Life Comes At You Fast
According to my Google Docs dictionary, adaptability is “the quality of being able to adjust to new conditions.” And this week, I was reminded how much adaptability is a requisite quality for any comic creat
For the record, I’m not a lawyer, just someone who’s faced a number of contracts over the years. So a quick disclaimer that you shouldn’t consider this post as professional legal advice; if anything discussed here piques your interest or concern, follow up with a real legal adviser.
As a cartoonist with regular weekly deadlines and commitments to other projects, taking time to draw just for myself is something I struggle with the most. What’s helped me in this regard, though, is the realization that art done for “fun” also provides an opportunity to experiment and exercise muscles not flexed with your usual projects.
A couple of weeks back, I wrote about the various responses—good and bad—my editorial cartoons get on Twitter. And honestly, there are times when Twitter feels like a particularly hellish part of the social media landscape, especially when it comes to political commentary, where the critics and trolls (and likely more than a few Russian bots) run wild. Thankfully, though, there’s more to Twitter than just political gristle, and in terms of general comic creation, it’s a great place to emphasize the “networking” aspect of a social network.
Just as comic books have several awards, including the Oscar-equivalent of the Eisner, editorial cartoons have a number of opportunities for recognition outside of the Pulitzer. Being the latter half of the year, it’s now the season where these awards begin to ask for submissions and nominations. While sitting down to revisit the past year’s worth of cartoons can be rewarding in its own right, it’s also an annual tradition fraught with self-deprecation.
I’ve written in the past about how a frequent benchmark for an editorial cartoonist is either making the reader laugh or making them angry. Based on that, I must be doing a fantastic job, because the latter was rampant in Twitter responses this week.
One of the things I’ve missed most with the lack of comic conventions in the wake of COVID-19 is the opportunity to visit the host cities. Return to a convention enough times, and some places become traditional haunts over the years. Sure, there are those locations tied directly to the con—the host hotel or convention center, the benefit drink-and-draw, the afterparty—but the real gems are the establishments you discover around town. Heroes Convention has become an annual event for me as a vendor or attendee, and some Charlotte, NC businesses have become regular go-tos. The crêperie for breakfast, the ramen joint for dinner, the local comic shop for good measure. One spot that’s become a regular attraction is the “barcade”—that’s bar/arcade—Abari Game Bar.
As news of comic convention cancellations continues to come in, I’ve been feeling the pangs of convention withdrawal, both as an attendee and a vendor. I’ve also spent the time staying indoors to revisit my comic convention and think back about how I first discovered comics.
This week, working on the editorial cartoon for Charleston City Paper left me in my mind in the gutter. Or, more accurately, on the gutter—as in that magical break between panels in sequential art. Depending on the panels bookending the gutter, that break can represent a quick millisecond of time, or a huge context switch as the reader’s mind does the heavy lifting to fill in the gap between the two images. My weekly cartoon is usually a multi-panel comic strip, so I’m no stranger to the gutter. But this week served as a nice reminder of the impact the gutter can have.
A Week In the Life (and the Lessons Learned)
As I juggled an assortment of deadlines and “comicking” over the past week, I realized the diversity of what I worked on afforded some nice compare-and-contrast and lessons learned.