Ask A Cartoonist: The Error of Our Ways

By Tea Fougner

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

Just weeks after Dethany was introduced into the strip, and before I developed the hyper-competent aspect of her personality, she made this mistake:

John Rose, Barney Google and Snuffy Smith:

We all make mistakes.  I remember many years ago, in the late 1990’s, when I was working as Fred Lasswell’s inking assistant on the Snuffy Smith comic strip.  I was inking Snuffy and totally forgot to ink in Snuffy’s whiskers in the title panel of a Sunday Page!  I don’t know how I missed that, but I did.  Of course Fred caught it when I emailed him what I thought was the finished Sunday Page.  He called me on the phone and laughed and asked if I was looking out the window when I was inking that panel.  He added the whiskers and sent it on to the syndicate.  I have never forgotten Snuffy’s whiskers again!  He was a great teacher and a wonderful man to work for–I am so thankful for the opportunity he gave me many years ago.

Marcus Hamilton, Dennis the Menace:

Hank Ketcham was a stickler for details, and made sure I learned every little thing about Dennis.

During the first year after he turned the daily panel art over to me, I ALWAYS made sure everything was exactly the way he had taught me.
One morning, as I was checking out how the DTM panel looked in our Charlotte Observer, I realized that I had left off Dennis’ freckles! You’re kidding me! I drew that six weeks ago and never noticed it. I’m thinking Hank is really going to be upset with me. Well, since he lived in California, I figured he wouldn’t see today’s comic for a couple hours. So, I decided I would let him know that I caught my mistake before he did.
I faxed him this note: “Hi, Hank… I’ve committed a terrible mistake! I accidently left off Dennis’ FRECKLES in today’s panel. I apologize. Please forgive me.”
For TWO hours, I anxiously awaited his reply. When I heard the fax machine printing, I rushed over to see how seriously I had been chastised. To my relief, Mr. Ketcham wrote: “Don’t worry about it, Marcus…just give him TWICE AS MANY TOMORROW!”


What a sense of humor he had!
Bill Griffith, Zippy the Pinhead:

Back in ’94, I was listening to “All Things Considered” on NPR. They did a report on young people who they said were getting small tattoos of consumer products to get free stuff. I went to work on a Zippy strip using the idea right away.

When the strip ran a month later, I got a call from an NPR reporter. The “report” was an April Fool’s Joke—and I fell for it! Most embarrassing interview of my career.


Isabella Bannerman, Six Chix:

This January, I was really embarrassed to realize that I had put “2016” on my comic strips for that month. I wrote to our editor and she wrote back saying a lot of cartoonists do that – not to worry, and that she would correct them. So – a long overdue thank you to our fantastic King Features editor. As you can imagine, this was not the first time in 16 years that I had done something like this.

Alex Hallatt, Arctic Circle:

I do the colouring for my Arctic Circle strips and often make mistakes, missing out areas of colour, for example. But when the strip was first launched, the first 6 weeks were coloured in-house. I had written a silent strip about Lenny topping up his ice-cream cone and meant for the ice-cream to be uncoloured (one of my favourite flavours is coconut, so this would have worked), but I failed to tell the in-house colourists this and they made it pink.


Jim Keefe, Sally Forth and Flash Gordon:

Here’s one from Sally Forth!

John Hambrock, The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee:

Attached is one of my big goofs, along with the note from the reader who brought it to my attention.

This is what the reader wrote: “Edison Lee should know that a balance beam scale would indicate the same weight on the moon as it does on earth, as the compensating weights on the scale are also affected by the one/sixth gravity.”

Terri Libenson, The Pajama Diaries:

My funniest error happened recently. I accidentally spelled a juggling world record holder’s name wrong (“Gotto,” instead of “Gatto”), and probably got the most feedback I ever received at once. It brought together what felt like the entire world’s juggling community. Still, most of the readers were so happy I mentioned their hero, they barely cared about the mistake. They just pointed it out nicely and thanked me for mentioning him.