This was the second assignment for week 2 in Brunetti’s Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice. Basically it was too make 3 single panel cartoons. This turned out to be a lot harder than I thought they’d be.
In the book Brunetti says try not to worry about being “funny.” To pull from everyday life and let your mind wander. When I started brainstorming ideas I quickly found I was stuck on a lot of jokes that were either self-deprecating or cynically existential. The images were static and did little more than add simple context to the caption.
I have a couple collections of old New Yorker and Punch cartoons, so I started flipping through those. Brunetti says to “think in terms of verbs (i.e what is happening in the panel).” What that meant didn’t really click until I looked at these cartoons. It’s like the equivalent of telling writers “show, don’t tell.” The best cartoons in the collections built themselves around action, and the captions and image worked in tandem.
I know this is cartooning 101, but it’s first I time I understood it in this context and also how it affects the development of comedy. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the narcissistic and spiteful kinds of comedy. There’s a target, it’s belittled, and you make the audience feel superior. It’s the crutch of so many diary comics. It’s much harder to get somebody to sympathize while laughing, to make them accept and even enjoy the ridiculous parts of life. I wanted to tap into something sincere, genuine, and absurd. Like in life, when you focus on the actions of the individuals, rather than presuming a mindset, you can see things for what they really are. From there, if something funny happens then you know its a genuine piece of comedy.
It still took me awhile to arrive at these three, but I think they come out alright. I enjoyed the train of thought it took me down, and the muscles it worked.