Cartooning + writing = Rolli


Rolli writes, draws, and drinks a lot of coffee

Those sunglasses though… / Laura Billett

Those sunglasses though… / Laura Billett

With titles like Dr. Franklin’s Staticy Cat, God’s Autobio, Plum Stuff, and most recently, I am Currently Working on a Novel, Rolli boasts a literary resume that speaks to his creativity. As an author and cartoonist, Rolli is an imaginative soul and like any good artist, has some fun quirks that I think you should know: he is a self-proclaimed “crazy cat man” but has one cat only, named Honey; his real name remains a mystery, and he likes it that way; his favourite author is Agatha Christie; he likes wearing sunglasses that have one white rim and one black one; and, he drinks an absurd amount of coffee.

Rolli states, “I start the day with a lot of coffee. I always say when I get up in the morning it’s, ‘One: rise. Two: coffee. Three: shine.’ I drink up to a couple dozen cups of coffee a day.” Yes, you read that correctly. Rolli drinks up to twenty-four cups of coffee a day. Contrary to what one would imagine as a wired and excitable character, he is actually very relaxed and doesn’t look like a sleep-deprived zombie. Coffee is just his muse: the fuel for his creativity.

“[Coffee] gets your ideas going, and I do a lot of brainstorming. Not all the stuff that you come up with when you are drinking that much coffee is good, it’s just like little sparks from your imagination. Some of it’s good stuff, and a lot of it is just random,” says Rolli. “Some of it you don’t even get yourself, but someone else does. You just hope the creativity keeps flowing, and so far it has.”

Rolli is not his given name, but he prefers it, convincing friends, editors, and well, anyone but his family to call him by the pen name. The name originated early in his writing career when he was producing material for kid magazines and has stuck with him.

“It was kid friendly, vibrant, and I just kept it for the adult stuff later on. I slowly transitioned into adult writing,” Rolli explains.

Now, Rolli writes for both adults and children, and creates cartoons for magazines like Readers Digest, Harvard Business Review, and other publications. He has two books being released this fall. I am Currently Working on a Novel, a collection of 75 short stories, is currently available. With so many stories, the book may sound like a daunting anthology that could rival the Norton Anthologies in weight and bulk, but the novel is not thicker than an inch, and the stories are never longer than a few pages. Rolli’s tales are funny, dark, and sometimes confusing, but undoubtedly entertaining.

His second release of the year is Mavor’s Bones, expected to be released next month. The book is a collection of poems that tell of the decay of an aristocratic family, “sort of like the Adam’s Family interpreted by T.S. Elliot,” Rolli explains.

The professional literary scene is tough, however. Even with five published books (and more on the way) and many printed cartoons, Rolli still gets rejections every day.

“[Rejection is] probably 99 per cent of your life if you’re a writer or an artist of any kind. I guess the skin does thicken very, very slowly. I used to get a rejection slip or something and would feel like crying – going under the table and just crying or something. But it slowly passes,” Rolli says. “It doesn’t actually even bother me anymore, as long as I don’t break my record: I had 12 rejections in one day. That was quite a long time ago. As long as I’ve never gotten close to that or past it, you just kind of shrug your shoulders.”

So if you are considering a career in writing, cartooning, or creative creating of any kind, don’t let rejection get you down. Instead, Rolli argues that you should stay stubborn and keep practicing.

“Write a lot. Draw a lot. It takes a long time to get good at anything, and you may never get good at it. But there are a lot of people who are not good at something and they’re still doing it, unfortunately,” Rolli laughs. “Basically, stay stubborn and be prepared to have a day job for quite a long time… People aren’t really going to encourage you because it’s a tough market, and it’s getting tougher.”


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