Peter Oakley

Pete O
Peter Oakley has been cartooning since 1989, and has been using electronic tools since the dawn of "desk-top publishing" in 1983. His first modem was a 300baud plug-in cartridge on a Commodore VIC20 computer.

In college, Pete majored in biology and fine art, with an emphasis on oil painting. He studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and graduated with honors from Denison University in 1980. While working as a freelance graphic designer, he took night and weekend classes in computer programming at DePaul University, and studied landscape and portrait painting at The American Academy of Art.

Pete has worked as a print media graphic designer at Films Incorporated, a feature films distribution company (1981-1983), and at Mindscape Inc., a software publishing company (1986-1989). And for three years (1983-1986) he was a Genigraphics console artist for Chartmasters Inc., a business presentation computer graphics company in Chicago, Illinois. Along the way, he has also done freelance illustration, computer game design and development, and on-screen art for computer games. At Mindscape, Pete designed and directed the production of "Willow," a computer game based on the Lucasfilm movie adventure. It was one of Mindscape's top-selling games in 1989. Best business trip was to explore and photograph the Paris Opera (Paris, France) for development of a computer game based on Andrew Lloyd Weber's "Phantom of the Opera."

For two years, beginning in 1989, Pete took up cartooning full-time, exploring various avenues of the cartoon biz. He contracted with Quantum Computer, Inc. in 1990 to do an online cartoon called "Modern Wonder," which would appear as a regular weekly feature on their new telecommunications network, America Online. This business relationship was to continue for six years, through a period of rapid growth for America Online. Pete became the "online host" for the CARTOONS Forum on AOL, managing a popular message board and FTP libraries, and doing graphics processing for other cartoon features on the network. He formed a small company, Oakley Home Pictures, to develop new online cartoon features.

The cartooning and site hosting for America Online continued as a part-time "profitable hobby," while Pete went on to work in 1991 for Videodiscovery Inc., an educational software publisher in Seattle. In the first year, Pete moved the company into completely digital print media design, and built up a small department to handle production of all the print components of Videodiscovery's growing product line. Pete designed and produced many of the company's laserdisc jacket covers, book covers, book layouts, and software packaging.

The printing process was changing very rapidly in the early 1990s. As an avid technology watcher, Pete evaluated the new digital tools, and incorporated them into Videodiscovery's print media production, as cost savings and productivity increases justified their use.

At the invitation of Donna Barr, Pete created a comics story for a collaborative Desert Peach comic book, with a new character named Eddie Peece. In 1995, Pete expanded on the original illustrated futuristic fiction, in a new series called The Eddie Peece Stories.

In 1996, plans to expand the CARTOONS Forum stalled as AOL focused on developing a broader mass media market, pursuing contracts with the major print media publishers. At the same time, the World Wide Web was emerging as a strong competitor to America Online and the other national commercial networks.

In May 1996, Pete resigned his host spot with America Online, and began mapping out the path to building a similar cartooning community on the WWW. He resigned from Videodiscovery in August 1996 to pursue the plan full-time, and The Internet CARTOONS Forum was launched in September 1996. Since then Pete has been focusing on ways to create community among amateur and professional cartoonists, animators, their fans, and cartoon and comics collectors. The Cartoon Bar live conference site appeared in November, and a web-based ToonTalk message board debuted in December. Both established cartoonists and new emerging talent are being invited to create new ongoing cartoon features for the forum.

In February 1997, the Internet CARTOONS Forum became a new member/subscription service, with weekly email delivery of the cartoon features, and links to other special member-only areas of the forum. Pete expects there will be sufficient interest to sustain and grow the Internet CARTOONS Forum for years to come.

Organization among cartoon creators has been limited by lack of a common voice, and easy communication. The World Wide Web is changing all that. Perhaps over the next few years, the Internet CARTOONS Forum can advance the reputation, respect, and compensation for talented creators in all areas of cartooning. Along the way, we'll learn from each other, and find new audiences and new markets for this most popular form of the communication arts.

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Pete lives with his wife and three cats in a peach-colored house on Vashon Island, Washington. Special thanks to Patricia, Pete's "patron of the arts" who has generously provided substantial underwriting for yet another wild venture.