Are Cartoonists Masochists And Why You Should Copy

Well, no actually. However there is a point to the question. Cartooning is generally a solitary occupation.

Whilst you may well be a very social gregarious person. And that is a good quality for a cartoonist as you will draw inspiration from many everyday things you see and do. It is a fact that you need to draw your cartoons for yourself. It's an old adage but we all know the one "You can please all of the people some of the time.

" etc. and you certainly won't please everyone with your efforts, so don't try. Draw your cartoons to please yourself, and if you've got it right, you will please (read entertain) most others.

Getting back to the masochist thing, you will find that you are spending a lot, if not most, of your time in your studio, work area, wherever you do your stuff. Hunched over your drawing board, working and re-working your cartoons. Probably with an editor impatiently firing dealines at you. So, you are in effect in self-imposed solitary confinement. In which case don't be afraid to make your cell as comfortable as possible.

It's nice to have a window with a nice view. OK, that doesn't work for everyone if you are easily distracted, but then maybe you just aren't commited enough if your mind wanders that easy. Have a coffee machine so you don't need to leave the room.

Music works for me, and depending on my mood, or what I'm trying to work on, can help enormously. Really whatever works for you, but there's nothing wrong with being comfortable. As to copying, well it's a given that most cartoonists, if not all, start out by copying the work of a cartoonist that they admire. There's absolutely nothing wrong in that.

It's a great way to learn tecnique, lettering, shading, etc. When you are just starting out grab afew newspapers, comics, or whatever. Find something you like the look of and start copying. It's amazing how quickly things start to come together. Before you know it you are drawing great looking cartoons of your own.

Just remember, as soon as you have the mechanics of drawing cartoons down, stop copying and develop your own style. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but plagiarism is something else. Have your own characters and style. As a final word in this article remember that cartoonists draw what they know, and if you are in tune with what's going on around you, and take notes as you go (best advice I was ever given, you have an idea write it down then, guarantee you'll forget it otherwise before you get home) you'll be a great cartoonist. And don't worry if you are of, shall we say, mature years, wishing to take up this great career.

It's afact that most well known cartoonists had a few years under their belt when they began. There's no substitute for experience, I don't know of many 20 year old newspaper/magazine cartoonists. Whatever you do, practise as much as you can, and remember the words of Winston Churchill when he was asked the secret of success. He stood up, went to the dias, said "Never, never, never, never, never, never, never, give up". And sat down.

Chris Haycock is an information publisher, one of whose hobbies is cartooning. For more information on cartooning, including details of a very special insiders course on cartooning, go to

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