Spooky Cartoons and Collaborations
Weekly Cartoon Email #079
Ellis Rosen and I have just completed our third Halloween collaboration. It’s officially a tradition! This year, we have three spooky cartoons in American Bystander.
Today, I thought I’d share a little of how we go about working together, from idea to sketch to final drawing—but, before I get to that, here’s how Ellis described the process:
Every night, I wake up from the same horrible fever dream, the one where I have visions of the world being engulfed by gigantic cosmic beings.
With their great tentacles, they reach down from celestial plains through the clouds and anyone who even glances at them becomes enraged with murderous insanity.
My wife appears and says “you could have stopped this” as she’s dragged away from Something that defies physical description.
Suffice to say, I see it a little differently…
Ellis usually kicks us off with some ideas from his notebook. Sometimes he’ll have a sketch, but in this case it was just the simple thought that giant skeletons are funny because, at some point, someone must have said, “hey, what if we make a skeleton—but big?”
His first thought was that it might be attacking a city (like Godzilla, only, it’s a skeleton). That didn’t really go anywhere in the end.
Instead, we found ourselves thinking about a merely tall skeleton. What might the other skeletons say about that?
I drew this sketch while we chatted:
You may recognise the composition (above). It’s reference to an old joke from Police Squad—which itself was (probably) a reference to an old joke from the Bible.
We rolled around a few captions, and stumbled on one that we both enjoyed. So, it was off to the final drawing.
First, I do a very rough sketch, with a light coloured marker. Many people use blue for this stage, but I like to go with yellow as I want something feint—so I can more easily ignore it when I do the line work.
It’s supposed to be a rough guide, not something to be traced.
From here, I would normally add cross-hatching and shading, with the same pen I use for the lines—a 0.3 Staedtler fineliner.
However, for the Tom & Ellis show, I use ink washes. They’re painted separately, so I have more control. The final composition is done in Photoshop.
Was it all worth it? We will never know for sure, but hearty thanks to American Bystander for making it seem like it was! Here’s the final drawing:
While we’re here, here’s our spooky collaboration from last year, a daily for the New Yorker. Buy this cartoon.
Since I’ve been harping on about American Bystander this week, I thought I would use this section to recommend the latest issue (#26)—the Cartoonists’ Annual.
It’s a treasure, jam packed full of great cartoons. Buy it, you won’t regret it!
Thanks as ever for your eyeballs.