Cartooning Like You Mean It

Cartooning, Teaching & Living – by Tom Hart

Archive for the ‘Obstructions and Challenges’ Category

5 Obstructions, Matt Madden and Me

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A colleague asked to see the original 5 obstructions post, and I realized the image links were busted. I’m uploading here en masse to reinstate into the proper posts, found here.

Matt Madden has long been my good friend and my most consistent critic and standard bearer for me. Thanks for this, Matt. It’s nice to see your face shining so large and brightly in this post.

Written by hutchowen

February 28, 2016 at 3:08 am

presenting new and unused Hutch Owen strips

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For the next few weeks, I’m presenting strips that exist in my “Unused” folder. I think this one was a bit too strange and the Metro nixed it, or maybe I never submitted it. It was done as a present for Francois Ayroles, the great French author and Oubapian who created a terrific series of wordless comics, much better than this one. Here, I was trying to use his vernacular, but still stay with my own framework. Charming, a bit.

I present this one first as a celebration of nature and beauty as I am also flying to SUNNY and BEAUTIFUL , tomorrow, to stay the month of August.

These are also running on my webcomicsnation account.

Written by hutchowen

August 4, 2008 at 4:33 am

Five Obstructions: Tom’s final 5

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Here are the final five:




Thanks to everyone who watched, kibitzed, lurked, cheered and jeered.

Matt and others will be disappointed to learn that I talked to my friend in the newspaper and he too advised me against running the imageless strip. In a perfect world, maybe, but I didn’t want to be too strenuous on morning commuters, their first cup of coffee in their hands, on their way to deal presumably with some power-hungry jerk who signs their checks…

So the strips that will run in the Metro will look like this:


I myself am disappointed that I didn’t catch it in time to run the silly heart one sooner in the loop rather than at the end, but I working on a less than 24 hour deadline for some of these strips to get them in. Newspapers are transient- no one will care or note it a few months from now. If I publish these in a collection, the imageless one will go back in.

Special thanks obviously to Matt Madden- Matt this was fabulous, THANK YOU!

Readers interested in future strips will also be disappointed to learn that next week’s are going to be VERY DUMB (to over compensate to my audience) but I hope to bring some of the new strange structures in immediately. And it is very much my medium and long-term goal to incorporate ideas from this week into my future work…

Ok! See you all at Mocca. I’ll have these originals with me, if you’d like to stop by…

Off to the Goddard. (“Word to the mother” in avant-garde-speak.)


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Written by hutchowen

June 18, 2007 at 6:41 pm

Fifth Obstruction: Revisions

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



Posting revisions, then off to sleep.

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Written by hutchowen

June 18, 2007 at 3:45 am

Fifth Obstruction: Tom’s First Draft

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


countdown – check
Five panels- check
Tanka- check (well, I could have been more disciplined with that, really studying the form and not merely adhering to the syllable count.)
it reads “HUTCH”? – check
5 Beckett references – check
2 collaged images – check (well I drew them in, but I’ll collage them in properly)

in fact, I threw Matt a few more bones:
– one more collaged image
– looping action (the last panel returns to the first of the series (when the action starts))
– tanka panels with 5 syllables have a dropped caption box, those with 7, an elevated one (though this sort of violates the idea of an “upper phrase” and “lower phrase” in the real definition.
– I am also embarrassed to say I failed at trying to make the five panels widen or shorten in size over the course of the strip. I felt like I needed equal room.

(I also regret the lack of environments here. I may try to pull one of the panels back a bit.)

This is a working first draft, but mostly done. The thing I want to work on is Hutch’s last beat- it shouldn’t be that. I have to find a Beckettian (?) way to accept something. In fact, that’s my main issue with it so far. Maybe it needs a whole sentence here.

Truth is, scouring Endgame again, this became too easy. The two dynamics in that play are far too similar to any slightly comdedic pairing. The problem was not in finding ways to bring it in, but making sure it all really means something.

If I wasn’t constrained by time (another genuine constraint here), I feel like I could have worked this Beckett angle very seriously, and I’d like to try some time.

I’ll return tomorrow to ink, etc.

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Written by hutchowen

June 18, 2007 at 1:11 am


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Your fifth and final (for this round, anyway) obstruction is a grab bag of five (more or less) interrelated (more or less) constraints:

1. Your comic must be five panels long. OK, that was the easy one, consider it a freebie. Now:

2. The text must take the form of a Tanka, which is a five-line syllabic poem (,, One line per panel, and each line must begin with an initial of Hutch’s name, so that the comic as a whole spells out Hutch’s name as an acronym (feel free to pursue this idea further).

3. You must incorporate, collage-style, at least two images or entire panels from previous strips from this week.

4. you must include five references, verbal or visual, to the work of Samuel Beckett.

5. you must in some way incorporate a countdown, from five down to one, in the comic.

Needless to say, I also hope you will manage to wrap up the “story” and bring Hutch and Oswald back to dry land. We’re going out with a bang here. You’ve pretty much aced everything so far so I can’t wait to see what you do with all of this. If you successfully incorporate all of these constraints into one strip I will buy you a nice cocktail before or after we go to see Pierrot le Fou this week.


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Written by hutchowen

June 17, 2007 at 6:35 pm


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Ok, here’s my final to Matt’s fourth obstruction.



I admit a lot of the 2nd panel and some of the 4th are Photoshopped, but it allowed me to be a bit more fearless, if not more messy. The second panel now looks like a fish, but why? Better if it were a crow…

I’m concerned the lady in the last panel won’t print well, but everything else I like quite a bit. Grateful to force myself (wait- to be forced) to use that much black.


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Written by hutchowen

June 15, 2007 at 4:10 pm