Thoughts on cartoon poetry

An introduction

The connection between writing and drawing is simple -if a little archaic. Symbols such as marks on a page can just as easily combine to make an image as tell a story.

a macd cartoon made with a vector program incorporating a single line of writing with a visual metaphorOf course I could just be making a grand assumption, I’m typing this out on a smart phone and intend uploading it to my blog via the Internet, bouncing my transmission off a few communication satellites as I go. By that I mean, just because I use one thing to perform different tasks, it doesn’t mean that those tasks are related. So, are writing and drawing related? Or are they different tasks that just happen to use the same tool?

a macd cartoon done in indian ink style

The thing about drawing the kind of cartoons that I like to draw (commonly known as “box” cartoons) whether for newspapers or magazine or books, is that they combine a single line of writing (a caption or “word balloon”) with several lines of drawing (well, rather more than several actually… and yes, I do color them in sometimes, but for the moment, let’s try to keep this simple.)

The Philosophy of Cartoon Poetry

It’s not that I spend all day thinking about what to write and draw simultaneously all the time together. My brain works less like a computer, or a calculator, and more like an invisible drum suspended in a tree being beaten by a branch blowing in the wind. The fact that this simile doesn’t explain anything is as close as I can get to how thinking works for me.

a macd philosophy cartoon

Visualizations come in many forms, and trying to replicate the processes out of which visualization emerge is probably a holy grail (something wished for but unattainable). Learning to write and learning to draw can come at completely different times in your life. But what you hope for as an artist and as a writer is that you serve what inspiration comes to you as best you can. Looking forward to what to create next, has to combine with checking back over what you have already done so that you can take a less personal and more ‘observational’ perspective.

a MacD pencil sketch A cartoon, as the renaissance masters and mistresses knew, is a way of getting an idea down quickly, mapping out ideas, and exercising the processes of editing and reworking that are essential to manifesting an idea into reality.


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