a deal with South Korean company Webtoons to produce Doris McComics – a series he started at university – Alex was able to build a small yet loyal readership. But when relatable comics picked up pace as a popular new genre, Alex took a U-turn in response, creating Webcomic Name as a parody in 2016. This also meant building a new audience from scratch. 

“There isn’t really a path for being a web comic artist apart from making things.”

Now with a dedicated and growing fanbase, the success of Webcomic Name has become Alex’s most-popular title. But this isn’t something he’s phased by, as he simultaneously manages several other projects in the background. In order to maintain working full-time, Alex’s role is one of many parts – from running an online shop and website to writing books and working on other series. “Your audience is the closest thing you have to a client,” he says, “Your client is [also] your popularity, which can be a dangerous thing. Your sense of validation comes from being popular.” We hear how he went from being paid “£30 to £50” for two weeks’ work, to being able to dedicate himself fully to his own projects. 

A comic from Alex’s Web Comic Name series

A comic from Alex’s Web Comic Name series

Posted 12 April 2018 Written by Marianne Hanoun
Collection: Creative Lives Podcast
Disciplines: Illustration
Mentions: Alex Norris
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