Thoughts On Making Gag Cartoons

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Another artist wrote to ask me for some tips on writing gags. While I feel like I still have a lot of room for growth in that area, that didn’t stop me from making a video with a few thoughts.

This is Part 1, where I share general thoughts about the importance of good writing. In Part 2 I share some tips and techniques for coming up with ideas. Part 2 is only available for Patreon backers. Become a patron for only $1/month and you can instantly watch Part 2, plus get other goodies:

Also, here are a couple books on writing comedy that have helped me, with Amazon Links. (Full disclosure: If you click one of the links and then buy something – anything – from Amazon, they will cut me a tiny slice of the sale, at no extra cost to you. It’s another way you can support my webcomic work):

Comedy Writing for Late Night TV
Comedy Writing Secrets:

“Storyteller Cards” on Kickstarter


I’ve decided to dip my toe in the water at Kickstarter and back my first project. A gent named Jason Tagmire has come up with a creative idea called Storyteller Cards, a fun, versatile game designed to encourage creative storytelling. Campbell Whyte is the illustrator and he seems to be doing a pretty great job. They are 90% of the way to their goal with ten days to go. If the goal doesn’t get met the cards may never get made and that would be a shame. Let’s help them get across the finish line.

Archive of American Television

As a freelancer I spend long hours working in the quiet solitude of my studio. I’m always looking for something new and interesting to listen to in the background while I draw. My iTunes library gets a lot of heavy usage, as does my radio, podcasts, and audiobooks.

Recently I discovered a new resource to add to my list: The Archive of American Television.

This fascinating website is jam-packed with long, in-depth video interviews with dozens (maybe even hundreds) of the biggest names in American television both in front of and behind the camera. And when I say the interviews are long, I mean long. Many are several hours in length. And they are totally free.

I’m a bit of a movie and TV buff and I’m endlessly fascinated with what goes on in Hollywood. I’m not talking about the sleazy gossip–I couldn’t care less about most of that. I mean the creative process, especially in animation but also in live-action. How do scripts get written? How do TV shows and movies get made? What are the business decisions that guide a project? What are the obstacles that have to be overcome and the compromises that have to be made? What’s it like for the actors, directors, and writers to be creative in the high-stakes pressure cooker of Hollywood?

Over the last few days I’ve listened to lengthy interviews with greats such as Chuck Jones, Stephen J. Cannell (creator of “The Rockford Files”, “The A-Team”, and “The Greatest American Hero”), Norman Lear (creator of “All in the Family”, “The Jefferson”, “Good Times”, “Sanford & Son”, etc.), and Alan Alda (“M*A*S*H”). Other interviews I’ll be listening too soon include Joseph Barbera (of Hanna-Barbara), Roy. E. Disney, Bill Melendez (“Charlie Brown” animator), Ron Howard, Gary Marshall, Larry Gelbart, and many others.

There’s some salty language but overall the interviews are fascinating. You can browse by person, TV show, by profession, or by topic. You can watch just selected clips or entire interviews.

The Archive of American Television is a terrific resource for anyone interested in filmmaking.

Ken Levine: Sitcom Secrets Revealed!

Here’s something a little different. Ken Levine is an emmy-winning comedy writer whose long list of credits include M*A*S*H, Cheers, Frasier, The Simpsons, and Everybody Loves Raymond. Recently he hosted a free online seminar about comedy writing titled “Sitcom Secrets Revealed”. It covered such topics as:

• The current & future states of sitcoms
• How the possible writers’ strike affects struggling new writers
• Writing & submitting spec scripts
• Key elements of writing farces
• How to create fresh, interesting characters

The event was primarily aimed at writers, but I think it can be healthy for an artist to broaden himself by learning about other disciplines. Especially writing. Many artist are in fact writers in the sense that they tell stories visually. This is especially true of cartoonists, storyboard artists, and comic book artists, but to an extent it is true of any artist.

I’ve always admired writers. I couldn’t write my way out of a paper bag (Bobo the chimp handles all my blog posts), but I’m a firm believer that writers are the unsung heroes of the entertainment world. Writing is even more important than the visual stuff when it comes to the success or failure of an animated project. I am especially in awe of good comedy writers. I mean the good ones. There aren’t that many out there, but Ken Levine is one of the best.

You can download an MP3 of the teleseminar for free here. (You’ll have to give your name and email address to download the MP3, but Ken promises it will only be used to add you to his seminar mailing list and you can unsubscribe at any time). I haven’t had time to listen to it yet, but I’m very much looking forward to it. Comedy, as they say, is serious business.