Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Cartoon Gags

Wednesday I was chatting with Tony Murphy at the local pub. The subject: gag writing. Tony had a pad of paper that he carried with him. He flipped it open and it was covered with writing; interesting words, phrases, potential gag lines, funny things he overheard. I don't always carry a pad of paper around, and I admire Tony's habit of keeping this pad at hand, and jotting ideas and bits of dialogue down as they occur to him. I asked him if he ever drew in there as well. No, just words.

And it's words that are the life blood of gag writing. No, wait a minute. Sometimes it's words, but sometimes there are no words in a successful cartoon or comic strip. What I mean to say is IDEAS are the life blood of gag writing.

And, of course, the drawing too.

Bob Mankoff says there are these 2 groups of people out there: writers and artists. Sometimes, the group overlaps and you get one person with both qualities. THAT'S a cartoonist!

While I don't write everything down, I do have a good memory. And I remember one story in a comic book about an alien invasion. And I though, Hey! I'd like to draw an alien invasion! That would be fun to draw.

Ooookay. But I had to come up with business cartoons. How can I put those 2 ideas together?

Hmm ... Think, think, think ....

So, I came up with this:


And I liked the gag. But the drawing didn't work for me. I thought that it wasn't clear that they had landed on a desk. So, a redraw:



That lamp helps tell us where we are, and frames the cartoon nicely I thought. And I drew the lead alien, ;eaning in to subordinate alien and he was way more angry -- which, I think, makes it a tad funnier.

And now, let me confess that the story about the flying saucer invasion from a comic book. (It was either STRANGE ADVENTURES or FROM BEYOND THE UNKNOWN.) The story had a Rod Serling-type surprise ending where (and this blew my 9 year old mind at the time) their flying saucers turned out to be about the size of Frisbees. And sure enough, a dog catches one of their ships and the aliens, surprised at the "horrible monster that eats our invasion fleet," retreat.

Thus ends today's ramble.

1 comment:

Royston said...

The same idea was used by Douglas Adams in The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy. "Due to a terrible miscalculation of scale, the entire battlefleet was swallowed by a small dog" ... something like that.