Thursday, January 15, 2009

From Rough to Finish

A busy day today. Here's a rerun of a 2008 entry. My thanks to Chris Lupetti for asking me some questions about the single panel cartoon gag writing process via Facebook.

Chris' questions prompted a revisit to the ol' blog. So please excuse me while I go all TV Land and give you a classic Mike Lynch Cartoons encore presentation of a retro classic:

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%. This is directly from my head to the sketchbook.

This particular gag idea came last year when other cartoonists would tell me something (a juicy bit of cartoon gossip) -- and then sternly 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 my blog has been discovered"

gets rid of the profanity (always a good idea) and the branding of the blog. Which, of course, I would be glad to put in in exchange for a hefty promotional fee.

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?

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, bodyless 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 display 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!


PaMdora said...

I like seeing the roughs - more gestural. The finished drawings are good too, but it's nice to see both. Thanks1

Unknown said...

I loved the "Meet the Cow" panel; the backlash against inhumane treatment of animals and feedlots taken to it's logical conclusion.
"Running by the numbers" is great too; I always enjoy fun being made of catch phrases and overused metaphors. The third guy of the team, obviously a novice, was a funny additional touch. Would it have been too distracting to also have made his sign upside down?