BORN IN 1952 WITH A BRUSH IN MY LITTLE LEFT HAND AND A BOTTLE OF BLACK INDIA INK BETWEEN MY STUBBY LITTLE FINGERS, I WAS DESTINED TO BE A LATE BLOOMING ARTIST.
I'm always looking for interesting projects and assignments.
Call me at 321-536-5379.
Influences, what I'm following today, and how my mind works when I draw
I was one of those school kids that was always doodling in the corners of my classwork paperwork. Even today in a client meeting I’ll doodle in the corner of an agenda or brief.
When I was younger I sat in local libraries (yes, this was many years before the Internet) pouring over the work of editorial cartooning greats like Herblock, Oliphant, Conrad and Mauldin.
Today, I have a nice collection of the books of New Yorker cartoonists and other editorial cartoonists. I collect anthologies of editorial cartoonists as well as the narrative single panel cartoon style, popularized by The New Yorker.
George Booth, George Price, Whitney Darrow, Jr. and Peter Arno - examples below - are examples of narrative single panel cartoonists that I enjoy, where little human scenes are overlayed with humor and irony.
Clockwise below: George Booth, George Price, Peter Arno, and Whitney Darrow, Jr.
20 years ago I was rooting around in a dusty used book store (which I still do) for cartoonists books when I discovered this 1911 slightly dogeared copy of Bud Fisher's "Book 2, The Mutt and Jeff Cartoons."
Fisher (1885-1954) created Mutt and Jeff, the first successful daily comic strip in the United States, introduced in 1907 on the sports pages of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Now 104 years old, this edition in my library is dedicated to Fisher's mother.
What I follow today
I subscribe to a daily strips feed. My favorites are Bill Watterson's discontinued (1995) "Calvin and Hobbes", Stephan Pastis' current "Pearls Before Swine" and "Alley Oop", drawn today by Jack and Carole Bender (V. T. Hamlin created the strip in 1932. Muscular Oop rode a pet dinosaur, a girlfriend Oola, and wore only a fur loincloth. The stories were/are often satires of American suburban life). Just a fun character.
Alley Oop with his saber tooth tiger going to a cat show.
You can enjoy daily feeds of many of these cartoon strips and panels via gocomics.com.
Over my 40 years of work I was an illustrator, art director and creative director, I've drawn cartoons for family and friends for special events.
How I think when I draw
Ideas for a cartoon don't start on paper of course. They start with a story or scene that has a quirky angle to it.
Once my idea is loosely formed in the back of my head, I'll sit down and sketch what I'm seeing. I work with a hard pencil and draw directly [lightly!] on Canson recycled bristol, cleaning up with a kneaded eraser.
I'll start with the shape of the head from about the hairline; add the nose and mouth and eyes and then the ears and the eyebrows. I like the chin/ear line to evolve effortlessly into the neck line in a long, smooth line. I don’t dwell on the line, choosing to draw quickly. I don’t have the patience to laboriously sketch lines with lots of little short lines, so I see a beginning point and maybe the end point and how the line is shaped; how long it is and how it is shaped.
The eyes and eyebrows have the most power, followed by the mouth, then the hair and neckline. I’ve never had a problem drawing hands, but keeping them in scale with the head is important (that’s the beauty of the pencil sketch with a hard drawing pencil and kneaded eraser).
Bristol, pencil, eraser and pen brush
Inking is with a Pentel Brush Pen. The drawing is scanned and colorized.
That I can draw is a nice skill, but finding something to draw ABOUT is the challenge. Editorial cartoons and editorial-style drawings were the answer for me. But it took many years to find my cartooning voice. The final boost was the simple Pentel Brush Pen, which simplified putting ideas on paper.
Late life bucket list item
In 2014, at the tender age of 62, in full gut-anxiety-ridden response to being over 60, I peppered the patient executive editor of the local Gannett daily -- Florida Today -- with sample editorial cartoon ideas. It took two months of calling and e-mailing to finagle an interview where we negotiated a four week trial. Today, in 2016, they’ve published over 100 of my Monday morning cartoons.
The best moment of my week.
Drawing the first stroke of black ink on the bristol board is the best moment of my week. My black lines evolve on top of the rough pencil sketch -- with small on-the-fly changes, additions and altered details.
I’m always “in the moment” over my work and each new line is the most important line at that moment. At a few times during the inking I sit back to see where I am overall [is it working? is everything balanced?]. It takes an hour to pencil an idea, an hour or so to ink each drawing, and another hour or two to scan and colorize. Then I email the finished cartoon to Florida Today and USAToday editors.
Call Steve Hall at 321-536-5379 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org