Happy New Year 2013 – May this Year be different…

May this year surprise us by not bringing us news that makes us cringe and cry, that makes us feel sad and hopeless, and that makes us wonder whether the planet that we inhabit isn’t really turning into hell.

I wish that in this new year:

The politicians keep their promises,
The terrorists drop their guns,
The rapists are brought to justice,
The psychos get help before they murder innocents,
The religious fanatics turn rational and moderate,
The war-mongers lose their blood-lust, and
The fraudsters lose their greed!

and that everyone  finds happiness, health, and love.
A Happy New Year wish card for 2013  with a pup's cartoon.

Wishing a Happy New Year to everyone in The Blogosphere…

Thanks WordPress 🙂 And thank you my dear visitors…I hope to make my posts more interesting and useful in the new year.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 210,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 4 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!

Click here to see the complete report.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

And…

DRAW TO SMILE!

The World Ends tomorrow and a Seat on the Ark is selling for Billions!

Updated: December 21, 2012 a.k.a. Doom’s Day a.k.a Mayan Apocalypse. Note: The threat still looms large. 21st has not even begun in the US, and we don’t really know anything about the time-zone that the Mayans had in mind, when they prophesied the end of the world.

I am updating this post because in the last 12 hours, this blog has been inundated with more than a hundred instances of the query, “What Time does the World end?” Honestly, my incredible omniscience fails to tell me the exact time and also the exact time zone for this once in the earth’s lifetime event. But when I switched on my computer this morning, I was driven to draw this guy, who really wants to know.

Doomsday humor cartoon - what time does the world end - on Mayan Apocalypse - December 21, 2012

Will someone please tell us the exact time, so that we can stop waiting and start working?!

Oh, I forgot to mention. There’s a Doomsday Discount on the above cartoon. If you want to take it away with you for your blog, you are welcome to do so 🙂 It’s free. The sale ends along with the world!

 

Folks,

If you’ve kept your eyes and ears open, you must know that the world is going to end tomorrow (December 21, 2012.) This key information comes from the Mayans, and so it has to be absolutely correct. What? You are questioning it? Are you crazy? The Mayans knew. How?! Don’t you know? Those guys were the original programmers of this world matrix, and they planned an auto-shutdown of the Universe program on the date in question.
We are really running short of time here, so let me skip ahead and talk about more important things.

You see, I’ve been frantically searching for any information on a Noah’s Ark-alike that leaves from my city. So far, I’ve found out nothing. I think people don’t want to share this information on the Internet, because only two humans from every city are allowed to board the ark. Sources who’ve requested anonymity say that only politicians will be allowed to board the ark, and that some seats in the hull are going for Millions of Dollars. I also hear that Paris Hilton, Lady Gaga, and Justin Bieber have already secured their passage into the new world by parting with almost all their riches.

So why isn’t the media reporting this corruption around the Ark-deal? Oh well! Those media guys are going to be stowaways. It’s rumored that these arks were built with secret compartments to ensure that the best of the best (read: the politicians, the paparazzi, and the stinking rich) will be able to escape the inevitable, either directly or indirectly.

If you have any information on this matter, please leave it here in a comment. I have a feeling that if you had such information, you must’ve already been brain-washed into believing that you’d have a seat on the ark, if you just remained silent; but my friend, they are playing with you. Mark my words, if the world ends tomorrow…billions of us would be standing together bidding farewell to our politicians and others of their kind.

Now, the second important question…

What’s the exact time at which the world is expected to end? Any information will be deeply appreciated and widely distributed.

Once in a while…this caricaturist too feels colorful…and Dogs do Rock!

I love black, and white, and gray. I like color, but only when I have to like it. If I were invisible to others, I’d wear black, and white, and gray. Here’s a bit of color for this colorless blog 🙂

Cartoon of two dogs on a rocking chair!

Evolution of a Cartoonist – Post 3 – How to Draw Cartoons – Can YOU become a cartoonist?

As this post refers to content that’s covered in the two previous posts of this series, it is recommended that you begin by reading them in sequence:)

Read the two previous posts of Chapter 1:

  1. Evolution of a Cartoonist – Post 1 – How to Draw Cartoons – Introduction, Working Definition, and Three Examples.
  2. Evolution of a Cartoonist – Post 2 – How to Draw Cartoons – The Two Essential Dimensions of a Cartoon.

This post helps you answer the question – Can YOU become a cartoonist?

This question is contextual, and the context is that of your current abilities. Here’s a continuum that you must find your place on.

The Evolution of a Cartoonist - A Book on How to Draw Cartoons - Chapter 1, Fig 1 - Conceptualizer vs. Illustrator

If you are like the guy at the right, you are worried about expressing your ideas in a visual form. However, if you can identify with the guy at the left, you can draw and illustrate but you worry about finding the right ideas.

The Stronger-half of a Cartoonist – The Conceptualizer

If you are an idea-generation machine but you feel constrained by you drawing abilities, you need to pick up some basic cartoon-drawing skills that can help you do “a relatively simplistic and sometimes exaggerated visual portrayal” of the many ideas that keep rushing in and out of your minds, so that you may capture them into an awesome cartoon. However, if you feel that you are Mr./Ms. Ideo (represented by the day-dreaming gentleman in figure 2 below) – and that no matter how you wield that pencil, you can do no better than create a squiggly, you may want to team-up with an artist, who can  create a picture that goes with your ideas…or perhaps, you could learn to create ultra-simplistic, Dilbert-Style cartoons that can speak your mind.

Mr./Ms. Ideo (The Conceptualizer in the following figure.) needs a visual medium of expression that can be used to capture those ideas that will grow wings and fly away, if they aren’t caught and trained.

The Evolution of a Cartoonist -A Book on How to Draw Cartoons - Chapter 1, Fig 2 - The Stronger Half of a Cartoonist - The Conceptualizer

The Fairer-half of a Cartoonist – The Illustrator

If you have placed yourself on the right side of this continuum, you must learn not only to generate ideas, but also train yourself on keeping them.  I’ve gone through the learning-to-generate-ideas phases, and I must tell you that it isn’t easy. However, if you are like Mr./Ms. Arto ( represented by the horrendously dressed, lip-smacking (!) gentleman in figure 3 below) you might find that you require considerable practice to ensure that you find your ideas and keep them too. Perhaps a helping hand from a friend who has a fertile mind, could help. Yet if you teamed up right, you could end up creating fantastic cartoons to delight your readers.

Mr./Ms. Arto (The Illustrator in the following figure) can draw, but he faces issues in finding the right ideas and visualizing them in a way that fits them into the cartooning mold.

The Evolution of a Cartoonist -A Book on How to Draw Cartoons - Chapter 1, Fig 2 - The Fairer-Half of a Cartoonist - The Illustrator

End Note for Chapter 1

(This end note is for those bright individuals, who think that they aren’t cartoonists and so they mustn’t create cartoons – and who identify themselves better with Mr./Ms. Ideo, I must mention the Johari window here, which speaks of the “Unknown Room”. Perhaps a comic post on the Johari Window is due on this blog, but for the time-being, it should suffice you to know that the Unknown Quadrant of the Johari Window, now called the Unknown Room, refers to your traits and skills that nobody know anything about, but they exist.

My advice here is that because you nor anyone else knows that they exist, just assume that they do (with due apologies to Mr. Joseph Luft (Jo) and Mr. Harrington Ingham (Hari) this is how the twisty logic of this caricaturist interprets it.) Dear Reader, possibly one of these unknown skills within you is the skill of cartooning…and nobody, not even you is aware of its existence, so dig it out! Surprise yourself, and surprise the world. Oh…and if you want to take the Johari Window Test, click here.)

Cartoons have a mysterious power to reach into the hearts and minds of people, and shake them out of their stupor.  Before we move on to the apparently more practical matter of explaining what a cartoon is, I must mention the fact that sometimes the cartoons that change the face of the world, don’t come from the cartoonists. We’ll discuss the reason behind this anomaly later, but let me share an example to corroborate my viewpoint.

Benjamin Franklin, officially created the first American political cartoon in 1754, which depicted a snake severed into 8 parts with a caption “Join, or Die” to bring together the colonies – thus, sowing the idea of the United State of America, in the minds of the people.

Franklin is considered to be one of the founding father of the United States –  among other things, he was an author, politician, scientist (he invented the bifocals and the Franklin Stove,) and a musician. Did you read the term cartoonist anywhere?

Reflect upon it while I disappear to bring you the second chapter of this book “Evolution of a Cartoonist” or the fourth post in the series. I hope this book will sow the seeds of cartooning into your mind, and motivate you to express your ideas in this delightful visual format.

Read the two previous posts of Chapter 1:

  1. Evolution of a Cartoonist – Post 1 – How to Draw Cartoons – Introduction, Working Definition, and Three Examples.
  2. Evolution of a Cartoonist – Post 2 – How to Draw Cartoons – The Two Essential Dimensions of a Cartoon.

About Hypnotoy Lite and other Stuff that makes me feel creative :)

Dear Readers and Chance-visitors who I hope will come back again 🙂

Recently, I’ve been working my tail off (sorry, picked up that figure of speech from my dog,) which for me means multi-tasking – and everyone who multi-task knows how stressful this multi-tasking demon can be. It’s easier on me when I earmark a day only to draw, and then I really, actually, practically stick to “drawing” and nothing else; or when I decide only to write, and then I just write and not draw that day – but unfortunately, such days are very rare.

Coming to the topic of this post…

Stuff that makes me feel creative is often strewn around, difficult to find when I need it most.  Hypnotoy has been my creative anchor in such times. When I am tired and my mind begins to draw a blank (!) I find the Hypnotoy icon on my iPad and tap it. Those lovely Dancing Experiences help me relax and focus. I loved it through the process of its creation, through the sleepless nights, and through those daintily and painstakingly painted graphics; and now I love it as an App that beckons at me through its sparkling icon and opens its arms to embrace me whenever I tap on it. As the stress oozes out and comfort seeps in, I begin to feel creative.

What I want to share with you is the news that Hypnotoy- The Toy of Joy has now got its FREE version – Hypnotoy Lite! This means that I can recommend it to all my visitors who have an iPhone, iPad, and iPod. Try it out – see if it connects with you, they way it connected with me 🙂

Here’s the link. Click (or tap) the icon to reach the App Store!

Hypnotoy Lite - A Beautiful Lifestyle and Entertainment Free App for iPad, iPhone, and iPod

Hypnotoy Lite is the Free Version of Hypnotoy – The Toy of Joy. Click (tap) to Download.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. I must get back to my tablet now…and yes, the third post on “Evolution of a Cartoonist” is due tomorrow 🙂 Until then, relax with your own Hypnotoy Lite.

Evolution of a Cartoonist – Post 2 – How to Draw Cartoons – The Two Essential Dimensions of a Cartoon.


If you are a serious reader who wants to follow this book through all the posts, I recommend that you start with the first post:

  1. Evolution of a Cartoonist – Post 1 – How to Draw Cartoons – Introduction, Working Definition, and Three Examples.

Continuing…
A cartoon has two important dimensions:

  • The Visual Dimension
  • The Conceptual Dimension

The Visual Dimension

This dimension is fairly easy to understand. It’s right there for the reader to see and comment upon. It is what first catches the attention of the reader. It sends out a subtle message to you that this won’t take a lot of your time, it’s something that’ll give you a quick shot in the arm – and either make you think or laugh. When you look at the works of some of the best cartoonists in the world, you realize that the visual dimension plays not one but three important roles.

  1. It attracts the reader’s attention.
  2. It simplifies the story being told by removing all the extraneous visual details and focusing only on the relevant objectives.
  3. It uses the characters and their expressions to sharpen the teeth of the idea it conveys.

The Conceptual Dimension

The conceptual dimension or simply the “idea,” is the soul of a cartoon. There cannot be a cartoon without an idea that has one of the three characteristics mentioned in the definition. It has to be CRITICAL of something, or it should be SATIRICAL, or it must be HUMOROUS. If the idea is weak, you could kill yourself working on the visual dimension, but you’ll have a weak excuse of a cartoon. Perhaps a beautiful illustration, but not a cartoon. Remember that illustrations don’t evoke feelings in the reader, cartoons do.

Cartoonists are people who have some degree of control on both these dimensions. They can draw reasonably well and they can come up with critical, satirical, or humorous ideas. If they can draw, but not come up with such ideas, they are illustrators; on the other hand, if they can come up with ideas that make people sit up and think, they are conceptualizers who could work wonders even with the most basic drawings.

Reflect upon the two dimensions and review your skills, until I return with “Can you Become a Cartoonist?”

PS:

Advance Disclaimer: You will have to excuse the sketches that will accompany the posts, as they’d be scribbles from my notebooks, photographed by a non-photographer (that’s yours truly) and added here in a hurry. My scanner’s still not on, and I am not fretting over it because most of the work that I am doing these days is digital 🙂 

The next post in this series can be read here:

Evolution of a Cartoonist – Post 1 – How to Draw Cartoons – Introduction, Working Definition, and Three Examples.

This is the abridged first chapter of the of the book, “The Evolution of a Cartoonist,” which will be substantially richer in content (theories and methods,) graphics, and examples is expected to be published by June 2013. The book will also include cartooning problems and assignments for practice. During this time, as and when I find the time to scan/photograph my sketchbooks and put together a cohesive summary of the chapter, I will publish it on my blog here. 

I believe that everyone who can think and write, can make cartoons. Everyone gets ideas. Everyone would love to see their idea form into a cartoon. More often than not, the constraining factor is – the drawing skill. While almost everyone has got some experience with drawing, practical concerns made them forfeit their drawing skills. If you are such an individual, this book could help you rediscover and hone your ability to draw and motivate you to create cartoons that speak your mind.

About this Chapter:

This Chapter introduces you to cartoons, builds and explains a working definition of the term “cartoon,” and helps you establish the two essential dimensions of a cartoon. This Chapter is divided into the following topics:

  1. Introduction
  2. Cartoons – Definition and Illustrations
  3. The Two Essential Dimensions of a Cartoon
    1. The Visual Dimension
    2. The Conceptual Dimension
  4. Can YOU become a cartoonist?
  5.  End Note

1. Introduction

Let me begin in the usual lack-luster manner in which text-books usually begin, so that I may impress upon that this indeed is the first chapter of the book, “The Evolution of a Cartoonist.”

Here I go 🙂

Cartoons have always enthralled mankind, but with the advent of printing, their impact increased tremendously. Since the last century, cartoons have become a potent tool for bringing about social and political change. They’ve been the voice of the common man on street, and they’ve made many politicians shiver in their knickers.

However, the mighty cartoon has often been misunderstood. While cartoonists have struggled to find the middle ground between illustration and ideation, others have often wondered why they couldn’t be cartoonists themselves. After all, most cartoons look simple enough to draw!

2. Cartoons – Definition and Illustrations:

According to the two dictionaries that grace my cluttered and otherwise non-intellectual looking desk, a cartoon can be defined as:

A drawing intended as satire, caricature or humor…a ludicrously simplistic, unrealistic, or one-dimensional portrayal or version. – Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary

Or

A ludicrously critical or satirical drawing or caricature, as in a periodical. – Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary of the English Language.

I think that none of the two definitions do justice to the raw yet mysterious power of a cartoon. Let me use these two definitions as a base, add to them my own observations and experiences, and structure this simple yet more complete definition of a cartoon.

“A cartoon is a relatively simplistic and/or sometimes exaggerated visual portrayal of a critical, satirical, or humorous idea.” – Shafali the Caricaturist.

Let me illustrate this definition through some examples.

Example 1: Peanuts

Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz is a cartoon (more specifically, a comic strip, which is a string of cartoons with a common idea holding them together,) because: It is a relatively simplistic and exaggerated visual portrayal (compare to realistic visual portrayal) of a (subtly) critical,  (sometimes) satirical, and/or (definitely) humorous  idea.

Example 2: Dennis the Menace

Dennis the Menace by Henry Ketcham is a cartoon, because: It is a relatively simplistic and exaggerated visual portrayal (less simplistic than Peanuts, yet a lot simplistic when compared to the realistic portrayal) of a critical (no,) satirical (no,) or humorous idea (yes, always.)

Example 3: Loneliness

While the other two examples were from popular comic strips, here’s a stand-alone cartoon. Let us see how this fares on the definition.

Loneliness” is a cartoon because it is a relatively simplistic and sometimes exaggerated visual portrayal (a simplified sad woman with an exaggerated expression of sadness, sitting in front of a simplified computer at a simplified desk, in a simplified chair,) of a critical (yes,) satirical (yes,) or humorous (not very) idea.

The three examples given above are enough to tell us how widely cartoons differ from one another. A cartoon could be made using a few lines (Dilbert) and it can be made by using millions (Kal’s toons in The Economist); it could be used to present criticism, satire, or humor; it could be done in black-and-white (Dilbert again) or in hundreds of colors (Asterix); it could be political, social, organizational, historical, or even educational. This is also why most of us have the potential to be good cartoonists in our own areas of expertise. It’s important to remember that to be a good cartoonist, you need not be a great illustrator. 

We’ll talk more about it in my next post, which will present the second part of this chapter, to discuss the two essential dimensions of a cartoon.

More Posts in this series: