Today's offering is a collaboration with the wonderful Hilary Price for her daily comic, Rhymes With Orange.
When I work with Hilary (which is not often enough!) our process is truly collaborative and usually involves a few email discussions to refine and shape the gag. My original submission is quite different from the published version.
The initial idea was pretty gruesome, and maybe a bit "much" for the daily paper.
Hilary suggested that we might instead show the Grim Reaper at a makeup counter, shopping for just the right exfoliating product. I was surprised and delighted to see the direction she took for the published strip. It's very funny, and is really an entirely new gag. The beauty of having a dialog when working on a comic is that one idea or comment can spark something completely unexpected in the mind of the other collaborator, often ending up somewhere completely unanticipated.
It's also worth mentioning a unique aspect of RWO: that small title block on the far left. I don't believe there's another strip out there using such a device, and it's very effective, in different ways.
At times, it seems to simply be a title, but it subtly affects the pace at which the reader gets to the payoff, and also usually contributes to the setup. Occasionally, it doesn't really click until after reading the gag, as in this example.
Many cartoons act as puzzles of sorts, presenting a contradiction or ambiguity, which is resolved in a surprising way. When we readers make that leap in logic, finding the explanation, we laugh as the tension is released, in much the same way that we laugh after being frightened during a scary movie.
This little twist on the normal comic strip format gives RWO a distinctive feel and rhythm, and it's a joy to study Hilary's work. Plus, it makes me laugh.
My earlier joint efforts with Hilary are archived in this blog's Orange Department.