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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!

7303_interior_design_cartoon.gif
License Interior Design Cartoon 7303
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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 …

5868_ranching_cartoon.gif
License Ranching Cartoon 5868
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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?

4922_water_cartoon.gif
License Water Cartoon 4922
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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
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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.

4453_relationship_cartoon.gif
License Relationship Cartoon 4453
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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?

7089_bike_cartoon.gif
License Bike Cartoon 7089
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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.

7489_engineering_cartoon.gif
License Engineering Cartoon 7489
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Another change and I sold it to a surfing web site.

7455_surfing_cartoon.gif
License Surfing Cartoon 7455
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I even did a variation for a book about writing pre-nuptial agreements.

7898_prenup_cartoon.gif
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

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