Above: Quick --tell me: who is this a caricature of?
I've met hundreds of people who tell me they are cartoonists. That's how they describe themselves. Some of them are professionals, who make a living from cartooning, others are on their way there. At least that's the plan. "I am a cartoonist," they say.
Anyway, a lot of people, regardless of making money from their cartoons, call themselves professional cartoonists.
Cartooning's not like, let's say, podiatry or being a dentist. There's no standard of scholarship in cartooning; there's no federal or local licensing standard for a cartoonist. And my opinion doesn't matter. People have to like your work -- enough to part with money -- and that puts you on the road to being pro.
Which brings me to the above drawing.
One kinda cartoonist a lot of people know is the caricaturist. I see caricature artists at a lot of events.
If you want to come down to sheer numbers, there must be more people practicing Bad Caricature than good. I know some great caricaturists (Mort Drucker, John Reiner, Tom Richmond, Sam Viviano) and I have no idea how they do what they do -- and how they do it so seemingly effortlessly. I admire their work immensely.
At the yearly local county fair, there's always a caricature artist. He's of the big-head-teensy-body school of style. That's OK, if you like that sort of thing. And the drawings are, uh, usually OK. I mean, they know how to draw fat people not-so-fat and ugly people not-so-ugly, etc.
Still, I don't know how this caricature business works. I guess you put out your WILL DRAW YOUR CARICATURE $20 shingle, and then, sit back and see who parts with their money.
And now there are these stick figure things, like the one above I nicked from a friend's MySpace page. They all look like Matt Feazel cartoons (a guy whose work I admire) or like Jeff Kinney drew them (ditto). And I see them on cars. They cost a couple of dollars per figure if you want to buy them for your car, by the way. And people do. Some businessman is getting rich.
And then some businessmen skimp, which brings me to the image at the top.
THE BOB NEWHART SHOW, the one from the 1970s, is out on DVD. Seeing the images is what started this rant. I rented the first disc of the second season which has these menu pages:
OK, who ARE these people?
From the sitcomicsonline descrip:
The main menu screen is a very interesting one. [That's damning with the faintest of praise now isn't it? - Mike] Each disc (and disc side) has a different design featuring a drawing of two (or more) of the regular cast members (caricatures, I think) [The poor guy isn't even sure what to call them - Mike] on a different background drawn to look like a set. Disc 1/Side A features drawings of Carol, Emily and Bob. Disc 1/Side B features Howard and Jerry. Disc 2/Side A features Howard, Carol and Bob, Disc 2/Side B features Emily and Jerry. Disc 3/Side A features Jerry, Bob and Emily, Disc 3/Side B features Howard and Carol.
It's just astonishingly feeble work. Heaven knows what the story is behind these illustrations. Maybe the DVD people had an employee whose brother's cousin knew a kid who would do it for free. I don't know. Hard to believe that this art was accepted. It's ugly and it sure looks wrong.
But the way to making money -- becoming a pro -- is to get money for your work.
You can, to paraphrase the 2000 Year Old Man, put you hand on a rock and look up the sky and proclaim TODAY I AM A CARTOONIST and, well, there you have it. And then you go on LiveJournal or DeviantArt or Wordpress and start "publishing."
Sometimes I hear that when you criticize, you are not being supportive. This is fine for a toddler, but this is the real world and you gotta draw Bob Newhart like Bob Newhart, OK?
-- This was en edited version of a 2009 blog entry.