Recently, I have had the good fortune of regularly meeting up with a cartooning enthusiast in Leamington for walks and talks about the funny. We have enjoyed a couple of creative sessions together and she (Sue) also joined the ‘Sketchy Bitches’ online drawing group one Sunday. I noticed that Sue goes directly for the funny as her aim, while I initially concentrate on representation. In the Sketchy Bitches, we draw quick portraits of 5-7 minutes, and this is a tremendously short time to create a funny, but Sue was able to do this. She told me that she feels safe cartooning, because she feels that she cannot draw. She is also a tremendous gagmeister and I am in awe.
Last week, I was working on ‘animalising’ some friends (or zoomorphism to use the proper term) and turning them into their requested animal. This was initially an experiment in creating funny styles, but with Sue’s influence I have started to add captions and puns to the imagery. This influence bubbled into the Sunday session with the Sketchy Bitches, where I created 10 portraits for Instagram and 5 of these organically developed into cartoons with captions and puns. For me, this is a turning point, where representation and funnies joined together, although it was utterly exhausting to do both in the short intense time of 7 minutes.
For the week ahead, I will continue to work on zoomorphising my friends along with captions and puns. To do the latter, it would be useful to do further research into types of puns and ways to practice punning. This is a new way of thinking for me and this will need practice to rewire my brain. From my first forays, I think the best puns are those that come organically and easily in creative play. It is perhaps not helpful to overthink puns to become a laboured thing.
Simone Lia was unconvinced by my wish to learn to pun in cartooning last summer. I think this is because she is an authentic person, who was aiming to help me find my voice by responding to events and life around me. She is right that puns can be constructed pointless humour without substantive message, but they are also useful for a cartoonist’s toolkit. Punning is a tool that could also be used authentically – yesterday puns were designed to add something about the person beyond the portrait. The theme for the session was ID magazine, which tends to have objects obscuring the one eye, so this offered easier opportunity for punning. For example, Caroline teaches children art, so:
In my creative practice ahead, I would like to continue to work on zoomorphising friends with captions and puns, but in a more leisurely way, along with some further reading and writing on types of puns and ways to practice punning to rewire my mind and develop this tool