cartoon

Random Acts of curation (cartoon)

I made this collage cartoon this week:

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I love that in this crazy cartoon world, the Weeping Woman and the Laughing Cavalier are sharing a house.  The whole thing seems to chime with today’s creative prompt “shake”.

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Cartoon view of Medieval Art

Roz Chast takes us through her favourite type of art at the Met – Medieval paintings.  She has a distinctive eye and commentary.

 

Roz brings her humour to the pictures and a strong sense of where the artist is not quite sure if they’re good enough to draw certain parts of the picture – and how they cope with that.

The general effect is of going around a gallery with a witty companion who makes you snigger and yet wonder – but not be overawed by the art – to still see it as paintings done by humans, with very ordinary human concerns, as well as a sense of the exalted (most art of the time illustrates religious, biblical themes).

 

Getting in Creative Flow – Stephan Pastis

Cartoonist Stephan Pastis tells us (in under 3 minutes) how he gets in the creative flow for his work:

He noticed that when he writes emails, he can’t do it when there’s music playing – so worked out that his reasoning mind is shut off by the music.  So, to use the other side of the brain, the imaginative, he can close off the logical by playing that same music.

He reckons he writes his cartoon strip in an odd way – but lists the elements:

Creative Process

  1.  I put on headphones, I listen to music very loud and I dance around for an hour
  2. I draw on the walls
  3. I make a lot of coffee
  4. and incense
  5. there’s a mirror on a door and I look at myself a lot

Creative Flow

Stephan compares it to balancing or floating – it’s a state you get into – not something you tense up and push your way into.  He doesn’t try to think his way into what is funny – in fact, he does the opposite by switching off the logical part of his brain through the loud music.

 

Incentive

In a separate video, he says that he has no Plan B if being a cartoonist doesn’t work out.  Previously, he was a lawyer, but hated his work.  Perhaps that thought helps him concentrate.

He genuinely enjoys the writing process – it’s like fishing, he says, you’re looking for that bite, that great idea.

 

Creative Takeaway for us:

Look at Stephan’s creative process, try and find what is healthy and yet works to free up your/my creative minds.

 

 

 

How to get your cartoon into the New Yorker magazine

Bob Mankhoff gives a (21 minutes) TED talk on what cartoons are likely to be the accepted 18 out of 1,000 sent in, weekly.  As cartoon editor, he is the man who chooses which few make the cut.

Bob himself was once an aspiring cartoonist who wanted to have his cartoons in the New Yorker – an experience which gave him a great deal of opportunity to experience rejection.

“From 1974 to 1977 I submitted 2,000 cartoons to the New Yorker and got 2,000 cartoons rejected from the New Yorker….” eventually one is accepted, this becomes a pattern and then  “finally in 1980 I received the revered New Yorker contract”.

Interestingly, in the contract there is no mention of cartoons – they are called “idea drawings“.  This is because they require thought not only on the part of the cartoonist, but also the reader.

He shows his most popular, often reproduced cartoon:

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Bob Mankhoff cartoon

This illustrates humor

  • our expectations are defied
  • the narrative gets switched
  • there’s an incongruity and a contrast
  • “a cognitive synergy where we mash up these 2 things which don’t go together but temporarily in our minds exist”

In the above cartoon’s case, all of this is between the syntax of politeness (polite speech) and the message being rude.

Where different frames of reference are brought together this is technically called “by association” and need to work for the viewer to get the joke fast, in under a second.  e.g.

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New Yorker cartoon

This cartoon, which pushes together the traditional object of the Swiss army knife and a popular description of France as a nation which produces wine and also consumes it.

However, my favourite example of this mixing is a two-picture cartoon which looks at the popular dog film genre of the rescue dog….. reimagined.

 

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Bob points out that a huge amount of humor generally is just poking fun at an enemy – but the New Yorker wants an insight into people, into ‘us’.  So, for example, he showed this:

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New Yorker Cartoon by R Chast

Humour does need a target, Bob Mankhoff says, but the target in the New Yorker is “us”.  In the magazine, the humour is self-reflective and makes us think about our assumptions.  It focuses on our foibles and weaknesses and not someone else’s.

“The New Yorker is also trying in some way, to make cartoons say something besides funny and something about us.”

The talk is enlightening, funny and interesting – a bit of an idea drawing with words. And well illustrated and leavened with cartoons.

If you are a wouldbe cartooner, aiming for the New Yorker market – then this is essential viewing.

TEDtalk: Bob Mankhoff   “Anatomy of a New Yorker Cartoon” (viewable on Youtube)

Want to know more?

There’s a documentary “Very semi-serious: A partially thorough Portrait of New Yorker Cartoonists” – here’s a 45 second trailer:

I have seen the film, it was fun but regretfully I dozed lightly in some parts – this is not a reflection on the film so much as a comment on the fact that on that specific day I needed some extra sleep, and was in a warm, comfortable space.  The bits which I saw were enjoyable.

And Bob Mankhoff did a much longer talk on video (55 mins), about his life story in cartooning – based on his book “How about never: is never good for you?”

The video is called: Bob Mankhoff: a career in cartoons” and you can watch it here.

Sandra Boynton – humour and chocolate

Here is one of the favourite books from my bookshelves:

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If you have a friend who has a hearty appetite for chocolate and humour, their life is a tiny bit incomplete without this book.

Witness this important scientific and psychological breakthrough in the book:

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(Further good news: the book has been in print for decades, so very easy to purchase a copy cheaply.)

For regular humour dosage, Sandra Boynton dispenses on a Facebook page.

Her website endears itself to me greatly by the modest and candid banner at the top:

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