February 15, 2011

Drawings From Inside My Mother’s Womb

An Interview with John Sprengelmeyer

Part 2 of 2 (link to Part 1)
Click on any image to embiggenate

John, I’d be more than remiss if I didn’t bring up ‘Captain RibMan’. I am simply astounded about some of the facts about this strip:
* From 1996 to 2006 it was the Nr.1 comic on college campuses and even in 2001 named by Yahoo! as the ‘Best Online Strip of the Year’;
* During it’s dashing and firm-buttocked run it had a number of celebrity appearances, including in animated shorts (by which we mean videos and not just illustrated underwear, although that appeared as well);
* The phrase ‘Captain RibMan’ appears in
Wikipedia and even Webster’s On-line Dictionary (seriously, see here);
* And last but not yeast, it was even spun off as an advice column and a restaurant!

But my first question is: why? I mean no offense (which is the surest way to ensure that I will no doubt cause it) but that was bizarre to say the least and certainly one of the top ‘anti-comic’ comics I’ve ever seen!
Why? You stumped me... I guess it was to have fun. But you’re right, ‘Captain RibMan’ did have success well beyond what I had ever anticipated.

I created the strip with a friend, Rich Davis. We also worked with Jake Morrissey (the editor for The Far Side, Calvin & Hobbes, Fox Trot, etc.) to get things going. Our strip started out in The Kansas City Star and Des Moines Register, but upon syndication (with both Universal Press Syndicate and Tribune Media Services) we changed our focus to colleges. From here, it eventually became the #1 comic strip in college newspapers, appearing in over 150 nation-wide, which allowed our humor to be a little more edgy.

Like The Simpsons, we wanted to have guest appearances. So, we contacted Mark Hamill aka Luke Skywalker who gladly wrote five strips for us. We were stoked! After that, we had guest writers and celebrities (like Jerry Seinfeld, Sid Caesar, Brooke Burke, Howie Mandel, Sammy Sosa, Tony Hawk, Futurama’s Bender, etc.)(ZN: too many links folks, look ‘em up!) agree to help us out. And believe me, it was also fun to work on Captain RibMan’s fake products like ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Salami!’ with Playboy’s millennium playmate twins or have a strip about Captain RibMan’s fake disco, Feedlot 54, with the guys from ‘
Mystery Science Theater 3000’.

Later, as you mentioned, we spun off a syndicated advice column called ‘Ask Captain RibMan’ where he gave poor advice on relationships, science and history. That is when Yahoo! awarded us ‘Best Online Comic Strip of the Year’ and About.com dubbed us the ‘Best Cartoon Site.’ ‘Captain RibMan’ was given plenty of media attention with appearances on ABCNews.com, The Washington Post, FoxNews and The Hollywood Reporter. We also created a few simple animated shorts featuring the voice of the brilliant Fred Willard and had a seven song promotional album produced called ‘Magical Mystery Fruit.’ Weird but fun.

In 2003, Rich Davis and I decided to open a restaurant/bar in the college town of Lawrence, Kansas (Rich’s hometown) called ‘Captain RibMan’s Meat Market’ where we continued the same humor. Sadly, although we had an awesome menu, that endeavor didn’t last too long. Perhaps it is because we did things like feature a ‘vegetable of the day’ which was typically by far the most expensive item on the menu!

Soon after that, we euthanized the strip.
(ZN: for a selection of ‘Captain RibMan’ adventures, see the end of this interview for muchos moreos!!)

I am curious though as to how you feel today still being so personally associated with this iconic strip, noting that both your ‘named’ site and
CaptainRibMan.com are one and the same in terms of where we end up? I mean, most GOOGLE entries prefer to list you as ‘John ‘Captain RibMan’ Sprengelmeyer’ than anything else! Is this for you a good thing, a slightly annoying thing, or even does it feel like a disease that eventually gets you a guest spot on some weird show on the Discovery Channel?
Growing up, I had always wanted to be a cartoonist. In fact, I was drawing Snoopy inside my mother’s womb. Looking back, I am very proud of what we did with the strip and all the people I have had the pleasure to work with over the years because of it.

Still, if I had known it would be used as my moniker, I may have chosen something more like ‘Captain Super-Awesome’ or ‘Dr. Handsome, Well-Endowed Genius.’

All kidding aside, can you please tell us about the
interesting collaboration you’ve started with Kyran Barr? What’s going on with this varied range of what appears to be a new generation and style of ‘on-line comics’?
Kyran Barr (or, since he recently got married, ‘Mr.’ Kyran Barr) and I have been working on many animated series for both online and television to varying degrees of success. So far, none can be found on Cartoon Network yet, but stay tuned!

They are a fun outlet that, again, lets me explore different styles. I simply refuse to get bored!

Finally, you’re juggling so many projects that I’m almost afraid to ask: what are you working on next?
I just started working on designing some iPhone apps and I finished writing a children’s book that I am planning on illustrating. That should keep me busy and off the streets. Whew!

Thanks again for your interest. It was a pleasure.


John Sprengelmeyer’s work has been featured in an impressive range of outlets, from concert and even game posters, CD covers, tickets and sporting programs, and lest we forget, comics of all sorts. He has been involved in projects for a wide group of customers including political parties in South America, every food chain under the sun, and even working on the spokes-character for the Latin American McDonald’s restaurants, where we suspect Ronald McDonald was far too demonic for their sensitive tastes!

As mentioned, he has worked on character developments for toys and delivered logos, corporate identity and package designs for several corporations. Last but definitely not least, his tee-shirt designs are regularly featured on the most popular design shops and are some of the hottest sellers on the market today!

An affable lad, John lists his favorite book as ‘Everyone Poops’ and has publicly stated that, yes Virginia, he does like peanut butter. An avid traveller, he’s been to all 50 States in the Union, as well as other destinations too numerous to list here in South America, Europe, Africa and Australia. When not getting in our grill with his designs (I’m sorry, that was a terrible pun), he enjoys photography and animals, apparently even at the same time.

To visit John’s home planet, we mean, site, go to

For a full range of John’s work including art, commercial projects and clothing offers, please see

And now, as promised, a delicious sample platter of ‘Captain RibMan’ strips for your viewing pressure (note: click on pics as usual for safe and efficient enlargementation).

Bon Appendicitis!

And finally, as a ‘die-hard’ Carolina Panthers fan (meaning, they make me want to die), I had to include this classic!


All pictures, videos and other media are used with written permission of John Sprengelmeyer, including all current or previous business affiliations related to same, or are available in the public domain (noting copyright and other restrictions, accordingly). No further reproduction or duplication is permitted without contacting the artist directly.

Some pictures have been modified slightly or combined only for the purpose of space limitations.

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