January 6th, 2010

Artistic Liberties…

by Terri Libenson

Happy New Year! I thought I’d begin 2010 with a funny realization that came to me this morning while coloring strips.

Occasionally, I get called out for grammatical or illogical (writing) errors. In fact, my husband caught one the other day while reading my strip in the paper (by the way, this was after both of us proof-read it prior to publication…argh). In case you’re wondering, it was from 12/30: Jill mentions Amy getting sick in school; technically, the kids are supposed to be on winter break. Oops. Still, a relatively minor infraction.

What most people probably don’t realize is that there are many more artistic inconsistencies in the strip. Oh, sure, sometimes I may forget to shade in part of a shirt or maybe there’s the occasional problem with a color translating into print. But I’m talking about inconsistencies that are intentional.

Just for funsies, let’s play a game. Try to pick out what’s inconsistent in the two strips below. Bet it’s easy:



Yep — the furniture and cabinetry placement. Also, color – although in the top one, I intentionally muted the cabinetry color so it would recede into the background.

Normally, I try and keep the general color scheme and styles consistent, but sometimes the scenery changes for the sake of composition. Also, evolution. In the “early” days, the kitchen – like in the top strip — contained a jutting cabinet “peninsula.” That became compositionally problematic, so I took it out. The cabinetry now hugs two walls. One thing that changes constantly: refrigerator placement. I rarely even include one unless needed. Don’t ask me why. I use the same back door, but that placement changes in relation to the kitchen table. Again, for artistic purposes.

The family room layout changes, too. The same couch is always there, but sometimes there’s a table in front of it, sometimes not. The lamp changes from the left-hand side to the right. And rarely, I’ll add a window behind the couch. I justify it by pretending the Kaplans are restless and like to move furniture around.

As I said, part of it is for composition, part of it is evolution. But much of it goes unnoticed. Most people don’t read the comics fastidiously and aren’t aware of artistic details as much as they are of the written ones. I’d include myself there. When reading other comics, I mean.

Anyway, just a fun fact to remember as you continue to (hopefully) read Pajama Diaries. In fact, try and catch this in other cartoons. Bet it’s more common than you think.

Have a great 2010!




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