Ask a Cartoonist: National Technology Day!

By Tea Fougner

It’s National Technology Day!

As someone whose job is almost entirely dependent on digital media, I’ve got to say that technology is pretty swell– after all, it lets us share all of these comics with al of you every day– I still remember having to have my relatives cut out and save the comic strips I loved that weren’t printed in my local paper.

From the first mass-produced comics sections in newspapers, comics have always been improved by technological advances, and frequently share a wealth of opinions about them. I asked our cartoonists to talk about how technology has improved their ability to write and draw the comics we all love!

Jim Borgman, Zits:

Jerry Scott and I have often remarked that we couldn’t have created Zits in 1996 without technological advances that had come along in the previous decade. He was living in Arizona and I was in Ohio at the time — without scanners, faxes and email Zits would be a very different strip. We work on it organically and always have, passing writing and drawings back and forth in real time. The strip would have developed as more of a traditional two-step process if we’d been stuffing sketches into envelopes and sending them through the US mail.

Google Image Search was an unbelievable development in the lives of artists. The first time someone showed me how to find reference images effortlessly, and slide them onto my desktop to keep, the choirs of angels sang. No more fishing through trash barrels for old Newsweek magazines to carve up for my morgue.

I haven’t shifted to drawing on screens — I love the scratch and glide of ink on paper too much — but I scan my finished drawings and do a lot of editing on my computer screen, email them to our colorist, and file the strips digitally. We’ve done that since creating Zits. So I missed the days of marking up color charts and chasing down FedEx trucks. When it works, technology is a blessing.

Bill Holbrook, Kevin & Kell, On the Fastrack, & Safe Havens:

I use Photoshop to do general cleanup on my daily strips, and also to color the “On the Fastrack” Sundays. Of course I also deliver the strips digitally. On the downside; there’s the ever-present Computer Bug.


James Allen, Mark Trail:

Technology has made things better for me as a creator because of the ability to add dialogue with various art programs … My handwriting is terrible!

Bill Griffith, Zippy the Pinhead:

My minimal Photoshop skills have immeasurably improved my work. I can even do graduated sunsets! Compared to decades of mechanical color separations done with Zip-a-tone on acetate overlays, I feel as if I woke up in the future! Also, my minimal html skills help keep the Zippy website going.I can even add images and manage my store! Here are some memories of pre-digital cartooning technology–I still use a reduction wheel, but the others are happily forgotten.