Stripping down a bicycle to its basic shapes was another challenge. I don’t draw machines that often so every time I do have to spend a lot of time sketching and resketching the ones I’m intending to depict in the final illustration. So first I had to sketch the bike with all its parts and then streamline each subsequent sketch until I ended up with this version. Looking at this now I think I should I done one more version.
The client wanted a series of cartoons of people engaged in athletic activities – running, swimming, biking, etc. Swimming was one of the more challenging to figure out how to present. A full figure of someone swimming looks a little weird without context and a partial image of someone’s head and hands above the water can look as much like the person is drowning as if they are swimming.
Back in 2003 or 2004 Labor of Love set out to design a logo and business kit (business cards, stationery, etc.) for a personal trainer. While Nizzibet did most of the actual design work and client interaction she asked me to come up with some cartoon figures that could be used to enliven the material. Since the ‘toons were likely to be used online or on business cards I went for very simple designs – bold lines, straight black and white. I really like the results. I can’t remember what the client thought. I’m guessing she wasn’t in love with them since there’s no evidence of them on her current website.
Oh well. Just another reason why I concentrate on illustration work rather than graphic design.
Finally we have one of the supporting characters, the Annoying Teenager. Annoying Teenager was one of Put Upon Dad’s students in PUD’s role as a high school teacher. He was probably also a neighbor. Annoying Neighbors had important roles in a lot of comic strips.
I don’t think I’ve had a neighbor I’ve known well enough to be annoyed by in 5 or 6 years. Times change.
Pets are popular elements of comic strips so, of course we had one. The dog wasn’t meant to talk or behave like a human being. He was supposed to go on lively adventures with the Crazy Kid. But you never know how he might have evolved.
Put Upon Dad was, of course, married to a Screwy Mother. That’s been comedy gold since before I Love Lucy. The TV show just helped to solidify the concept. It’s probably not the path I’d have gone if I’d been writing the strip but, as I’ve mentioned, I’m not good at thinking in comic strip gag bits. And the sort of strip I’d have come up with would probably have been unsalable to the comic strip syndicates 🙂
The designated main character of a comic strip is not necessarily the one that readers get attached to. If we’d managed to sell the strip and if it had had any kind of run who knows which character would have got the spotlight. With many strips the breakout character is only a minor part of the cast. Sometimes they aren’t even in the original cast. Popeye, Snoopy and Opus were all late blooming stars of their respective strips.
If I’d been the writer I’d have gone with the Crazy Kid as the main protagonist. I have a great fondness for psychotic little girls.
In the beginning at least our protagonist seemed to be the Put Upon Dad. He was the viewpoint character in all the strips I drew.