Posted on

Writing Cartoon Gags Using Buzz-Words, Fads & the News

How to Become a Slightly Warped Cartoonist: Part 4

This is another in my series of posts trying to answer the second most frequent question I’m asked as a cartoonist: how do you come up with your ideas?

Everyday I make a list of buzz-words, fads, and news items I hear or read about. Here’s one of my lists and the thoughts I had when I went through it to come up “Aha” moments that I turned into cartoon gags.

Terms of the Day

  1. Feng Shui
  2. White-Collar Criminals
  3. Codependency
  4. Mad Cow Disease
  5. Water Quality Standards
  6. Significant Others
  7. Global Warming
  8. Casual Fridays
  9. Workaholics
  10. Free-Range Farm Animals

Term #1: Feng Shui

Feng Shui? Feng shui. My studio is a mess. The feng shui must be off. That might be why I’m suffering from writer’s block. Skip this one for now.

Term #2: White Collar Criminals

I wonder how I’d do in prison? I’d miss my messy studio. I bet white collar criminals can afford interior designers who’ll make sure their offices’ feng shui is proper. Aha!

License Interior Design Cartoon 7303
Get it Printed on Stuff @ CafePress

Term #3: Codependency

You might seek help from a counselor. Or maybe help from a shrink. Yes. That’s it. You might actually be crazy. No. You might actually be mad. Aha! Combine term # 3 with term #4, Mad Cow Disease and you get …

License Ranching Cartoon 5868
Get it Printed on Stuff @ CafePress and Zazzle

Term #5 Water Quality Standards

Water, water, everywhere. Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Why go up hill? That’s a lot of work. Is there something wrong with the water at the bottom of the hill?

License Water Cartoon 4922
Get it Printed on Stuff @ CafePress and Zazzle

Fish need water. Fish out of water. What would a fish out of water do to get water? Climb a hill? Go buy bottled water? It wouldn’t have any money to buy bottled water. It’d have to beg for spare change. Aha!

Environment Cartoon 7030
License Environment Cartoon 7030
Get it Printed on Stuff @ CafePress and Zazzle

Term #6: Significant Other

I don’t have one. In Waldport, Oregon a single woman over thirty has a better chance of being abducted by space aliens than of finding a compatible man. Oh well. I may not have a man, but I do have an awesome computer.

License Relationship Cartoon 4453
Get it Printed on Stuff @ CafePress

A common bit of graffiti scrawled on women’s bathroom walls when I was in college was, “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.” What about a man without a bicycle? Or a man with a bicycle?

License Bike Cartoon 7089
Get it Printed on Stuff @ CafePress

I often do dozens of variations of the same idea, tweaking it, and essentially reselling the same cartoon over and over. I never sell the same idea to competing magazines, though! That is a major cartooning faux pas.

For example, I made a template of the “Significant Other” cartoon so I could whip out a variation in minutes. I switched the biker to an audio tech holding a mixing board and sold the ‘toon to a sound engineering magazine.

License Engineering Cartoon 7489
Get it Printed on Stuff @ CafePress

Another change and I sold it to a surfing web site.

License Surfing Cartoon 7455
Get it Printed on Stuff @ CafePress and Zazzle

I even did a variation for a book about writing pre-nuptial agreements.

License Prenp Cartoon 7898

In tomorrow’s post I’ll show how I came up with cartoon ideas for terms 6 through 10 using antonyms (opposite definitions) and carrying ideas to extreme and absurd conclusions.

Came in the Middle of the Series? Go to Part 1

Commission Cartoons for Books, Magazines, Presentations, etc

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.