Ask A Cartoonist: Warming Up!

By Tea Fougner

Brr! It’s getting chilly out there!  Though maybe not as chilly as one would expect?  Anyway, I thought I’d ask our cartoonists this week about warming up– but not warming up with a coat, hat, or hot apple cider so much as what they do every day to get ready to draw or write their cartoons! 

Bud Grace, The Piranha Club:

I take a cold shower or drink a quart of left over coffee or swallow a bottle of B-twelves. Anything to sober up.

Mort Walker, Beetle Bailey:

Bill Griffith, Zippy the Pinhead:

Zippy’s daily warm-up routine has one purpose in mind—and it’s not physical fitness or weight control. Read on.


John Rose, Barney Google and Snuffy Smith:

This question could not be more appropriate for me this week! Not from a drawing standpoint necessarily, but from a studio temperature standpoint! We live in a two-story home with a bi-level heating system. My studio is off our family room on the first level. Last week, the heat on the first level totally went out! After much examination it was determined that it needed to be replaced…totally! So, luckily, cartooning can be a mobile profession, and also luckily, my wife is very understanding. Over the weekend we moved my studio (temporarily) into the living room upstairs, where there is still heat while the new system is being installed. Hopefully, I’ll only be up here for a week, but at least I’ll be warm while I’m drawing Snuffy!

Alex Hallatt, Arctic Circle:

My warm-up exercise is walking. It gets me warm and gets the brain relaxed in a way that makes it easier to come up with ideas. My favourite local walk at the moment is up through the bamboo forest and past the signs of the cross to Guadeloupe church on the Jaizkibel range. It has great views over Hondarribia.


Terri Libenson, The Pajama Diaries:

My typical pre-work warm-up ritual:

1. Stumble out of bed and get rid of all the people in the house.
2. Drink coffee. LOTS of coffee.
3. Eat cereal.
4. Splatter milk and cereal bits on keyboard. Maybe coffee, too.
5. Clean it up with front of sweatshirt.
6. Read news. And Facebook. Mostly Facebook.
7. Click on pointless BuzzFeed links.* *(if it’s a writing week, I add extra reading time for legitimate idea reference: internet, books, magazine articles, etc.)
8. Blink and yawn.
9. Pretend to work.
10. Look at the clock and realize it’s been an hour and I haven’t done anything productive.
11. Start working.
12. Work for two hours straight and repeat steps 2-11 every few hours (except substitute coffee and cereal with lunch, snacks, etc.)

Somehow this gets the job done, so I try not to stray from my routine.

Sandra Bell-Lundy, Between Friends:

My first thought was that my warm-up ritual getting ready for work was to get a cup of coffee. But actually, getting a coffee is just what I do when I’m about to settle in to do some reading. Before I start writing, I always read first. I have a specific place where I do my writing and whenever I come across something that I find interesting (and don’t have time to read at the moment) I put it in a pile there. It could be a magazine, a sales brochure, a comics collection, a book, an article I’ve printed out from the internet… and frequently a newspaper. The first reason for the reading is that it calms me down and puts me in a relaxed state-of-mind. The second is that it starts me thinking. I don’t look for specific women-slanted things to read even though I write a strip that is women-slanted. I just look for things that interest me. Strip ideas pop out of the unlikeliest places.