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January 08, 2015

Comics Sherpa: Editor's Picks

This recurring LAUGH TRACKS feature highlights individual Sherpa strips and panels that for one reason or another caught the fancy of the aide de sherpa. It could be anything; the drawing, the writing, the humor, the coloring, that they tried something interesting, or that it's a new step for that particular creator.

 

We hope this quirky sampler will alert you to features you might not yet have noticed amid Sherpa's abundant, ever-changing, and eclectic mix, and that it gives Sherpa creators a modicum of helpful feedback.

 

 

Courageous Man Adventures  1-6-15

 

 

 

 

1-6-15

 

 

 

 

Promises Promises  1-6-15

 

 

 

 

1-6-15

 

 

 

 

Onion & Pea  1-7-15

 

 

 

 

Peanizles  1-7-15

 

 

 

 

Sign Garden  1-7-15

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cats@Work  1-8-15

 

 

 

 

CoyoteVille!  1-8-15

 

 

 

 

Don't Pick the Flowers  1-8-15

 

 

 

 

A complete list of all the Sherpa features can be found here.

 

January 07, 2015

What It Means To Be A Cartoonist In France

Wolinski, Charb, Tignous, and Cabu: What It Means To Be A Cartoonist In France, by Bart Beaty, posted on Slate's culture blog Browbeat here .

 

French cartoonist Georges Wolinski, killed in the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo:

 

Georges Wolinski, French cartoonist during portrait session held on September 4, 2014 in Paris, France.

January 05, 2015

Comics Sherpa: Editor's Picks

This recurring LAUGH TRACKS feature highlights individual Sherpa strips and panels that for one reason or another caught the fancy of the aide de sherpa. It could be anything; the drawing, the writing, the humor, the coloring, that they tried something interesting, or that it's a new step for that particular creator.

 

We hope this quirky sampler will alert you to features you might not yet have noticed amid Sherpa's abundant, ever-changing, and eclectic mix, and that it gives Sherpa creators a modicum of helpful feedback.

 

 

Apple Creek Comics  1-3-15

 

 

 

Dust Specks  1-3-15

 

 

 

1-3-15

 

 

 

 

Batch Rejection  1-4-15

 

 

 

 

Bushy Tales  1-4-15

 

 

 

1-4-15

 

 

 

 

1-4-15

 

 

 

 

Onion & Pea  1-5-15

 

 

 

 

Pamo's World  1-5-15

 

 

 

 

Promises Promises  1-5-15

 

 

 

Thingsesque  1-5-15

 

 

 

A complete list of all the Sherpa features can be found here.

 

January 02, 2015

COMICS SHERPA: EDITOR'S PICKS

This recurring LAUGH TRACKS feature highlights individual Sherpa strips and panels that for one reason or another caught the fancy of the aide de sherpa. It could be anything; the drawing, the writing, the humor, the coloring, that they tried something interesting, or that it's a new step for that particular creator.

 

We hope this quirky sampler will alert you to features you might not yet have noticed amid Sherpa's abundant, ever-changing, and eclectic mix, and that it gives Sherpa creators a modicum of helpful feedback.

 

 

 12-29-14

 

 

 

GramDragon  12-29-14

 

 

 

Mort's Island  12-29-14

 

 

 

Onion & Pea  12-29-14

 

 

 

 

12-29-14

 

 

 

12-30-14

Abnormal Truth

 

 

Charmy's Army  12-30-14

 

 

 

 

 

Mustard and Boloney  12-31-14

 

 

 

Specktickles  12-31-14

 

 

The Boobiehatch  12-31-14

 

 

 

The Family Blend  12-31-14

 

 

 

 

 

 1-1-15

 

 

 

1-2-15

 

 

 

A complete list of all the Sherpa features can be found here.

 

 

December 28, 2014

COMICS SHERPA: EDITOR'S PICKS

This recurring LAUGH TRACKS feature highlights individual Sherpa strips and panels that for one reason or another caught the fancy of the aide de sherpa. It could be anything; the drawing, the writing, the humor, the coloring, that they tried something interesting, or that it's a new step for that particular creator.

 

We hope this quirky sampler will alert you to features you might not yet have noticed amid Sherpa's abundant, ever-changing, and eclectic mix, and that it gives Sherpa creators a modicum of helpful feedback.

 

 

Bushy Tales  12-25-14

 

 

 

Maximus  12-25-14

 

 

 

12-25-14

 

 

 

 

12-25-14

 

 

12-26-14

 

 

 

 

Buns  12-27-14

 

 

 

 12-27-14

 

 

 

Green Pieces  12-28-14

 

 

 

12-28-14

 

 

 

12-28-14

 

 

 

A complete list of all the Sherpa features can be found here.

 

 

December 24, 2014

COMICS SHERPA: EDITOR'S PICKS

This recurring LAUGH TRACKS feature highlights individual Sherpa strips and panels that for one reason or another caught the fancy of the aide de sherpa. It could be anything; the drawing, the writing, the humor, the coloring, that they tried something interesting, or that it's a new step for that particular creator.

 

We hope this quirky sampler will alert you to features you might not yet have noticed amid Sherpa's abundant, ever-changing, and eclectic mix, and that it gives Sherpa creators a modicum of helpful feedback.

 

 

Coyoteville  12-20-14

 

 

Kartoons by Kline  12-20-14

 

 

 

 

12-21-14

 

 

 

Buns  12-21-14

 

 

 

12-22-14

 

 

 

Promises Promises  12-23-14

 

 

 

12-23-14

 

Bushy Tales  12-24-14

 

 

 

Don't Pick the Flowers 12-24-14

 

 

 

Magic Coffee Hair  12-24-14

 

 

 

 

Snow Sez... 12-24-14

 



 

A complete list of all the Sherpa features can be found here.

 

 

 

December 19, 2014

BELLS, WHISTLES, LIGHTS

Over the years, a number of Sherpa creators have experimented with adding animation elements to their strips. The most avid practitioners lately have been Nighthawk and Stelbel, and today their feature CLEO & COMPANY offers my favorite strip-plus special effect so far.

 

 Merry Christmas!

 

Cleo and Company

 

COMICS SHERPA: EDITOR'S PICKS

This recurring LAUGH TRACKS feature highlights individual Sherpa strips and panels that for one reason or another caught the fancy of the aide de sherpa. It could be anything; the drawing, the writing, the humor, the coloring, that they tried something interesting, or that it's a new step for that particular creator.

 

We hope this quirky sampler will alert you to features you might not yet have noticed amid Sherpa's abundant, ever-changing, and eclectic mix, and that it gives Sherpa creators a modicum of helpful feedback.

 

 

Frank & Steinway  12-17-14

 

 

Mister & Me  12-17-14

 

 

 

 

 

12-17-14

 

 

 

 

Girth 12-18-14

 

 

 

Witt of Will  12-18-14

 

 

 

 

 Girth  12-19-14

 

 

 

 

H.I.P.  12-19-14

 

Onion & Pea  12-19-14

 

 

 

 

12-19-14

 



A complete list of all the Sherpa features can be found here.

 

 

 

December 16, 2014

COMICS SHERPA: EDITOR'S PICKS

This recurring LAUGH TRACKS feature highlights individual Sherpa strips and panels that for one reason or another caught the fancy of the aide de sherpa. It could be anything; the drawing, the writing, the humor, the coloring, that they tried something interesting, or that it's a new step for that particular creator.

 

We hope this quirky sampler will alert you to features you might not yet have noticed amid Sherpa's abundant, ever-changing, and eclectic mix, and that it gives Sherpa creators a modicum of helpful feedback.

 

 

 

Caffeinated 12-12-14

 

 

 

 

Candace 'n' Company  12-12-14

 

 

12-12-14

 

 

 

Frank & Steinway 12-12-14

 

 

 

The Beauforts  12-12-14

 

 

 

12-14-14

 

 

 

Mort's Island 12-14-14

 

 

 

The Old Man & His Dog  12-14-14

 

 

 

 

And now... 12-15-14

 

 

 

 

12-15-14

 

 

 

 

Maximus 12-15-14

 

 

 

 

Promises Promises 12-15-14

 

'


A complete list of all the Sherpa features can be found here.

 

December 11, 2014

COMICS SHERPA: EDITOR'S PICKS

This recurring LAUGH TRACKS feature highlights individual Sherpa strips and panels that for one reason or another caught the fancy of the aide de sherpa. It could be anything; the drawing, the writing, the humor, the coloring, that they tried something interesting, or that it's a new step for that particular creator.

 

We hope this quirky sampler will alert you to features you might not yet have noticed amid Sherpa's abundant, ever-changing, and eclectic mix, and that it gives Sherpa creators a modicum of helpful feedback.

 

 

Apple Creek Comics  12-9-14

 

 

 

 

 Courageous Man Adventures  12-9-14

 

Elmo  12-9-14

 

 

 

 

12-9-14

 

 

Girth  12-9-14

 

 

 

 

Peanizles  12-9-14

 

 

 

 

Rogue Symmetry  12-9-14

 

 

 

 

 

County Line  12-10-14

12-10-14

 

 

 

The Lighted Lab  12-10-14

 

 


A complete list of all the Sherpa features can be found here.

 

TWAS EVER THUS

Okay, if the handwriting above it were semi-legible instead of Latin calligraphy, this drawing could be from a recent American History class notebook. But it isn't, it's from a 13th-century law manuscript.

 

  Doodle

 

Turns out doodling in class is at least an 800-year-old lineage. Check it out here.

December 08, 2014

Comics Sherpa: Editor's Picks

This recurring LAUGH TRACKS feature highlights individual Sherpa strips and panels that for one reason or another caught the fancy of the aide de sherpa. It could be anything; the drawing, the writing, the humor, the coloring, that they tried something interesting, or that it's a new step for that particular creator.

 

We hope this quirky sampler will alert you to features you might not yet have noticed amid Sherpa's abundant, ever-changing, and eclectic mix, and that it gives Sherpa creators a modicum of helpful feedback.

 

 

12-5-14

 

Alison Ward  12-5-14

 

 

 

 

Bushy Tales  12-5-14

 

 

 

 

Courageous Man Adventures  12-5-14

 

 


 

 

 

Frank & Steinway  12-5-14

 

 

 

 

12-5-14

 

 

Girth  12-5-14

 

 

 

Promises Promises  12-5-14

 

 

 

12-5-14

 

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

 

 12-7-14

 

 

 

12-8-14

 

 

 

 
A complete list of all the Sherpa features can be found here.

 

December 04, 2014

Comics Sherpa: Editor's Picks

This recurring LAUGH TRACKS feature highlights individual Sherpa strips and panels that for one reason or another caught the fancy of the aide de sherpa. It could be anything; the drawing, the writing, the humor, the coloring, that they tried something interesting, or that it's a new step for that particular creator.

 

We hope this quirky sampler will alert you to features you might not yet have noticed amid Sherpa's abundant, ever-changing, and eclectic mix, and that it gives Sherpa creators a modicum of helpful feedback.

 

 

12-2-14

 

 

The Boobiehatch  12-2-14

 

 

 

12-3-14

 

 

 

 

12-3-14

 

 

 

Snow Sez...  12-3-14

 

 

 

12-3-14

 

 

 

The Boobiehatch  12-4-14

 

 


A complete list of all the Sherpa features can be found here.

December 01, 2014

Like Having A Term Paper To Do, All Of The Time

Wow, there's lots to like in this 1963 clip of Charles M. "Sparky" Schulz talking about doing his strip. Nine kids and no seatbelts.

 

 

Comics Sherpa: Editor's Picks

This recurring LAUGH TRACKS feature highlights individual Sherpa strips and panels that for one reason or another caught the fancy of the aide de sherpa. It could be anything; the drawing, the writing, the humor, the coloring, that they tried something interesting, or that it's a new step for that particular creator.

 

We hope this quirky sampler will alert you to features you might not yet have noticed amid Sherpa's abundant, ever-changing, and eclectic mix, and that it gives Sherpa creators a modicum of helpful feedback.

 

 

 

Far Out!  11-27-14

 

 

 

Norman  11-27-14

 

 

Snow Sez... 11-27-14

 

 

 

 

The Boobiehatch  11-27-14

 

 

 

Kicky Brand  11-28-14

 

 

 

 

Milton 5.0  11-28-14

 

 

 

11-28-14

 

 

11-29-14

 

 

 

 Green Pieces 11-30-14

 

 

 

Blackboard Daze  12-1-14

 

 

 

Promises Promises 12-1-14

 

 

 


A complete list of all the Sherpa features can be found here.

November 25, 2014

INSPIRING R. CRUMB

 

Fans of R. Crumb's work know that old-time and early recorded music, inluding the Blues, have always been a key area of interest for him. (Witness his book Heroes of Blues, Jazz & Country.)

 

Here's a fascinating article about one important influence -- The Amazing Old Paramount Records Ads That Inspired R.Crumb.

 

Paramount Ad Blind Lemon Jefferson

 

 

This video, which runs with the article, has some of his amazing bleues drawings:

 

 

 

 

November 24, 2014

Comics Sherpa: Editor's Picks

This recurring LAUGH TRACKS feature highlights individual Sherpa strips and panels that for one reason or another caught the fancy of the aide de sherpa. It could be anything; the drawing, the writing, the humor, the coloring, that they tried something interesting, or that it's a new step for that particular creator.

 

We hope this quirky sampler will alert you to features you might not yet have noticed amid Sherpa's abundant, ever-changing, and eclectic mix, and that it gives Sherpa creators a modicum of helpful feedback.

 

 

 Don't Pick the Flowers  11-21-14

 

 

 

 

Bazoobee  11-22-14

 

 

 

 

 

11-22-14

 

 

 

 

11-23-14

 

 

 

 

Mid-Life w/Alan  11-23-14

 

 

 

 

11-24-14

 

 

 

 

11-24-14

 

 

 

 

Onion & Pea  11-24-14

 

 

 

 

11-24-14

 

 


A complete list of all the Sherpa features can be found here.

 

 

November 21, 2014

Sherpa Review: Suburban Fairy Tales (Part Five)

 

Today's review: David Stanford, aide de sherpa

 

I thank Francis Bonnet for volunteering for this public week-long editorial review of his strip Suburban Fairy Tales -- which concludes with today's installment. (If you've been snowed in, sans internet, you can quickly catch up by going here, here, here, and here.)

 

I admire that Francis has been creating this comic strip with such discipline for so long. It is no small thing. He has been posting his work on Sherpa for most of Sherpa's existence -- and for a good portion of his own.

 

I've often found that reading a book collection (or binge-reading online) can deepen your appreciation of a strip. In this case it's helped me see things more clearly. I always enjoy reading Suburban Fairy Tales, but I have also felt that I want something more. So what follows is me focusing on what I like, pointing out things that seem not as strong, and overall trying to figure out what that "more" might be.

 

***

 

Your premise: fairy tale figures living in suburbia, most of them younger versions of themselves and hence in school. In committing to this concept you took a huge shortcut, one which pays off but also exacts a price. The payoff: You immediately assembled a huge cast of characters that readers are already familiar with, whose personalities and traits and backstories are, to varying degrees, known. The price: Although you get to create your own versions of these characters you are limited by their familiarity, and have to stay within the general boundaries of who they already are, and the expectations of readers.

 

So you have traded some of your classic cartoonist freedom -- to create characters and a world of your own -- and thereby took possession of a very deep body of material with which to work, rich in reference points and options and opportunities.

 

You have a lot of characters, and only in binge-reading did I sort them all out. Goldilocks and Rapunzel I confuse, and sometimes I don't recognize Pinocchio until he lies. Some of your characters seem more solid and filled out, others more like sketches.

 

For me the biggest plus of the school setting is the teacher/witch Mrs. Hagatha (bonus: she evokes, for me, the witch in Little Lulu). And I like Little Pig 3, who is diarmingly self-aware. I enjoy their interactions:

 

5-7-12

 Suburban Fairy Tales

 

2-11-11

 Suburban Fairy Tales

 

 

I am also particularly fond of The Gingerbread Man. He's so lucky that he has a theme song which you can endlessly riff off of.

 

2-25-09

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

 

His strips are often full of action, which livens things up.

 

 

4-17-09

 Suburban Fairy Tales

 

 

Humpty-Dumpty I like because you've put him in exactly the place he shouldn't be. A seemingly fragile fellow living the reckless life with confidence; that has archetypal resonance.

 

 

11-19-12

 Suburban Fairy Tales

 

3-7-14

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

 

The Pied Piper and his mice-followers I like because, again, they are usually moving. There may be more to explore here beyond the occasional run-by, but whenever they show up it's fun.

 

 

5-13-09

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

 

Frog Prince (aka Prince Charming One) is the character I worry about the most. I think he's meant to be the hub of the whole thing; the Charlie Brown, if you will. Sometimes he successfully evokes my sympathy, like here, with Hagatha:

 

9-5-12

 Suburban Fairy Tales

 

But I often feel his cluelessness annoying. With the ur-loser, Charlie Brown, there is always wit and insight even in his dark moments: "I only dread one day at a time." As if what he mainly lacks is confidence or an appreciative audience, but somehow knows inside that he is seeing things clearly. With Frog Prince I get more a sense of, yeah, this guy is a loser. As if not even his creator sees his strengths. So I don't care about what happens to him the way I would like to. Especially if he's the Main Guy.

 

 

3-30-12

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

2-28-14

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

6-16-14

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

5-16-14

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

I mean, who would ever think "How about a date?" is a good conversation starter? There's no excuse; he's not even trying. If he is simply unlikeable, where does the reader go with that? How do you root for him, let alone identify?

 

 

One of the drawing conventions you created is that when the wolf eats people (or anything) he does it like this:

 

6-30-14

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

It's an act of consumption that exists outside the rules of reality -- how would that waiter go down the wolf's little neck? Why is the wolf bending over from the waist? It is jarring. And yet I've come to see it a twist on a fairy-tale tradition -- in Peter and the Wolf the duck goes in whole, and later comes back out unscathed. "Eating" is a concept, not an actual process. So I'm getting used to it. But it still is jarring!

 

 

I agree with comments made earlier this week about facial expressions. With many of your characters, when they are not speaking their mouth is where it belongs. But when they speak, suddenly their mouth begins at their chin. Sometimes when a character is not speaking, their mouth disappears altogether. Add this to the fact that in some of the various eye-styles, the eye is very compressed, almost hemmed in, and I feel like you have limited your characters' ability to express emotion -- which I think of as a core value.

 

 

5-16-14

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

5-23-14

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

In the strip above, there are eight mouths, but only four options. Left to right: Talking A; Hassled; Talking A; Blank; Blank; Blank; Talking B; Talking B. The dominant visual element clear across is Pinocchio's hair, bold and black and unchanging. In comparison all the eyes are small and you have to seek them out. This strip is about their relationship, and everything really happens between their faces. But the key information we need to see is locked up in a relatively tight amount of space. I feel like I'm being kept at an emotional distance.

 

Both Talking A mouth and Talking B mouth are very common in the strip, as if everybody is part nutcracker. I know you can play with the shape to flavor it to a degree -- there's quite a difference between mouth 3 and mouth 7 in the strip above. So maybe I am way off base here. But I wonder if it's limiting.

 

The other mouth that distracts me is that of Rumpelstiltskin. He's a dangerous guy, and it's fine that he has chompers; it's not that. But they seem only half drawn. In fact his whole self sometimes seems a little sketchy, as in the strip below -- helmet of hair, hand, face and suggestion of teeth:

 

5-26-14

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

I think he is one of the more dynamic characters, with real menace and energy, and I would focus on really developing him. Both as a drawing and as a being. I really liked the step you took in that direction with this storyline (and all his teeth are filled in!):

 

2-4-13

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

Most strips evolve over time, both in writing and drawing. I wonder if Suburban Fairy Tales will get looser in some sense. For me there is still stiffness in it. Sometimes it seems like too much white, not enough line texture, not enough personality and energy in the lines. Too much formatting (hair helmets, etc).

 

One of the most helpful things Charles Schulz ever said, and I think he said it often, is that it's important to draw funny. Some people's work looks like they a) thought up the gag/strip/drawing, and then b) filled it in. My interpretation of Sparky's advice is that the drawing itself (in the verb sense) is where you put the real content in. Like the lines have to carry emotion and information, not just be in the right place.

 

What brought that to mind is that I really like the strips where the visual is everything, where the gag is the drawing. Like this one:

 

5-2-14

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

And this one:

 

2-27-13

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

 

2-25-13

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

I have no idea what happened there, but I like it. Some mystery is good (though in this instance I may be the only one who is mystified).

 

 

Sometimes the fairy tale context is not really a factor. The characters are just characters who happen to be famous fairy tale figures, interacting in the modern world:

 

5-14-14

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

 

3-1-13

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

 

But sometimes in those their fairy tale identities enrich, and add a twist (even if an improbable one) as here:

 

 

2-18-11

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

 

In the summer of 2012 you really took a step up and out with the big series in which being hit in the head altered Frog Prince's sense of reality:

 

 

8-1-12

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

 

8-8-12

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

 

8-10-12

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

 

Getting back to menace and darkness, there's a fair amount of death in the strip, though it's kept light:

 

4-4-14

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

6-7-13

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

 

And there's the die-and-die-again-later tradition, ala Roadrunner, The Simpsons, et al:

 

10-24-11

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

 2-20-13

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

(I wonder if it would have been better to leave off the dialogue in the second panel, or shortened it to "Or mine.")

 

 

I look forward to seeing your drawing continue to evolve. You have so many venues and characters and opportunities, it will be interesting to see which parts you choose to focus on. I wonder if you could make the community hang together more completely somehow, while maintaining the diversity of tone, and of storytelling and humor. Whatever else you do, go for funny.

 

I'll end my review by going back to what I said up top. You get to create your own versions of characters who have had many lives, from the originals gathered by the Brothers Grimm and others, on down through the ages to Golden Books and Disney and Fractured Fairy Tales and James Thurber, whose Red Riding Hood killed the wolf with a .45 -- "Moral: It is not so easy to fool little girls nowadays as it used to be." These stories can be told lightly and for fun, but the originals bear ancient insights into human nature, and tap deep into the human psyche. I personally would love to see the strip get more serious in a sense, by using that -- even while it gets more funny. Once upon a time there was an editor who threw his two cents out there.

 

Thank you for the ride so far, Mr. Bonnet. Onward!

November 20, 2014

Comics Sherpa: Editor's Picks

This recurring LAUGH TRACKS feature highlights individual Sherpa strips and panels that for one reason or another caught the fancy of the aide de sherpa. It could be anything; the drawing, the writing, the humor, the coloring, that they tried something interesting, or that it's a new step for that particular creator.

 

We hope this quirky sampler will alert you to features you might not yet have noticed amid Sherpa's abundant, ever-changing, and eclectic mix, and that it gives Sherpa creators a modicum of helpful feedback.

 

 

Candace 'n' Company  11-18-14

 

 

Courageous Man Adventures  11-18-14

 

 

 

Regular Creatures  11-18-14

 

    

 

 

Spectickles  11-18-14

 

 

 

11-18-14

 

 

 

 

Mustard and Boloney  11-19-14

 

 

 

Spectickles  11-20-14

 


A complete list of all the Sherpa features can be found here.

 

Sherpa Review: Suburban Fairy Tales (Part Four)

This is the fourth post in our week-long editorial review of the Sherpa feature Suburban Fairy Tales. In case you are just tuning in, you can catch up by going here, here, and here.

 

 

Today's review is by John Glynn, the president of Universal Uclick:

 

I started at the June 2, 2014 comic. Overall it’s sorta cute. However as far as the LOLQ (laugh out loud quotient) it scored pretty low. LOLQ is a made-up term of course. But imagine if it wasn't? My goodness those would be splendid days indeed!

 

I did think a few gags were cute, a couple clever, but most were stock and predictable. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Not to hurt feelings, just one man's opinion, of course.


PROS: 

 

-- I like that you move the camera around.

 

-- For the most part, the characters are likable.

 

I like the 7-14-14 strip. The last panel is strong, and the repeat of the facial expression and body language is good:

 

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

 

7-16-14 is a good gag too. Pearls-like:

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

 

7-18-14 has a good set up (though I'm not sure how it fits into Fairy Tales) but the last panel is a bit overwritten; the woman’s line (is that Goldilocks?) should be tighter:

Suburban Fairy Tales

-

 

CONS:

 

-- The premise locks the creator into a Shrek-like world, which is a tough thing to live up to or break away from, from a creative standpoint.

 

-- There are lots of characters, making it hard to get a feel for complexity or nuance in any one of them.

 

-- The characters, setups, and payoffs are a little too sitcom-like (this feels more Charles in Charge than Seinfeld or The Office). And that's the rub; there's just not enough that I can see that differentiates the strip. Because that is what it has to be -- familiar enough the editors will understand it without too much explanation (which I think this is) but also different enough that it's distinguishable from the other strips that may have the same types of talking animal characters on the comics page. And it has to be funny too. It's really not an easy thing to come up with.

 

-- The art is not bad, but it’s simple almost to its detriment. Simple is fine, but you have to be careful about balancing simple and backgrounds. If you want to be simple, mirror Pearls Before Swine and Dilbert (in both of which you’ll note the lack of environmental details that are not essential to the gag, and character placement as almost always in the forefront).

 

-- Sometimes the backgrounds can distract from the main characters. Example -- panel one of 6-9-14:

 

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

And the last panel of 6-20-14:

 

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

-- I'm not crazy about the facial features on the characters. The mouths are odd, and seem stuck in one or two talking poses. The eyes do not do enough to convey emotions. I suggest you play around with expressions and eye placement more. 

 

Some strips are too wordy. You could have cut the dialogue in 7-30-14 by 50%:

 

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

 

8-1-14 is also too wordy:

 

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

 

In 8-8-14 the joke doesn’t work -- marbles are vegan, aren't they?

 

Suburban Fairy Tales

 

 

10-17-14 counts on too many aberrations in the logic to be a strong joke:

 

Suburban Fairy Tales

1. The clerk who wrote the sign doesn’t know how to spell BOWL

2. The clerk thinks A BOWL OF is spelled EBOLA even though the clerk wrote A CUP OF SOUP directly above. Should have written ECUPA SOUP then, no? 

3.  The caption in the upper left should be left out. If the reader can't recognize a typo they won’t get it anyway.

4. Wouldn’t the pig panic, rather than stand in careful contemplation?

5. More criticism of the caption in the upper left: Mass panic? No one else is there. 

 

Anyway, Francis, I hope you take this in the spirit in which it's sent, which is to help you improve. This is not an easy exercise or career. Writing for three-panel and four-panel comic strips is super specialized and difficult. You don't have the benefits that the screenwriter does: actors, sound effects, and musical cues. You don't have the benefits that a novelist does: plenty of room and 300-500 pages to write at length and set up characters and settings for complexity and depth and nuance. You have no benefit of research groups or marketing studies to see what an audience likes. It is a difficult gig.

 

Cartoonists are usually alone in their studios or rooms drawing by themselves. And for you to take the leap and open your work to the public for feedback takes courage. I also think/hope it is an acknowledgement of wanting to get better. Because in my experience all the best cartoonists are their own harshest critics and have a very hard time being satisfied with their own work.

 

You definitely have some comic talent, so don't let this critique or the overall experience derail you. Keep working and pushing yourself. Keep drawing. Some very smart person said, "Your art will never get worse the more you draw," and I wish I could remember their name but I can't, so I'll just leave it there. I will also say, for anyone who wants to do a memorable strip, that specific personalities are so very important. They distinguih your characters by making them different. See Peanuts, Calvin, Foxtrot, and Cul de Sac among many others for examples how how character differentiation matters.

 

Good luck, Francis.

 

Tomorrow: David Stanford, aide de Sherpa

 


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