cartoon writing wording

I love words.

And it’s a good thing since writing is really the crux of the whole cartoonist thing. You can be the greatest artist in the world, but if your writing stinks, believe you me, nobody is going to be buying.

One of my favorite tricks when I’m stumped is to hit the books. Actually, a few specific books. I’ve got a number of different reference volumes to kick start the writing process:

So if I’ve got a specific topic in mind, say for a custom cartoon, I’ll obviously start by looking for that specific word. Each book is organized a little differently, but they all make finding related content fairly easy.

If I’m just writing to write, however, I love to just leaf through and see what strikes my brain’s fancy. I try not to linger too long on any specific page, I just quickly skim and see if anything pops.

A favorite trick of mine is to look at phrases about and/or containing a word and seeing if there’s some way to combine them. It doesn’t always end up in a successful cartoon, but, if nothing else, you’re priming the cartoon writing pump.

Now remember, these books aren’t going to solve all of your problems. Nothing beats just sitting yourself down regularly, staring down a blank piece of paper and actively writing cartoons. (You’d be surprised how often I hear budding cartoonists complain about waiting for their muse to visit.) But used judiciously, they’re all great tools to have in your gag writing toolbox.

It looks like a few might already be out of print, but you should be able to pick them up cheaply on Ebay or Amazon.

Word up!

Naked Cartoons

Occasionally, when I’m feeling frisky, I like to let my cartoons run around in their all-together. I know what you’re thinking, it’s immoral, unsanitary and just plain weird, but sometimes you just have to let it all hang out and go captionless!

Some of my favorite cartoons, and some of the hardest for me to write, are cartoons where there aren’t any captions. Lately though my brain seems to be relatively fertile with them and I thought I’d share some of them with you.

I was really pleased with how this cartoon turned out:

naked cartoons 1

I wrote this one on a rare morning where the cartoon floodgates opened and about a dozen decent ideas poured out. For some reason the phrase “10 gallon hat” popped into my head and this popped back out. (8/5/11 Edit – Can you believe those old gas prices?!)

naked cartoons 2

The above cartoon had been sitting in my pile of cartoons to be drawn for about two weeks in a different form, but I was never really happy with it. I’d actually sat down to start the sketch when a much better way (at least I think so) just sort of came to me.

I was looking for cartoon ideas in the paper and ran across the standard “fish eating a fish being eaten by a larger fish” illustration next to an article. It seemed sort of a lazy way to make their point so I thought I’d see if the ol’ noggin and I couldn’t come up with something new and this cartoon presented itself:

naked cartoons 3

This cartoon took a long time to get right:

naked cartoons 4

I was working on Valentine’s Day material and trying to come up with as many different permutations on the “arrow in the heart” idea as possible. Hopefully it’s not too obtuse, but if it is, that’s OK too. Sometimes I just draw ’em for me.

Well, that’s about it. Hopefully this entry didn’t smack too much of self-promotion, but I thought it was an interesting recent trend in my work. I hope you liked the cartoons, because now that I’ve called attention to my captionlessness (call Webster’s, we got a new one!) they’re almost certain to completely dry up.