Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Swipe File #3: Hokusai, Botticelli, Klimt

With the second issue of Satisfactory Comics, we chose to revisit a few ideas that began as improvisations in the first issue and that seemed to produce good results or at least sparked our enthusiasm as developing cartoonists. In a note to that issue, Isaac referred to these repeated approaches as "extra features," though over time they came to feel like ironclad rules (despite their casual origins). My least favorite of these features was the "repeated dialogue from the last panel on page six to the first panel on page seven"; only twice did it really pay off, to my mind, and I wasn't sorry to see it vanish from our latest issue with as little deliberation as when it first appeared, a victim of our unusual method for writing issue number 7.

But there were other extra features I've always appreciated, and among these are "our two 'swipes'—one from museum art..., and one from comics we like." I acknowledge that such a bald distinction between what some call "high" and "low" art deserves at least some resistance if not outright challenge—especially after Isaac and I enjoyed and admired the remarkable Masters of American Comics exhibit on display in two museums in New York and Newark a few months back. Still, it's a handy enough distinction, and I'd like to discuss the fine art swipes from Satisfactory Comics #2 before I proceed to its comics swipes.

And yes, the swipes are multiple in the second issue—partly because this issue featured two stories, each of which had a claim to two swipes of its own, and partly because we couldn't help ourselves. I'm not sure if we've yet learned to "kill our darlings" in sufficient quantity, though again the latest issue seems to have dispensed with the swipe from museum art (unless Isaac has hidden one from me!). In the first story we drew, "Turkish Delight," our heroine Yeliz has to put up with a verse-quoting blowhard who recites Byron while admiring a surge in the Bosp(h)orus:
Evidently, Hokusai's Great Wave has travelled the globe from Japan to Turkey:

Hokusai's work blurs the Western categories of "museum art" and "comics," given that much of his output consisted of mass-produced line art with flat colors, and he has even been claimed as a progenitor of Japan's modern mangaka (a claim helped by the name he gave to a series of sketchbooks: Hokusai manga). But Hokusai was also a gifted (like, insanely talented) painter—after seeing a fairly comprehensive exhibit last summer featuring his work in paint and in prints, I esteem him even more highly now than I did when we swiped what is probably his best-known work five years ago.

Another familiar painting crops up in the other story of this issue, "Getting Over Laura." Quick, name the source for this image:

If you named The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, you're half right!

Uma Thurman As Venus - Funny blooper videos are here

...but, of course, director Terry Gilliam was himself swiping Botticelli's Birth of Venus:

You may have noticed that Isaac added a scarf to his drawing of Venus, a bit of drapery that proves crucial to tying together the two stories in that issue. So here the swipe actually plays an important narrative role.

By contrast, the last fine art swipe in issue 2 is sheer background decoration, and so tiny as to be nigh unrecognizable:

But since Klimt's The Kiss is so iconic, you may have recognized it right off, too:

I'm personally pleased that Isaac put this painting on the wall of Yeliz's apartment because I once boarded in the home of a remarkable woman who decorated the walls with her own paintings, one of which also swiped an image from a different Klimt piece. I think she decided I would be a suitable boarder when I recognized the artist she had swiped from!

Next up: the comics swipes from issue 2...

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Every issue of Elm City Jams has contained a few pages of Shuffleupagus, a cartooning game invented by our pal Jesse Reklaw. It's easier to play than to explain, but let me try:

Technically, you need five people to play, but we've done it with four and even as few as three. You'll also need your drawing gear and a supply of blank cards.

(I've heard of people playing with 3" x 5" index cards, but we use 2.5" x 4.125" pieces of bristol board, because those will compose into the right dimensions for a standard mini page at the end, and because bristol board is nice and sturdy.)

To get ready to play, each cartoonist should take two blank cards and draw one character and one setting. We tend to orient the characters vertically and the settings horizontally: that gives more room for details in the settings, and it gives room for a full-body sketch for the character.

Here's a bunch of settings from out of our deck, by me, Tom O'Donnell, Mike, and Tom Hart:

... And here's a batch of characters, by Mike, Tom O'Donnell, myself, and Mike again:

(It's important to draw all of the character, since you'll want details like the shoes or hooves to be consistent. It also helps if your drawing suggests a personality, either by appearance or gesture; you may also want to indicate scale, or to discuss it with your fellow cartoonists later, before you start drawing.)

Then you collect two stacks of cards and shuffle each. Now you're ready to play.

Four people draw in the first part:

1. Pick one character and one setting. (If you have five people, the person who designed the character can sit out for the first part.) So you might have something like this:

Or like this:

2. Each person then gets a blank card and draws the character doing something in the setting:

3. These four images, when they're inked, get shuffled into a "deck" of five, with a card that's marked "start / end." (Here's our battle-scarred start/end card:)

4. Now you need five people to play the second part of the game. Everyone gets another blank card.

5. If all five people can sit around the same table, then deal the five-card deck into the spaces between them. (This is the part that's easier to do than to explain.) Whoever has the "start/end" card on his left is going to draw the first panel of the strip, and the strip reads around to the right from there:

Another way to think of this is that the four cards you drew in the first round are getting placed into the even positions of your nine-panel grid, like this:

And the task of the second round is to connect these four panels into a story, or at least into a coherent sequence. In-betweening can be a challenge, especially if the characterization (or costume!) isn't consistent in all four panels, but that's part of the fun.

Here's a finished product, visible for the first time. This is the Shuffleupagus page that Mike and I did with Adam Rosenblatt and Ben Towle right before SPX in the fall of 2006. (This will appear in a fourth issue of Elm City Jams if there ever is one.) You can, as usual, click on this image to bring it up to legible size.

It's interesting to imagine what this little story would have looked like if the initial four panels had dealt out in a different order. (In-betweening from my panel 2 to Ben's panel 6, for example, would have been pretty easy, in a different story.)

If you found my explanation confusing, here's a link to another description of shuffleupagus by a different cartooning group. Ben Towle's "Three-Cent Pup" drawing group down in Winston-Salem seems to be having a good time with the game, too: here's a link to one of their shuffleupagus jams. You'll notice that the Three-Cent Pup folks don't limit themselves to nine panels.

It's a fun game, and if you know a few cartoonists, I suggest you try it out!

By the way, if you have fewer than five people, you can still play the game. If you have four people, just have the first person who finishes in the second round jump over into the "empty seat" you create when you deal out the cards. If you have three, let one person double up in the first round, then two people double up in the second one.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Feedback welcome (even if anonymous)

We're continuing to tweak various features of this website as we learn what you, our visitors, would like from it. For example, until recently you needed to be a registered user to leave a comment, but now you can leave a comment anonymously if you wish (and thereby protect your secret identity).

We would, in fact, like to hear from you, whether it's a response to something we've posted or a new idea you'd like to float. For now, we invite you to use the comments for this post to suggest improvements or additions to the site, raise new questions, issue challenges, whatever. The original concept behind Satisfactory Comics was to satisfy our readers by incorporating their contributions to our stories and art; no reason why the website shouldn't continue at least partly in the same vein.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Ordering More Than Two Comics

A few people have asked me what to do if they want to order more than one comic, or if they want to order internationally. Here's a quick run-down:

1. If you're just ordering two comics, you can go ahead and order them individually with the Paypal buttons, or with a check in the amount of the two prices added together. The new postal rules actually make the postage for two comics in one envelope very nearly the same as two comics in separate envelopes, because of the "large letter" charge. (It's complicated.) I'll bundle your two comics together and include some sort of free bonus.

2. If you're orering more than two, email me for a price: isaac dot cates at aya dot yale dot edu. I will come up with a fair price, based on the total weight of the comics, and I'll give you some sort of discount for ordering a lot at once.

3. Same deal for international orders: I'll figure out how much the postage will cost, and I'll try to keep it cheap for you.

4. If you're in the U.S. and you want THE FULL RUN, one of everything that Mike and I have done (excluding a couple of items that are no longer in stock), it'll cost you a mere $20. (That gets you about 400 pages of comics!) Here's a Paypal button for that:

If you're paying with a check (for anything), you'll want to email me for my mailing address: isaac dot cates at aya dot yale dot edu.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Satisfactory Comics #7 (May 2007)

The newest issue of Satisfactory Comics contains sixteen stories, most of which are two pages long. (There's a lot in this issue, so this post is going to have to be kind of long. Please bear with me, or just skip to the bottom for the Paypal button.)

Each of the stories we drew for this issue begins with a "seed sentence" provided by one of our friends and readers, and Mike and I used a different collaborative method for each of the stories in turn. For some of them, Mike pencilled my script; for others, vice versa. Sometimes we alternated panels without discussing the direction of the story; sometimes we hardly passed the page back and forth at all. Clearly, this is the most various issue of Satisfactory Comics yet.

Since each of the stories was being built differently, we aimed for a variety of tones and artistic styles, as well as a variety of subject matter. (Some of the people who picked the comic up at MoCCA this year seemed surprised that it was the work of only two artists.) This issue runs the gamut from bleak tragedy to loony parody, from eerie surreality to sci-fi epiphany, and from gnomic allegory to straightforward anger.

Here are a few clips from the stories that our readers seem to be liking the best:

It's not only our academic friends who appreciate the gags in "Commuted Sentences," in which Mike caricatures eleven famous authors (Emily Dickinson is not pictured) under twisted versions of their famous first sentences.

Several readers have told us that "Sinister City" is their favorite piece in the book -- the story of a foreboding dream, which I wrote with single-syllable words,* and which right-handed Mike illustrated and lettered with his left hand. (That challenge was one of three offered to us for this issue by our friend Tom Motley.) I can see why people find it interesting: something about the combination of details gets under your skin a little bit.

*(If you want to nitpick, it also contains the word "brother," which was in the seed sentence.)

A few other people have told me that they really like my rant about popular misconceptions about evolutionary theory, which begins with me complaining about how many people don't seem to distinguish (correctly or at all) between monkeys and apes. (I then ramble on to Bishop Wilberforce, Darwin's pigeons, the Guillermo del Toro movie Mimic and the nonsense that justified the sequels to Jurassic Park. Clearly I'd been stewing about some of this stuff for a while.) For this strip, I pencilled after Mike's thumbnails, then Mike inked and lettered the piece.

The issue also includes a choose-your-own / multiple-path strip set in a graveyard, a poem about necrotizing fasciitis drawn in stylistic tribute to Tony Millionaire, and pieces about an immortality cult, a murderous tattooist, a genetically engineered kelp farmer, a philosophical astronaut, and the end of the world.

The issue also includes a couple of stories we drew solo -- the most tenuous sort of collaboration, in which you're only thinking about the judgment or the editorial presence of the other part of the team while you work. Here's a panel from a story I wrote and drew by myself, about a gang of teenagers improvising a role-playing game in their suburban neighborhood:

Because we were doing so many different things in this issue, we got to try a lot that we hadn't done much before. For example, here are a couple of panels from a story in which we used the method of Robert Crumb and Aline Kominsky-Crumb's Dirty Laundry Comics: each of us drew and wrote one of the characters in the strip, making it up as we went along.

Having a lot of short pieces also let us try out some tones or themes we might not have drawn out in a full-length comic, like the piece about the end of the world and maybe the last man on earth. I don't think we have tried anything quite like this before:

Yes, it's hard to see in that left-hand panel, but the moon is broken into pieces on Henry's world. The first person to identify the source of that shattered moon in the comments for this post will get a free comic (this one, or any back issue).

Some of the stories try to pack a lot of thinking into very little space -- so our storytelling is more compressed here than it sometimes is. How much of the concept of this piece can you get from a single panel?

...because we only had six panels to work with, in that one.

Something I haven't mentioned yet about this issue is that we did it all in one weekend of intense drawing: most of it was done in a single marathon thirty-hour session at Mike's apartment in DC, from the morning of May 17 to the afternoon of May 18. (After taking some time to rest, we finished the cover and the text pieces on the evening of the 19th. Then I went back to New Haven and did some "post-production" work.)

Here we are, at the end of that process, as revealed in the comic's final story:

If you want a copy of Satisfactory Comics #7, you can buy it at our Storenvy store.

There are also people we should thank: first, Jon Lewis, whose excellent minicomic Local Stations inspired the storytelling approach in this issue. And, of course, the friends who contributed those seed sentences: Scott Downes, David Rosen, Sean Singer, David Quammen, Matthew Salomon, Craig Arnold, Anna Chen, Jeremy Dauber, Gerry Canavan and Jaimee Hills, Tom Motley, David Mikics, Ken Chen, Cathy Leamy, Francine Blume, and Mandy Berry.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Swipe File #2: Rousseau's Sleeping Gypsy

Last week I wrote about our first comics swipe, a panel in Satisfactory Comics #1 featuring Walt Kelly’s Churchy LaFemme. But Churchy is actually the second swipe to appear in that issue, for the immediately preceding panel looks like this:

You may recognize the template for this panel from The Sleeping Gypsy, perhaps the best-known painting by Henri Rousseau:

We’re hardly the only cartoonists to have imitated this image; even animated cartoonists have gotten into the act, as The Simpsons featured the painting in the episode “Mom and Pop Art.” Among minicomics artists, Matt Feazell (of Cynicalman fame) has a cute version in his gallery of Stick Figure Masterpieces:

I think it was Isaac who insisted on including at least one swipe from “museum art” as well as one from comics in this inaugural issue of SatCom. As with various other aspects of that issue (both casual and deliberate), museum-art swipes became a standard feature in subsequent issues alongside their cartoon counterparts, though not always so literally alongside as to be in consecutive panels.

You’ll note that our swipe of Rousseau replaces his sleeping gypsy with our own Jeanne Photon. Does that make this swipe a parody? An imitation? Is it more parodic than our seemingly wholesale and respectful swipe of Churchy? But why shouldn’t Churchy be changed by his new context just as Jeanne is changed by hers? How many kinds of swipe are there, and which kinds are questionable (whether ethically, artistically, or legally)?

To ask such questions is to risk the ire of Eddie Campbell, who has both inveighed against “f---in’ definers” and celebrated artistic borrowing. Whether said borrowing be considered theft or not depends on a host of factors and positions. Again I defer further discussion for now (though I recommend reading Campbell’s thoughts on plagiarism); still, the seeming differences between our Rousseau swipe and our Kelly swipe are enough to draw attention to their real similarities as well.

I leave you, in true swipe fashion, by quoting Isaac quoting Auden (from “In Memory of W. B. Yeats”) on the letters page of Satisfactory Comics #7, by way of answering the question of where we get our ideas:

“That’s easy—we get them from other people. Or at least that’s always the way it seems, when we’re working. Some of the ideas are ‘solutions’ for odd contributions from our readers; others are swipes or borrowings from the people we read. Maybe the ideas are ‘ours’ when it’s all said and done: ‘The words of a dead man / Are modified in the guts of the living.’”

—And the lines drawn by one artist look different when swiped by the hand of another.

* * * * * *

Note on sources:
Image of Rousseau's Sleeping Gypsy from the website of the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan: http://www.moma.org/images/collection/FullSizes/83813003.jpg

Image of Feazell's Sleeping Gypsy from the Stick Figure Masterpieces gallery at www.mattfeazell.com

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

_______ Are Always Fun to Draw (Sept. 2005)

Some time a couple years ago Mike and I were talking about doing a series of drawings of things that we simply found fun to draw. I think the initial idea was that we'd each do a page from some sort of master list, then put the results in a new Satisfactory Comics in the unspecified future. Then it started to seem reasonable to invite a few other cartoonists in on the project. And before long this little thing had ballooned into a book in its own right.

Here's what went into it: I polled twenty-two cartoonists (including Mike and myself), asking for lists of forty things that each given cartoonist considered to be "always fun to draw." As these came in, I collated them into one big list, putting things closer to the top if they got named by multiple cartoonists. Eventually, I had a "master list" of the thirty most popular items (each of which had been nominated several times), plus a long addendum with interesting things that had been named less frequently.

Each of the twenty-two participating cartoonists then had to draw, on a single page, the thirty most popular items, plus at least ten items from the rest of the list. Just to give you a taste of this, the top ten items were as follows: skulls or skeletons, dinosaurs, robots, octopi or squid, space aliens, cats, monkeys or apes, rockets or spaceships, demons, and fish (especially in goldfish bowls) -- so you'll see those things, plus at least thirty more, on every page.

A couple of people -- most notably Sam Henderson -- tried to include every (or nearly every) item on the list. Others, like Bill Kartalopoulos and Ben Towle, drew up a grid and filled precisely forty boxes. Some people let the cartoons sprawl over an empty space (like Scott C. did), and some put all the elements in a single scene: Karen Sneider's epic battle is hilarious, and Avi Spivak's midnight monster mash is full of crazy energy. Tom Motley turned his list into a hidden-pictures image, with some things literally in the scene and other things hiding in its negative space.

I made mine into a poem, a little primer verse about the Fun-To-Draw alphabet.

That's probably too small to read, even when you click on it, because it's a pretty detailed page. (I like to work at a pretty minute level of detail.) Here are a few of my favorite couplets, presented a little closer to ths size at which they were drawn:

Mike's page in _________ Are Always Fun to Draw is a complete scene, also full of fun details. His self-portrait (one of the required items) drifts downstream in an overturned umbrella (another required item), looking out warily over a crazy variety of other things:

For my money, a big part of the fun in this image is in the details -- things that are too small to show up well in that jpeg. Off in the distance, an angel whistles while a demon burns up a zeppelin:

...and just below that, two flying reptiles (one historical, the other mythical) confront each other with alarm and consternation:

I'm telling you, the book is at least as much fun to look at as it was to draw.

You can see a few of the other pages in Shawn Hoke's review of the book, but let me also bring in a few of my favorite samples or selections. Lindsay Nordell outlined her page as a series of "inconclusive battles" -- like Abraham Lincoln vs. Sherlock Holmes, or like these two:

Some of the pages are just beautiful, like the one provided by Bishakh Som. (This small sample doesn't quite include the monkey DJ that might be my favorite part of the whole image.)

And what could be more fun than the doodly spread contributed by Scott C. of Doublefine Action Comics? I've moved a couple of items around, here, to make it fit more neatly in a rectangle, but this is less than a quarter of his page. You're looking at a gun, an umbrella, a turtle, a demon, an eyeball, a bat, a viking, a car crash, a drunk cowboy, a sperm whale, Hunter S. Thompson, a self-portrait, and a volcano.

See what I mean? Fun.

Contributors to this book are Scott C., Shawn Cheng, Carlos Commander, Jacob Edwards, Avery Foster, Sam Henderson, C Hill, Damien Jay, Bill Kartalopoulos, Shana Mlawski, T. Motley, Lindsay Nordell, Adam Rosenblatt, Joe Sayers, Katie Skelly, Karen Sneider, Bishakh Som, Avi Spivak, Ben Towle, Tim Winkelman, and Mike and myself.

If you'd like to own this little book of fun, you can order it from our Storenvy shoppe.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Demonstration (May 2004)

In the spring of 2004, we undertook an interesting exercise in cartooning, inspired by Lynda Barry's excellent book One Hundred Demons. More to improve our drawing and visual thinking than to plumb any inner recesses, we resolved to draw one demon a day for a hundred days. The best of our results from that exercise are collected in this "oversized" minicomic -- 24 pages of doodles, sketches, and strange ideas.

For each of the demons we chose to present, we include a bit of prose explaining something about the demon: where the idea came from, whom we were imitating, what the demon reminds us of, or what we've come to think of it. Here on this page, for example, (you may click to enlarge) ...

...I have a few words to say about the linguistic origin of the "Dark Abbess," Mike talks about an early "failed" demon and his all-in-one-line satyr (with a nod to our friend Jeff Seymour's Satyrn minicomic), and I acknowledge a visual debt to Dan Clowes (and the "Nunzilla" toy).

We're also able to juxtapose a few demons in interesting ways, as you can see on this page:

If you're not deeply involved with comics, you might appreciate the set of footnotes that we include in this book, giving a little more detail about a few of the people we reference in our explanations and captions. Although there's no story in this book, and although some of my early drawings in the project are kind of clumsy, there are a lot of ways in which Demonstration serves as a nice introduction to our visual style or our collaborative oeuvre.

We've been pleased to see the demons pop up in a few other places, too. A couple of them had cameos in Satisfactory Comics #5, in among the other weirdies in the Museum of the Horrible, even before we'd finished our fivescore. Tom Motley also used quite a few of them (including my demonic self-portrait) in his first story for the Mapjam.

Since Mike posted a little last week about his devotion to Walt Kelly, I thought I ought to include an image of this little guy, who is one of my favorite results of the project, and who is one of the critters that cropped up in Satisfactory #5:

Demonstration is 24 pages, at 8 1/2" by 7". Each cover is different: the demons on the cover are rubber-stamped on there, and we had several different stamps to choose from. (Some covers feature doodles instead of or in addition to the rubber stamps.)

If you'd like a copy, you can buy it at our Storenvy shop.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Swipe File #1: Walt Kelly's Churchy LaFemme

On this Friday the Thirteenth, I give you our version of Walt Kelly's Churchy LaFemme, a turtle who is mortally afraid of said date, as pictured in Satisfactory Comics #1 (Dec. 2001):

The original Churchy would typically react to Friday the Thirteenth like this (as portrayed by Kelly in the early 1970s):

You may be wondering what Churchy is doing in our comic book. One of the things he's doing is establishing a precedent...

...Well, I'm not sure about that. But ever since the first issue of Satisfactory Comics, we have made it a practice to include at least one swipe* from another cartoonist, so there's a precedent, all right; and it is also true that the use of such images can be controversial or problematic (not to say dangerous) depending on the circumstances. So I'd like to talk about swipes in general in a later post.

For now, though, I want to explain why Walt Kelly got the nod as the first cartoonist to whom we've paid homage in our meager way. Among comic-strip enthusiasts, Kelly's Pogo ranks as one of the greatest works in the canon of classic American strips, and though I also love and admire Krazy Kat and Peanuts, for me Pogo takes the palm. I first came across a Pogo book on my parent's bookshelves at the tender age of seven, and it is no exaggeration to say that Kelly and his work have had a decisive influence on my subsequent development. Though I had enjoyed drawing as long as I can remember (and I remember a few Spider-Man drawings from kindergarten), it wasn't until I read Pogo that I started drawing my own comic strips, within days of devouring Prehysterical Pogo (in Pandemonia) (1967). It took a long time for me to stop deliberately aping Kelly's work, and to this day my natural cartooning idiom shows a heavy Kelly influence, not always in evidence in my two-brained collaborations with Isaac. For me as penciller of this first issue, though, it was a no-brainer to choose a character from Pogo for our first swipe from classic comics, even if I can't remember which of us proposed Churchy as the appropriate critter from the extensive Pogo repertory.

Some notes on the swipe itself: our imitation extends to Churchy's dialogue, which parrots the swamp-speak mishmash of Kelly's Okefenokee denizens, as well as to Isaac's lettering and inking, which strove to achieve a calligraphic thick-and-thin variation with the unsupple tool of a Micron fiber-tip pen. As we have continued as cartoonists, we have expanded our toolkit, and today neither of us would be so foolhardy as to attempt a Kelly-esque line with a pen that offers so little give. If we're feeling confident, we'd probably use brush and ink, as Kelly did, though more likely we'd rely on our trusty brush-tip pens. In a pinch, we might try to get the right effect from a nib pen, which is what I did for years before I learned that Kelly's line was from a brush (not a self-evident fact to the untrained seven-year-old eye).

This panel featuring Churchy is not the only homage to Kelly in our comics, though it's the most blatant swipe. Satisfactory Comics #4 invokes Kelly in all sorts of ways throughout, and so do a couple of panels in our Treatise Upon the Jam. In a way, my first contribution to the Mapjam project also alludes to Kelly's overwhelming influence on me—overwhelming and apparently continuing!

*Swipe is the term used by cartoonists to describe the use of another's images for reference, parody, or homage, though it can also refer to the work of rip-off artists who do not acknowledge their indebtedness to their predecessors. Since the very rendering of Churchy and his dialogue in a more calligraphic line shows a difference from our usual work in the first issue, we do not believe that our quotation of Kelly's image represents an attempt to pass off his work as ours. Moreover, we included Churchy precisely so that he would be recognized; and if any readers did not recognize him previously, I hope this post will direct you to Kelly's comics, which offer more than mere satisfaction—though I'll let Kelly's original have the last word here:

Desert Island Paradise (Jan. 2006)

Desert Island Paradise is an anthology for which we were invited to contribute a few single-panel cartoons. The whole 40-page booklet consists of single-panel desert-island cartoons (you know, a castaway in tattered clothes, a single palm tree, an island the size of an area rug -- like the ones in the New Yorker) drawn by minicomics cartoonists -- mostly folks from the West Coast. I think it's really neat to see people like Lark Pien and Jesse Reklaw, whom I've seen working in much longer formats, take a crack at this old chestnut of a genre.

Although our cartoons were drawn up separately, Mike and I did manage to collaborate on our pieces for this book, in a three-stage process: first, we drew up short lists of constraints or prompts for each other -- ways that the joke could be made to work. (For instance, one of them was "many separate desert islands.") Then we submitted proposals to each other for possible jokes, and let the other guy decide which piece we should draw. Or at least that's how I remember it.

I remember, for example, that Mike suggested I should do a joke on the topic of "Desert Island Discs," so I came up with this:

(The joke, at least as I understand it, is that even though it's a great album, some of the songs on Blonde on Blonde get old even before they're finished. I mean, "Visions of Johanna" is more than seven minutes long, and so are two other tracks on the album. So, you know, a Dylan fan might pick that album for a "desert island disk" and then regret the choice on the very first listen. For this guy, it has lasted unreasonably long, and he still eventually got sick of it. Also, it's sort of funny to see a big stereo on such a tiny island, I guess. There: I have explained my joke, so it will never be funny no more.)

One of the prompts I sent to Mike was that the joke should involve anachronism. This is his entry for the book:

So you see: we've done our duty, and drawn our castaways. There are thirty-eight more cartoons like this, including one more by me, in Desert Island Paradise, and a few of them are bound to make you laugh.

It's a really well-edited and interesting anthology, and we're happy to be a part of it. It'll also probably make for the linkiest post on our entire website, because the contributors to this anthology include (take a deep breath...): Alixopulos, Rina Ayuyang, Gabe Crate, Vanessa Davis, Josh Frankel (who co-edited the book), Fredo, Sam Henderson, Hob, Matt Leunig, Melanie Lewis, Erik Nebel (I think that's the right link), Tom Neely, Onsmith, Lark Pien, Jesse Reklaw, Joe Sayers (the other co-editor), Geoff Vasile, and of course Mike and myself.

I no longer have any spare copies of this book, so I guess it's not for sale here. You can get a copy from Joey Sayers.