I read a lot of cartoonist’s blogs and interviews, so I think I have my hand on the pulse of modern American cartooning. One thing that I always wonder about is the writing process.
Many comic strippers say they write up a whole slew of jokes, then cherry-pick the best of the batch. The revising of the joke comes only after the cartoonist chooses to use the joke for a strip.
I write a lot. I’ll get an idea during the day and take it home to work into dialog. When I have a deadline approaching, I’ll go back through my notebook and revise everything. Sometimes I can rewrite an okay joke into something that’s much better. Sometimes I can take a few lines from one idea, a few from another, and combine them into a single strip. Sometimes (actually, most times) I just need to brutally edit. It’s all about getting the most said with the least amount of words. One example was a handwritten page of dialog that I edited down to about 6 sentences – perfect for 4 panels. I can be verbose in my writing.
What intrigues me is: why would you throw away an entire conversation just because the punchline is no good? I can usually find something worth salvaging in any idea I’ve written, if I need to. Keep in mind, I had to like something about the idea to write it down in the first place; I just need to get back to that core spark of inspiration and make it funny.
Anyone else have stories to share about their writing process?