Monday, November 27, 2017

Mind the Gap

All prose has factual gaps that must be filled in by the reader… "Write for your audience" means, in part, gambling on what they know.

I found this recent New York Times piece on reading comprehension and retention to be informative and thought-provoking.

Although the author, psychologist Daniel T. Willingham, specifically discusses prose, the concept applies equally to cartoons.

Cartoons often have factual (or logical) gaps that the reader must fill in—but not too quickly. That gap in a well-crafted cartoon might at first seem nonsensical, and when the reader discovers the missing connection (or explanation), the resolved tension produces a laugh. If that resolution comes too easily, or is overtly explained, the gag is unsatisfying.

In his contribution to the blog 10 Rules for Drawing Comics, Zippy cartoonist Bill Griffith concisely says, "Ambiguity is OK. Ask the reader to meet you halfway."

Another example that speaks to me as an artist comes from saxophonist Steve Lacy's transcription of notes from pianist and composer Thelonious Monk:
Don't play everything (or every time); let some things go by. Some music just imagined. What you don't play can be more important than what you do play.
Monk's advice can be interpreted as encouragement to edit, but it also applies to that idea of the audience filling in the gaps.

Of course, I spend a lot of time thinking about the structure of cartoons, so maybe my mind is simply using my own interest/obsession as a way of connecting the observations of Monk and Willingham to Griffy.

In any case, the Times article is well worth reading (and comprehending).
Monk photo ©2017 Concord Music Group

Monday, November 06, 2017

Comic Coincidence

Recently, my good friend Dan Piraro and I independently came up with the same gag, but took slightly different approaches. This happens to all cartoonists from time to time, particularly when commenting on something that's current.

Here's my WaynoVision cartoon from September 18:
The day it ran, I heard from Dan via email:
I’ve got a Sunday comic in the pipeline that makes the man-bun/man-loaf pun! I added a lot of other bread types so it goes a step further but it’s going to look like I copied you. DAMN!
And…great minds!
Yesterday, Dan's take on the very same tonsorial topic appeared:
In the Bizarro version, Dan added four more doughy variants, going much further into the realm of the absurd, hitting it out of the park and into the stratosphere with the Man Holiday Cookies payoff.

We've each said in the past that we share a similar sense of humor, but this is a little scary.