When I was young, I had no concept of the cartoonist. Although, I’m sure I had no real understanding of how a comic was made. But even when I got older, I mostly thought of the creation of comics as several steps, done by different people. Now, this can be the case, true. But then somewhere along the way (I don’t remember where) I heard the word “cartoonist.” At first, I didn’t think it applied. I thought, “Hey, this is comics, not cartoons.” Even did (and always will) love cartoons, I think it was residual animosity from my teenage years when my mom would say, “The store called to say your cartoons were in.” Pride is a funny thing.
But then, I began to write comics. And then draw them. Then ink them. Then letter them. And, after all that, against my better judgement, I colored them. So after a while, “I write comics” didn’t cover it. Then “I make comics” was the way to go. Well, recently I woke up on day and thought, well…I guess I’m a cartoonist. It’s also a little easier to use that term when talking to people, so there is that added bonus.
It’s been sort of a process, accepting this new title. And I think it’s because I think of other cartoonists and, in my mind, I don’t fit in with them. People who can write and draw with talent, those are cartoonist. Someone like Peter Bagge is a cartoonist. But me? I’m just little old Hot Cakes. But, there is where I think most of the problems lie when it comes to creating. I have a rule: don’t compare yourself to others. And yet, here I am, comparing myself to the greats. It sort of made me feel like this:
(That’s by Peter Bagge).
But then, slowly, and I mean sloooowly I began to accept the truth. I drew and wrote my own stuff. And, let’s face it, my art might be described as cartoonish at best. So the label fell into place. And, this is not to say that I think simple definitions are very important, but I had found myself in a new position, a role that I had never intended to play. So it was actually kind of exciting. It’s not every day you find yourself setting down a new path, after all. So, I thought I might catalog my thoughts in a blog because, after all, this is my website.
I’ve always liked art that might be classified as cartoonish (which I think is partly why mine looks the way it does. The other part being I have no idea what I’m doing.) I like the exaggeration and the simplification. There’s something about it that speaks to me. Perhaps I’m just easy to please. But, that being said, my foray down this road has shown me that cartooning is not so easy as some people might thing. You still have to possess a mighty discipline, as you do with all art. You have to know how to walk that line between expression and just kind of being poorly done (on a few occasions I have failed this distinction). When you see something like the work above, it is no the sort of thing you’d see in a super hero comic (except that collection of Marvel stories that Peter Bagge worked on, Strange Tales, way to go, Pete.) It is not what everyone would consider classical comic art. But, in the end, I think that’s why I like it so much. Cartoonists are often times not in the main stream of comics, and thus have the ability to experiment more.
I’ve come this far and not even mentioned the newest influence I’ve discovered: the comic strip. I’ve been reading a lot of them lately. There’s something nostalgic about the funnies, sure, but I’m also studying them. As I might have mentioned before, I recently finished a volume of classic Popeye strips, and I really learned a lot from E.C. Segar. He had command of the pen! And now I’m about 150 pages into a near 700 page collection of Doonesbury. So on that front I’m learning about comics, AND politics (even if some of it happened quite a while before I was born.) That’s right, I read the Doonesbury. You thought I wasn’t sophisticated?
Anyway, before I go down that Doonesbury rabbit hole, it’s something to see the ability these cartoonists have. And, another bonus to the whole thing is that often times they are humorous. Which, you know, comes with the territory of having less realistic looking art. It’s easier to pull of comedy when people look like cartoons. And, as some of you might know, I do so like jokes. Drawing in a more hammy style (like my latest comic about facing fears, that has a man who gains some noodle arms), lends itself to my finding funnier things not only to write, but to express through the image on the page. And that’s the whole point of comics, to combine the words and pictures in the best possible way.
It’ interesting to think, as I talked about allll the way the beginning, that there was this sub-sect of comics that I never thought about. Comics were one thing, (i.e. how super hero comics are made/look). But opening a door as a cartoonists makes way for webcomics, comic strips, mini comics, and all sorts of forms I never thought to take the medium before. So, while I go about my business writing scripts for people with different (and better!) art styles than my own, I’m more than content to continue to see where this adventure goes. I’ve got a web comic to maintain, and I plan to keep busy because, boy do I love making comics. I’m fascinated right now, about where I could go, and what I might do. Hot Cakes is a multi faceted company. We’ve got the books, the blogs, and some silly little cartoons that I whip up every now and then.
And really, when it comes down to it, I was born to make people laugh. And I think this is the vehicle I need.