Cartooning Like You Mean It

Cartooning, Teaching & Living – by Tom Hart

Fifth Obstruction: Revisions

with 6 comments


Ok, to quote Bart Simpson, set your eyes on stun:



Posting revisions, then off to sleep.

Written by hutchowen

June 18, 2007 at 3:45 am

6 Responses

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  1. This is looking great, Tom. I have to think about who makes the best cocktails near BAM! (Probably Franny’s.)

    I’m impressed that you got all five+ constraints in on the first round and I love all the stuff you’ve added or deepened. For example, I love how you’ve used the Roy Crane “illuminated” first letters to subtly emphasize the acronym (subtle only because we are so used to that convention that we never think of it as being a functional technique for highlighting text–it’s hiding in plain sight).

    I also appreciate the raised and lowered narration boxes (and I think it’s fine that you didn’t have time to do deeper research into tankas).

    I’m actually not that familiar with Endgame–I’m still waiting for my copy of the Grove complete Beckett, which has been out of stock at Amazon since before last Xmas, when Jessica’s mom tried to buy it for me–but the use of “I can’t go on. I must go on” is a nice choice to end this series with.

    And speaking of ending, kudos on the circularity, I’m always a big fan of that (ditto my hero (more of one with every book I read) Queneau, several of whose novels have a circular structure, including Le Chiendent (The Bark Tree/Witch Grass) which I just finished reading two nights ago).

    It’s also funny that you wanted to do panels of increasing or decreasing size as that was one of the constraints I was holding in the wings.

    My one reservation about the strip is that narratively it’s a little herky jerky, especially the last two panels. I think this is mainly explained by Hutch’s disorientation, but for example I’m not clear about what’s happening in the second-to-last panel: I’m guessing that “could you give me a scratch” is a Beckett line, but then Oswald says “no” and then says… “where?” Is Hutch supposed to be the one saying “where”? I guess that’s the problem spot for me.

    As we wrap up here I must confess I was hoping to play more of a bad cop/taskmaster and make you re-do stuff I wasn’t satisfied with but the truth is you’ve really done great work on all of these. It seems like the 20-panel one was the only one I had (and to some extent still have) with; otherwise you’ve consistently pleased me with your results.

    One last scold though: in a private e-mail (sorry to out you on your blog) you said you were thinking about not running the “imageless” comic in Metro because readers wouldn’t get it. I say that’s crazy! First of all, it’s an excellent strip and it’s essential to the rhythm of the week’s series; second of all, readers will have a heads up starting Monday that they are going to be looking at puzzling work–why not challenge their expectations a little?

    Matt Madden

    June 18, 2007 at 10:55 am

  2. Glad you like it!

    (I realized later that H-U-T-C-H could have been in any order- oh well.)

    The ENTIRE 4th panel is verbatim from the parents in the can from Endgame. After saying “No” (I won’t give you a scratch), Nagg pauses, and then says “where?” It’s a wonderful moment. So here, it is Oswald saying it. Defining the balloon tail more will make that more elegant and easy to read, I think. I like that it takes the eye left before going to the next panel.

    The last panel is the one I am least happy with, and I think I am going to tweak a little before inking. But I think the action will be the same.

    As for running the “imageless” comic, hmmm, I’ll think about it. I have a few hours to think about it before I have to send a bunch of strips in.


    June 18, 2007 at 11:11 am

  3. You have to run it, Tom, Blank Frank demands it!

    Matt Madden

    June 18, 2007 at 11:14 am

  4. I think the imageless strip is really, really good, if that counts for anything. It’s probably my favorite of your results.

    For this one, I’m impressed with the way you packed all the constraints into such a small space. It still feels “natural,” too — I mean, I can imagine someone writing such a strip with no external constraints guiding him. (It doesn’t feel natural as a “Tom Hart” strip, but that’s part of the point of this exercise, right? You’re using the constraints to expand your repertoire of voices and techniques.)

    If I have any reservations about this one, they have to do with the first caption, which feels deliberated compressed — the sort of unnatural idiom you get sometimes when people have to watch their syllable counts. It doesn’t read like something anyone would say, as a complete utterance (part of the sentence is missing). (It’s a six- or seven-syllable sentence with supposedly unnecessary words subtracted.)

    (I have a suggestion, though: since we can see the teacup and the ocean in the background, you probably don’t need “on the shore” in that caption. That frees up three syllables. Why not something like “Hutch is all washed up” … or “Here’s how things wash out” … or “He feels all washed up”? All of those seem like idiomatic sentences to me.)

    At the end of this experiment, I find myself wishing that ALL newspaper cartoonists would recruit Matt to put them through a week of constraints like this. Think how much more interesting Rex Morgan or Curtis would become, if they did a little exercising in style!

    Isaac Cates

    June 18, 2007 at 11:36 am

  5. Another possibility for that first panel: “Hutch washed up on shore.”

    I realized I was wrong about Endgame: I haven’t read it since high school but I did watch the film version of it in that Beckett on Film series, and although the “film” aspect of it was superfluous and distracting (lots of pointless pans and tracking shots), the performances by David Thewlis, Michael Gambon, and ESPECIALLY the old (impossibly old seeming) actors who play the parents in the cans are remarkable.

    Matt Madden

    June 18, 2007 at 11:50 am

  6. I’m concernced the teacup and beach aren’t super clear, especially printed at a small size, so I’m hesitant to ignore it in the text, though those are good suggestions.

    (Previously there was a comma: “Hutch, washed on the shore…” Was that any better?)

    I may take Matt’s suggestion on that first panel text.

    I’ve also altered the last panel’s dialogue quite a bit. Will post it soon.


    June 18, 2007 at 12:50 pm

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