“Sidewalks” is part of “Sketch in the City,” an ongoing series in Columbus Alive! featuring Columbus cartoonists in a six week run. This is the first of my six strips.
For my run in “Sketch in the City” I knew that I wanted to create an entirely new concept than anything I had done before. I decided to write about a dad who wants his daughter to be hip because he thinks he himself is cool (and of course he isn’t, really.)
I know parents of young kids who are exactly like this. They make their kids listen to the Decemberists or Arcade Fire or other hip bands without a trace of irony, more, I suspect, to make themselves look cool even though their kids likely don’t care about such matters. I’m not sure why these parents do this. Regardless, I found the idea ripe for satire and thought it would be fun to lampoon these parents.
The strip has to involve Columbus in some way, and I knew that I wanted the joke to center around a sushi place and Haiku seemed like a great location. I have never actually been there to eat, but I know a lot of people who like it. Therefore, the beginning of the strip starts on High Street in the Short North, which is an upscale area north of downtown Columbus that has plenty of cool shops and restaurants and very little parking.
I happened to be on jury duty the week that I drew this strip so I had plenty of time to do reconnaissance to get reference material for my sketch. Max Ink hipped me to the idea of taking a photograph, tracing it on paper using a lightboard, and finally blending it into the background, so I drove down one morning (plenty of parking then!), took a few shots with my iPhone, and headed home. It was an invaluable way to do it because I never could have nailed the proportions and perspective in the establishing shot without it. Since the Short North is so iconic, I had to get it exactly right or I thought someone would notice.
Another thing I had to consider was the length of the conversation and the walk. The very brief conversation couldn’t start three blocks away from the restaurant; it had to occur a reasonable distance away. Where they are in the Short North is roughly a block away from the restaurant, which seemed like the perfect distance. I also had to ensure that they were walking on the correct side of the street, and the right direction on the street or I felt sure someone would notice that too. (Sometimes there’s a fine line between have a fine attention to detail and being paranoid that you got something wrong and you’ll be called out on it.)
I’m really happy with how the strip turned out. Usually, there’s something about a strip that I don’t like, but this one I don’t have huge problems with. I felt like I established the characters’ personalities well and came up with a good joke. And for the record there would have been an opportunity to choose Arcade Fire and the Blue Jackets in the playoffs at Nationwide Arena; both happened around the same time.
The author of this article is David Rickert, who leads parallel lives as a cartoonist and teacher. When not creating comics out of thin air, David teaches high school English Language Arts in Columbus, Ohio. His witty and engaging cartoons turn abstract and complicated concepts into concrete and concise images to embed content into our long term memories. Let’s face it: he makes boring topics entertaining. And he actually is pretty hip. Check out his Grammar Comics and more resources to bring life to your ELA instruction at his store.