With one exception, I really don’t sketch in order to come up with ideas. I sketch because I feel like sketching. Once in a blue moon, an idea comes out of a random sketch. Mostly, I’m sketching because I already have an idea.
The exception is my little dog Claremont. I can have fun doodling him and usually produce something usable, especially if it’s a gag with little or no dialog. He’s fun to insert into a strip with interesting layouts. He’s also fun to fling around the panel like the dog that he’s supposed to be.’
I think visually, maybe too visually. If I have a bit of dialog that I’m testing in my head or if I’m setting a scene, it’s all done by just sitting silently. I think this method evolved from making too many newspaper advertisements. Often, I’m given way too much information to fit into a very small space. People want to get their money’s worth out of an ad, and they frequently think that’s accomplished by crowding it so full of stuff that it becomes my job to make a lot look like less.
So I usually visualize an ad before I make it. “This will be the main focus, that can go there, this other thing will fit down here nicely, etc.” Design shouldn’t be a game of Tetris, but it frequently is out of necessity. With cartoons, I go with “less is more”. There’s a time factor in that, but there’s also a reader’s attention span to think about. Quick, easy-to-recognize visuals accompanying a quick read usually makes a happy reader, and in cartooning mere suggestions of items suffice for elaborate drawings. I like that. If I were drawing something that demanded a lot of detail, like a science fiction adventure or a moody detective piece, I would draw a page a week and take a lot more time. I think the strips that I currently make are complimented better with less detail.
When I’m thinking of ideas, I try to think of the characters and what they’re doing that day. Strong characters with distinct personalities really do try to write themselves. The unfortunate thing about a webcomic is that this is a part of a part-time job which presents itself as a full-time effort (or at least I think it does). There’s never enough time to think too much. Sometimes that’s a good thing, and sometimes that’s not so good. Luckily (or unluckily) you’re only as good as your current strip. The successes may be quickly forgotten, but so are the failures. That’s a trade off I can accept.
I sketched the above to avoid a real assignment that I have, by the way. Cartooning is also a stress relief for me that works better than alcohol, meds or even a vacation (notice I’m omitting exercise and sleep, which is probably the best stress reliever). Nobody said cartoonists were normal people. In fact, we’ve often emphasized that we would rather be anything but normal.
Ah, the plight of the newspaper. I’ve never understood the thought process that goes into the placement of newspaper stands. Here we have one sitting at McDonalds. It’s not by the door and it’s not really in a place where somebody waiting in line at the drive-thru could quickly get out of their car, buy a paper, and then jump back in the car.
Maybe they figure those who are most likely to buy a paper are also using the handicapped parking. This is very specific to McDonalds, but they always make sure that the handicapped parking spaces are the furthest away from the door. McDonalds would be off my list if I was in a wheelchair. There’s no way I’m navigating the snow and ice from there.
Actually, I look at this little stand as a monument of defiance. Want a newspaper? How bad? No, no, don’t buy it near the entrance to the building! People may see you. If you want one, it’s way over there, in the mulch. C’mon, buy one. I dare you!
We can’t blame the Internet on this newspaper problem, there have been weird locations to buy a newspaper for decades. I’ve just always found this one particularly weird.
I first drew Harvey (named after my grandfather) when I was ten. I ran across these drawings while cleaning out my studio. I was so young, but I still hate to say when I drew these. Let’s just say that it was a shock that year when we found out Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker’s father.
When looking at this I know you’ll be shocked (SHOCKED!) to read that my main influence was Charles Schulz.
I’m not sure what the joke is, here, but I think it’s that he’s too small to reach the sink. When I was a kid, sinks were easier for me than monkey bars.
I bragged on Facebook that my polling place was so close that I could skip to it, so Tom Racine offered me a dollar if I actually did that. Two if I was carrying a basket. I forgot my basket, so I used my wife’s purse.
Hey, money’s tight and it seems like a harmless fetish.