Posts Tagged ‘ernesto’


Evolution

Comic strip characters are known for their stability, and yet they are constantly changing.Calvin wears the same striped shirt every day; Snoopy sits on the same doghouse. But if you take examples from early in a strip’s run compared to years later, you’ll find striking differences. When first seen, Snoopy’s snout is much narrower than in later years. Calvin in 1985 is much more flat-looking than his 1995 counterpart. It takes a while for a cartoonist to get to know his or her characters. The characters look the way the cartoonist wants them to, but that vision is always being refined. I would call it a distillation, but cartoon characters are already distilled from real life. I’ll call it Super Concentration. The 1995 Calvin (sounds like I’m describing a car model) is what Bill Watterson was aiming at all along.

calvinearly calvinlate
The interesting part is, I would say that the 1992 Calvin is what Bill Watterson was aiming at up to 1992, and the 1988 Calvin was what he was aiming at up to then as well. So, the most current drawing of the character is the most essential drawing done yet, only to be supplanted by the next drawing. At least, this is my theory.

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When I began drawing my characters for Welcome to Falling Rock National Park, they hardly resembled the characters they are today. Their personalities weren’t focused, and so my drawings really didn’t get to the essential Ernestoness of Ernesto. I did my first drawings a few years before I actually started the strip (I did a comic strip called The Family Monster for four years before I started Falling Rock in the Fall of 2006).

ernestoearly
Ernesto, in the beginning, had a differently-shaped head.His eyes were smaller, and his shoes were but little blobs at the end of his legs.I’ll be the first to admit that I’m still not happy with Ernesto’s shoes.It’s a work in progress.You can see the progression in the two pictures I’m posting; one from 2005 (from my sketchbook) and one from this year.Now that I’ve had time (and about 200 comics) to understand him better, I know more of the subtleties of Ernesto’s personalities. I can also draw him better.

ernestolate
Every new batch of comics I draw, I feel it has improved on the last batch. I’m always trying to better my drawings, but when the characters look on the page closer to the way they look in my brain, I consider that a victory.
Do all cartoonists see it this way? I imagine that for those who use assistants or have their kids carry on the strip, there is a push to keep a character’s look static, the same way a retiring CEO would want to see his company going down the same path he set out for it. It’s also easier to have character models (like they use in animation) when there is more than one set of hands at the drawing board. The less room for interpretation, the less chance of messing up a lucrative property.
For those noble few who draw the same character day after day, decade after decade, I imagine there comes a point where they know what they want and exactly how to create it. For me, that time has not come. In some ways that is frustrating – I always want to make it look better! But I enjoy the process. In a couple of years, check back to my early Ernesto. I’m sure he will look strange to you.


In Honor of Black Friday

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I put up some new designs in my Cafe Press shop! Hurray for consumerism!
Be sure to check the link to your right or just click right here.
Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. I’ll be back with some robots for Robot Friday.


FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!

As an international cartoonist celebrity, I receive literally thousands of fan questions a day. I’m chin-deep in letters, emails, faxes, telegrams, boxes of homemade cookies and cashier’s checks. Well, not really checks.

My tireless staff compiled the most-asked questions that are asked of me. Now, without further ado, I will answer the third most-asked question:
Which of your characters could you beat in a fight?
First, I’d like to thank the 458,953 people who asked this question. You all have your priorities straight. Now on to the main event.
CARVER
Carver is an owl, therefore he is short. His bones are light and brittle, which makes them ideal for flight, not fight. He will, however, fight dirty. He also has a beak. Beaks are sharp, and I would rather run away than have him poke out my eyes. I give even chances on a match between me and Carver.

PAM (pictured below, resident Babe of the Month)
Pam is tough, and mean, and sure of herself. As a former teacher, she is used to discipline, but I doubt many of her former students ever challenged her to a duel. My chances are improved because she is quite a bit older and has lived a sedentary life. I’m going to have to give the fight to her, though, if for no other reason than this: looking directly into her hard, squinty eyes would break my spirit and my soft grip on sanity.
DEE
Dee is athletic since she works outdoors, she is also a bit younger than me. These qualities both give her the necessary advantage to taking me down. It may be a fair fight, but it is a fight I would ultimately lose.

MELISSA
Melissa is a mountain lion. Her paws are roughly the size of my face. She can sneak up on me while I’m asleep. She knows exactly where to strike her prey for maximum damage. She would undoubtedly beat me in a fight.

ERNESTO
Ah, Ernesto. Although we are both by nature pacifisits, if it came down to it we would fight. He is tall and skinny, but not necessarily muscular. I also have the advantage of being warm-blooded. He cannot stay in the sun or the shade for too long, lest his body get overheated or frozen. He would be tenacious, but I am going to have to give the advantage to myself on this one. I could take Ernesto. I wouldn’t want it, but sometimes you can’t choose who you will have to fight.
Keep those questions coming in, folks. And remember: as an internationally recognized cartoonist, everything I say is likely to be inaccurate at best, filthy lies at worst.
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sunday funnies

falling rock explore-colorSince Falling Rock doesn’t run on Sunday, I am deprived of the fun of coloring a comic strip once a week. I wanted to see what it would look like in full color. Since it takes place in the desert, I used a piece of brown paper to wash the whole thing out and give it that dusty, windblown look.

I don’t know how well this would reprint in a newspaper – would the natural gray grains of the page cancel out the effect I’m going for? Or would they heighten it and make it look instantly antique? I guess I won’t find out until one of the syndicates decides to take a shot on a comic strip that isn’t Garfield. In the meantime, I may try to color one strip a week and post it here on Sundays, just for the heck of it. It’ll give me practice for The Show, as they call it.


Sunday Funnies

falling rock sundy funniesI wish that Sundays were twice as long as every other day. You really need more time to prepare for the upcoming week, mentally and physically. You need to enjoy your Sunday funnies, have your breakfast of choice, lounge around in your pajamas until a little after noon. Then you need to fit in all the errands you never got around to all week. Then you should have some free time. That’s what weekends are for, right? Then a nice dinner and some time in the evening. There is too much cramming if you want a Sunday done right. If elected President, I promise to make Sunday last until midnight on Monday.


carver and ernesto as humans

excerpt-2009-11-25-falling-rock-national-park Ever wonder what Carver and Ernesto would look like if they were human? I can’t say this is definite, but here are my initial thoughts on the matter:carver-ernesto-people-color

I noticed, after I chose this photo, that there is a little rainbow effect on the right. Ernesto now stands at the end of the rainbow.

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first foldy comic

foldy-comic-front1My friend and sometimes tablemate Kenan created a form called the Foldy Comic. It’s pretty simple: take one 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper, fold it five times, and draw on it. Each time you unfold the paper it’s another panel, until you reach the last (full) page.

I created my first foldy comic and Kenan was good enough to include it on his Foldy Comic website. You can read it in digital form right here!

Since they are, in fact, designed to be physical objects that you open and read, I can mail you one. Email me your address and I’ll send one out. I am asking for a donation of $1 to cover the cost of paper and postage. Seems fair, right?

Now I need to think of another one to draw!


fan art!

I have a standing invitation to cartoonists and non-cartoonists alike: if you submit a drawing of any of the inhabitants of Falling Rock National Park, I will post it right here.  The last cartoonist to grace these pages was none other than Patrick McDonnell.  He drew a very flattering likeness of Carver.

Yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to find the following drawing of Carver and Ernesto by New Mexican cartoonist Stephen McCranie.  It looks to me like Carver is contemplating an O.K. Corral-style shootout, while Ernesto is happily baffled.  Par for the course at Falling Rock.fallingrockfanart

Thanks Stephen!  And make sure to read his comic strip, Mal and Chad, which he is currently adapting into a graphic novel.  Movies, plush toys, and complete world domination are certain to follow.

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ernesto: the movie

A while back I mentioned my choices for a Falling Rock movie.  Well, dear readers, Hollywood has truly come through.  My friend (and fellow cartoonist) Reid alerted me to a new animated film starring a lizard wearing a goofy shirt:

Johnny Depp is, I must say, an inspired choice.  Not only is he good at doing voices, he’s one of those actors who has a face for radio.  Better to use him for his vocal talents alone.

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richard thompson and cul de sac

When Bill Watterson ended Calvin and Hobbes in 1995, I felt as though I had lost a family member.  It was as much of a gut punch when, this morning, I read the news that Richard Thompson is ending his daily comic strip Cul de Sac.

Readers of this blog will know of my deep and abiding love of Thompson’s work. It is exactly the kind of effortlessly funny, quick-witted, and fun-to-look-at strip that got me into comics in the first place. It is no hyperbole to say that it was the best new strip of the millennium, the next in that prestigious line that began with Krazy Kat and went through Pogo and Calvin and Hobbes.

I can’t help but think Richard’s mysterious character Ernesto Lacuna had something to do with this.  The possibly imaginary Ernesto caught my attention right away as a standout character, partly due to his overly mannered attitude and partly because he happens to share a first name with my own character Ernesto the lizard.

I’ve long wondered what the two Ernestos would have to say to each other if they happened to meet.  I wanted to take this opportunity to draw it out.  This comic is dedicated to Richard for all his hard work and for showing the world that comic strips can still be essential.