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Here’s my attempt at doing a single panel gag cartoon. When I was 16 I got it into my head that I would be a single panel gag cartoonist. I figured that getting paid for doing one drawing was much better than getting the same pay for for a multi-panel comic strip (and would take less time). I learned real fast how difficult doing a single panel cartoon really was. I mean, doing one that’s truly funny. I admired B. Kliban and Sam Gross’ cartoons so much that I wanted to be a part of this art form. So from time to time I take a crack at it. Here’s a cartoon that just came to me while sitting in a bar but I could never find a line to go with it and just decided to have no line. But having no line still seems unfinished. Who should be talking here? Maybe I’ll find the right line on my deathbed.
Here’s a way-too sketchy comic strip I did straight in ink. It looks like I may have drooled on the first panel blotting some of the ink lines. This is a typical Underworld joke that I’ve done a couple of times. Something that seems scary and aggressive turns out to be a turn on. I usually give those jokes to Mr. Panty Fog or Creep Rat. I was trying to create a new character here, but he’s too close to my original conception of Mr. Panty Fog and I never used him again. Notice how his scale changes from panel 2 to Panel 3. I used to worry about stuff like that but I actually enjoy inconsistency now (something that a big no no in animation). Also a big no no in animation is cutting characters off at the knees which I do in the last panel. I do like the expression of the little character in the last panel as he stares at Little Wuss’ bulge.
I can’t remember if this comic strip actually made it into one of my books and I’m too lazy to flip through my books. It was in a flat file with some sad orphaned Underworld strips that I’m ashamed to republish because they were subpar. At least this joke actually works. I wish I could say the same for the drawings. The book and bookstand in the second panel are pathetic. I may have drawn this in my office at Cartoon Network when I was working on the Camp Lazlo cartoon show. I would stay late on Monday nights and draw my comic strip there so I could use the company’s copy machines. This probably came out of a real fear that drinking would make me dumber if I overdid. I still think about it. But I find that having a drink helps me forget my fear.
I’ve made three attempts to make my Underworld comic strip into a TV show. Nothing’s panned out. This was my second attempt with Snuff and Creep Rat living above and working in a pet shop. Of course I ripped off the idea from the second season of The Mighty Boosh where Vince and Howard lived above and worked in Naboo’s Nabootique. I decided the concept was way to suffocating for an Underworld cartoon show (even though I’m a fan of Bob’s Burgers). But I kind of liked this page with my ideas. Again, I love my messy, sketchy work. Why don’t I just make these sketches my finished work? Maybe I will.
Order “The Underworld: From Hoboken to Hollywood” the omnibus collection of the very best of the strip’s 23-year run, with annotations, photos, and other surprises from the author (along with a foreword by Mutts creator Patrick McDonnell).