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The Evolution of a Cartoon

Ever wonder how an idea comes to fruition?

#myradgirlfriend takes place in the real word, at the fictional University City Hospital in Philadelphia.

I was stuck in the Bomb Cyclone a few weeks ago and I wondered how this would have effected Dr. Sisskin's day.

Radiologists tend to get a lot of FOOSH or Fell On Out Stretched Hand injuries after a snowfall and I thought this could be turned into a joke. Now I'm not a radiologist, so I needed to do a little research. I was pretty happy with the terminology and this was the result:

There's one problem - it wasn't funny. I have a select group of doctors that I use as a test group and none of them thought it was particularly funny.

So why wasn't it funny?

Well a 3 panel cartoon basically goes like this:

#1. Setup

#2. Conflict

#3. Resolution

The problem is that the setup wasn't working. The cartoon is supposed to be funny because Andy's been doing this all day. But that wasn't really coming across. It's tough to show passage of time in a 3 panel cartoon and it's not like I could use a window in the reading room to show the passage of night to day.

Time for a rewrite:

Okay, so now I use coffee cups to show the progression of time and I put Andy's head in her hands at the end to show frustration. I change the setup for the gagline to emphasize the conflict. But it still isn't as funny as it can be.

Time for a rewrite:

And this is the finished product. I re-emphasize the dictation to show that she is repeating the same thing. I increase the coffee cups to show passage of time. Then I make the gag line stronger to show exactly what Andy is complaining about. This also has the added benefit of making the cartoon accessible to not only radiologists, but other doctors and even non-medical personnel as well.

Total time from the first gag to the final product was about 5 days. Although the actual time spent working and thinking was about 5 hours. I actually write for money so I'm writing other things in between cartoons.

I hope this sheds some light on how cartoons are made!

And if you have an idea for a strip, send it to me. If it's published, I'll send you a signed paper copy.


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