I’m up at 6:30 am because that’s when English teachers get up so they can write letters to editors about poor grammar and bad spelling by cartoonists.My wife is an English teacher. After coffee she heads off to school. I could head off to my office at the Akron Beacon Journal, but since they paid me to go away, I might get arrested. Instead, I make breakfast.
Ever since someone tipped off the editor’s cartel that it’s cheaper to buy political cartoons from a syndicate, working at home has become all the rage. Actually, my editor was ahead of the curve. When I signed my first syndicate contract 20 years ago he made a little joke, “Good, now we can fire you and buy your cartoons from them.” Ha ha.
While the oatmeal is boiling over and sticking to the stove,I bring in the papers and start fooling around on the computer. I’m actually more interested in columns than cartoons.Since I can’t draw a picture until I have an idea, this is how I spend most of my day.
This particular day should be a good one since Osama bin Laden was shot and dumped overboard the night before. Good news for an editorial cartoonist almost always means bad news for somebody else.
I read that bin Laden’s bad day won’t sit well with the world terrorist community. The State Department has issued a travel advisory for Americans. The energy saving cartoon light bulb over my head slowly illuminates, and I’m reminded that my daughter is in Egypt.
The phone rings. It’s a Skype voice call and it’s breaking up. After a long silence I hear, “Dad”…. Then nothing. I don’t need Skype video because the picture in my mind’s eye of the terrorist with a knife at her throat is crystal clear.
The phone rings again. It’s my son, away at college, telling me his sister had called him last night and he forgot to let me know she’s fine.
||I accompany my assistant while she tends to some business outside. Later I see that I have a voice mail from my mother wanting to know the time of my son’s graduation. I email my wife to find out. She tells me to look it up. I do and call my mom. Distractions are an important part of my day. I notice the brass on my desk lamp is really shiny. My nose tells me the oatmeal is no longer boiling over - it’s burned to the bottom of the pot. I should get back to work. |
While I’m reading I draw sketches in a 3.5 x 5.5 inch sketchbook.My hole is
that one of them will spark the idea for a real cartoon. Today my sketchbook is filled with pictures of Osama lying on the bottom of the ocean, his feet encased in concrete, with a hole in his head.
I sometimes bounce ideas around by email and the English teacher kills this one. I’ve lost a cartoon but gained a figure for aquariums.
One angle of the story that I like is this: while we all thought bin Laden was hiding out in caves, it turns out he was living in a resort condo. If he had a cave, it was a man cave. I incorporate this deep thought into my cartoon and begin to draw.
I start drawing with a number 2 pencil on Bristol board. I hardly ever get the composition to fit the space so I sometimes scan the pencil sketch and move stuff around on the computer. Then I print out the picture and trace it onto the clean side of my Bristol (I’m frugal). Next I go over the lines with a Kuratake pen that Stephan Pastis showed me. I’d give you the number but it’s in Japanese. Call Steph.
Next, I scan my line drawing as a Photoshop bitmap, convert it to grayscale, and on to color. While coloring, I try to be careful to keep each color on a different layer. That makes it easier to make changes, especially when I convert it back to black and white.
After saving a cmyk version, a black and white tiff, and a lores color jpg, I pop it off to the syndicate.
This is the point where I’ve planned to hit the gym. It should be about noon, but somehow, the clock says 8pm. I have a martini and cookies instead.
Finally, I upload the cartoon to my blog, Bokbluster, where I try to account for what I have done.
P.S. You can order your underwater Osama here.