The Real Pacifiers

Johan & Pato, the real Sven & Rodriguez

Ever wondered where I got the main characters of The Pacifiers from? From my childhood! Me, Johan & Pato started hanging out regularly when we became teenagers. When our peers started going to discos and get drunk, we spent our days playing computer games, Hero Quest, building spacecrafts out of snow and making weird movies. We were extremely immature, and we had a really good time. Here’s an action shot from the blockbuster hit The 3 Aliens:

For some reason, we always called Johan “Sven”. We called Pato hundreds of names, one of the funniest was “Rodriguez”. Here’s a short interview with these mighty Pacifiers:

How do you feel about being one of the main characters in The Pacifiers Comic?

J: – It feels great! I knew Andreas had been toying with the concept back and forth, but I didn’t expect it to take such epic proportions like this. I am truly honored to have inspired part of the main cast.

P: – Being part of my dear friend’s dream project is very flattering, and I feel extremely happy to have become immortalized in a medium I love!

What is it like having a friend interpreting you as a diaper kid on steroids?

J: – Honestly, I’m a bit nervous. You never know what sides your friends see that you’re not aware of yourself. I know the Pacifiers fight for good, so it’s probably going to be all right.

P: – Funny as heck! But then again, aren’t we all a Pacifier deep down in our hearts?

If The Pacifiers would make it big, and your character became famous, what would you do?

J: – Ahaha. I haven’t seen any royalty agreements anywhere, so I guess my life wouldn’t change that much. Best case I get 15 minutes of fame in some tabloid. Worst case I have to go hide in a mountain cabin.

P: – Feel pride for my friend Andreas. Also it would be a great thing to show the kids in the future.

Who would you pacify if you could?

J: – Sometimes I talk way too much when others know better so I could probably use one of those myself.

P: – The list is long and distinguished. There are dictators like Saleh, Kim Jong Un and Assad among others. Also Trump, The Kardashians and that little chihuahua I meet every so often when I take a walk with my dog Pluttas.

Los tres amigos in Gibraltar 2007. Thanks for being part of my life guys!

If you haven’t done so already, back The Pacifiers Comic on KICKSTARTER. 12 days to go!


Gogo Hayes


We’re currently waiting for our second child. Our first born is now 2,5 years. I wanted to give him something special as a token of my appreciation of being his father. I was on parental leave with him from when he was 1 to ca. 1,5. During that time we started watching Dr Snuggles, a childhood favorite of mine created by Jeffrey O’Kelly and Nick Price, on DVD. At first it was a bit much for him to digest, but gradually he got into it, and then for some months he didn’t want to watch anything else. Sometimes several times a day, and he’d talk constantly about these strange stories and characters. There are only 13 episodes all together, so the family kind of know them by heart now. He used to call Dr Snuggles “Gogo Hayes” back then. I thought I’d make a painting for him, to remember the good times we spent together in that weird and magical world. Above you can see the end result. If you’re interested, here’s how it was made.

gogo_doodle1I usually start with doodles in my sketchbook.

gogo_doodle2I always loved the spotted camel Woogie (Puckli), sitting in the clouds sipping his tea, so I decided to set the scene there.


The preliminary sketch (A4). I decided late on to include Miss Nettles (Beata).


The final sketch before moving on to painting.


To get the sketch onto water color paper, I pencilled the backside, then put the sketch on top of the water color paper, retracing the lines on the front. Probably a stupid way of doing it, but at least it worked.


First thing I did was covering the details with masking fluid.


Aided by masking fluid you can make nice gradient skies, not having to worry about the detailed elements. Turned out far from perfect as you can see. But that’s one of the things I enjoy with water color. Not being fully in control. There’s an element of “it is what it is”.


Applying flat fields of color. When doing water color you start with the lightest parts, then gradually going darker. I guess that’s the opposite of what you would do with acrylics or oil, but since I’m not a painter I wouldn’t know really.


Started adding shades and tones. With this painting I wanted to step away from my usual minimalistic ideals and make something more lavish. That’s quite a challenge with water colors which usually lend themselves to kind of light renderings. I started with the rocket Dreamy Boom Boom (Sprutti Bang-Bang) to work out the level of “spiciness”.


Added colored outlines to the main components. That’s not really “painting”, but the idea was that it would force me to go even more “spicy” with the shading and tones, i.e. try to bring the shading so close to the opaqueness of the outline that you wouldn’t really think about the outline.


I went over it again and again until I ended up with this and decided that’s it. Like any creative work you’re never really “done”, you just have to decide when to stop. The white spikes underneath Dreamy Boom Boom as well as the lines around the Cosmic Cat are gouache. The rest is pure water color.


When doing watercolors you really benefit from mounting the paper properly on a board. That way you avoid buckling from the water, which can make the paint/water gather in pools where you don’t want them to. My favorite part of water color painting is when you get to cut it off from the board, and you end up with a flat paper.

My son discovered the finished painting in my home office. Big eyes. He clearly recognized these guys, but he got a bit shy and didn’t want to say who they were (usually he talks a lot about them). He wanted to touch the characters, which he wasn’t allowed to (water color is sensitive to moisture). Still I thought of that as a good sign. Like he wanted to pick them out of the picture and play with them. The painting is currently at the frame shop waiting to get mounted. I hope it will be a treasured item for him.

I guess this means I’ll have to make something similar for his sibling. This one only took me a week, and I’m going to have sooo much time from now on…


Childhood Drawings


One of MANY childhood Muppet drawings. 9 years.

When I told a colleague and friend I was going to quit drawing for Bamse – my main source of freelance work for the last 14 years – and that I was considering whether cartooning really should be my day job, he wisely suggested:

Why don’t you go back and ask yourself why you wanted to do this in the first place?

That’s the kind of question that gets you thinking. As I wrote in the last post, I tried to give up drawing a couple of times, but never succeeded. Just like I tried to be somebody else at times. Someone better and more interesting. Neither did I succeed in that. This is how I turned out, like it or not. I’m many things, among them a cartoonist. No matter how I earn my living, I’ll always have that special interest for design and strange creatures made up of shapes and lines. Just like I’ll always be a saxophone player, interested in music, even though it’s not my job. It doesn’t really matter if I’m good or bad.


I always loved the musicians in the orchestra pit of The Muppet Show.

Another artist friend said that being an artist isn’t about the work you do, but about your mindset. How you think about yourself and your art. What you are doesn’t equal what your job is. It’s not your total output that defines you. If you’ve got the eye of a cartoonist, you’re a cartoonist. If you’ve got the ear of a musician, you’re a musician. You can play one note on a piano and still be a piano player. You decide who and what you are. Others can label you whatever they like. They are not important.

But I want to try to answer my friend’s question. To be able to do that, I think we have to go back in time, and look at some childhood drawings.


JP Grosse, the owner of the Muppet theater. Note how Swinetrek (the space ship from Pigs in Space) is tearing down the theater.

Why did I want to do this in the first place?

One answer would be that someone once told me I was good at drawing. Back in the days, in class, I was “the one who could draw”. Well actually we were two, me and my drawing buddy Axel. He had this dark streak in his drawings, while mine was somehow more light weight. He works as a tattoo artist today, while I went into cartooning. Funny how things go.

star wars axel

Drawing buddy Axel’s rendering of Luke and Greedo. Mid-eighties.


Stormtrooper in some kind of tie-fighter. 9 years.

Another answer is that I’m on a search mission. For what I’m not sure. It could be something I lost. The way you used to be excited about stuff as a kid. You know, the magic. Or it could be the hope that something better comes along. Certainly there must be treasure at the end of the rainbow? I might be chasing shadows, but I know I have to keep looking whenever I’m in the sun, when I read, when I listen to music, when I see cool design, when I watch one of my favorite movies, when I’m on my way to see family and friends.


Best friends, Ernie & Bert, mid eighties. I’ve always loved buddy pictures.

As a kid I was excited about many things. And magic was to be found everywhere. I wasn’t the kind of child who “stayed inside while the others kids played outside”. I was pretty active in general, doing all kinds of stuff, alone or with friends. I get annoyed when artists say they were always loners who hated what everybody else did, so they chose art instead. To me there was never a contradiction between art and anything else. Art was just one of many things. I guess I was like any other kid, but slightly more obsessed with drawing.


Ever since I saw Rune Andréasson’s animated TV-films for the first time, I’ve been a Bamse fan. As a kid, getting the comic book in the mail was the excitement of the month. It made sense working for Bamse. I felt I was able to “give something back”.

TV, Comics and Toys

TV was always magic to me, and still is, even though I hardly watch it these days. I grew up in 1980s Sweden. There were only two public service channels, TV1 och TV2. Whatever came on, everybody watched. Cable TV was around, but it was kind of an exception. Series aired one episode a week, and since we had no video recorder, that specific time became sacred. No one was allowed to talk when The Muppet Show, Sesame Street or Fraggle Rock came on!



Three Henson TV-series that captured my imagination in the eighties.

In between episodes I wanted to stay in those worlds that so tickled the imagination, and spend some more time with those colorful characters. With no video recorder, the only way I knew was drawing. With pen and paper you can go anywhere, and the ticket is super cheap. To me that’s probably the greatest things about drawing.


Fraggles in space, why not?

We used to watch anything really, not only children’s shows. Me and Mum were avid fans of Dallas for example. We would watch TV side by side in the sofa, and if things got scary she would put a pillow in front of my eyes. Like when we watched V and the lizards got their masks removed, intentionally or in battle with Donovan and the rebels!


This scene from the first V episode haunted my dreams for many years. 9 years.



Usually I made comics and books about everything I saw on TV.


I also used other materials. Here’s a V lizard with a human mask, in fabric.


And here it is, without the mask. Anatomy was really my thing back in the mid eighties.

What got me in creative mode was usually TV in combination with merchandise or comics. Like if you watched Fraggle Rock on TV and you were lucky enough to get some Fraggle toys, or if you watched The Muppet Show and then you got the Muppet Show comic books. That always made me reach for my drawing pad. Thus you’ll find in my archives drawings of the Muppets, Bamse, Tintin, Star Wars, He-Man, V, G.I.Joe, Ghostbusters, Alf etc. all depending on what was on TV at the time, and what toys and comics were hot (and what my Mum found appropriate for her son).

Some pieces of merchandise and comics that inspired me to create:


And here are some of my responses to these:

he-man skeletor

We made up our own characters, of course. I should’ve sold Change Man to Mattel!


Here’s Cheating from 1988. Note that he’s often being called “Shit” by his comrades.


Ghostbusters was great because you were free to think up any kind of weird ghost for Egon, Peter and the others to battle.


I was so into action toys between ca 9-12 years, and I used every opportunity to indulge in my passion. Needlework was obligatory at school, so I made a Storm Shadow pillow case. I was such a bad ass those days.

When I had friends over to play, they had to put up with various projects, like making books, building “cities” (worlds or sets), putting on puppet shows, building clay characters etc. What made my drawings stand out wasn’t perhaps so much the quality, but the sheer amount of them.

But I did solo projects too, obviously, since I was always drawing. One of them was a Tintin book. I was spellbound by Tintin travelling to the moon for a couple of years. I used to watch the animated mini-series on TV, then read the graphic novels. We recorded the sound of the TV-series by hanging a microphone in front of the loudspeaker. Then I listened to the cassette and drew from memory. I ended up with a book 460 pages long. I was 8 at the time.


Has there ever been a more iconic design than Professor Calculus’s rocket?


Page 85/460 of my insane book project. 1985.


My grandfather knew book binding and helped me make it into a hard cover. It’s a dear item in my bookshelf, and a nice memory of my grandfather.

Video games

My very first video game experience was probably playing Pong on my cousins’ classic Atari console. What got me hooked though was Game & watch. It became the thing at the schoolyard. We borrowed each others games, but damn you if you didn’t bring your own lithium batteries! I had Donkey Kong and Climber, the latter with a transparent screen, so you could vary your backgrounds. It even had a boss!


My friend Pato tells me these are worth some dollars today. Dude, they are not for sale!

Ca. 1986 Mum finally gave in to my nagging and got me a Nintendo Entertainment System. She’s said she never regretted it, maybe since it spawned so much creative energy. I joined the Nintendo club, I kept a journal about cheats and tricks I learned, keeping statistics over which games I completed and so on. And of course, the games inspired me to draw.


Mega Man 2, one of the greatest games of the NES era.

Some friends had the NES, some had the Commodore 64. These machines changed everything. We became the first gaming generation. What was so amazing with electronic games was that for the first time you could control what was happening on screen. As a player you became co-creator so to speak. After that, interactive art to me seemed to outconquer all other art forms. At least for some years.

There was certainly something magic about simple pixel graphics and crude sound effects. Those little squares and blip blop music forced you to use your imagination and “fill in the gaps”. Today with everything perfectly defined by high definition 3D and orchestrated soundtracks, you get everything served on a silver platter. I’m not saying games were better in the past, I’m just saying very little is left for the imagination.


To get into the early Zelda games you needed imagination, and a helluva lot of patience.

Also, playing those early games was a way to hang out with your friends. Since the games were fairly simple you didn’t have to spend 50 hours alone locked in a room with headphones to complete them. They didn’t consume your soul, merely an afternoon or so. I’d say some of my happiest childhood memories is gaming experiences with friends.


Super Mario Bros. 3, perhaps THE greatest game of the NES era?

Florida 1990

The start of my cartooning becoming something more than a childhood hobby can be traced back to when I was 13. The family went to Florida for a two week vacation in Miami and Orlando. It was the summer of 1990. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were super hot. Or Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles as they were renamed in Europe since “ninja” was considered too violent. Man, that was another era…


The coolest turtle was always the one with the sais. Why he’s dressed as a flasher is unclear. Thirteen years.


There simply has never been cooler enemies than these guys.

When we travelled by rental car from Miami to Florida, we stopped at this gas station and cantina called Roy Roger’s (for Swedes that’s kind of a remarkable coincidence). There in a corner was the TMNT arcade game… My head was completely blown off! I didn’t have enough quarters to get past Bebop and Rocksteady (which was fairly early on in the game), but it didn’t matter. I wanted to stay in that world forever.


Eastman and Laird’s Ninja Turtles comic books started out already in 1984. They had a more “undergroundish” and darker look.


The Turtles material that came to Sweden was the kid friendly version based on the TV-series. Didn’t matter, that’s the stuff we loved.

Then at MGM Studios, we saw the Turtles live! They came in their yellow Turtle mobile, stepped out and waved to the audience!


We’d had an amazing journey, visiting the Everglades, Kennedy Space Center, we’d gone fishing and I’d nearly caught a barracuda. We’d seen Sea World, Epcot Center, Magic Kingdom and more. I was excited by everything. From the advanced parades, roller coasters and shows in the parks, to watching the animated Super Mario Bros. Super Show on the hotel room TV, or just buying cereals at the super market (I always loved cereal boxes). Something about being there in that environment triggered something.

A wish or hope started to materialize in my young still highly impressionable mind. I wanted to “get behind it”. Getting to the producing side of things. Not just consume stuff. It wasn’t dreaming about fame and fortune, I just wanted to be part of the magic store.

I’m always reminded of that time when I’m in the sun. I once asked my Dad – a brave and relentless person – from where do you get your strength? He said “the sun”. I think I’m the same. I adore the sun. I’m generally a much more inspired person during spring and summer season in Sweden. As I get older, I find it increasingly hard to keep my spirits up during autumn and winter. No sun for six months, it’s just unbearable.

On our way back from Florida I learned that Jim Henson had just passed away, a month or so before we got there. I knew as I saw it on the cover of just about every magazine in the airport. It wasn’t until several years later that I realized the significance of this, for me. As a kid, Jim Henson was just a name for me. Later on I came to realize how much his work had inspired me. You can read more about this in a previous blog post.


I guess you could say the Florida trip marks the end of my childhood. When we got back, teenage life awaited, and things were never quite the same again. From Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Teenage Real Life. But that’s another story…

So, why did I want to do this in the first place?

As a child, drawing became a way to stay in the fantastic worlds of the TV. Spending more time with all those lunatics and weirdos, reliving their stories, or creating new ones. Eventually I wished to be on the producing side, to be part of the magic store. Later on, I guess you could say there was an element of nostalgia. Drawing became a way to “go back there” when everything was greener and sunnier, and more fun and exciting. But it was never really about the pop cultural items themselves, it’s the friends and family I shared those experiences with, and the creativity they sparked.


From one particularly intriguing Fraggle episode, in which they went looking for the Echo Hole, to let the finger of light decide who’d be Ruler of the Rock. Ca. 1985.

Just like the sun stays in your skin after a great summer day, drawing for me became a way to stay in the sun, even during dark days. And I wish for my cartoons to bring some sunshine to whoever sees them. Not that they necessarily have to be happy, but luminous maybe?

Robin: Uncle Kermit, is this about how the Muppets really got started?

Kermit: Well, it’s sort of approximately how it happened.

Same thing could be said about my story. This is one version. There’s a zillion other ways to tell it. Most importantly, it’s a thing of the past. It’s really not that important. What makes me look ahead and keep me going at cartooning today are not necessarily the same things, but they’re part of it. Thanks for reading.


Andreas Qassim Year Zero

You might have noticed a slight change in the title of this blog. Studio Qassim have become Andreas Qassim. A tiny change indeed, but there’s more to it than just a word.

The last couple of years has been transformative for me. I worked on my first animated feature film. I became a father. I quit a job I had off and on for fourteen years. I’ve been on parental leave for seven months. Taking a break from work life, focusing 100% on family, left me quite some time to think about… work.

When it comes to drawing I felt I needed to redefine myself. I’ve never been comfortable identifying myself with being some kind of mercenary. Pay me and I’ll draw whatever you want, in whatever style you prefer. Even when doing commercial stuff, integrity is key.

Neither am I comfortable identifying with my job. There’s more to life than work, you know? And I’m not Mr Drawing Man whose super power is to draw pretty drawings. Like some kind of a party trick. I don’t give a shit about pretty drawings.

There’s a lot of things I’m not. I’m not a painter, I’m not a fine artist, I’m not a graphic designer (or am I?), I’m definitely not a fantasy artist, or a realistic illustrator.

…have you ever seen talented realistic style illustrators draw cartoon characters? Often, the result is a blobby, undefined, expressionless figure.
Tom Bancroft, Creating Characters with Personality

My heroes aren’t artists. They’re puppeteers: Henson, Oz, Hunt, Nelson, Goelz, Whitmire. They’re also cartoon directors and designers: Avery, Jones, Freleng, Kricfalusi, Murray, McCracken, Tartakovsky. OK, throw in a couple of comic creators too: Schulz, Hergé, Andréasson, Watterson. The one thing these guys have (or had) in common is the ability to create unforgettable characters.

I’m mainly interested in characters, and design. And storytelling through image, words and sound. But character comes first. No characters, no fun. My main way of expressing this was always through cartooning, so I guess I’m a cartoonist. I like to draw funny looking characters. That’s it really.

The point is though, it doesn’t really matter if I’m a good or bad cartoonist, or if cartooning is my job or not. It’s just something I do. Sometimes a lot. Sometimes occasionally. I tried to quit a few times but always came back to those pesky characters.

Through the years as a professional cartoonist I’ve come to know much better what I like and what I don’t like. Most things out there leaves me completely indifferent. “What kind of bull shit occupation is this?” I ask my self and start looking for an alternative career. But then there’s the stuff that makes me feel like “hey, this is pretty neat”, and want to sit down and draw immediately.

I was never about just one thing. I have many interests. One of them is writing. Expressing myself in words. I love to write long e-mails to people, especially if it annoys them. For a long time I muzzled myself, in order not to be inconvenient to the wrong guys. But you know what, life’s too fucking short. From now on I’ll tell you what I want, whether you like or not. This is my blog. Take it or leave it. Please don’t hesitate to comment or argue with me if you disagree.

There’ll be the occasional “look what I’ve drawn”, but also just stuff about stuff. Silly things. Don’t worry, I won’t write about toilet visits or my sex life. There’s a difference between personal and private. Some folks don’t get that. My ambition is to make this blog more… personal.

This is Andreas Qassim Year Zero.

Mamma 70

Min mamma fyller 70! Hon utbildade sig till sjuksköterska på 60-talet och jobbade under större delen av sitt yrkesliv som vårdlärare. För två år sedan fyllde hennes sambo Krister 70 och jag gjorde då ett Biggles-inspirerat porträtt av honom. Redan då började jag fundera på hur jag skulle återge min mamma när det blev hennes tur. Så här blev det:

never trust a smiling nurse

Idén kom från en turkos mysdress hon fick av en avgångsklass på vårdskolan. “Never trust a smiling nurse” stod det på den (en klassiker i vår familj). Både Krister och mamma är födda under kriget, så det fick det bli en krigs-sjuksköterska. Men en stridspilot från första världskriget och en sjuksköterska från andra? I krig och kärlek kan allt hända…

Så här hänger tavlorna tillsammans:


Grattis mamma! Du är bäst!

ⓒ Andreas Qassim