Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Cartoon Better, Even If It's Harder

Talking about editorial cartoons today. But this also applies to other cartoons now that I think of it.

Tjjeerd Royaards of Cartoon Movement writes about "tribute cartoons;" specifically, cartoons about the Paris attacks. He very politely cites that a lot of the popular ones are the same (a bleeding eiffel tower). While he loves cartoons like these, he asks if cartoonists are being asked to produce a thoughtful cartoon in too little time. He also proposes the idea that cartoonists who have a large body of older work may just repurpose an older cartoon.

Generally, a cartoon after a tragic event (an attack, a prominent death, a tragedy, a war, etc.) is being asked to be insightfully poignant and humorous. When you produce on an assembly line basis, some cartoons are going to be better than others. If you go for the first idea you have, then a lot of the time, a lot of other cartoonists will have that idea and draw it up. Then it's yahtzee-time.

"Yahtzee" is a term that's used when a lot of editorial cartoonists draw up the same idea. If you go to a site that has a lot of editorial cartoons from time to time, then you have seen this. I read about it first in Doug Marlette's book about cartooning, IN YOUR FACE: A CARTOONIST AT WORK (1991).

He also talks about the danger of low-lying fruit kinda gags. It's a good term. It means what you think it means: the easy joke that you can just pluck off and start drawing. It's not good. And Marlette is the only one I have ever read that tells us that the reason he was so good was because he very quickly would sense what the low-lying gag was, and try to make it better -- or twist it.

This is all good advice, and it means that the cartoonist --- that odd combination of a person who writes as well as a person that draws -- needs to be a better writer, even if it's harder to do.

1 comment:

FM Hansen said...

Well said. Thanks Mike.