When I was a kid, I absolutely loooved comic strips and comic books. Being an only child, I could never get enough of them. I cared immensely for those iconic characters that graced those sweet-smelling pages of newsprint. I didn’t know who the artists were and I couldn’t have cared less at the time. I just wanted my comic fix.
As I got older and started developing my love of art, I began to take notice of the varying cartoonists in the field. I had my favorites in the different formats: Steve Ditko, John Romita, Jr., Ron Frenz, Charles Schulz, Mort Walker, Dik Browne (now, that’s a moniker), and many others.
These artists, with all of their various styles, helped make these characters come alive for me. They created a world where I could escape and enjoy a few hours of relaxation. They didn’t draw alike. They had their own unique vision and style. I once heard that, when it comes to art, the definition of style is: “The mistakes that an artist makes”. I think that’s true. If everyone drew perfectly, all art would look alike, wouldn’t it? It’s our slight errors that make our artwork our own. I don’t draw like anyone else, and they don’t draw like me. However, I can appreciate all styles of art.
One thing I have always loved about comics is The Crossover. I enjoyed watching characters from other companies and universes teaming up or duking it out. A few years ago, Image Comics had a switcheroo month where the creative of teams of certain books took over other titles under the company banner. It was so captivating for me to see Erik Larsen tackle Spawn, or to see Jim Lee penciling Savage Dragon. I love the original creators’ styles on their own respective books, but it was like a trip to another planet being able to see them draw other characters. That’s one thing I adore about making webcomics.
We web-cartoonists get to traipse around in each other’s playground sometimes. There are many reasons why there are guest-strips. Sometimes a webcomic’s creator needs to take a sabbatical. Updating can grow daunting, and a creator sometimes needs room to breathe, reassess, and come back fresh. Sometimes, %$# happens: illness, job duties, family necessities, etc. Oftentimes, if a comic isn’t seeing regular updates, the readers will move along to something else, thus resulting in a drastic drop in viewership. No cartoonist wants to build up a loyal audience just to lose them altogether due to “life” occurring.
That’s why it’s good that we can hit up our peers/friends and get a guest-strip from ‘em. These gracious guys are saving our necks and giving us an opportunity to supply our readers with fresh product.
I haven’t hit the point (yet, knock on wood) where life has thrown me a curve ball, and I can’t get my comic updated, but I do have a good relationship with some amazing web-cartoonists. One guy in particular, Bearman, sent me a guest-strip the other evening featuring my Addanac City characters, Hank and Christie. I enjoyed seeing him “playing with my toys”. I draw Hank and the gang all the time, so it’s fascinating to see how other cartoonists view them. This is Bearman’s Addanac City comic:
Bearman creates an hilarious and thought-provoking editorial cartoon blog at Bearman Cartoons. Check out the rest of his amazing, poignant stuff. Thanks for the strip, Bearman! I’ll have to do something nice for you real soon.
I’ve created a number of guest-strips for other cartoonists also. I contributed an unsolicited strip for Mike Freed’s Unemployed Dad comic. Michael’s innovative take on the trials, tribulations, and even celebration of unemployed life is refreshing and original, especially with today’s turbulent times. Every now and then we need to be able to laugh before we pick up the pieces. Read my Unemployed Dad meets Addanac City guest-strip and check out the rest of what Michael does with his amusing creation.
In December, I contributed to The Guest Strip Project. That project was intended to gather a lot of web-cartoonists together to create a storyline for these pre-existing characters from a police force. For each installment, one cartoonist would pick up where the last one left off. That meant that the story could meander anywhere. No need to worry about quality in story and art, though, because these guys gave it their all. Each cartoonist was credited with a link to their own sites plus a chance to help the Make-A-Wish foundation which is a worthy cause in my opinion.
This was my contribution:
Be sure to go thru the archives of the Guest Strip Project to read the entire story.
I have a few other guest-strips finshed and a couple more to complete. I’ll let you all know when they come out. If any of you cartoonists out there want to take on Hank and/or the other characters in Addanac City, just drop me a line and let me know. My door is always open (I gotta get that thing fixed).