Cartoonist’s art features old school style


Influenced by ’40s and ’50s illustrations, cartoonist Rob Reilly creates characters based on his own experiences. He will attend Comic Con this weekend.
Influenced by ’40s and ’50s illustrations, cartoonist Rob Reilly creates characters based on his own experiences. He will attend Comic Con this weekend.

By Kaitlin MacRae

Chasing a dream is never easy; it requires patience, talent and dedication. Cartoonist and Collegiate Press staff member Rob Reilly exhibits those qualities, realizing his dream of cartooning through art and comics. 

Reilly developed an early interest in drawing, knowing from a young age that he wanted to become a cartoonist. Having earned an A.F.A. from Mercer County College and a B.F.A. in illustration and cartooning from the School of Visual Arts, Reilly has since been involved with many professional and freelance projects. Currently, Reilly works as a graphic designer for Rider’s Collegiate Press.

“I’ve self-published five books and [have] been featured in anthologies and as a pin-up artist for various publications,” he said. “In 2007, I was considered by Wizard Magazine [a comic-based publication] to be one of the top 50 up-and-coming new talents.”

He still maintains some childhood influences, citing Warner Bros. and Disney as sources of inspiration.

“I find inspiration in just about anything art related: architecture, photography and film,” he said. 

Like most artists, he has based comics on his own life, using experiences with a former roommate and his time spent at comic conventions to create his stories and characters. 

Other than freelance work, Reilly has designed layouts for companies like Pontiac, as well as Paul Mitchell and designer Kenneth Cole. Ultimately, however, his ambition lies elsewhere. 

“I’d like the opportunity to work in the animation and video game industries as a character designer as well as illustrate for Marvel and DC Comics,” Reilly said. “[However,] creating comics was a good way to tell a story and use my artistic abilities.”

Reilly also uses those abilities to help raise money for charity, donating artwork to causes like the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, an organization that works to protect the First Amendment rights of professional comic book artists by fighting censorship. 

With animation on hold, Reilly’s focus now lies in a graphic novel to be released this summer from Outlaw Entertainment, in addition to three other projects he has in the works. 

Though his work is cut out for him, Reilly also attends comic conventions, most widely known as comic cons, which he maintains is a great way for creators to meet each other and procure work. 

“Comic cons are events that are worldwide and all have the same purpose: bringing fans and creators together,” he explained. “Creators sell books, posters, prints and original art directly to their fan base. Artists usually take and illustrate commissions right on the spot.”

These events have taken him all over the country, and even to Dublin, Ireland. This weekend, Reilly will attend the Boston Comic Con, a city he has yet to visit. His experiences at these events inspired his self-published comics, Convention Confessional: Volumes 1-3. 

The fact that he has been successful in pursuing his childhood dream of becoming a cartoonist is an inspiration to aspiring artists and young professionals everywhere. 

“As an art student, I know how hard it is to not only figure out what you want to do, but also how to do it,” he said. 

To see more of Rob Reilly’s artwork, visit

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