Cartoonist, inky pal, and all around good guy, Mike Lynch, has the latest issue of Raconteur available for purchase now at his blog!
You should totally go buy this right now before they’re all gone. Seriously, they go really really fast. Are you still reading this? I said they go fast! What is with you, man?!
I’m super excited and honored to announce that I’m going to be speaking at the 2015 National Cartoonists Society Reuben Awards! Perhaps even better, I’ve been caricatured by Mad’s Tom Richmond for the brochure cover! (I’m second in from right under the flag with the glasses, hat, and the giant, and sadly quite accurate, nose.)
You won’t believe the other people speaking:
I’ll be talking about how I got started cartooning, how I make a living online, and my many spectacular failures.
Hope to see you there!!
This past weekend I attended the Kenosha Festival of Cartooning for the first time, but it certainly won’t be my last! (More on that later…)
It was an amazing weekend put together by John & Anne Morse Hambrock. I can’t imagine all the time and work (and cake baking) that went into this. And apparently there’s a lot of pent up demand for something like this because it was enthusiastically, overwhelmingly well-attended!
And it was so nice to see so many old cartoony friends and make some new ones too. Pretty much it was just awesome.
OK, on to the details and plenty of pics:
First there was the terrific comic & cartoon art exhibition, More Than Funny 2.
Here’s just a sampling of what was on display:
Then there was a great selection of cartoonists talking at length and answering questions about their art and careers:
And I had a front row seat to it all! Mostly because of this:
There need to be more chairs like that everywhere!
Then there was the auction of original art and more raising money for the Children’s Hospital Clinic and Open Wings school. Again, a sampling:
I did end up winning two items: some original Big Nate art from Lincoln Peirce, and a Farley stuffed animal and two signed children’s books from Lynn Johnston. (The kids were thrilled!)
And here’s the best news – not only is it happening again in 2015 (September 17-19), but I’m going to be a guest speaker!
So mark your calendars, and come on up and see me. I can’t wait to go again!
This year I’m starting something new on the cartoon blog called Tools, Techniques, and the Trade. It’s an occasional in-depth look at the weird world of drawing cartoons for a living.
I’ll explain why my pencils have to be made from California Incense-cedar wood, I’ll show you how my Photoshop Actions work, and how I keep track of thousands of cartoons’ comings and goings. (Also, I love alliteration.)
First up is a look at the various places I write my best cartoons most often.
For years I wrote and drew cartoons at a coffee table in the living room. But when our second child was on the way we moved into a slightly larger house and I grabbed a little room downstairs for my office. It’s basically a closet, but I’ve managed to cram in two sets of bookshelves, two desks, a drafting table, a file cabinet, a taboret, a chair, a stool, and probably a quarter million LEGO in various stages of organization. (I’ll show you some pictures sometime.)
When I write in here it’s mostly at my desk. I stare out my little window and jot things down either on a notepad, or in TextEdit. If I’m really feeling writerly I’ll turn on Coffitivity.
It’s a quiet place, I’m surrounded by cartoons, and I can close the door. If you can wrangle yourself a little office in the basement, I highly recommend it.
The library is a terrific place to find inspiration, and I’m lucky enough that our local library is the second largest public library in the state.
I like to go here, pick up a few books off the New Reads shelves, grab a few magazines, and set up by the big sculpture-y thing upstairs. There’s a big window with lots of morning light, just enough background noise, and millions of ideas just waiting to be pondered. It’s terrific.
This is something I discovered recently when both of the kids were finally old enough to be in school all day. I was looking for some exercise and began hitting tennis balls at a wall after dropping the kids off.
It felt good to get a bit of a workout, but what surprised me was how often cartoons ideas came to me while I hit. And not just cartoon ideas, but business ideas too. (I sussed out most of the details for my cartoon subscriptions at the tennis court.)
Now that it’s winter, and a terrible terrible winter at that, I’ve been going to the gym and writing while on the elliptical or the stairmaster, though not as often as I probably should.
There’s a ton of info on the link between exercise and creativity. It’s definitely worth checking out.
Driving is another one of those quiet reflective times, at least when I’m not shuttling the kids and/or the Mrs. around.
Sometimes I listen to the radio mining for little nuggets to play with, but sometimes I just enjoy the quiet and let things marinate in the ol’ noggin. Often I write like crazy on the drive home from the gym. It’s like a creative supercharging twofer.
But my absolute favorite, best, and most productive cartoon writing location is…
The shower is a-maz-ing. I’ve written more ideas in the shower than I can count. In fact I’ve considered putting dry erase markers next to the shampoo. (I’m not kidding.) My buddy Jeff worked in advertising for years and will also tell you his best ideas came to him in the shower.
Apparently this is actually a thing that people have researched:
Seriously, Google “shower creativity” – you’ll be amazed.
Those are my favorite writing locations. Where do you find yourself doing your best writing?
Here’s some more on how I write my cartoons:
And here’s some good general stuff on creativity:
Henry Martin is a cartoonist that really resonates for me. I love the sketchiness of his line, his exquisitely lengthy captions, and the detailed economy of his backgrounds. He’s just terrific and so I wanted to share some of my favorite Henry Martin cartoons with you:
What a great surprise caption. Martin makes you wait until the penultimate word to let you in on the joke and lands it perfectly.
And this is a good example of that detailed economy to set the scene. With just a few lines you’ve got a grand home looking out on a stone patio, some mountains, and a tree in autumn dropping its leaves. Amazing.
There’s a lovely weirdness to this idea. Is that an alien? Some sort of fairy? A variety of elf? It doesn’t matter. What matters is this thing shows up and for some reason unbeknownst to us gives this average businessman the idea for some revolutionary new product.
But is that enough? No, this guy wants the creature to not only come back, but to explain it again. There’s a lot going on, and even more unsaid. Wow.
I showed this to my son and he wanted to know what machine that guy was using. Sigh…
So the typewriter dates this a bit, but replace it with a laptop and this cartoon works as well today as it did years ago. And this is a good example of that long Martin caption that I admire. Three sentences and not a well-crafted word wasted. (“…brighter tomorrow” kills me every time.)
I love the darkness of this idea contrasting with the banality of the wife double-checking that the husband has everything he needs for the day. You could never do this cartoon today, and I think that only adds to the appeal. And look at those chairs!
Look at the beautiful wash on this. Everything and everybody is nicely defined, the light is going where it should, and there’s a fun casualness that only comes after thousands and thousands of cartoons. And that sucker punch caption is marvelous.
Picking just the right word(s) can make or break a caption. For me this cartoon hinges on emphasizing the word “this,” the slightly pretentious name, “Arthur,” and “markedly altered.” A lesser cartoonist might have gone for “really changed” or just plain “altered,” but “markedly altered” slows and shifts the rhythm of the read perfectly.
And please take a moment and admire that terrific shading again.
Another odd but wonderful idea for a cartoon, and a real challenge to depict visually. I mean, what does apotheosization look like? And the “in an unprecedented move” in the final sentence is just brilliant.
This dinner party kind of scene has always flummoxed me because, to be honest, I don’t go to many dinner parties. I don’t know how the room looks, where people stand, how they dress… But I think this is a really nice scenic middle ground and I intend to ape it a lot in the coming months.
Here’s another cartoon that could totally work today. And look at the way the scene and demeanor of the characters reinforce the idea of the caption. So nice.
The expressions on both the floating head and the wife make me laugh out loud when I read this. Then there’s the shading around the head, the detail on the tablecloth, the goofy I-told-you-so-ness of the caption… This is an embarrassment of cartoon riches.
What I love most about this cartoon isn’t the controlled ease of the shading, or even the caption that illustrates a truism of marriage at bedtime, but the fact that this is drawn from behind the couple! Look at that angle! It would never have occurred to me to frame it that way, but Martin pulls it off effortlessly.
Here’s another cartoon that’s a bit dated technologically, but I suspect you could still show this to most people and they’d understand the idea behind it. And I respect anyone who can pull off a purely wordless gag this nicely.
Another knock-it-out of the park example of Martin’s greatness. Economy of scene, beautiful line and shading, and a gag that not only surprises but implies something more. Even the name, “Miss Beckerman,” is great!
I love the melancholy in the humor here. And the giant bare desk, window, and cityscape support the gag so nicely.
The gag here is very nice (and well punctuated), but the art here is what stands out for me. First off, that’s a lot of flowers to draw and not skimp on. Then the deft shading implies even more foliage really nicely. Finally the overall shape and framing of the scene is so fluid and natural and so hard to get just right that you can’t help but linger and marvel.
This final cartoon is so damned funny in every way. I think it’s my favorite Martin cartoon and embodies everything I love about his work.
So there’s my appreciation of cartoonist Henry Martin. I hope you enjoyed reading it half as much as I enjoyed putting it together.
Want to know more about Martin? Here’s some additional reading:
And here’s some stuff you can purchase:
Want to know more about other cartoonists I like? Here’s some other posts to check out: