Dilbert On Stage

Posted by on October 18th, 2010 at 8:03 AM

All of us, passionate fans of the high arts of newspaper strip cartooning, remember the visual excellences of Leonard Starr in his exquisitely rendered On Stage (Mary Perkins). Here’s an example.

Starr frequently shifted his camera to vary the visuals in his strip. And one of his habitual maneuvers was to draw a detailed and realistic picture of the building where his characters were, as in the opening panel here. It was an effective device: it enhanced the visual aspects of the strip by varying the imagery, and it established the venue and, hence, the ambiance of the day’s events.

Starr wasn’t altogether pleased with this dodge, however. Drawing those buildings took a long time. After a while, he perfected a shortcut: he used a high-contrast print of a photograph of a building, the contrast reducing the image to solid blacks for shadows. After touching up the image with a pen or brush, Starr pasted the print into position and went on to more satisfying work—drawing people.

As we can see from the Dilbert strip just below On Stage, Scott Adams also seeks visual variety in his otherwise sterile-looking art by cleverly resorting, more frequently than you’d imagine, to a picture of a building. The device is precisely the same as Starr deployed so effectively. But I can’t think Adams is re-drawing his building every time he uses it. In fact, it’s pretty clear that it’s exactly the same drawing every time.

And resorting to this picture 2-3 times a week clearly saves Adams several months of drawing time over a year’s strips. In the example above, however, he’s launching into a sequence in which the building functions as a building in the plot. It is probably a First for Dilbert. Here’s the conclusion to the sequence.

This may be the last as well as the first time the Dilbert Building functions as an actual building in the plot rather than as a cheap labor-saving device.

Up-dating: Last week, the plot to squash the Ekert in Non Sequitur resumed with the corporate entity announcing a search for some personage “whose soulless, uncaring egocentricity is so impenetrable that he’s immune to the Ekert’s spiritual power.” Who? Stay ’tooned.

And— in Luann, Tiffany managed to hold Dirk at bay for a couple days when the latter came calling at Toni’s apartment wherein the bombshell bimbo Tiffay had take up temporary residence for the purpose of the deception that Toni had left town. Forever. Will Dirk believe it? Stay ‘tooned.

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One Response to “Dilbert On Stage”

  1. WLLilly says:

    …Thank you for showing me some of that ” Dilbert ” , I think I missed it in the papers .
    You know – to be , after two weeks , slightly blunt about ” the dead ” , didn’t many comics critics in the late Twentieth Century , in bemoaning what they felt was the decline of cartooning ability in humorus strips , bemoan…” the Cathybert Syndrome ” ?
    Mightn’t one of those critics , er , um , huh , been…Um , nice weather we’ve been having lately , eh ( Well , in ” if you don’t like the weather just wait 1/2 hour ” San Francisco ) ???
    Covering other things that I have meant to express to you why I’ve got your/the ” Reply ” function has my attention , your piece on the ” Pink ” Sunday strips of last week was of interest .
    I had not known of any such planned stunt/occasion but swiftly , when I saw the ” Mobius strip ” logo especially , made it out .
    Are the strips that were printed in an especially pink manner going to be reprinted in the future with the pinkltaken off , or with the pink left on ?
    Some strips seems to intentionally do a ” pink-ized ” joke that week , ” Curtis ” did .
    I don’t have the ( kept by KFS behind a paywall ) strip anymore , but the Sunday ( Spoiler…) superimposed what appeared to be a joke about Curtis literally wearing ” rose-clored glasses ” onto the strip’s running joke about the outlandish Sunday hats worn by the married women in the church Curtis and his brother are congregants at .