Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Few Shortcuts To Cartoon Creation and Writing Great Captions

I've mentioned in previous posts that it's important to study collections of published cartoons. There are many reasons to do so. First, you get to see what's already been accepted by that publication. You'll discover what situations they focus on and the quality and tone of their published cartoons. And, guess what? You'll see these situations again and again. If it's a publication that runs business gags, you'll see cartoons where the boss is harassing a worker, where co-workers are hanging out at the water cooler, where an applicant is exaggerating his or her qualifications for a job opening, where a worker is getting fired. If the publication runs cartoons about relationships, you'll see cartoons about husbands and wives arguing...everywhere...the bedroom, the kitchen, the marriage counselor's office, in a restaurant, on a desert island. I read somewhere that the most effective  cartoons are about bad situations: getting fired, getting divorced and dying.

You can make lists of situations that you'll use in your cartoons. Besides writing about business, people in restaurants and couples arguing at the marriage counselor's office, I like to write about:

* Prisoners
* People on Desert Islands
* People in Therapy
* Heaven
* Hell
* The Grim Reaper
* Desert Crawlers

Because I'm a writer and work alone most of the time, I can relate to most of these situations.

I also have lists of caption phrases that are used again and again in cartoons. I'm sure you've seen them. Here are a few examples:

* You had me at _______.
* WILL WORK FOR _______.
* Someday, all my _______ will be yours.
* Thank you for not _______.

I'd suggest as you look over cartoon collections, make your own list of these phrases. When I'm reading, which I do all the time, I carry a notebook with me where I jot down words, phrases and clichés which I can plug into these blanks. These phrases are so well known in cartoon captions that they are instantly recognizable and can effectively be used in your caption writing. They make for funny captions and "funny" is what you're striving for.

As I end this week's entry, I'd like to suggest a couple of blogs written by cartoonists which might give you some added inspiration. Marc Bilgrey's blog can be found at his website, Mike Lynch's blog can be found at: Both are very informative and well written. Enjoy!

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