Drawing Galore and Pictorial Puzzles

Posted by on June 6th, 2010 at 6:07 AM

Remember when comic strips used to be full of actual drawings? You can find them, still, as I’ve mentioned, but not in the vast quantities that once stalked the earth.

So it was like a breath of fresh breeze (to mangle a simile) to encounter earlier this year this Sunday Garfield:

What a gaggle of art! An unadulterated swarm of it! Gary Barker, one of Jim Davis’ drawing assistants some years ago (and perhaps still, even though he moved away from Muncie, Indiana to some place in Florida), told me that doing strips like this one—which cropped up not very often—was a delight, a welcome respite from drawing the usual hand-puppet antics of Garfield and his master, Jon, who is typically seen only from the chest up. No drawing challenge in such chores.

But a strip like this Sunday’s—well, there’s drawing challenge galore here! Goofy faces making goofier faces. A real rumpus room for freehand performance. Not to mention whelmingly more interesting visually for readers.

The opening panel of the Sunday Garfield is another occasion for festiviere. Usually, a pictorially inventive chuckle or, sometimes—like this time—a genuine sight gag gawfaw.

On another matter altogether, here’s a recent New Yorker cartoon by Sam Gross.

It, like many gag cartoons (but, alas, not all of those published in The New Yorker), is a perfect example of the visual-verbal blending that makes a good cartoon. Neither the words nor the picture make by themselves the comedic sense that they make in tandem. The caption here is an entirely mundane utterance, completely devoid of humor. The picture is a puzzle—what the heck is goin’ on? But taken together, the caption and the picture create comedy.

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