Marblehead cartoonist’s work makes international contest’s top 10

Nikki Gamer

Babies. Even though they can’t verbally express it, sometimes they just seem to have a mind of their own. Looking around all doe-eyed even when they are doing “you know what,” it’s hard to tell what a baby is thinking.

Marblehead resident and freelance artist Paul Trap’s new comic strip, “Thatababy,” satirizes that idea and attempts to show you what is going on in those little minds — and it’s pretty funny. Trap’s new comic strip is told through the eyes of a newborn baby “who lives by one simple rule: It's a baby's job to drive their parents crazy.”

“Babies have it made — they set their own hours and they make their own rules, all while commanding the spotlight,” Trap said.

The strip is so good, in fact, that it’s been selected out of thousands of entries as a top-10 finalist in “Comic Strip Superstar,” an international comic strip competition hosted by Web site The grand-prize winner will receive a book-publishing contract as well as a development deal for syndication.

Judges of the contest, who were responsible for picking the finalists, are such greats as “Doonesbury” creator Garry Trudeau. Meanwhile, the public has a chance to vote for the winner online through Nov. 6.

Trap, who has one son who is a junior at Marblehead High School, said he based this particular comic strip on his experiences parenting. He said he got his start as a cartoon artist as far back as high school, and while at Michigan State, he worked for the school’s newspaper. He’s been drawing and satirizing ever since. He currently freelances and creates the comics for Baseball America magazine.

The Reporter caught up with Trap to find out a little bit more about his work in the cartoon world.

Q: First off, tell me about this day job of yours?

I'm the editorial cartoonist for Baseball America magazine, which is published bimonthly. The Sox, the Yankees, Manny — all a deep well of material. The majority of my freelance work is computer graphics, created for the McClatchy News Service and a variety of public relations and marketing firms. I’ve done informational graphics for Fidelity Investments in Boston, and recently completed a project for Kellogg’s.

Q: So how did you go from depicting baseball to babies?

I've been told to draw what you know. Our son was too busy to sleep for his first 18 months, so it's provided plenty of material.

Q: As the loosely based subject matter, what does your family think of your latest cartoon creations?

They’ve been a good team of editors.

Q: What draws you to creating cartoons?

It’s something I’ve done as long as I can remember — I've drawn cartoons for my high school and college newspapers, and I’ve done a sports cartoon in some form since graduating.

Q: What's your favorite all-time comic strip or artist?

I’ll have to embrace the entire Mt. Rushmore of cartooning: Schulz (“Peanuts”), Larson (“Far Side”), Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes”) and Trudeau (“Doonesbury”). I also like the work of Bill Griffith (“Zippy the Pinhead”) and Robert Crumb.

Q: What would this contest mean to you if you win?

I haven’t thought that far ahead. I'm happy to have made it to the last round as all the finalists receive a critique of their work from the panel of judges, which included Garry Trudeau of “Doonesbury” and Lynn Johnson of “For Better or Worse.”

To view samples of Trap’s work, and vote on the contest, visit:

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