These are two of the first cartoons I did about three years ago when I returned to cartooning. At the time I thought they were really good, well drawn and well conceived. Now I shudder to look at them. There are quite a few problems that I see here:
1. The characters aren’t appealing or well designed. In particular the guy’s hair could be mistaken for a hat. There’s no construction in their design, either.
2. Lazy composition. Look at the first panel. Where are they? It appears to be a living room, but who would have a living room that bare? One piece of furniture and a couple accessories don’t get the job done. Also, look at the next panel – I just drew a line across the bottom of the page in a lazy approximation of a table. It doesn’t look like anything. Where are these people? The next page is even worse. A kid reading a book on some sort of surface. Terrible.
3. Too much negative space that isn’t thoughtfully planned out.
4. No depth. Everything exists on one dimension.
5. Awful use of faux zipatone to create shading.
Two things happened in between this one and the work I was doing now that were very formative in my development as a cartoonist. One was that I had a meeting with Roy Doty, a cartoonist who lives in my area, about three years ago. He basically told me I wasn’t working very hard and, with tracing paper showed me how my drawings could be improved. He was a real bastard and I was super depressed and angry about that meeting, but had I never had it I would have continued to meander in this “good enough” phase without progressing. I am forever grateful for his guidance and am sorry I lost touch with him.
Here’s a cartoon I did after that meeting, the second in the series. Now we’re getting somewhere. A better sense of composition; in fact, I really like what I was doing with the panels here. A lot more depth, too. Still some trouble with the character design, but not as bad as before.
The second thing that happened was I got hooked into John K’s blog. He had a ton of great lessons and examples to learn from about all of the stuff that I needed to work on. Lots of good examples of staging and composition as well as some examples of why stuff doesn’t work (I’ll never look at post 1960s Hanna Barbera cartoons again without a shudder.)
So here are the most recent cartoons I have done, with a lot of the principles from the Preston Blair lessons applied and some thought put into character construction and design. They still don’t quite have the flair that some of the classics do, but it is amazing and gratifying to contrast these two with the first two and see the progress I have made. I have to thank all the people who have so graciously given up their time (in person and otherwise) to help me improve.