By the way, I wasn’t such a huge fan of German beer before I went over to Austria and Germany.
But I am now.
Where did the last two weeks go?
Oh yeah – now I remember. I was in Austria, along with Matthew Diffee and Paul Noth. We were asked to come host a symposium in Wels with a bunch of other very talented cartoonists from Austria and Germany, and so we did, after one of us was – ahem – detained by the Swiss police over passport issues.
On the way there, we did our Fisticuffs! show in Linz, Austria, as part of the Next Comic Festival at the university.
And although the battle was fierce, we all lived. (Which is true, but we also suffered head wounds from getting kicked by a large cartoon boot).
So we moved on to our symposium in Wels. It was an honor, but also somewhat intimidating, to be “teaching” to people who were pretty accomplished in their own right.
Luckily, there was no awkwardness whatsoever. I think we all appreciated everybody else’s talents and it became a big, goofy hangout session, which I thoroughly enjoyed. However, we had the theatre at the Medien Kultur Haus booked click here to finish reading this post
I went to the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, TX last week. My expert analysis is that it was a blast (you can probably go elsewhere for longer and better writing about the event). I saw a ton of great music, some of which I captured on my now-long-defunct-but-still-working Flip camera. A lot of the good moments never made it to video: Lucius at the Paste day party, St. Vincent’s suddenly electric stage show, two guys somehow colliding and then hugging while crowd surfing at Grackle, an out-of-town after-hours party DJed by Matthew Dear blanketed in dry ice, all the shows that I missed. Still, here’s a little collection of nuggets – 17 nuggets, to be exact – of some of the shows I enjoyed the most. If you don’t know these artists, you should.
There’s nothing really scientific about it, except I put the stuff I liked most of all towards the beginning. So that’s something. Enjoy!
By the way, if you want to see some of the silly thumbs up/thumbs down video reviews I did at a previous SXSW that the New Yorker actually let us post online, it’s here, and here and a special bonus here.
What does this post have to do with R. Kelly? Nothing, really. But keep reading anyway.
Awkward situations always make great comedy. For my cartoon that appears in this week’s New Yorker, I was thinking about those performers who get right in your face on the subway and demand that you pay attention to them. Of course, you never ever want to do that. What would happen if one of them found a way to get sweet revenge, and to confront you in a place where you couldn’t merely look away or pretend that they weren’t there? I thought of a situation where a singer somehow followed a guy into his office building elevator, and I drew it up like this:
Good enough, but I wasn’t sure the drawing was getting the job done. I like how you enter into the elevator the same way this employee does; you identify with him and so you’re drawn into the scene. It’s a dramatic way to set it up. But I thought maybe it was too dramatic. I don’t like how you can’t see the rest of the elevator. It somehow makes it scary, like there’s something hidden in there, but that’s not part of the joke. Also, by positioning him outside the elevator, he looks like he’s maybe not going to walk in, and the whole point is that he can’t avoid the situation. And I didn’t want to draw both of them inside the elevator from this angle because it’s forcing them into a space that’s too small. The narrative element would be lost. So I drew it from another vantage point:
This was the one that the editors approved. It’s a little less dramatic this way because as the viewer, you’re now an outside observer instead of identifying with one of the characters, but it works a little better. I mean, they both work – look, we’re not trying to solve world hunger here! I don’t even know if we’re trying to solve world laughter. But even for cartoons, if it’s worth doing, then its worth doing well, because if even one person can spend money on a New Yorker magazine instead of spending it on food, then I will have done my job. (And now I guess we know where I stand on world hunger.)
Another issue was that the viewer’s vantage point is a little too high. The reader should be standing in the elevator with the two people, not hovering above it. So I experimented with perspectives. I know – so much to think about! When do we get off this ride, right?
And that kind of looks like a notebook page from anyone who took drawing 101 and had to learn about vanishing points. For some reason it took me more attempts than usual to nail this:
It’s still not perfect. It might be funnier if the space was tighter and a little more uncomfortable, and it might have been better to widen the room (in other words, making the perspective not technically correct) in order to more easily show that it’s an elevator door. But I don’t know if I could do both of those things simultaneously. And in trying, there would probably be some cartooning version of Occam’s razor that I’d be violating in overthinking it. So this is the way it appears:
Man, I’m exhausted by that! Let’s all go eat something.
ANNOUNCEMENT: I’ve written a children’s book that’s going to be published by Christy Ottaviano Books, an imprint of Henry Holt, some time in 2015.
So yeah, that’s out of the way. I’m illustrating it, too, and I couldn’t be more excited to be doing it. It’s been fun working with Christy so far, even though we’re still in the early stages of nailing down the final product (Christy said “cartoonists are usually good with deadlines,” but I’m wondering if that’s an observation that’s not shared by all in the industry). It doesn’t sound like a huge step up – it’s a 32-page picture book – but it’s definitely a major transition from small black-and-white spot drawings to full pages in color. And at the end of the book the reader can’t say “I don’t get it,” like some people do when they read my cartoons… come on, nobody does that, do they?
I don’t want to say what the book is about, but I wanted to show a teaser of the first part of the process: writing, editing, sketching, rough layouts. There’s also a fair amount of coffee built into each step, but you already know what that looks like.
Even within the framework of a standard picture book, there are different layout options that are available, depending on what you want to do with the story. You can’t just add or subtract a few pages at the end. So that’s the first step. click here to see more pics