Monday, July 19, 2010

Cartoon Class: George Booth, Puberty & the "Exquisite Corpse"

One of my summer traditions is teaching an intense week of cartoon classes at the Long Island Museum. I also get to hang out with some wonderful cartoonists and friends.


We always have a grand time in cartoon class. This year, we averaged about 7.5 complete drawings per hour. The kids, all between 10 and 14, were drawing machines.

I stand at the front of the class, and we all draw together. We draw people, expressions, pigs, cats, monsters, penguins, and many, many other things. We develop comic strips, tell visual stories, create characters and do a lot of writing and drawing. By the end of the week, the students are doing more and more of the drawing without my help. When the students leave, I hope I've empowered them to tell their own cartoon stories.


It's been a pleasure to get to know George Booth this year. We worked together on his presentation this past May for the National Cartoonists Society Reubens weekend, where he received the Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award.

Since the Long Island Museum is near his studio, we got together to have lunch last Wednesday. His wife and daughter were able to take time to join us as well. It was a grand lunch that lasted a couple of hours. George was, he told me, very interested in my cartooning class. I said he'd be welcome to drop by for maybe the last half hour and sit in, if he would like to.

George walked into the classroom bright and early the following morning. I introduced him as "my friend, George." I may have mentioned he was a cartoonist. I didn't tell the kids that George is, so far as I am concerned, on the Mount Olympus of great cartoonists. I figured he wanted to be discreet.

He stayed for the entire cartoon class on Thursday. Sure, I was nervous. Fortunately, I had over-prepared for the class, with at least twice as many projects -- so I knew we would keep busy. We had a lot of fun. And so did George, who laughed at a lot of the solutions to the "what comes next?" cartoons. This is just one of many cartoony things we draw in class.

The "what comes next?" exercise is where we all draw one panel together, and then each student draws the second panel, showing what may occur next. Here are a few of the set up panels, scanned in from my tiny sketchbook and blown up big:

"Do you bite?" does get a lot of dog-eating-person drawings for the second panel, of course.

The "Say cheese! and "No!" panel. I've seen students draw another 6-8 panels after this, with the kid basically saying "No!" to anything the adult says.

iPods are easy to draw and this always gets some interesting responses.

The "Why aren't you extinct?" panel, which usually results in a sympathetic dinosaur portrayal.

Sometimes it's best to be ignorant of what's in your food.

And so on. I have a lot of these panels and it's fun to see what the student cartoonist imagines what happens next.

THE EXQUISITE CORPSE (Yes, That's the Name of This Game)

Near the end of the class, George asked for a sheet of paper. He then drew something on one side and folded it over, so I couldn't see what he had drawn. He invited me to draw something else on the blank side. The one rule: I had to incorporate the lines he had made at the top.

And George then added the dubiously helpful hints "front maybe," "front maybe," and "bottom maybe."

And so I drew this:

And then we unfolded it to reveal:

Here's a close up on that goofy bird:

What a great game!


Cezanne, one of the talented students, came in with the cartoon below -- a hilarious and creepy story of puberty that she had drawn on her own time. I thought it was GREAT and asked her if I could share it. She said it would be OK to post it here on the Mike Lynch Cartoons blog. Take it away, Cezanne!

Here is the giant size 16 x 20 original:

I've cut it into panels for easy viewing. Click to supersize:

"Everyone get into a line," she says. "Class! We are going to play a game!"

Fred, who is the star of this tragedy, has a question. Sadly, he will not be able to ask it. Keep reading!

Above: "What's wrong with Fred's armpits?" "Gross."

Above: "PUBERTY IS COMING!" And Fred says, "My armpit hair is strangling me! HELP! HELP!"



Thank you, Cezanne, for letting me share this!


A special thanks to my great friends and cartoonists Don & Suzanne Orehek, Trade & Annalisa Loeffler and Adrian & Pat Sinnott for letting me eat their food and sleep over during my time away.


Daryll Collins said...

Wow! What a great cartooning experience!

Wish they would have had a fun and informative class like this when I was a kid.

Mike said...

"What comes next?" is a brilliant activity. Really solid, all around.