I Gotta Be Me


In these I think the progression is obvious. The line is better – a little more assured, I’ve learned to copy and paste (for consistency’s sake – I’ll unpack this in a little while), and I’m doing a better job of delivering my punchline. Remember I said that not all my cartoons come with punchlines (see montages, tableaus, etc, above)? Well, in the early days a lot of them did. In the early days, á la Hart, Schulz, et al, I felt the need to try to be humorous. In the early days I walked around in a bit of a stupor, most of the time, trying to think up jokes that Hart, Schulz et al hadn’t already used. I tried to be me, but I tried to be funny. I know: a bit of an oxymoron.

My mother tells me I have a biting wit – dry, acerbic. I have the gift of the snappy come-back, a deference to my youth in the Angel Isle. Part of my challenge, while I was still hoping to make my cartoons funny, was to also make them approachable. I had to consider how well my dry wit translated to the poorly-drawn cartoon. Even as I worked every day (sometimes three or four (or more!) drawings per day once I got it all moving) to improve my skills, I tried even harder to make my KerDoodles approachable.

Like this. It didn’t take long for me – a Canadian – to think up a jape involving apologies. We Canucks are quite well known for our apologetic prowess, after all. It is our national identity. This one comes from the ‘inspired’ list, and it was born at a time when we were all hearing – every damn day! – about cancel culture and how rotten we all are, even if we’re not. So, it was an attempt to poke back at the eye of the politically correct monster, whilst not actually crossing the line of being politically incorrect. Did it work? I don’t know, you be the judge. Looking at it in terms of conception and delivery I can’t help but be somewhat chuffed. It’s simple, but it has layers. The only thing I’d do differently today is put some clothes on him (he looks cold), and I’d make all the text the same size. I definitely give myself an e for effort.

Speaking of layers, I can see here that I’ve started to use the layers tool of the sketches app. The pale blue background for the KerDoodle was drawn behind the KerDoodle, and it was repeated for consistency. I think I used this also in the drunken bar scene, but in that one it was pure luck that I got the layers in the right order. Here, I did it deliberately. It’s a small thing, but an important one. As you’ll see down the line, layers became a more and more critical part of the complexities of my work. It was a bright day in Valhalla the day I finally twigged to the potential of layers.

A few more.

There was a bit of a double-entendre in this one. Everyone has days, right? Days when you wonder what it’s all for? Well, that’s the germ of this one. And in KerDoodle terms it was also me, the artist, trying to figure out what the KerDoodles were going to be. It was also me, the artist, playing with the concept a little – deliberately drawing my cartoon character in different ways in support of the premise. I liked it, and still do. The delivery is better, the lines more assured. The text is consistently-sized. And look at those poses! The traditional hands-on-hips look of the terminally ponderous, the elbow-on-the-hand wonderment of the intensely focused, and the others actually holding on to their ears. So simple! And yet, so effective. I remember being quite pleased with this one when it was finished. I remember how eager I was to get it uploaded to the website, so I could get instant feedback from my millions and millions of adoring fans. Never mind all that, though. As one who is constantly trying to figure out his place in the world, on a very personal level this one spoke to me.

So you can see the abilities are developing. The delivery is getting better. The presentation is improving.

And that’s a good thing.

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