Thursday, January 03, 2008
Noli Me Tangere
When I first hit on the idea of trying to make money drawing cartoons, I was very intimidated by the thought of learning inking techniques. In fact, I thought it was hopeless for me to even try. So, for more than a year I limited myself to working with pencils. I tried to create high contrast images by using soft lead and stumping techniques. (A very good contemporary cartoonist named Matthew Diffee appears regularly in the New Yorker and he renders his cartoons in pencils, so I wasn’t completely grasping at straws.)
When I submit short stories to magazines, my rejections are almost always thoughtful notes from the editor rather than impersonal, printed rejection slips. However, my cartoons never generated any interest at all. I certainly can’t say my pencil rendering technique was the cause of the quick rejections, but it always bugged me that I wasn’t buckling down and forcing myself to learn ink techniques so, eventually, I declared plain pencil renderings a thing of the past and practiced, practiced, practiced with pen techniques.
So, now I’m becoming slightly more comfortable with inking techniques.
However, I’ve got a folder full of old pencil cartoons. I don’t have the energy to ink them—and they’re not ‘pencils’ as such, they’re conceived of as complete as they are, they weren’t planned as a first step toward inking. And I kind of like many of them. Some of them still make me smile.
Since modern scanners and their software can take a low contrast image and generate an acceptable screen image from it, now and then I’m going to dig into my folder of old pencil cartoons and post one or two.
Today’s pencil cartoon was inspired by the fashion label Imitation of Christ. That’s a provocative name that makes a lot of Christian women angry—even though some of those angry Christian women like the clothes so much they shrug off their unease and wear the label. If I ever put out a high fashion line—say tee shirts and swim wear embroidered with cool cartoons or cool poetry—I’d call the line Noli Me Tangere. The echoes and allusions and irony to my ears speak much more to humor than blasphemy.