Ask A Cartoonist: Only the Lonely
Cartooning can be a super solitary activity for many folks. This week, I asked our cartoonists what it's like to work alone, and whether they-- or their characters-- ever get lonely!
Bill Griffith, Zippy the Pinhead:
Cartooning is a solitary occupation. It didn't used to be. There are reminiscences by lots of cartoonists from the early-to-mid 20th century about working side by side with other cartoonists in newspaper offices. That sounds nice. I've never experienced that.
I feel like I'm sliding into a single seat cockpit when I sit down at the drawing table every day. I'm piloting my own little prop plane around whatever landscape I choose. I really couldn't work any other way at this point. What i really like about the internet is the quick feedback from readers. That way, I don't feel like I'm just ranting into a mirror.
Ron Ferdinand, Dennis the Menace:
Hank would occasionally show Dennis’ sensitive side. There were some very poignant panels over the years.
Jim Keefe, Sally Forth and Flsh Gordon:
Is the daily grind of studio life getting you down and morale is low?
Then gather the staff together and have a roof raising office party!
Here's pics of the last studio shindig over at Keefe Studios...
I particularly like the chocolatey cats cookies from Trader Joe's when I want to let loose.
Just the right amount of snap. They're also low fat with no artificial colors or flavors & no preservatives.
Talk about a guiltless pleasure!
Well that's about all the time for fun I can spare for now - back to work...
See you in the funny papers!
Terri Libenson, The Pajama Diaries:
I haven’t been lonely since my early twenties, when I was single and had just moved to a new city to start a new job. Once I married and had kids…well, to say I cherish my alone time is an understatement. Usually that only happens while working. I love the peace, tranquility, and having the fridge to myself.
It’s a wonderful feeling not to be lonely. I do NOT take it for granted. Lonely and being alone can be different beasts. I used to hate being alone when I was a kid, back when I was insecure and really didn’t have a strong sense of self yet. Now, that I’m older, I enjoy doing things by myself. And I must say, I’m excellent company.
This strip features one of my favorite things to do when I’m alone (the teenager feels a little differently).
I like to be alone and in a quiet space while I'm writing cartoons, and usually have music playing while I draw, scan and color them.
We have a large community of cartoonists in the Pittsburgh area, and we have a monthly lunch to get out of our studios and share recent work. It's always fun, whether three people show up or a dozen. I've attached a photo from one of our lunches.
(Clockwise from bottom left: Michelle Miller, Vince Dorse, Liz Rishel, Marjorie Rishel, Justin Bender, Howard Bender, Joe Mruk, Teresa Roberts Logan, Wayno, George Broderick Jr., Cynthia Lee)
Of course, I'm never really alone in my home studio, since we live with two cats who like to think of themselves as my assistants.
Jim Borgman, Zits:
I probably owe a lot of my success as a cartoonist to the fact that I enjoy being alone. As a kid, I spent hours and hours drawing in my room when others my age were out developing social skills. My friends are great treasures in my life, of course, but I truly relax and recharge when I’m by myself — an introvert from Day One.
I spend most of my days working in my studio “alone,” but with the rich company of music, podcasts, audio books and baseball games. I told my wife, “At the end of the day, don’t ask me what happened — nothing ever happens, I just sit here drawing — but ask me what I listened to.” Luckily, Suzanne is an extrovert and drags me outside for fresh air and to circulate among real people, for which I’m grateful.
Isabella Bannerman, Six Chix:
I do sometimes feel lonely aftert a full week at my drafting table and/or in front of the computer. I listen to music and the news, and have meals with family, but I also like having plans to go out - something to look forward to.
Last week, I was lucky to be invited to hear a friend’s band and it was very energizing. I brought an ordinary spiral notebook with me and sketched them playing their songs.
They are called “Bluerace.”
Here are a couple of the sketches:
John Rose, Barney Google & Snuffy Smith:
I work alone most of the time in my downstairs home studio. I usually keep the TV or radio on for background noise and to give me some company. On days when I am drawing and inking the comic strip, I often put my iPad on the edge of my drawing table and listen to some of my favorite podcasts or watch videos on YouTube related to cartooning. I find them creatively inspirational. In this photo, I am watching "Disney's The Making Of The Little Memaid" on YouTube. My wife, Karen, works outside the home in a busy office all day and when she comes home, I am ready for us to go out and she is ready for us to stay in! Ha, ha!
Benita Epstein, Six Chix:
Solitude is a blessed thing to have as a cartoonist. But, being alone is not the same thing as being lonely. I need absolute quiet with no distractions while writing. After writing is finished there are a millions things to do: draw cartoons, take care of family, dog, garden, house, paperwork then enjoy the rest of the day walking or visiting friends