Don’t boop the snoot: an interview with the creators of the “life of sharks” webcomic

Christian and Sophie

The “life of sharks” webcomic, which features real facts about sharks along with clever humor, is taking the internet by storm! Creators Christian Talbot (writer) and Sophie Hodge (Illustrator) were kind enough to answer some of my questions about their comic and where they get their ideas. Be sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and check out their online store. Responses are lightly edited for length and clarity. 

David: Tell me about your comic. Why sharks? 

Sophie: Mostly the comic is about the minutiae of everyday life, relationships and emotions. That’s kind of funny when you put it into the mouths of fish that are perceived to be cold hearted killers.

Christian: They can be about anything, really. I just like the way we can anthropomorphize the sharks. Sharks just seemed like the funniest animal to try and give human emotions to and put into relationships because they’re seen as being cold, solitary, killing machines. Plus sharks are just cool. Also, sharks can’t claim royalties.

David: Where did you learn so much about sharks?

Sophie: We read lots of books and studied for phds in shark science and… Not really. We google a lot of stuff. The more I learn about Sharks though the more weird and interesting I find them. A lot of marine biologists follow us now and they appreciate the niche jokes about plankton.

Christian: Ideas come from all over the place. It could be a phrase I hear or a news story or something that’s happened to me that I can thinly veil as happening to a shark. I get my best ideas while I’m vacuuming the house or when Sophie texts me to say she’s run out of stuff to draw and to please try and be funny. I use wikipedia to confirm (or deny) the stuff I THINK I know about sharks. We’re followed by so many shark experts now and we see their Twitter and Instagram feeds, that we get loads of different interesting stories and info each week. That and I watch the movie JAWS a lot.

David: How did you get into this? Do you have backgrounds in comics, or marine biology, or anything like that?

Christian: I started writing little dialogues between sharks on my Facebook page as a way to do sketches. I wanted to show that I could write something like that as well as the stand-up routines I do normally for a living. They we quite popular with some of my comedian friends and they encouraged me to have them done as a cartoon. I can’t draw so I was delighted when I found out that not only could Sophie draw them, but also was able to add her unique style to the whole thing. They’re funnier because of the way she draws them.

Sophie:  I’ve always been a doodler but I’ve never illustrated a comic before. I was chuffed when Christian asked me to be honest! I was a shark novice when I started but I think they’re fascinating – I’ve become a shark connoisseur! I also think that conserving the ocean and all the creatures in it is so important.

David: What are your favorite comics that you’ve drawn so far?

Christian: My favourite is the very first one we did which was the Shark smelling toast and not blood, thinking he was having a stroke. It’s my favourite because it went so viral and kickstarted the whole thing off. Having said that, even if it hadn’t, we’d still be doing the cartoons regardless as it’s so much fun.

Sophie: I like the one-panel comics because I can go a bit wild with the detail in the illustrations. Especially when I can slip a manatee or a whale into a crowd. My favourite is probably the ‘anatomy of a shark’. I kind of hope it’ll get into a text book one day. There’ll be some student after their exams, “what do you mean I got a D?!”

David: Have you been surprised at how popular these comics have become? 

Christian: I never expected the cartoons to take off like they have. I asked Sophie to draw a cartoon in February just for fun and now we’re talking to publishers about making a book. It’s been overwhelming. We’re also really touched by the amount of people who’ve taken the time to message us, saying how much they enjoy them. It’s a real thrill when you get feedback like that for something you’ve done.

Sophie: We’re surprised and delighted every day. The first time someone sent us a pic wearing one of our t shirts we were really touched. The messages of support and thanks we get are a genuine boost to us both!

If you like these comics as much as I do, please consider supporting them by purchasing merchandise. They also have a 2019 calendar for sale, and will have a book coming next year! 

If you appreciate my shark research and conservation outreach, please consider supporting me on Patreon! Any amount is appreciated, and supporters get exclusive rewards!