Comic strips--who's doing the artwork?

I know that Garry Trudeau does not do the artwork for Doonesbury. Trudeau writes the script and does the basic layout, but then the artwork that we see on the printed page is done by a Kansas City commercial artist. I can’t help wondering whether the same was true for The Far Side. I have a couple of Gary Larson collections and there seems to be a massive difference between the artwork of the comics during the first couple of years and the artwork on the later panels. If Bill Watterson did his own work on those elaborate, realistic Sunday Calvin and Hobbes scripts, he’s good enough to be a profesional Marvel Comics guy.

Watterson and Larson both did their own work. That’s the main reason they don’t do it anymore. It came down to making a decision about hiring help, or getting out of the daily strip routine. They took the latter.

The difference in Larsen’s work is just a refinement of style. You see it all the time over the run of a comic strip – early strips tend to be cruder than later ones.

Read “Sundials” in the new issue of Aboriginal Science Fiction.

What’s goin on with Snoopy? A few weeks ago, I picked it up, and it looks like Schultzy is using a computer to do the art now? Not like Snoopy’s been funny in 20 years, but still. And Garfield. Ugh. Shoulda died of a heart attack 10 years ago!


We are the children of the Eighties. We are not the first “lost generation” nor today’s lost generation; in fact, we think we know just where we stand - or are discovering it as we speak.

I do everything but the lettering (I ship it to a Taiwan sweatshop for that).

But seriously folks.

I remember seeing this kids variety TV show about 6 or more years ago. In it, this ten year old wanted to meet his idol, so the people from this show arranged it for him, as one of those lucky draw thingummy crappy nonsense things.

He wanted to meet Jim Davis, of Garfield fame, because this kid wanted to be a cartoonist too, and Garfield was his favourite, for some unfathomable reason that he probably regrets now. So they took this kid to see how Jim Davis does his work.

And I swear to god, instead of showing this kid how to draw a daily strip, he showed how he lightly sketches some meaningless scribble and then gives it to a team of artists to render for him, while he f*cks off for the rest of the day to ‘manage’ his merchandising empire!

Yeah, kid. That’s how you draw cartoons!


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Some of the major comic strips are drawn by the artists who signs the strips, but they buy the gags from other people. I know someone who has written gags for Shoe and Mother Goose and Grim.

Charles Schultz still draws and writes every “Peanuts” strip. The dailies that Homer saw were probably sketchy looking because they had been faxed to the newspaper.

Since when does Garry Trudeau use a hired gun ( pen ) ??? Was it after he took that hiatus? I have read that strip ( literally ) since it’s first week. Things look different, but I assumed he had gotten some serious art skills under his belt. C’mon, someone must know- WHEN did he start to use ringers?
Besides- the skill is in the words, not the illustrations.


" If you want to kiss the sky, you’d better learn how to kneel "

Them’s fighting words!

Go read “Little Nemo” by Winsor McKay.

La franchise ne consiste pas à dire tout ce que l’on pense, mais à penser tout ce que l’on dit.
H. de Livry

yeah. The humor’s not just a punchline; the cartoons serve a purpose. It’s the delivery of the joke. The characters’ facial expressions, surroundings, everything contribute.

I used to love Garfield. Until every strip would be one of the same two jokes over and over again for years on end (Garfield: “I like coffee” or Jon: “Garfield you’re too fat.”) without any variety. It used to be so good. . . :frowning:

I like B.C. though, mainly b/c of the guy with the primitive unicycle

and most of the rest of what you’ll find at :wink:

I’m also hooked on Sluggy Freelance, but that’s an internet comic strip. Still very good.

“I’m just too much for human existence – I should be animated.”
–Wayne Knight

I know that Garfield is no longer drawn by Jim Davis. Instead he has a staff, and Jim merely writes the gags and signs off on the strips. This has been going on for a while, tho - Al Capp’s Lil’ Abner was actually drawn by Frank Frazetta for 9 years of its run, with Capp writing gags and sometimes touching up the artwork. I think Trudeau still contends that he writes and draws Doonesbury and disputes claims that a ghost artist draws the strip. Also, comic strips have gone from big and beautifully detailed (Arnold mentioned Little Nemo) to being darn right miniscule - artists are constantly being told by the syndicate to make the drawings smaller and words larger. So nowadays, with the drawing space of each artist getting smaller, the words are the thing (Miss Peach for example - what horrible art).

“the skill is in the words, not the illustrations” Soon as I fill up this rapidograph I gonna stab you with it!!! Sure nothin to the ‘illustration’ that’s why i got all these pens and brushes and inks and zipatone and training and education and… ahh… that’s why so many comic strips are lil boxes with descriptive text in them; Dagwood standing at open door facing caricatured short man in funny suit with odd humorous object in hand. HAH! As arnold has demonstrated any damn fool with a key board can make words. Hey, monkey I know Peach looks weird but that is harder to do than you’d think. Lotsa folks can draw bad, but can they draw the same way bad each time? besides you gotta cut Mel some slack he used to be dead you know.

“Pardon me while I have a strange interlude.”-Marx

SORREEEEEE, Mr. Winkelreid, that damn fool cartoon ( HAH! sure) got me all flumoxigated. What the hell Trudeaue need a staff for? did his Xerox machine break?

“Pardon me while I have a strange interlude.”-Marx

I remember an interview with Gary Trudeau in the front of one of his larger collections, in which he said that, sometime in the eighties, he made a conscious decision to improve the artwork in the strip, which he always felt was lacking. Several years later, he was happy with his progress, and intended to continue working on it.

As I recall, his hiatus was due to a feeling on his part that the storylines were getting stale, and he needed some time off to remember what the whole strip was supposed to be about. I don’t remember any reference to being overworked; given the lack of a commercial Doonesbury empire, I can’t see how he would be.

The guy who does Dilbert said he had hand problems and for a while he had someone else letter. Apparently he could still draw but couldn’t do lettering. Later someone gave him a font in his own handwriting.

As for the quality of the art improving over time, that happens for every comic I have seen. When you draw the same character a couple thousand times you really get a feel for it. My friend in high school would constantly draw so I got to see this in action.

Look at the early Bloom County and Calvin and Hobbes and you see huge changes.

Not to mention the best strip on the pages, “For Better or Worse” with its real-time characters. Looking at old efforts by Lyn Johnston makes one wonder how new comics artists survive!

As for the quality of the funny pages, face it. When we lost C&H, and The Far Side, we lost the best.

From the Doonesbury FAQ ( ):

Speaking of which, Charles Schultz has been diagnosed with colon cancer. The article I read yesterday in The Chicago Tribune said he has weekly strips already drawn up till February of next year.

When he dies, the strip dies with him. He has contractually prohibited anyone from ever continuing his work. (No big loss, imho).

No, didn’t look like they were faxed in. The Peanuts strips have used coloring and shading before unknown to the strip. They’ve been doing blends, clouds, backgrounds, etc. with computers lately. I’m wondering when this started and why.


We are the children of the Eighties. We are not the first “lost generation” nor today’s lost generation; in fact, we think we know just where we stand - or are discovering it as we speak.