Posts Tagged ‘snoopy’


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.

snoopy1 snoopy3
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.


comic con 2010 in photos

How you know you found California:

Your hotel elevator has a mysterious button labeled “Seismic.”

How you know you found Comic Con:
Stormtroopers outnumber civilians by a 5:1 ratio.
Comic Con 2010 was, the second time around, just as dizzying and exciting as ever.

This time, I brought some friends to enjoy the trip.  


As I was the grizzled veteran, I gave handy tips which were summarily dismissed by the ladies.  The last I saw of our female companions, they were headed toward Hall H (the largest of the conference rooms) to see American royalty (movie stars, not cartoonists).  That left me and my partner blogger Nate McGraw alone to fend for ourselves in the pop culture jungle.

The real Gostmobile
Audrey Hepburn as Catwoman, with boobs
Bedazzled Stormtrooper

Comic Con is all about neat toys.  But it is also about people dressed like neat toys. 
(Among other things.)

I had many more celebrity sightings this year than last, because I am a star magnet.  Also, I stayed for all four days instead of two.
This first doesn’t really count, as I “spotted” Berkeley Breathed in the panel called Spotlight on Berkeley Breathed.  For years I had a totally incorrect conception of what the man looked like.  When I was a kid, I had a Bloom County collection in which the author photograph was of a Hell’s Angel on his Harley.  Had I been a discerning adult, I would have immediately gotten the joke.  As it was, for years I went around thinking this cartoonist looked like something out of a Hunter S. Thompson book.
This is what Berkeley Breathed really looks like, from about 50 rows back:

On my final day, I happened upon an unusual book signing: Frank “Dark Knight Returns” Miller and Dave Gibbons.  I centered this photo on Frank, but upon seeing it later I realized that dude on his left totally drew Watchmen.  Comic Con!

Nate and I chose to pose in front of our respective alter-egos.  Nate’s Iron Man to my Snoopy.

San Diego, as usual, brought perfect weather.  Not that it mattered much to those of us choosing to spend glorious summer days inside a crowded convention center.  Still, we got outside for meals.  Not pictured here: the bus on which David Hasselhoff was dancing and singing “Hooked on a Feeling.”  No joke.  Our waitress had bought a disposable camera just for this weekend, and asked us to snap a picture if he got close enough.

Before I go, I have an important announcement.  This blog is proud to be the first to publicly “out” The Man of Steel himself:

That’s it for now.  Tune in tomorrow, dear readers, for the text-heavy version, including my scintillating narrative about how I borrowed someone’s grocery store card to get 50 cents off my tube of toothpaste.
An essential Comic Con experience: being last in line for something and having to hold this sign.