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Matt Groening used to trace his comic strip, Life in Hell, using his sliding glass door.  He’d do the pencil sketch, then tape it up on the door and ink the final strip while standing.  The fact that he lived in sunny Los Angeles probably helped; if I had to wait for a sunny day in Portland I’d never get any inking done.  And forget using a brush, unless you like the Pollock drip method applied to comics. L1010987

 My light box is one of my most useful drawing tools.  I don’t use it for everything, but when I need a little light shed on a situation (har har), it can’t be beat.L1010989

Another tracing method I’ve recently tried is good old fashioned tracing paper.  I’m able to draw in pen on the tracing paper, because when I scan the image it looks the same as if I drew on Bristol board.  I only use tracing paper for little drawings or pieces of larger things; drawing an entire comic on tracing paper wouldn’t be pretty.  I press too hard when I draw; the paper would get torn.  And the originals would get crinkled up and lost.

In my high school art class, there was a huge light box that allowed you to put your sketch on a shelf that you could crank up and down.  You could make the sketch bigger or smaller to fit the final drawing.  Because it was in a bright classroom, our art teacher had built black curtains all around the light box.  You entered it like a voting booth.  I wonder if Matt Groening has one of those in his house now, since he’s got like a billion dollars.  I know I would.

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autobiography Blog

Matt Groening in the Sidewalk With Diamonds

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That’s right! Matt Groening, the cartoonist extraordinaire, attended the high school that is near my home. We only missed each other by about 34 years. I literally discovered he went to school there because I was looking down at the sidewalk and saw Bart Simpson looking back up at me.

I use the high school’s track during the summer, and feel that somehow I was drawn (heh) to that place for a reason. Seriously, of all the high schools that I could have lived near, I somehow ended up by the one that happened to have the most famous cartoonist in the world as its alum.

My guess is they invited him back to do this sidewalk drawing after he got famous. I surmise this because my old high school hasn’t asked me to draw anything in the sidewalk yet. If they ever do ask, I will be glad to draw Bart Simpson for them.

At the very least, I’ll have something to say if I ever meet Matt Groening. You know, besides “I love you, man.”