Letter from Alaska

For this new issue of Letter from… column, we asked toonpool.com artist Peter Dunlap-Shohl about his life and begged for some photographs of his working place and the city he lives in Anchorage, the largest city in the state of Alaska. Someone must soon write a Declaration of Independence from the Laws of Physics, so Peter could see his dream come true: writing Toonpool letters simultaneously from in Barcelona, Buenos Aries, Paris, New York, and Easter Island. Until then, let’s see how he encouraged his son’s friend to sing with a carrot on stage, in front of a large audience:

Peter and his little brother, Dave

1. Which movie/TV character you see yourself as and why?

I see myself giving a very convincing performance in the role of… me, as a five-year-old boy in “Oblivion 1964″, a stirring tale of danger, courage and sublime cluelessness during a cataclysm. “Oblivion 1964″ is a short animated memoir of my experiences during and following the Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964. You can view it here:


2. Next plans or ideas?

I’m working on my second children’s book. Which means I first must publish my first children’s book. Otherwise my second book, if published, would be my first book. This is the kind of logical rigor I bring to all aspects of my life and work.

3. Your food today?

I think you mean “You’re food today?”, and no, I’m not (in spite of my below-mentioned neighbors, the Grizzlies.)

Taken when Peter´s band played a gig at Alice´s champagne palace in Homer-Alaska

Lost in traffic

4. Do you like your place or would you like to live somewhere else?

I like the place I live AND would like to live someplace else. I resent the arbitrary laws of physics that dictate that I be merely in one place at one time. In my ideal world I would live simultaneously in Barcelona, Buenos Aries, Paris, New York, and Easter Island. Then I could write a Toonpool letter from each location. And if I got a phone call from someone I didn’t want to talk to, I could say, I’m sorry, but he’s in another city right now.

5. What was the huge mistake in your life you (unfortunately) never did?

Lived simultaneously in Barcelona, Buenos Aries, Paris, New York, and Easter Island.

6. Who are your neighbors?

Grizzly bears, moose, and a nice woman who reupholsters furniture.

View from Peter's window. His neighbors are preparing to go picnic

7. Tell me the shortest joke you know

Q: What’s orange, and sounds like a carrot? A: A parrot

8. Tell me the biggest prank you did on a friend.

Once, a friend of my son called to ask if we could bring his instrument, a clarinet, to a big performance. I hate practical jokes, but for some reason I talked my son into removing the clarinet from the elegant black case that contained it, and replacing it with a large carrot. My son then hand-delivered the case to the unsuspecting victim. The poor kid opened it, and there, glowing radiant orange in the deep black softness of the case lay, not his precious instrument, but instead a garish root vegetable. Hilarity ensued. My one regret in this matter, aside from ever thinking of it at all, is not seeing the look on his face when he opened the case backstage. My one other regret is that we didn’t use a parrot.

Peter with his son, Wiley

Everybody loves a cartoonist

9. How to ruin your vacation?

Take me fishing or golfing.

10. In 1977 NASA has sent orbiters Voyager 1 and 2 into space which will never stop to fly through the universe by gravity. They contain the Voyager Golden Records with many testimonials of the whole mankind, greetings in 55 languages introduced by US president Jimmy Carter (“This is a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings….”). The Golden Records with a lifespan of 500 million years at least are including drawings of a naked man and woman, detailed genitalia, many scientific graphics, sounds of planet earth and music by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart – and Chuck Berry:


Maybe aliens out there will be shocked in some million years! But in case such a NASA mission will be replayed: which (1) of your artworks should join it?

let’s give whomever is out there fair warning that we are coming.


11. Please give us an answer to a question we didn’t ask!

Martin Carthy, Richard Thompson, Marc Ribot.

Credits to Nicoleta Ionescu for talking with Peter Dunlap-Shohl

© toonpool.com

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2 Responses to “Letter from Alaska”

  1. Otilia Bors says:

    Happy New Year dear Peter!
    Health, happiness and great inspirations in 2011!
    Congrat for your interview and sucess for your children’s books.
    Best wishes from Romania/Bucharest

  2. Thank you Otilia, may the new year bring you peace and prosperity!


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