Today’s Writing

One of the tricks I use when writing is to scan the newspaper for catch phrases and/or idioms I can twist around for gags.

Today, went quicker than most (about a half hour for four gags), and I thought with the extra time I’d show you how it went:


I just sorta scribble down words and phrases as I find them, and then go back to the paper for more.  As I’m reading and scribbling, stuff ferments a little and ideas start coming:

  • "Job Security" is one I’ve done a lot with, so no surprise that there’s nothing there today.
  • "Sexual Tension" for some reason brought out the Sidney Harris is me.  I thought it would be funny to have sexual tension as part of some sort of complicated formula.  A little later I thought of the male and female symbols, and it all sort of fell together.
  • "Legal Maneuvers" brought the Heimlich maneuver to mind, and although it took a little to whittle down the caption, I think it worked out nicely.
  • "High Profile" wrote itself, and I have no idea why my sketch of a man in profile includes a ponytail.
  • "Track Record" was percolating for a bit with a man interviewing in track shoes, but it never really materialized.
  • "Boxed Wines" went nowhere fast.
  • "Hall Czar" came from a headline about a "Telecom Czar."  "War Czar" is abuzz right now, so I thought taking it down to a kid’s level would be a good way to poke some fun.  It ended up a little more political and topical than I like to get, but it is what it is.

Here are the gags rewritten for further marinating in the ol’ idea box:


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3 thoughts on “Today’s Writing”

  1. I love these kind of entries.

    You make it look easy. If you keep doing it this easily, you'll be up to Sam Gross's 24,000 gag cartoon mark in no time.

    It's interesting that you don't make a sketch (aside from the ponytail guy). I always have to do a doodle.

  2. I've never been a doodle guy of guy for writing, although I hear of a ton of cartoonist who do that first. Schulz I think started doodling to begin writing.

    Also, I think the writing gets easier the longer you do it. I remember really working to get 3 gags in a day. Really racking my brain…

    Then I just lowered my standards! 🙂

  3. Good stuff and pretty interesting. That reminds me of a method that was being discussed at an AAEC convention a few years ago. Mike Peters, Mike Luckovich, Steve Kelley and a few others were demonstrating it.

    It essentially involves starting with a phrase from the paper or elsewhere, then drawing a circle around it and 8-10 'spokes' like on a bicycle wheel outward…at the end of each spoke, you write the first thing that comes to mind.

    Then, if something looks interesting, do another level of spokes. It produces some funny associations. Apparenly a number of other cartoonists like Jim Meddick — "Robotman/Monty") use it, as well as some stand-up comics. I've used it and have had good results…but I also doodle to get ideas, too.

    –I like your sexual tension idea a lot. (Where was that phrase in the paper? Suddenly I want to read that story!)

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