Monday, July 16, 2007

Gag Cartooning Questions

Some questions I've gotten recently ....

When you're drawing a new character or something you haven't drawn before -- is it difficult?

Yes. I'll draw it the wrong way a couple of times before I can get something that's good. Cows, for instance, are a problem, despite my having lived on a farm when I was little. Obviously, there are a lot of good Web search engines to use for reference, so it's easy now to draw, for instance, a WW1 infantry soldier or a particular car or something.

What is the format for magazine gag cartoons?

I draw on a piece of typing paper. I place it horizontally in front of me, so most of my cartoons are kinda horizontal. I use good quality typing paper. Right now, I'm using a 24 lb., 92 bright, 30% recycled paper. It's cheap and easy to store. Don Orehek turned me on to Micron pens, which will take a wash immediately. No smearing!

Back to the format. Most magazines just don't care. They can shrink the cartoons and make them fit via graphics programs like Quark, no problem. A couple of magazines may ask for a change. Playboy will tell you how many columns wide they want the cartoon. The editor will help you translate picas (the measurement for magazine columns) to inches. As mentioned before, Wall Street Journal publishes cartoons in a teeny weeny petite square, so the cartoons must fit that format. Below is another example:

On the left is the original that I drew, and on the right is the WSJ redraw. I always simplify the image for them since the space is dinky.

Do you draw all your cartoons in black and white? Do the publications color the cartoons or does the cartoonist? If the cartoonist colors them, then how? By hand? Computer?

I draw my submissions in B&W. I don't mail penciled roughs, which was the habit a generation ago. Now I tend to mail out finished cartoons, with wash tones. A big reason for this is that some magazines tend to change cartoon editors and I'd rather have something that looks like the finished art in front of them.

When an editor buys a cartoon, then he or she may ask for it to be colored. In general, magazines pay more for color.

The cartoonist does the coloring. I use PhotoShop, but that's not the rule.

I was talking with a cartoonist -- a cartoonist whose been in the industry since the 1950s -- and he was bemoaning that he didn't have ANY computer knowledge and how everything is all done on computers now. I told him that I thought he was mistaken. I still draw on paper and scan it in to the computer. So he counters with, "Yeah, but all the coloring -- it's all being done on computer." I happened to have a copy of Reader's Digest with me. Paging thru it, I found one cartoon that was colored on the computer (mine). The rest of them -- 5 cartoons -- sure looked like they were colored by hand. I know Dan Reynolds does all his coloring by hand.

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