Cartooning Like You Mean It

Cartooning, Teaching & Living – by Tom Hart

Archive for the ‘Obstructions and Challenges’ Category

Third Obstruction: Tom’s Response

with 12 comments

Ok here my response to the third obstruction


This was fun, stressful, a lot of work. There’s only one eno lyric in here, but I riffed on a lot more. A whole lot. Also- this will make Matt mad: I drew the dots. You’ll see what I mean. Maybe he’ll make me erase them; they are pictorial, after all.

Chronologically, I place it between strip 1 (the 20 panels) and strip 2 (the dolphin and the sea.)

I started inking and realized people would want to kibitz, so I am posting partially inked.

As a special treat, here is a recording of my Macintosh reading out loud my working script.

(Note from 2016: Still looking for that file on a missing hard drive. I quite like it, will post soon!)

(I confessed having rushed to post to make a personal 1 am deadline, but I mostly like it. May make gentle revisions (maybe after I revisit an earlier draft.))

Matt tells me he will post my 4th on Wednesday morning.

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Written by hutchowen

June 13, 2007 at 1:08 am

Second Obstruction: Tom’s Response, FINAL

with 8 comments



Well, as I work on #3, I am posting my #2 final. I tried to make the smallest number of edits possible, to keep to the spirit of the thing. In fact, I made only one drawing edit- a flipping in panel 3. I made three text edits, but one of them is in panel 3, so I broke Matt’s rule.

I’m working on #3. I’m looking at making it a bridge between strip 2 and 1.


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Written by hutchowen

June 12, 2007 at 10:11 am


with 7 comments


OK, now I’m under constraints of time and end-of-day loaginess, but here’s what I’ve come up with for your third, three-part obstruction:

1. you cannot draw anything in this strip. You can only use lettering
(along with balloons, etc, and including sound FX), panel borders
(and shapes, but they can’t be representative), solid black (a whole
panel at a time, all or nothing), or emanata. The strip must have a
reason for not showing any figures, and it can’t be a snowstorm (the
classic cop-out for cartoonists on deadline).

2. Text must only use monosyllabic words. (You can use multiple words
but none can be more than a syllable.)

3. Since you mentioned Brian Eno in a recent post and since we both
share a longstanding interest in him (I believe he was one of our
earliest points of connection when we met in Austin back in the
mid-90s), I want you to incorporate a line from a song of his in this
strip. It must play into the narrative of the strip in some way and
it must also observe the mono-syllable rule (Ooh, I just thought of a
great one, but I’m not going to tell you). Whether you signal it as
an Eno quote or disguise it is up to you.

Buena suerte!

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Written by hutchowen

June 11, 2007 at 11:20 pm

Second Obstruction: Tom’s Response, part 6

with 7 comments



Well, here is the final, the first panel.

I’ve made a mess of it, but it’s not unsalvageable. Of course, “salvageable” was not the challenge here, so we’l have to see let a dialogue about it ensue.

Here is the final strip.


I forgot to mention my one Mulligan I was going to ask for was a character flip in panel 3- which isn’t even essential, it would just read more easily.

So I neglected to be rigorous in my pursuit of the color constraint. It fell away. If I reworked this to ink (ideally) I would add a gentle flip to the ending somehow to bring this stuff more around. Not sure yet.

It’s a strange enough strip- as a sort of adventure, between point A and C strip- so that I don’t dislike it, but it’s not wholly satisfying.

I’m awaiting the 3rd Obstruction. I’m sure there will be some negotiating, advising, thoughts from all around on how to proceed to in finishing this.

Matt- have you written backwards like this before? I’ve done it from the last panel a million times, but never one panel at a time, diligently trying NOT to engage with the previous panel before finish the later ones.

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Written by hutchowen

June 11, 2007 at 5:29 pm

Second Obstruction: Tom’s Response, part 5

with 4 comments


Ok, here’s the 2nd panel of the strip, second to last panel to be completed. I worry Oswald’s line is a waste here. I toyed with the idea of “my yellow tea cup”- to add this leitmotif to the strip, but I didn’t like that either. Also thought of Oswald’s line being an answer to panel one, to add to the series of questions and answers in the strip, but dropped that too.

Ultimately, this will be a simple strip about a harried rescue that winds down into drifting. It’s like an Eno song.

There will be a bird in the first panel.


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Written by hutchowen

June 11, 2007 at 2:50 pm

Second Obstruction: Tom’s Response, part 4

with 3 comments



Ok I banged this one out. I’m running out of room, but think I like where it’s going. I won’t be able to address all the issues I thought I would be able to, and it certainly won’t read as a traditional strip, but its mysteries and rhythms might work in the end.

It’s shaping up to be a strange strip that just winds down, that goes from wild to gentle…

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Written by hutchowen

June 11, 2007 at 1:36 pm

Second Obstruction: Tom’s Response, part 3

with 2 comments



Here’s my third panel, probably the 4th going forward. I really wrestled with this one. I realized that I’m now trying to add conflict where previously I had created flippancy (the last panel.)

My main concern (and I might have to concede failure) was wanting the thread between the eventual panel 1 of this strip and the final panel of the abduction strip. Trying to give myself enough to work with to go backwards to panel 1, trying to link to the last panel of strip 1 and 2- it’s too many balls in the air.

Matt might be right- maybe I’m in a panic.

The original version of this panel read: “He won’t shut up about having to come out here/Do you have of those colored valium?” You can see a bunch of notes and the strip in progresshere. I giggled myself silly when I introduced the idea of the gun. This project was already worth it, if just for that.

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Written by hutchowen

June 11, 2007 at 12:30 pm

Second Obstruction: Tom’s Response, part 2

with 3 comments


Ok here’s the second to last panel.

I’m already steeling myself for comments about the dolphin not really relating to the idea of backwardness enough. I should have chosen an animal that walks backwards. You’d be right!

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Written by hutchowen

June 11, 2007 at 9:48 am

Second Obstruction: Tom’s Response, part 1

with 3 comments


Ok here’s the final panel.

Yes, that it a teacup they are in in the last panel. It won’t be explained (I suspect); Jessica will have to deal with it.

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Written by hutchowen

June 11, 2007 at 9:46 am


with 5 comments


Your second obstruction will consist of two constraints. The first
constraint is related to the
writing process: I want you to write the last panel first, then
retro-write the panel from the penultimate back to the first panel. You
can use five or six panels total.
Your second constraint: this last panel that you begin the story with must
contain the following elements:

-an animal of some sort (but not a bird!)
-Hutch and only one other recurring character
-use of or reference to at least two of the colors of the rainbow
(ROYGBIV). these could take the form of text in the dialogue, in
narration, or incorporated in the image; or they could appear in the
images (you could even use your spot color, as long as it’s deliberate and
intentional, that is, if someone has a red shirt on it must be relevant to
the outcome of the strip, like say they’re at a White Stripes concert…)

Ideally, you would also connect this strip to H’s abduction in the first
strip. However, the backwards composition is the most important thing, so
the first thing you should do is concentrate solely on the second
constraint and the generation of your last panel. Only then, as you start
to write the story backwards, should you think about bringing the birds in
somehow. (that’s why there’s a “no birds” rule in the last panel.)

In fact, now that I think of it, to ensure that you are truly writing
backwards, I think it would be best if you were to draw that last panel
and post it on the blog for me to see before you do the next one, then you
should do the same with each successive (or, rather, preceding) panel.

Bonne chance!


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Written by hutchowen

June 10, 2007 at 9:02 pm