Tuesday, February 26, 2008

From Rough to Finish

Today I want to show some sketches and their trip from rough to finish. Above: detail from a sketchbook. The little note "sold HBR" means it sold to Harvard Business Review. I draw very simply and quickly and very small. I blew this up about 200%.

The idea came to me last year when other cartoonists would chat with me and maybe tell me some bit of gossip or something good and juicy -- and then warn me I better not to put it in my blog.

And, above, is the cartoon as I showed it to HBR for their consideration. The line "Aw, hell. You've been reading my MySpace blog, huh?" has been changed. The new line "Uh oh .... Something tells me that blog has been discovered" gets rid of the profanity (always a good idea) and the branding of the blog.

Above is the "Johnson is very security conscious" cartoon rough. You can see how quickly and messily I doodle a rough. Can you tell the guy is locking a steel gate? I originally thought that the text would just float over the cartoon, but then changed it.

Above is the version that I mailed out. Now we have a couple of guys walking by commenting that "Harding is very security conscious." I don't remember why I changed Johnson to Harding. It could be that there was all ready a Johnson character in another cartoon in the batch. I should have (as my Dad suggested afterward) put a big nasty bulldog by the cubicle. That would have been funnier and fun to draw as well. Ah well. The important thing is that it sold!

The "Meet the Cow" milk carton cartoon changed a bit from rough doodle to finish.

It became the Artisanal Milk cartoon, which I wrote about here. When I submitted this cartoon about conspicuous lactose consumption to the Chronicle of Higher Education, I had no idea there was such a thing as artisanal milk. A Chronicle of Higher Education reader told me otherwise.

Above is one of those silly little doodles again. I drew little sweatbands on the people who are running by with the numbers. Those were lost in the finish, and that was wrong. The people at the board room table are drawn so simply they look like three hairless heads on the floor.

Above is the finish. I remember drawing this up quickly, thinking that this one would not sell, so let's just draw it up and add it to the batch. No matter how long you are in the biz, you do not know what will sell. It sold very quickly.

And above is the page from my sketchbook. It's a 6" x 9" 110 lb. acid free 100% recycled paper from the Robert Bateman cover series produced by En Tour Artist Products, Inc. As you can see, I draw 8 ideas per page, on both sides of the page. The 110 lb. paper allows for no bleeding with my permanent Micron pens.

So, there you have it. Four sales out of eight. Actually, that's not true. Looking at that page of roughs, I only drew up five of the eight ideas -- and the fifth one, the one that didn't sell, is on hold. All in all, a darn good batting average. However, I should add in all honesty, like those diet commercials post in dinky lettering on the TV screen as Valerie Bertinelli goes from plump to thin, "results not typical."

I hope you found this interesting. I cringe at how rough these doodles are!


richardcthompson said...

It is interesting (don't cringe, my roughs look like an infant drawing with his foot). I love watching the process, the little tweaks and changes that bring an idea to life, like "Artisinal", a word that just makes things all that much funnier.

Mark Anderson said...

Sketches are so much fun to see! Thanks for posting there, mon frere!

And I love seeing the sale marked in there! Lynch historians will thank you!


Mike, youshould send those sketches to the NY they probably would sell.

Mike Lynch said...

Richard, thanks for the kind words. I still think that my rough doodles are just for me and of zero interest to anyone. I stand corrected.

Mark, I try to make notes that say SOLD like that in my sketchbook. Most of the time now, I'll write the name of the mag and the amount I made. When I'm in a sales slump, it's nice to look at the older sketches and see what sold.

Don, thanks for the kind words. You never know what will sell and what won't, huh? But in this case, all of these cartoons were rejected by The New Yorker.