Sunday, May 1, 2011

Mulling History: "Nuggets" and "LowTide"

This would be one of those panels that's rather ingrown: a contemplative pause that ain't really "funny," but it isn't meant to be, even though it is. Sorta. Which is an awful lot like Life.
And, by way of introducing a new direction, after much deliberation I decided to rechristen the cartoons in part to better reflect the evolving shift in content. That and it makes it infinitely easier to at least keep the features separate while juggling gags and clients. Believe me, it doesn't take much to complicate things, at least the way my brain works, and keeping track of all the irons in different fires is probably one of the harder aspects of marketing works in different regions. Add to this a tangential awareness of seasonal variations, one recent example (courtesy of a friendly reminder from an Alaskan editor) in being how mushing gags don't work quite as well when all the snow is gone. So much for timeless classics. Plus there's another variation on the theme with a completely separate "look" for some select panels that additionally get the border burnt away so as to work better in a magazine context (more on that later).
To some degree I can now better empathize with how much easier having an editor or a syndicate around would be to "herd cats," as professional, organizational skills are crucial for success regardless of how good the work is. Most days I'm lucky if I remember to shave.
More mullings below...

"Nuggets" will definitely stay, as the re-branding from all those previous years under the "Freeze-Frame" moniker has been a very successful effort. As a concept that particular title really also reflects the dual-nature of the cartoon much better (as either something rare and of precious value, or a turd). Similarly, during my tenure in the South, the weekly panel that ran in Georgia was titled "Peach Pits" - evoking the metaphor of some gnarly core under all that succulent sweetness.

"LowTide" on the other hand, calls to mind all the weird & wonderful things left uncovered by the receding waters around the shoreline. It's like spending time poking about limpid limpet pools of mystery, always some surprise while exploring this alien environment. In many ways it's been an intense period of personal rediscovery, which the new turn of phrase about sums it up perfect. 
Coming up with new titles is about as mind-wracking as naming a child or a pet: they, and you, have to live with it for a long time. It should encapsulate everything with both an easy to remember and recognize visual aspect, and serve as a defining label that meshes with the feature's look and personality (not unlike cultivating an expressive unintelligible signature). Same goes for matching it up with an appropriate font. The cartoon won't necessarily live or die by a title alone, but it is part and parcel of the same finished product, and so should be complimentary, work in tandem with the content and artwork to promote the total package.

Needless to say, there will (hopefully) be many panels that can serve under both flags, as it were, and work equally well in both places. That will be part of the challenge: maintaining a consistent body of work that appeals to readers & residents of either market, without diluting the particular regional appeal. So it's not quite generating twice as much material as I have been: maybe more like a third again above & beyond the uniquely Alaskan-themed stuff will be geared specifically towards a Maine-centric audience, with a bit of overlap between the two realms. 
Not the first time, and hopefully not the last, that I've pulled a reboot. That's one of the greatest things about art: the opportunity to just make up something else, and try something new.


  1. Low Tide, I love it! And good luck with keeping the irony in all those fires and the L.L. Bean reboot
    ayuh, Kim