January 27th, 2016

Ask a Cartoonist: Daily Routines!

by Tea

Have you ever wondered what a day in the life of a cartoonist is like? This week, I asked our cartoonists to tell us about highlights from their daily routines!!!

John Hambrock, The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee:

“I don’t keep a regular schedule for working on the strip. Some weeks I’ll write one or two strips a day, other weeks I’ll write them all in one day. Same with inking. I can ink 6 dailies in one long day. Usually I spread them out over 2 days. I like to write very early in the morning. 5:00-6:00 am is when my mind is as clear as a glass of filtered water. It’s usually turned to sewage by the afternoon. I rarely write in the afternoon and evening”

Rina Piccolo, Six Chix and Tina’s Groove:

“Without my routine, I’m a disorganized, stressed out, unfocused mess! I want my creative time to be as stress-free as possible, and if decades of experience have taught me anything, it’s that keeping a routine goes a long way towards making that possible. I write on certain days, and draw every single day, no matter what — and i’m a huge checklist fanatic. With a routine and checklist working for me, I can reserve all of my best energy, and most of my time, on being creative. This doesn’t work for everyone, but it sure works for me!”

Bill Griffith, Zippy The Pinhead:

My daily routine (assuming I’m not jetting around on book tours these

– Get up at 9:30, have oatmeal and coffee.
– Take a walk
– Post Office (I have a mail order business on the Zippy website–send
out autographed books, Signed Prints, original art)
– Down to the studio at noon, work till 3:30
– Lunch (usually Dunkin’ Donuts bagel w/chicken salad near the
Goodspeed Bridge in East Haddam)
– Work until about 7 or 8
– Back to the house for turkey burgers, baked potato and frozen mixed
– Netflix/Hulu/Seinfeld reruns
– Up to bed at 12:30

Pretty boring, eh?

Stephanie Piro, Six Chix:

Sunday is my big writing day, or at least when I try to get quite a bit of writing done. This is after we have a big Sunday breakfast, and read the NY Times, my Sunday splurge, and a good way to kick start ideas for writing. I also try and draw up at least one “Six Chix” cartoon, too. M-W, I try and get moving early, that is, walking or working out with my walking partner in the morning. Then I see what I need to do, whether it’s cartooning, blogging, writing or illustrating, I work on whatever I have to do and depending on what I get in the email. I also work 20 hrs at the library, which I love and gives me plenty of material. And, there are always the cats for ideas, too!

James Allen, Mark Trail:

I don’t know if these qualify as “highlights” but certainly routine … have to start off with the morning coffee, then check the news and social media before getting to the drawing table, all of which steps are subject to interruption by one or more of our many cats (they don’t seem to understand my job)

Mort Walker, Beetle Bailey:

I work all day from 6AM to 9 PM, every day of the week, except for one hour a day when I take a nap. I lay back in my chair and resolve to write two gags before I doze off so I won’t feel like I’m goofing off. When I finally get my two gags, I close my eyes and drift off to dreamland. Free for an hour. It’s my highlight of the day. I wake up refreshed and ready to go back to the turmoil.

Terry Beatty, Rex Morgan:

I get up and then I draw. And then I draw some more. And then I keep drawing. And draw. I sleep a while. Repeat.

Margaret Shulock, Six Chix:

My day usually starts EARLY as in 4 or 5 in the am. The drawings come first and are usually planed out in detail. Then we do a panel and a long version of the drawing. Some days are difficult and some are easy –ish. I also help with Barney and Snuffy, which can be a lot of fun.

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

My daily routine is a great source of interest to many people, wondering how I’m able to create three daily strips single-handedly. Basically, I work on a three-week schedule. For example, during one week I’ll write about 24-30 gags for “Kevin & Kell” while drawing 18 “Safe Havens” strips from the gags I’d written the previous week. The next week I’ll draw 21 “Kevin & Kell” strips while writing for “Fastrack.” And on it goes.

This gives me a weekend between the writing and the drawing, which is important because it allows me to get away from the gags and see them with a fresh eye the following Monday. At that point I often change a gag drastically from its original incarnation.

During the course of the day I do the writing first. By mid-afternoon I have about 4 to 5 gags in pencil form. I shift gears to drawing, beginning with the lettering. Yes, I still letter by hand, not computer font. I place tracing paper over the pencil sketches and ink on that.

The final stage is scanning the inked drawings at 600 dpi and using Photoshop for cleanup, minor adjustments and applying halftones. I also use Photoshop to color the “Fastrack” Sunday strips. At the end of the week I send the batch either to King Features or, in the case of “Kevin & Kell,” to an FTP site where the talented team of Terrence and Isabel Marks can download them for coloring.






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