Brevity Is…

It’s funny how cartoons change.

I keep a box next to my drafting table full of slips of paper with ideas.  I don’t draw anything on them, they’re just covered with gags.

A standard page usually has three or four hastily scratched jokes, and they marinate in the box for a while until I pick three at random to draw up.

What’s weird is how a gag I haven’t looked at in months all of a sudden becomes immediately clearer to me; the shortcomings instantaneously apparent, as is the probable solution.

Here’s an example:

writing cartoons

The original caption:

“Listen, I don’t wanna use the shredder.  Frankie don’t wanna use the shredder.  But you gotta tell me what I wanna know right now or they’re gonna get the shredder!”

I’d considered adding some sorta swear words for emphasis…

“…or they’re gonna get the Goddamn shredder!”

“…or they’re gonna get the freakin’ shredder!”

…but the whole thing just reeked of trying too hard.

The amended caption:

“Just tell me what I wanna know!”

Not bad, but still pretty weak.

The final caption:

writing cartoons 2

Ahhh…  There it is.

Not that shorter is always better; sometimes a wordy caption is perfect, but not this time.

Anyway, it’s weird how it works.  I knew immediately that the original caption sucked (although when I originally wrote it, it seemed perfect), and the amended caption came right away, but the one-word caption occurred as I was inking it, which is later than normal, but you learn to just accept gags when and how they happen.

That’s really the fun part for me; that “ah-HA!” moment.  The daydreaming and digging for gags.  It’s the hardest part, but the most rewarding.

Plus I get to draw a strip of paper people about to be shredded by mobsters.  That’s fun too.

3 thoughts on “Brevity Is…”

  1. Nice!

    The shortest gag line is usually the best. And the same thing happens to me: time away from the rough helps to see the problems.

    I'd love to see the rough and finished versions.

  2. Whew! I'm not the only one who struggles with this. 🙂 I can certainly relate – getting to the AHA! moment can be a real challenge sometimes – but it's definitely a rewarding feeling when it all comes together.

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