Today, just for fun, I figured I'd pack in a little more in today's Cartoon Blast for Sunday and show some of the work I did as I was learning my craft. Almost all of this dates from the same 2 year period, around 2000-2002, and I would pursue nearly every opportunity that came my way. At first it was friends and coworkers who were aspiring writers but couldn't draw that sought to collaborate on cartoon ideas. Then came people I hadn't known, but had seen my work and wanted to try cartoon projects - published authors for instance. Finally, I came to the realization that my process is a more solitary one, resulting in my longest running work, Spectickles and Percenters. For starters, here's a Pandemonium cartoon that was among the first 50 cartoons I'd ever completed:
The very first collaboration I did was with a coworker, David Rygg. David was an aspiring writer who just happened to love comics. We talked about the concept, the characters, and I went to work. The project didn't last long - maybe fifty of Edger and Earnest comics in total were completed and I was off on deployment, thus ending the project. I was sad to learn later that David had passed away from stomach cancer at all to0 young an age. I'm proud of this work, and like others, would love to have the time to revive it, if only as a weekly comic.
Next up is Wing and a Prayer, my first attempt at the comic strip form. It's a much different approach than a single panel, and to me, a bit more difficult. Factors like timing, extended dialogue, set-up and the like aren't as easy as they look, and as I was quickly to find out. Ken Alley is a prolific humor writer and owned the copyright to a vast number of jokes and joke collections. It was from these we created Wing and a Prayer. Actually, at first it was called Fiddlestix, but that name appeared to have already been taken. From my perspective as a cartoonist, it was a pretty laborious undertaking as I'd receive just dozens of pages of jokes, some had potential as comics, others didn't. So I'd sift through the pages till I found something that might work, then I'd have to visualize it in a three-panel comic strip. Most often, then end product in now way resembled the original joke. As with others, I'm proud of the results and if time ever manifests itself in greater abundance, I'd go back to this as a weekly comic.
When you crank out as much work as I was at the time, you look for projects that are simple, fun, and for no greater reason than to get a break from the more labor-intensive art. I've always had a sarcastic sense of humor, and I thought about injecting that into an egg-shaped Santa character - Rude Santa. I only did a few of these, but I enjoyed it, and now they're a small blip on the chronology of my development as a cartoonist.
Karma Café was a comic strip concept by Richard Cross. He had collaborated on some projects with Ink Bottle Syndicate founder Bill Kellogg, with whom I was producing work for at the time. Richard liked my art and asked if I'd be interested in the Karma Café project. While I liked the concept, and we'd produced some solid strips, I'd reached a point where I was overextending myself, and I think the end product suffered as a result.
Foggy Bottom is a comic strip created by me and a fellow combat vet with whom I'd served for quite a long time, Dave Ditullio. Dave is a dear friend and a very talented artist - and a pretty funny guy. We'd worked on Foggy Bottom and created some very solid material, but as with so many things, time became a challenge. Of all the projects I've worked on in the past, this is one that WILL be brought back to life. There's a great back story and so much potential. Keep your eyes out for a future launch of Foggy Bottom, the comic strip.
Percenters were originally created as a creative break from the daily syndication requirements of my Spectickles cartoon. They were, at first, more business-related, then morphed into a more typical New Yorker style, although I don't kid myself into thinking they've reached that degree of quality. Nonetheless, I enjoy working on these, and they've found some success here in the U.S. in some major magazines, and in Europe where they're in syndication through Knight Features of London.
And finally, Spectickles, to date my most successful work.