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
- Feng Shui
- White-Collar Criminals
- Mad Cow Disease
- Water Quality Standards
- Significant Others
- Global Warming
- Casual Fridays
- 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!
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 …
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?
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!
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.
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?
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.
Another change and I sold it to a surfing web site.
I even did a variation for a book about writing pre-nuptial agreements.
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