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Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Fantasy World of Cartooning

"Sea Nymph" 24 x 18 acrylic on wide wrap canvas
I’m a fan of Shark Tank on CNBC where entrepreneurs show their wares and try to convince the Sharks (investors) that they’re worthy of their financial support and expertise.

Several artists have won favor. Take the guy I call the “Cat Man.” He started drawing caricatures of cats that caught the eye of his fans. After one year, he was making over $100,000 a year online selling prints! That’s not chicken feed.

Two investors supported his dream to expand and continue to produce winning drawings that could be produced on clothing lines and essentials. Very few artists achieve this kind of phenomenal success. I can name a few, but most are associated with a cartoon, a book or a comic strip character. I’ve never witnessed this jump to stardom from one single drawing.

(work in progress #1)
We all wish that was us! We doodle and dream. We scribble and play hoping that one day our attempts will touch the right audience. The Cat Man struck a chord in the hearts of every cat lover in the world (and there are many). Knowing the market and playing to its wants and needs is key to finding your niche.

Animals are adorable especially when they’re young and even in maturity they are regal. Those we make our pets, no matter what species, are fondly loved and cherished. But let’s face it, dog and cat owners lead the way, and people are usually either cat lovers or dog lovers; they are rarely both.

When I was an art student, I fantasized about making a storybook with the main character called the “Butterfly Princess.” Somewhere along the way, I lost her in my scramble to have a family and earn an income. I think of her often, but the passion and the vision of her has faded with time.
(Work in Progress #2)

In order to capture the moment and secure the identity of each cartoon or sketch, you must not only nail your image down early, but draw several variations until you get it right. Unless you do, each drawing will be somewhat different. It’s not as easy as you think to make a recognizable character that is repeated in different scenarios over and over again. The skill requires repetition and patience.

A fairly new cartoon in the comic pages of the newspaper is called “Zits” by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman. I thoroughly enjoy the escapades of the teenage son who frustrates his parents and rampages through the strip each Sunday. The drawings are loose yet recognizable. The storyline hits close to home, even though my teenagers have long since left the nest.


Another winner is “Pearls before Swine” by Stephan Pastis. The character of rat is edgy and psychotic. The naive and gullible pig reminds me of me. The storyline is a little weird; but then again, so am I. The humorous dialogue and spot-on drawings keep me coming back time after time.


That’s what all artists wish for: an adoring audience that keeps coming back for more. Now there’s an aspiration you can hang your dreams on!