“The gag itself comes first and is the more difficult than the drawing part of cartooning.” -Ernie Bushmiller, cartoonist of Nancy
“Before the cartoonist puts pen to board, before the cartoonist puts pencil to notebook, before the cartoonist does anything fruitful with the pulp based product or any sort of pointed object, the cartoonist must first think. The ability to regularly generate useful concepts is at the core of the creative practice.”
“According to Bushmiller confidant and fellow comic strip artist Morris Weiss: “Ernie would go into a trance and he would be completely oblivious to everything around him…Most of his time was consumed with coming up with ideas…His whole life was coming up with gags.”
-from How to Read Nancy: The Elements of Comics in Three Easy Panels by Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden, Fantagraphics Books, 2017
Self portrait by Shanth Enjeti
My colleague and ex-student Shanth Enjeti is endlessly quotable. Here’s a gem found recently on the website for Montserrat College Art, where he’s a professor, and where I used to teach with him.
“The pursuit of replicating the work of an artist who inspires you is utterly incompatible with the pursuit of becoming an artist whose work inspires others. May your pursuit of the latter, begin here.”
Stanly Kunitz, in the August 1988 issue of The Paris Review, described well the process of getting art from the head to the page. As a believer that illustration is “writing with pictures,” I often find advice from writers to be particularly use in my teaching and professional practice.
“The poem in the head is always perfect. Resistance starts when you try to convert it into language. Language itself is a kind of resistance to the pure flow of self. The solution is to become one’s language. You cannot write a poem until you hit upon its rhythm. That rhythm not only belongs to the subject matter, it belongs to your interior world, and the moment they hook up there’s a quantum leap of energy. You can ride on that rhythm, it will carry you somewhere strange. The next morning you look at the page and wonder how it all happened. You have to triumph over all your diurnal glibness and cheapness and defensiveness.”
Stanley Kunitz (1905-2006) won many awards for his writing including the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Pize. He was the U.S. Poet Laureate in 2000.
The subversive and splendid filmmaker and writer John Waters, gave an inspiring commencement address at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and it was too good not to share. Funny, wise and wicked all at the same time, and all in 12 1/2 minutes. Enjoy.
“My advice: draw from life as much as you can stand to. That’s where you really learn things. And learn to express your real, personal feelings. And don’t worry about creating masterpieces or only drawing the pretty things. Look for the commonplace, the unnoticed details of everyday reality. To draw from life is to learn about life. But, you need to be compelled by some inner need to fill the blank page. It’s gotta come from inside.” -R. (Robert) Crumb, from An Illustrated Life; Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers by Danny Gregory, How Books, 2008