Margaret’s Sunday Quickie: Four-panel fun

If I weren’t writing prose, I’d like to pursue the fame and fortune that inevitably attend upon a career in webcomics.

I’m only partly joking.  I know that fame and fortune are as elusive for cartoonists as for writers (and I sure as hell have my own neuroses about that; see Diana’s post for some examples).  And I don’t have much skill as an artist.  I suspect that, after years of study and practice, I’d be able to produce decent stick-figures.  And I did briefly try my hand at writing a small comic that never made it off the page, much as I enjoyed working on it.  (It was a gaming comic, because there’s such a shortage of those.)

However, I don’t think I have it in me to write actual comics, with scripts and full-page layouts and so on.  What I’d prefer to concentrate on would be comic strips — cartoons, like the ones that used to be in newspapers before people who didn’t understand newspapers started buying the businesses and cutting corners.  Cartoons are really tough to do well; if an author tries to shoehorn in Big Messages, the format creaks and the readers lose interest after a few weeks of non-entertainment.  If they leave them out entirely, the cartoon fades from my mind and becomes something to check on only now and then.  That’s why I’m a fan of Shaenon Garrity’s Narbonic, which not only has long-running, complex story arcs (and foreshadowing!  and impending doom!  and yogurt monsters!), but funny strips every single day.  (I’m also addicted to her current collaboration, Skin Horse.  Both are running Sunday specials today, but the archives are hours’ worth of happy fun procrastination.)

When comics are done really well, they can be fantastic, complex stories with a scope that can reach farther than just one novel.  And if I had the time, the skills, and the ability to deliver a consistent punchline, I’d love to try my hand at it.  Sadly, it seems more likely that The Adventures of Dwarf and Ninja will never see the light of the net, which may be for the best.


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