Lo­cal boys write comics to break up mo­not­o­nous work­day and find In­sta­gram fame

The Goderich Signal-Star - - NEWS - Dar­ryl Coote Ed­i­tor

By day, David Michaels and Eric Nel­son are two well-man­nered, lo­cal blokes with wives and jobs. The for­mer’s a mill­wright ; the lat­ter, a busi­ness owner.

At night, how­ever, this dynamic duo is the comedic minds be­hind Koat Tales, a web tune that has over 7,000 fol­low­ers on In­sta­gram, and grow­ing.

Their comics are sin­gle frame jokes with ei­ther a pun or word­play at the heart of their punch lines.

And their fol­low­ers are from all over the planet, they told The Sig­nal Star in a re­cent in­ter­view.

“That is the amaz­ing thing,” Nel­son said. “Some­body from Aus­tralia could be fol­low­ing us, and they do!”

The two have adopted pen names not only to protect their iden­ti­ties but to keep their car­toons sep­a­rate from their daily lives.

The comics, both agreed, pro­vide some­thing of a respite for the two dur­ing their work­days, which can be mo­not­o­nous at times. They sneak off to the bath­room, brain­storm comics and text mes­sage each other their ideas.

“And it’s funny, when we get to­gether we very rarely talk about the comic. It’s mainly through text mes­sag­ing,” said Michaels. “I kind of like it that way, too. I find when you get an idea if you don’t get it down you’re go­ing to for­get it.”

Nel­son said they are not pre­cious with their ideas ei­ther. Some are go­ing to work; oth­ers won’t. In the end, it’s all about try­ing to make the most co­he­sive and hu­mor­ous car­toon they can, he said.

“I’m more about qual­ity. We got more of them now that we have a base set up so I’d rather be about qual­ity over just crank­ing them out. That’s not to say we’re not to crank out some crappy ones,” said Nel­son.

As of this writ­ing they have 222 car­toons on their In­sta­gram ac­count. And they try to pro­duce a new comic ev­ery week.

Their part­ner­ship -- as well as the germ that would be­come Koat Tales -- goes back over 20 years.

“We were just teenagers at the time,” said Michaels. “And I was just in my room hang­ing out and [ Nel­son] came in, and I had ‘The Far Side Comics,’ and he said ‘Oh, I have an idea for a Far Side comic.’ And I just quickly drew some­thing up,” said Michaels.

It was a sin­gle frame car­toon of a youth hold­ing a cat and a knife while the child’s mother stands be­hind him. The mother says, what are you do­ing? Child replies, I wanted to see how it worked. Cap­tion reads, cu­rios­ity killed the cat.

They both now ad­mit it was pretty mor­bid, but as teenagers they thought it funny. Af­ter the car­toon was fin­ished, Michaels stashed it in his dresser drawer where it sat un­til 2013.

Michaels, who is a na­tive of Dun­gan­non, said, “I’m kind of a pack rat.”

“The stuff in that drawer I would be scared to see,” re­torted Nel­son.

Bored one night and jonesing for some of those so­cial me­dia hits, Michaels rum­maged through his old draw­ings for some­thing to post.

“And I found this one thing and I posted it to Erik say­ing, ‘ Hey, re­mem­ber this?’ And in­stantly it was the most pop­u­lar post I’d ever done. And I kind of went, ‘Oh! Hey, maybe there is some­thing there,’ ”

Grow­ing up, the two were both comic book fans, so when they saw the re­ac­tion to their teenage comic strip, they started text mes­sag­ing each other ideas for new jokes, and be­fore they knew it they had an arse­nal of sev­eral hun­dred, “but prob­a­bly about two good ones,” said Michaels.

“We’ve al­ways been cards,” said Nel­son.

From there, they looked for an artist to pen the draw­ings to no avail. Michaels then went out and bought a tablet and taught him­self to draw.

What fol­lowed, he said, was “a good hellish pe­riod of three of four months” where they pol­ished some of their ideas for pub­li­ca­tion.

They pub­lished their first comic to In­sta­gram on Aug. 17, 2014.

For Michaels, the goal now is to pub­lish.

“It’s kind of funny when you start out you have this lofty ideas and I think the first batch we pitched to some syn­di­cates or what­ever and it was fun. I col­lected all the re­jec­tion let­ters be­cause you learn a lot. So that was al­ways our goal, al­most from the be­gin­ning to work on syndication,” he said.

How­ever, Nel­son sees it dif­fer­ently.

“Maybe [pub­lish­ing’s] his dream. I view it more as an out­let be­cause with our jobs, it is mo­not­o­nous. You can think about some­thing else while at work,” he said.

And it is pos­si­bly the dif­fer­ences in per­spec­tive that they each have that make them a good team, said Nel­son.

“David has al­ways been a lit­tle left of cen­tre, but that’s what I like about him be­cause he thinks out­side of the box. And, I don’t know, I might be a bit more main­stream with my com­edy. You can take his weird­ness and my main­stream and I feel that’s how it works,” said Nel­son.

Michaels agrees, say­ing that they work well to­gether, check­ing each other to make sure the comics stay on point.

“I think it’s the ben­e­fit of hav­ing a part­ner,” he said. “It’s good to get some­one out­side to weigh in on it too. So, we’ll send ideas to each other. Some­times I will draw an en­tire car­toon and send it to him, [and he’ll say] ‘Ah, no. We’re not do­ing that. That’s garbage.’ Or he’ll send mean idea and I’ ll be, ‘Okay, that’s not funny.”

They have al­ways had a good, work­ing re­la­tion­ship, added Michaels, with the two al­ways be­ing able to bounce ideas off one an­other.

“It’s kind of like I toss an idea, he can toss it back to me and it gets a lit­tle fun­nier, a lit­tle fun­nier, a lit­tle fun­nier, and even­tu­ally you get some­thing that, I found, was gen­uinely good,” he said.

To fol­low Nel­son and Michael’s comics, search In­sta­gram­for Koat_Tales.

Cour­tesy Koat Tales

Koat Tales by lo­cal car­toon­ists David Michaels, left, and Eric Nel­son has over 7,000 fol­low­ers on In­sta­gram, and count­ing. Pic­tured here in a draw­ing, the comedic duo want to keep their iden­ti­ties a se­cret as the comic is a way for them to take brief es­capes from their so-called mo­not­o­nous jobs as a mill­wright and a busi­ness owner.

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