Tom Gammill: Writer, Cartoonist, All-Around Pasadena Guy

Feb 9, 2009

Pasadena man-about-town Tom Gammill and his longtime writing partner, Max Pross, have spent three decades writing for such TV bedrocks as Saturday Night Live, The David Letterman Show, The Wonder Years, Seinfeld, Monk and, currently, The Simpsons. And Tom’s created a new comic strip, “The Doozies,” which appears daily at and weekly in the Pasadena Independent, and in the Sierra Madre Weekly, Monrovia Weekly and Arcadia Weekly newspapers.

For a person who grew up in Connecticut, worked as a writer in New York, then followed the work to Los Angeles, Pasadena turned out to be the finest place in all the land for settling down. At least, that’s what Tom thought when he moved here with his child bride in the last century. (Full disclosure — I am that bride.) sat with comedy writer Tom Gammill to see what’s what.

HTP: After all the historic TV shows you’ve written for, how cool is it to be interviewed by your wife, who wrote for Hometown Pasadena 2009.2010: The San Gabriel Valley Book?

Tom Gammill: A dream come true.

HTP: When did you first visit Pasadena? What did you like about the place?

TG: If you remember, Sandy, we got married at the Castle Green.

HTP: Oh, that’s right. I remember.

TG: That was back in 1988. We fell in love with Pasadena back then, but it took us two years to finally move here.

HTP: And three years to unpack everything! Speaking of Pasadena, doesn’t your mom have a story about one of her friends? Jim Somebody who went to Poly in the early 1930s and was born with a full set of teeth? He lived with his mother near Caltech, and when his father died they sailed to Europe and stayed for seven months. I think that’s the whole story, isn’t it? Fascinating.

TG: Jim Troy.

HTP: Jim Troy! That’s it! I’m so bad with names.

TG: Maybe if our children had been born with a full set of teeth they would have been admitted to Poly.

HTP: Our children, yes. Henry and, ah… I know the other one starts with A…. So anyway, you and your writing partner….

TG: Max.

HTP: Max! Max, Max Pross. You guys are working on a couple of new projects.

TG: “The Doozies” and the “Learn To Draw With Tom Gammill” videos. And we’re writing an episode of Monk.

HTP: You guys usually write for TV and movies. But “The Doozies” is an actual comic strip. That’s an entirely new genre for you, right?

TG: Yes and no. I’ve been cartooning since I was a kid.

HTP: Where did you get the idea for “The Doozies?”

TG: It’s a comic strip with a man, a lady and a daughter. So I guess I got the idea from our family. We also have a son. But he’s off at college. And drawing four people is too much work.

HTP: With newspapers folding (thanks, internet!) what kind of outlets are there for comics now?

TG: The internet. Thanks, internet!

HTP: What books are you reading now?

TG: I’ve actually been reading some cartoonists’ biographies (Alex Raymond, Charles Schulz) and old Learn to Draw books from 50 years ago. They were all written by “famous” cartoonists I have never heard of and who weren’t particularly good artists, so I’m proud to be following in that tradition in my “Learn To Draw” videos.

HTP: Working in TV is a collaborative thing, and — I don’t have to tell you — so is working for Hometown Pasadena 2009.2010: The San Gabriel Valley Book. That’s it. I don’t have a question. I just wanted to get that in.

TG: And I’m glad you did.

Watch the first edition of “Learn to Draw” below, and check in every three days for the newest installment. Collect ’em all!

— Sandy Gillis



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