Friday, July 16, 2010

Sexy Toaster Tangent

I mentioned the other day to someone who asked how the cartoon class was going that we'd spent the evening first looking at a slide show lecture of one-hundred fifty-odd (and I do mean odd) gag panels, then a quick analysis of a classic Popeye animation from the 1930's, and then a show & tell of some favorite comics and graphic novels culled from my home collection, and then an hour spent individually working one-on-one with students and their panels-in-progress ahead of the upcoming critique, and lastly everybody sitting around drawing comics for the last hour of class.

Sounds like one hell of a class, and it was is. The funny thing is how such a sample schedule can elicit derision and disbelief in folks who think it's not a legitimate or scholarly enough of a subject to pass muster with other traditional university caliber courses. In other words, it sometimes doesn't get taken seriously as an academic endeavor. Absolutely no difference whatsoever from any other course on campus - just the content. Justifying such a class as this is an extension of the tiresome validation every cartoonist has to take up with regards to their own works. I tell you what though: I recently shared an experience with some folks in administration and faculty members after one particular class. Aside from the individual work-in-progress checkups, I actually didn't do a damn thing in one class. No lecture, no show & tell, no handouts, no exercises, nothing. I personally have more than enough busy-work to occupy some time catching up on the ever-growing heap of bureaucratic ephemera, and there's always the demonstration option, where I can simply sit alongside everyone else and do my own thing, often with a running commentary for any interested observers taking a break from their own work. 

But most awesome of all is surreptitiously observing a large room full of people each diligently pursuing their own unique vision, creating something that wasn't there before. Hour after hour after hour can pass with total immersion in a private world where one is always exploring, learning, practicing: writing, sketching, inking etc. Since it's a pretty casual environment there's punctuated conversation, breaks and visits, but for the occasional prompt or prod for the most part they're on autopilot. And that's how we find ourselves in a series of non-sequiturs and arrive at a completely random and ridiculous destination: a student who's panel had a dreaming robot wondered how to draw a toaster wearing a bra. A few of us bravely answered the call and took our best shot at the challenge. Ultimately the bra idea was dropped in favor of a simpler and easier portrayal that works much better.

“If you want a guarantee, buy a toaster.”Clint Eastwood

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