Category Archives: cartooning

Cheryl Cartoon

This is a series drawn from a photograph of a woman I work with called Cheryl. She was very complimentary of the cartoons I’ve been posting on Facebook and wanted to know when she would get to see one of her. So this morning I drew this first one in my sketchbook from a news photo I found of her online. (She’s a rock-star around these parts!)

Photo of a young female college professor who works with the homeless.
Cheryl Calhoun – by Tom Dorsey / Salina Journal

I used the 3-color technique that I’ve been practicing, first in yellow, followed by orange, then finally with blue. After this, you use black ink. Er, I guess that’s really four colors, isn’t it? Or is black a color? Oh well.

It is interesting how an image just appears when you follow that process. It reminds me a little of how an image magically appears on photographic paper in a darkroom. First, you can barely see it. Then it gradually becomes more clear. Finally, the image is complete.

After this sketch, I drew a series of other line drawings, working now from my sketchbook drawing instead of the original photograph. Unfortunately, I did not keep track of the order in which I made the sketches. I do know I started out drawing more detail and with each iteration, I tried going faster and with fewer details. So that is one explanation for why each one is unique and looks quite different from the others.

After Maus

A few weeks ago the Near Sighted Monkey, Lynda Barry, was talking about a drawing technique she learned from Art Spiegelman. Who is Art Spiegelman, I wondered? So I looked him up.

His ground-breaking book Maus is critically acclaimed. It tells the story of his father’s experience of surviving the WWII Nazi holocaust in comic book form. The Jews are drawn as mice and the Nazis as cats. I saw the book in my son’s school library when I was there for a school board meeting, so I asked him to check the book out for me. I read it over this past weekend.

The thing I noticed right away about Spiegelman’s art is his attention to detail. Every frame has a background. We get a complete feel for the environment his characters are living in.

For more understanding, I decided to copy a frame in my sketchbook. Here is the result of that effort.

I spent a long on this one frame, maybe a whole hour. I decided that I’m going to start working on drawing better backgrounds. Here is a new picture I drew yesterday and inked in this morning.

Done! A Series of Twelve

A couple of weeks ago, Lynda Barry posted about doing a series of twelve images of the same scene. I set out to do just that, not knowing how long it would actually take me or what the result would look like. This week, I finally finished this difficult but gratifying challenge.

The scene was after the ground war had begun in February 1991. The Iraqis had already bugged out of Kuwait, and though we didn’t realize it at the time, the Battleship Missouri had already completed her final fire mission for all time. Something happened, and I never heard exactly what, but the magazine sprinkler system was activated in Turret 2 and everything got doused with salt water. The wiring that came from our computer system in the plotting room to control the guns also got wet, which might not have been a huge deal if not for the fact that this was WWII technology and plastic was not widely in use yet. All of the insulation on the wires were made of a fabric material that soaked the salt water right up. The salt water, being an excellent conductor, shorted everything out. We had to go down to the 7th deck, all the way to the bottom of the ship, and literally crawl into this wiring space with our heat guns to dry everything out. The room was not big enough to stand in. It was dark, cold, and damp. We had to bring our own lighting. The “megger,” a piece of test equipment designed to test the insulation of wires, generated a current of electricity to get the wires to short circuit on purpose. We were making electricity through wet wires, inside of a damp metal crawl space, on purpose!




Rock the First Day With Storytelling

On the first day of our Digital Media Production Studio, we did a visual storytelling exercise. We recalled details for the prompts “car” or “vehicle” and also “food.”

We worked two minutes writing down a list of the cars we could think of from our life. Then we spent another several minutes writing down the details of the most memorable car from our list. Who is with you. What do you feel. What is the day like? What is above, below, beside you etc.

After writing down the details we could remember, we spent six minutes writing down the story that we recalled using our memories as building blocks.

We then took turns reading our stories while the listeners drew spirals without looking at the reader.

The final step was to draw a scene from the story we just heard. We repeated this process over and over until we had heard seven stories and made seven images. One person had to leave early and only made three, so that is why one stack of images is shorter. These pictures are arranged in order the stories were told and when you look at these side by side, you can compare the similarities and differences.

What a great way to start a new semester! (Hat tip to Lynda Barry’s Writing the Unthinkable workshop.)