Wednesday, December 30, 2009
How'd I Do That? Pt.1
Ninety percent of the people who contact me want to know the same thing. My reply is always the same: You'll get paid as soon as I have the money. Occasionally someone will also ask about the process I go through when creating a cartoon. They'll usually say something like 'If I sat around all day I couldn't come up with a single joke.' While this is meant as a complement it always strikes me as somewhat less than well thought out. It makes want to find a surgeon and say that if I had an entire afternoon I wouldn't be able to figure out how to transplant a kidney. Not that I'm comparing cartooning to surgery. For instance it's probably a bad idea to perform surgery while siting on your couch in your pajamas.
Anyway, the first step in creating a cartoon is coming up with a joke, or, as those of us in the business say, a gag. This takes time. I either sit around with a pad or do something else, like my taxes, with a pad in arm's reach. During this process I'm thinking about phrases or topics that might lend themselves to gags. I'll sometimes listen to the radio or read the paper with the hopes of getting my brain going. When I do get rolling-and this is important-I write down anything that seems like a gag I might want to use. I don't trust my memory in this situation. As soon as something else enters my mind, like another joke, a screaming offspring, a screaming wife, a police officer asking why my entire family is screaming, the gag will be pushed out of my mind and into oblivion.
For this exercise we're going to focus on the gag at the bottom of the page I've scanned. It reads: "I'm not interested in things that don't kill me but make me stronger. I'm interested in things that don't kill me and make me rich." I sometimes wind up changing the wording, but for now, that's the gag. Tune in in a couple of days and I'll post the rough pencil drawing that will be miraculously transformed into a soon to be classic cartoon.