Cartooning Like You Mean It

Cartooning, Teaching & Living – by Tom Hart

Posts Tagged ‘hutch owen

Hutch Owen Strips: Dennis Go Does Down

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I’ll be cross-posting here and on Blogger for a while until the Hutch book, Let’s Get Furious comes out.

At the HOW TO SAY EVERYTHING blog, I’ll be detailing more about process, etc. Here’s I’ll just be broadcasting.

The following marks the largest single section of Let’s Get Furious, the largest sub-story in the book, called “Dennis Goes Down.” Dennis, clearly one of the world’s “1%” decides to go see how the rest of the world lives. He thinks they need a kick in the butt to get spending again. This was written in 2004 or 5, I think.

I was still drawing too small at this point, and figuring out how to use this small space. I don’t love these drawings, nor the color choices (the book is printed in black/white), but this is a pretty great long story. I’ll be posting the more  thing in the coming weeks.

I stole those teeth from Tanioka, the guy who invented “noseblood.”

The idea that we all, as consumers and producers, are part of a larger myth and story interests me, fascinates me and disgusts me to no end. What was in ancient times  a system of stories and rituals for coping, growing and evolving has been recast and relocated in commercial endeavors. It’s regrettable, maybe even evil but I don’t give people that much credit. We’re mostly just stupid and have lost sight our best options for our humanity: art, ritual, family, nature, faith, physicality, concentration, generosity, etc.

I wrote this while reading David Copperfield, which I never finished; got too carried away with this story.

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November 6, 2011 at 2:09 am

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Hutch Owen samples at Flickr

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Posted a bunch of Hutch Owen comic strip samples at Flickr. I’m overwhelmed with delight by this image:

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September 29, 2008 at 2:42 am

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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.

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August 4, 2008 at 4:33 am

On Themes, Situations, and Characters in Cartooning.

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At the first day of our Hothouse class at SVA, Matt Madden, Jessica Abel and I offer our different strategies about creating stories and work. Jessica works from a character, plots out a story. Matt works from form. He looks at categories of rhythms and structure that he hasn’t created work in before, and creates characters and situations that relate to those forms. The story develops from there.

I’ve always gone next, discussing how I work from themes, first and foremost. This is changing and I want to explore that a little here.

I’ve first and foremost started with themes, especially when I knew what character I was using: Hutch Owen. From a starting point of a familiar character, themes would appear in the outside world that I would want to explore.

Here’s a quick list of Hutch Owen stories and the themes I had hoped to explore:

Road to Self – how we change or don’t change our ideals over time
Aristotle – what is freedom? creativity? as it relates to this character?
Emerging Markets – how have we colonized other cultures both through commerce and religion?

Mind you, a lot of these stories were also excuses to draw guys with sticks and bats pounding on a man dressed up as a sheep. But first came the idea to explore, the question, then the characters and situations. HOPEFULLY, at that point, those characters and situations developed organically, and became their own interesting narrative entities.


Since those stories, I’ve move into comic strips (for a host of reasons I’ll go into some other time), and this is changing how I start, where I work from.

I recently finished 2 1/2 years of working with Hutch Owen as a daily comic strip character. Working with a stable of 4-8 continuing characters, my method is still to work from theme.

Friendship loyalty, male/female handling of the environment to silly things like Spiderman’s effect on the culture are just a few of the themes I explored in the strip.

In another instance, a colleague eagerly asked me if I had done any work on the Dalai Lama or world peace, which he would like to feature in a show he was curating. I hadn’t, but it was easy to make happen. With my characters, which represent particular kinds of reactions, wrestling around with the character of the Dalai Lama and the idea of world peace made for a fun and robust series of strips.
One of the main values for this as a creator, and one of my many reasons for switching to comic strips was that inventing situations and themes for the characters to explore, greatly expanded the characters themselves. They began revealing themselves to me in constant, ongoing new ways, in ways that couldn’t happen with larger stories which tend to involve less invention and let’s say it: more depth of exploration. The quickness of the comic strip allowed me to alight frequently on the personalities of the characters and explore new facets of their behavior. This is incredibly fun. And the nimbleness needed requires me to live constantly in the present. I digress.

Lately, in my newest strip I find myself playing less with themes, and more with situations. The overarching themes of the strip are traditional ones: sibling rivalry, the love of one’s work, what does it mean to be new to a culture, plus what the heck is America about. Now I design situations to explore those themes: an Arab food stand in a mall, cousin’s traipsing the woods outside their back yard, immigrant grandparents with their Americanized grandkids at dinner, etc.

So it’s all about themes, situations, and invention. The invention comes from the initial thoughts, the hopeful power of the stories or strips comes from allowing invention and connection to flow without agenda.

Here’s a sneak peak of a secret series of strips I’m making with my good pal Margo Dabaie.

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June 1, 2008 at 4:18 pm

On Spurge’s best of 2007 list

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Tom Spurgeon puts me on his best Internet Features of 2007. Or rather, “Five Features Even The Most Ardent Internet-Hater Would Find Worth Reading On-Line

The strip is on indefinite hiatus as of Friday, March 28. See my favorite strips here.

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March 25, 2008 at 11:12 am

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