Monday, November 19, 2007

This Cartoon Drawing Scheme

Normally I make an effort to keep this blog kinda/sorta on topic (Forteana, weird things in general). I know I often come up short in that effort, but, still, I try. Today’s post is a little different. Today’s post is pretty indulgent, but what the hell it’s my blog and other than the various voices in my head there are no editors here.

The Friday before last I included a pencil sketch I drew. I talked about how in comic art pencil drawings are used to establish structure and light/dark arrangements, then are modified by “inking.” I’ve developed my pencil skills, more or less, onto the path to adequacy, but my inking skills suck.

One trouble is there are dozens, maybe hundreds, of inking styles and techniques. Many are clean and precise. Many are scribbled and casual. My problem is that I have so little ability with a pen that my results are all over the place. It doesn’t appear ‘style-less’ in the sense of effortless and cool, but rather ‘style-less’ in the sense of being such a mish-mash of uncontrolled marks that there’s literally no style at all.

But I wanted to explain why I was spending time drawing Paris Hilton.

It’s not because I’m a particular fan of Paris Hilton.


Yes, I know I’ve mentioned her a bit. But that’s because I have a deep-rooted fear of talking about people and things that are wildly out-of-sync with the contemporary world.

It’s always bugged me, for instance, that the central reference in “Mischa Barton, Mischa Barton” was to “Danny Kaye. I mean, how many people alive today even know who Danny Kaye was, let alone remember the cool, happy, slapstick sense-of-life most of his movies projected?

If I talk about Paris Hilton, today everybody knows who and what I’m talking about.

So. I was drawing Paris Hilton because I had an idea for a cartoon about her.

(Hmmm. This cartoon drawing scheme goes back a couple of years. I’d decided that—maybe!—I should face the fact that I’m not going to make money selling manuscripts of short stories and novels after trying and failing for fifteen years. So I asked myself, ‘What else can I, as a writer, write and try to make money doing?’ After I slapped myself around for even thinking, ‘Well, I like writing and singing folksongs,’ I thought, ‘Well, I can draw a little. Maybe I could write captions for cartoons, draw them and sell the cartoons.’ I’ve been devoting a little time, now and then, to trying that.)

Early Saturday afternoon—just before my own evening of cool, happy, slapstick fun began—I did another pencil sketch of Paris Hilton. This time, however, I inked it and lettered some text. I did it all quickly, in about ninety minutes. I didn’t ‘labor’ over any of it because I think real ability has to come out of a relaxed, casual kind of effort.

This is the cartoon I made. It’s got lots of problems, but I wanted to post it as an example of where my abilities are now. Let’s see if I can get better. (Tomorrow, I promise, I’ll get back to Goblin Universe topics with news stories about bigfoot and chupacabra.)

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