Christmas is coming up quick, so I thought I’d share this year’s batch of Christmas cartoons. Grab some cocoa and enjoy:
I don’t know a lot about Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, so I’m a little uncomfortable writing cartoons for them. For that matter I also avoid the religious aspects of Christmas, preferring to stick mostly to Santa, etc… But every year I do try to offer at least one winter-themed cartoon to round things out a bit more, and I’m really happy with this one.
I worried that it might be a bit subtle, so I gave the Dad snowman four buttons instead of three to drive the point home. Seriously, this is something I think about.
This is one of those Christmas cartoons that needed a little help. The joke was always there, but when I was shading I noticed that I’d drawn the leg the boy is sitting one much smaller than the other. Honestly, Santa looked like a pirate or maybe something out of an old Twilight Zone episode. (The boy gets his wish but is then horribly and ironically disfigured!) Anyway, it was Photoshop to the rescue and Christmas was saved!
This one took the most most effort of this year’s batch of Christmas cartoons. Firstly, it’s a really long caption that I had a lot of trouble nailing down. So the number of words written, then rewritten, then revised, then thrown out completely and restarted was absurd. Secondly, drawing all those little Christmas tree branches and needles and lights… Ugh! And it didn’t come out right until about the third ink. Then it was on to shading which meant testing all kinds of brushes and patterns and opacities to get the tree just right. Finally I showed it all to my wife and she didn’t get it. Did! Not! Get! It! But after a few more rewrites I think it ended up pretty good. Mostly I’m just glad it’s done. (Bah! Humbug!)
When I get stuck for a caption I like to take the subject I’m working on and put it in a banal business setting to see what happens. So you put some overworked elves, that burning empty carafe smell, substitute cocoa for coffee and you’ve got yourself a cartoon!
There are a lot of more straightforward ways to write this caption:
And normally I advocate for trimming captions as much as possible, but for whatever reason this cartoon felt like it needed a longer caption.
OK, the aforementioned tree cartoon probably took the longest of this year’s Christmas cartoons to draw, but this cartoon took the most time to conceive visually. It’s a very specific caption as far as the ornament goes, so you can’t really fudge the art. I spent quite a bit of time in Google images researching DIY yarn decorations, mouse shaped ornaments, and how yarn looks close up. All in all I think it turned out well and I think it rings true.
So that’s it for this year’s batch. Looking for more? Head on over to the main site and check out the rest of my Christmas cartoons!
And here’s some other Christmas blogs you might like:
Thanksgiving is almost here, and this year I thought I’d show you how to draw your very own cartoon Pilgrim!
When you’re finished, feel free to tweet, pin, email or otherwise share a pic of your Pilgrim with me and I’ll post it over at Pinterest! And if you’d like to grab the tutorial to post on your own blog or website, you’re more than welcome to. (A link back would be appreciated.) Enjoy:
Easy, right? You should try out my other how-to-draw tutorials too! Here’s just a few:
Feel free to check out my Thanksgiving cartoons too!
This weekend was the Festival of Cartoon Art at Ohio State University. It was also the grand opening of the new Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. It was a tremendous weekend, and I thought I’d share a bit of the experience.
I arrived Friday evening, so I missed both the academic presentations and the ribbon cutting, but my flight was good and I had copious legroom, so I can’t complain.
I stayed at the Blackwell Inn which is where I believe the event was held when my wife and I first attended 12 years ago. Three years ago I found the shuttle buses were often late, and the Blackwell is just a short walk so I could come and go as I pleased. If you can get a room for the next festival I’d highly recommend it.
The next morning, after a quick breakfast at McDonald’s, I checked in and almost immediately ran into Rich Diesslin and we chatted for a bit. Then I found Stacy Curtis and his wife and we caught up over coffee. After that it was time to get things rolling with the presentation of the until recently dormant Elzie Segar Award to Lucy Shelton Caswell. And not only did she get a lovely statuette, but a standing ovation from the appreciative audience. Congrats, Lucy!
After that it was on to hear the first speaker of the day, editorial cartoonist Matt Bors. While I’ve certainly become more aware of Bors’ work in recent years, I haven’t made the time to really dig into it, so I was glad to get the opportunity. I very much enjoyed how Bors is, as he put it, “inspired but the urge to call bullshit.” And I especially appreciated how he strives to avoid the standard low hanging fruit type gags.
Between speakers I got to say hello to old friend Tom Stemmle and his wife who was snapping pictures. It’s always so nice to see them, and the Mrs. usually mails out photos. I can’t wait to see them!
Next up was Eddie Campbell, another artist whose work I’m not familiar with, but, again, he was an entertaining speaker. His comic and video about his encounter with the possibly fictitious insect, the Snooter, was a highlight. Well, except for the rectal exam part. (I really hope that bug is fictitious.)
After Campbell I had a reasonable lunch and then gorged myself at the new Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. There’s so much incredible material on display that I was overwhelmed. Honestly, I teared up a bit while taking in a Watterson watercolor. This beautiful new facility and its contents has to been seen to be believed. Enjoy this small sampling:
It was at the museum that I ran into Chris Sparks, editor of the Team Cul de Sac book. He and I chatted about the exhibit and I signed a few Team Cul de Sac books for him, immediately lowering their values. I was so happy to be able to be part of that book, and I’m certainly feeling Richard Thompson‘s absence at the festival this year. I’ve heard there’s going to be a combined show of Watterson and Thompson here next year. I’m going to have to figure out a way to come see it.
I headed back over to the Wexner center to hear Stephan Pastis speak when I ran into cartoony pal Maria Scrivan. While her very patient husband read nearby, Maria and I talked business, success, failures, editor/spouses and more. It was so much fun that I ended up being late to Pastis’ talk. My apologies to the people I stepped on while finding my seat. I’m an oaf.
I don’t know if it was coming after similarly structured chats from Bors and Campbell, but I was hoping for less of a general audience aimed talk from Pastis and something meatier for the largely cartoonist audience. Still, it was entertaining, the hate mail stories are amazing, and the Cathy Guisewite naked Twister story is a real gem. (I’m not making that up.)
Following a short break we got to see the first real screening of the new documentary, Stripped, by Dave Kellett and Fred Schroeder. It’s really a love letter to the craft of cartooning and its creators. There are plenty of laughs, a lot of head-nodding-in-agreement moments, and even some very rare audio of Watterson himself talking cartoons.
The end of the film dealt more with the future of traditional comic strips and the promise of webcomics and their business model, which I found interesting, but I admit I would’ve liked to hear more than this one possible way forward.
They answered questions afterward, many of which dealt with the print to web transition. It got me thinking, are there any ‘old school’ comic strips that are in the process of or have successfully transitioned/embraced the web-centered paradigm? It feels to me like there’s a very sharp line between traditional print comics and web comics. Am I missing someone? I wonder what will happen to current print cartoonists when the newspaper model finally hits bottom.
One more thing about the film – I know the focus is on the comic strip genre, but I would’ve liked to have seen at least a small representation of gag cartoonists and editorial cartoonists as well. But, there are lots of things I’d like that don’t necessarily happen, and I can understand their need to target just the one discipline.
After that it was back to the Blackwell where I ordered pizza from a small local pizzeria (I’m in a college town after all!) and took time to type up the first day. I opted out of the Hernandez brothers presentation that evening as I ran out of steam and just wanted to enjoy my pizza in my Tabasco pajamas while watching the last half of Blade 2. It’s not pretty, but, hey, it’s honest.
The next day I got up, had breakfast and headed over to the Billy Ireland Museum for a behind the scenes tour of the stacks. It did not disappoint. The amount of material carefully and loving archived here is unbelievable. I joked with another tour attendee that I might try to hide so I could stay behind and bask in all the cartoony goodness, but I was only half joking.
I think when Andertoons is all said and done, this would probably be the place the send all my originals and stuff. They can use them as coasters or scratch paper or something.
After some writing and a quick lunch, it was on to Brian Basset’s talk. An OSU grad, he talked about his early career as an editorial cartoonist, his first strip, Adam@Home, and his other strip Red and Rover. He detailed his love of drawing body language, how he portrays his older brother in the strip, and how difficult it is to maintain Rover as a real dog.
Up next was Amulet‘s Kazu Kibuishi. I was quite excited to hear his talk and was very impressed. Both the boy and I adore his Amulet series, and Kibuishi had lots of art and process to share. He also shared a hilarious story about his near-death encounter with a Murphy bed, talked about how he sees himself more as a teachers aid encouraging kids to read, and then wowed the audience by taking questions while creating a painting on his laptop in real time. Amazing.
Finishing things up was Bone’s Jeff Smith who shared six of his favorite Bugs Bunny cartoons. It was so great to see them in 35mm with an audience. A true joy and what a perfect “That’s all, folks!” for the weekend.
Then it was a ride to the airport to see if I could get a flight home. My original flight was cancelled, but Chance at the United desk worked hard to get me reserved on two possible flights. I had dinner, grabbed some candy, found a seat where I could plug in my phone, and finished up this blog. Thankfully, I was able to get home safe, sound, and reasonably on time.
A big thanks to everyone involved at the Billy Ireland for putting together another fantastic event, a big thanks to the good folks at United for getting me home (eventually), and the biggest thanks to the Mrs. for taking the full brunt of the kids for the weekend. I’m looking forward to the next Festival of Cartoon Art in 2016.
Thanksgiving cartoons are usually not my favorite to write because there’s not a lot of material to mine. But for whatever reason, this year they came relatively quickly (September!) and I squirrelled them away to draw up on a busy and/or bad writing week. Boy was I glad I did!
A few weeks back we had to travel for a family wedding and 3/4 of the Anderson family unit was sick (including me), so having these Thanksgiving cartoons at the ready came in handy. Anyway, I thought I’d share a little info on each of them to get us all in the mood for Turkey Day! Enjoy:
I’m not normally a purely visual gag kind of cartoonist. There are people that do that well, but I’ve found myself to be more interested in playing with language. This is also a fairly difficult scene to pull off, so you’d think I’d save it for last, right? Nope! I dug right in and spent most of a day on this one Thanksgiving cartoon. (Normally I can create 3 cartoons start to finish in about two hours.) I think it was worth it, but because it had me a little out of my element I’m still not sure. What do you think?
This cartoon went through all kinds of changes to the caption. At various points the turkey had ordered night vision goggles, a hot air balloon, a taxi, a trampoline and more. The trickiest part was the airline portion. I wanted to get across that the turkey was headed someplace exotic, but people calling to check on credit card charges don’t tell you what was purchased so I couldn’t write anything like “two tickets to the Bahamas.” Thankfully there’s an actual Hawaiian Airlines which solved my problem.
This Thanksgiving cartoon came to me by working backwards. “It’s a little dry” is something probably everyone has heard connected to a turkey, but I wanted to take it a show just how dry this particular bird ended up being. I was also considering putting in one of those cow skulls and some heat lines, but thought it might complicate what I was hoping to make more of a subtle joke.
This caption got completely reworked after showing it my wife. The original was “I thought Halloween was last month.” Now, my wife being the good cartoon editor she is said “Why would the pig dress up?”
“It’s not the pig, the turkey is tricking him and dressing him up so he gets eaten instead,” I explained.
“OK, but that’s not clear with that caption,” she said. And she was totally right.
It took me about an hour of deep thought (OK, 20 minutes of deep thought, some BuzzFeed browsing and a short nap) but I think adding “Thanks for the help” and the “Turkee” sign got this one working. Actually now I that I look at it I think it might be my favorite of the Thanksgiving cartoons this year. WOO!
I did a bit of research for this cartoon because stuff is always funnier if it’s accurate. (See the gourd cartoon from Halloween.) The idea here is that the therapist, while working with his client, takes a moment to get a little expert Thanksgiving advice. I’d considered giving the guy more of a hungry look, but thought that was a little easy.
This is not only the last of the new Thanksgiving cartoons, but the wordiest by far. But you know what? It was even wordier right up until I was typing in the caption. The original caption was:
“OK, last thing. It’s come to my attention that some people in the office are hanging up those little hand turkey drawings their kids made and some employees, and I’m not saying who, find those quite offensive and have complained to HR. So, if you could do me a favor and just take them down…”
Whew! Pant pant… That’s a mouthful isn’t it?! So a little pruning later it’s certainly more readable, but I have to admit it lost just a little zip.
So that’s it for this year. Feel free to head on over to the main site and check out all of my Thanksgiving cartoons. And have a great Thanksgiving!
Wanna see more blogs about Thanksgiving Cartoons? Here you go: