Joe Motisi describes himself as a jack-of-all-trades and master at some. He’s held just about every job imaginable, but studied broadcasting and is a former talk radio board operator and producer. Currently, this Chicago native—and current Pittsburgher—convinces people to buy very expensive things for a living. Joe is also a cartoonist which he calls his second full-time job. He runs an online site, Rubber Chicken Noodle Soup, which houses his collection of comic strips.
We recently chatted with Joe to learn more about cartooning, his comic strips, as well as his Italian heritage.
CP: How did you get into the career of a cartoonist?
Joe: Ah, if only it paid all my bills! That is the goal. It is my second full time job. I have drawn cartoons for as long as I can remember. I started off tracing the Peanuts and Garfield and then went on to make my own strip about a cat named Socks (this was Clinton-era America and the president had a cat named Socks) My Grandmother saved all those strips and likes to torment me with them on occasion. I always drew through high school and in life and went on my merry way to trying to find a real job. After having a very early mid-life crisis I decided to attempt stand up comedy and did that for about four years. I stepped away from stand up comedy but still wanted to make people laugh, so I went back to drawing comic strips. It has taken a few years to hone that craft, much like stand up comedy, you have trial and error and work to find your voice, and every day I feel like I am speaking more clearly.
CP: Do you have any role models in the industry?
Joe: I was working an overnight shift at a radio network in Central Point, Oregon and saw a program with Stephan Pastis talking about pursuing his dream. I then decided to pursue my dreams of comedy after that. He is a huge inspiration for me. I really love the art of 1950-1960-ish Peanuts strips, those have influenced how I draw, and I am huge fan of earlier strips like Mutt and Jeff, Nemo in Slumberland, and Pogo.
CP: Tell us about your online site, Rubber Chicken Noodle Soup, as well as some of your strips.
Joe: Rubber Chicken Noodle Soup is a collection of comic strips that I draw. When I launched my website a few months ago, I wanted a place to collect everything that I draw. I mainly use social media as my outlet for content sharing. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are great ways for sharing comic strips to the world out there.
There are a variety of comic strips—some I didn’t keep up with and others I do occasionally. My seven-day-a week comic strip is called “Well I Guess This is Earth…” It is about an alien, a man, and a super intelligent dog. That strip is definitely my main area of focus.
CP: What’s your inspiration for coming up with a story for one of your comic strips?
Joe: Every Sunday I sit down and think of a person, place, or thing. I know the general idea but I don’t know exactly how I am going to twist and turn the story line as I write it. I write the strip with a very stream of conscientious approach. I try to make myself laugh at the completed strip because I do not often get to see or hear people laugh at the cartoon, that, and I’m REALLY INTO MYSELF!
CP: What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of your career?
Joe: I maintain an active roll in reaching out to the fans of my page and those who share my comic strips. The most rewarding part is seeing that someone really enjoyed it and shared it with their friends. I get great messages from people and I’m very happy to entertain and add some joy to people’s lives.
CP: You’re from Chicago. Can you tell us about Chicago’s Little Italy? Is it truly authentic? Any favorite Italian restaurant you like to visit?
Joe: Chicago’s Little Italy is definitely little. I say this because it is close to the University of Illinois campus and has definitely shrunk. The Italians moved out to the suburbs and college students moved in. I had a friend who went to UIC and lived in the building my Grandpa Motisi and his family grew up in. There is still a very nice Italian presence there and there is a great street fest featuring Italian food and customs every summer. Chicago is the epitome of a melting pot and neighborhoods have since kind of melted together. There is a great authenticity to it and you can visit awesome bakeries and restaurants up and down Taylor Street.
Believe it or not, my favorite Italian restaurant is about an hour west of Chicago in Rockford. There is a place called Lino’s there that has my all time favorite Italian food in Illinois. It is set up like a Tuscan village and has enclosed, private booths for you and the other diners. Fantastic stuff.
CP: Where do you currently live? Which neighborhood?
Joe: My fiance and I just bought a home in Moon Township (I know we aren’t technically in the city… Did I ruin everything???)
CP: What are some of your favorite Italian traditions and why?
Joe: When I was little, our dad would take us down to Taylor Street on St. Joseph’s Day to go and get St. Joseph’s Day Cakes. I don’t know if that is a very widespread tradition, but celebrating that day was definitely my favorite.
CP: What does being Italian mean to you?
Joe: It is a great feeling. You always feel connected and a bond with other Italian people. There is a community and shared/vested interest in a culture and you can instantly have something in common with a person you start talking to. It means family and friendships to me.
CP: What accomplishments in life are you most proud of?
Joe: Oh, I’m really proud of a lot of things. I’ve always kept the mantra of going after something and not stopping until you’ve become satisfied in your quest. I do believe I will be proud of every accomplishment, big or small, every day of my life.
CP: What are some of your favorite hobbies?
Joe: I still tinker with editing audio and making music on the computer in my spare time but drawing cartoons pretty much encompasses my areas of interest. I like the art form and love reading up on the art of the comic strip as well as reading comic strips.
CP: What else would you like our readers to know about you?
Joe: I was actually born a robot.
Follow me on the internet! @RCNSTOONS for Twitter and Instagram and my Facebook page. Drop me a line, if you like it or hate it, it’d be nice to hear from someone.