Friday, July 11, 2008

Mike Lynch Cartoon in July 11, 2008 Chronicle of Higher Education

I have a cartoon in this week's Chronicle of Higher Education.

"Dr. Peters celebrates an outstanding enrollment report via modern dance."

The thing about a guy wearing a suit like Dr. Peters does above (a serious, dark, pin striped suit) is that he gives the impression by his choice of clothing that he's one darn serious professor! It's Dr. Peters' hands, doing that overhead hula wave action, that makes this cartoon cook, and gets you interested in what's going on. Since he is the darkest figure in the picture, your eyes naturally rest on him as the center of interest.

Today's cartoon is an example of two things:
  1. a niche market gag cartoon, and

  2. cheating.
Let me explain.

CHE is a weekly tabloid that's aimed at post secondary administrators in our places of higher learning in the US of A. They also publish gag cartoons. You can find it in most college and university libraries. I've also seen it a big, well-stocked book stores occasionally. My Dad was a college professor and a dean, so I had seen the Chronicle -- but not since I had moved out of home. When I first started cartooning, I remembered CHE. I managed to find a couple of recent issues in a library and I looked at them. Not only did I make a note of the kinds of cartoons that were published (and I was much relieved to find out they were STILL publishing cartoons!), but I also skimmed some of the articles and wrote down buzz words. Doing this, aided me in writing my cartoons for the publication.

And the cheat is here:

"Mr. Johnson celebrates an outstanding earnings report via modern dance."

Above we have a serious, dark, pin striped suited Mr. Johnson. As you can well see with your very eyes, it is the exact same drawing. But now there are different words. Now it's a business gag. I've "plagiarized myself," as some have may say.

Not true. And it's not a cheat. Not in my eyes. It's now a different gag for a different market.

My pal Rod McKie (whose excellent, intelligent Rod McKie Illustrations and Cartoons blog omnivorously looks at manga, the gag cartoon market, his own terrific work, and the art of cartoons) writes here about coming up with different gags for the same visuals. (He's also busy contributing to the Forbidden Planet blog. Congrats, Rod!)

It's rare for me to be able to rewrite a gag line for a new market. I wish I could just draw up 10 cartoons and come up with 4 good gag lines for batch of the 10 drawings. That would be GREAT! But I just can't.

BTW, the above business version of the cartoon appeared on an online business site.

And, no, after thinking long and hard, I don't really know why I picked the name of Peters for an education cartoon and Johnson for a business cartoon.

Factoid: the chairs in the drawing are Star Trek-style briefing room chairs. Look for more in my other drawings.


Rod McKie said...

That's an excellent cartoon Mike. It would make a great card too.

Thank you for the kind words.

Mark Anderson said...

What a great cartoon, and a great explanation of changing that gag. And I agree, as long as you're 'plagiarizing' yourself, no harm done (unless you have multiple personalities, that is).

Anonymous said...

So this bears the question - what should come first... the concept or the gag line? The New Yorker's weekly "write the best gag for the cartoon" series actually comes up with some good results.

I think it is fun to make a drawing and wrestle with the best possible wording. I also think it is brilliant to use different options for different markets.