Cartooning 101: An Introduction

Cartooning 101: An introduction

This particular study of the art of Cartooning is intended for kids ages 12 and older. I’ll do a simpler one for the little tykes later on.

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So you think that you might want to be a Cartoonist, huh? You want the million dollar mansions, the Mercedes in the driveway, and the 3 rounds of golf that you get to play every week, because, hey, it only takes a few minutes a day to bang out a cartoon, right. Oh, and don’t forget the groupies. Groupies just like the ones that used to follow Led Zeppelin around back in the 70’s. You want thousands of those.

Before I tell you the truth, you might want to sit down. First off, there aren’t many cartoonists who own mansions. I know. You’ve read all about Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts raking in billions every year, just on Snoopy pajamas alone.

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Or maybe you saw an interview with Jim Davis, whose ability to put Garfield images on everything from lasagna boxes to moon rocks, has made him a frequent guest on “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”.

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Yeah. Sure, there are those guys. But, for everyone of them, there are thousands of cartoonists who live from paycheck to paycheck or, worse, handout to handout. It’s not a career for the faint of heart. No mansions, no Mercedes, no golf, and NO groupies. Ok. Maybe Berke Breathed, creator of Bloom County, might actually be able to attest to groupies (it had something to do with the allure of a Penguin with a big nose), but for the rest of us, no groupies.

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So at this point you may be asking yourself, then why do it? Why torture yourself with the deadlines, and the low pay and the general disrespect you get daily from editors who think that people only worship at the feet of writers. Cartoonists? We’re the low rent district. So why, why, why?

In a word. Love. We love to draw funny little pictures that make fun of the editors who pay the art form no respect. We love the ability to skewer the politicians who are running amuck throughout our communities with a single solitary image that reduces them to tears. And we love to lampoon everything from a tall soy, no fat, latte, to the poor fool who can’t afford one, which sometimes is one of us. We were the ones who learned how to draw cartoons in Algebra class. The ones who scrawled stuff on the desks at school. The ones who would rather watch a great episode of  Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner as opposed to, say, something redeeming on the Discovery channel. If that describes you, then welcome. You are one of the ones. If not, that’s OK. I’ve heard the Guitar Hero and Rock Band come with groupies…So there  you go. I hope you’ll stick with us regardless because, well,  just remember this…When you see a few funny drawings making fun of people who are playing Guitar Hero for hours on end, you’ll want to know where they come from.

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So, now, where does that leave us class. At the beginning. In these posts I’ll be covering a variety of subjects that I hope will bring you some insight and some tips and techniques that can help you become a cartoonist, or perhaps, a better one.

We’ll deal with stuff like “where DO YOU get your ideas?”, tools of the trade, the penciling and inking process of putting it all together to make a cartoon. We’ll deal with Wacom tablets, scanners and some Photoshop basics to help you color stuff for publication or the web.  We’ll talk about syndication, otherwise known as “Lawyers, Guns and Money” (just kidding about the guns part), web comics, which is where the future lies, and other models of monetizing your cartoons. Above all, I think we’ll have blast that will put us on the road to becoming one of the most noble and honorable of professions: The Cartoonist.

Stay tooned for our first chapter, which will take us into the scary and frightening mind of the Cartoonist. We’ll explore the thought process, exactly how and where to get ideas and inspiration from. We’ll reach deeply into the human soul and psyche to find out precisely where “EHHH, What’s Up Doc” really comes from. So hang on to your seat cushions. We’re about to enter the Cartoonists Zone.

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No Fear

Dreams cannot reside in the house of fear.

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Somewhere, over the rainbow, way up high.
There’s a land that I heard of Once in a lullaby.
Somewhere, over the rainbow, skies are blue.
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.
Someday I’ll wish upon a star and wake up where the clouds are far Behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops, Away above the chimney tops.
That’s where you’ll find me.
Somewhere, over the rainbow, bluebirds fly. Birds fly over the rainbow,
Why then – oh, why can’t I?
If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow,
Why, oh, why can’t I?

I just returned from the San Diego Comic-Con, a place where some dreams come true, while others are shattered. Talent is everywhere. Creativity abounds. It is an electric environment for those in the comic industry as well as the fans it attracts.
You may find yourself at a place in life where those dreams you once held have been stored in the attic somewhere within the recesses of your soul. Occasionally, maybe after seeing a great movie, reading a great book or viewing a stunning piece of art, that dream is allowed to briefly come to the surface, like some reclusive groundhog in hibernation, only to see it’s shadow of fear and return to it’s protective burrow for six more months of “I can’t do that”.
Why not? Why can’t you do it? Someone whose work you have just seen in that book or movie or comic book that stirred those dormant dreams inside of you did it. They chose to embrace the fear and do it anyway. They chose to put in the long hours, the grueling deadlines, to face the insurmountable odds to reach their potential and the dreams that were most likely planted in them as a child. Probably like the ones inside of you. What’s holding you back? The mortgage? The ridicule of colleagues, friends, sometimes even spouses? You cannot silence that voice inside of you forever. The one that tells you “Do it” “Do it Now”. The one that keeps telling you to go for the glory of creating that part of you that no one else on earth can possibly create. Feel the Fear. Stare it down and beat it like some overgrown Goliath in front of you. And get on with it. Fly. Fly now before it’s too late.

“But nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight —
Got to kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight”
-Bruce Cockburn-

Cartoonists Discuss the Process

This is a fantastic video by cartoonist Daryl Cagle filmed recently at the Assosciation of American Editorial Cartoonists Convention in Seattle. Daryl is a good friend of mine who founded the website Cagle.com, which is a great hub of poltical cartoons from all over the globe. Check it out.