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Smithson Thus Far... ·

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I considered doing a series of instructional posts like this, but posting even one felt kind of arrogant, so I never followed up. From time to time I get the itch to do some more material along these lines, pushing the idea that it's possible to make good comics even if, like me, you have virtually no artistic talent or training. Cartooning is really easy, but that doesn't mean people should get all lazy about it.

My current bug is getting people to make characters look distinct from one another. So many cartoonists give all their characters the same age, ethnicity, and body type. Don't do this! How hard is it to vary your characters' heights, at least? Don't just give everybody different hairdos! Don't make me come over there!

Sorry. I have theories. Lots of theories.

7 comments:
Brian Rogers (billionsix) says:

Nah, you need to embrace the arrogance!! Write a book called "How To Be Perfect Like Shaenon K. Garrity and Write Perfect Webcomics Like Shaenon K. Garrity! by Shaenon K. Garrity"

Adam Underfoot (unnatural20) says:

The strips in question- for More Fun! http://www.webcomicsnation.com/shaenongarrity/smithson/redirect.php?name=smithson&whichbutton=first
and http://girlamatic.com/mell/2000/01/01/page-twenty-three/ for Lil' mell.

You can find the Narbonic comic yourself.

Sean Riedinger (ariamaki) says:

Making individual characters look distinct is something a lot of people neglect in comics-- Just look at Tim B^Uckley, or (despite his comic being otherwise quite good) Mookie.

Now, for good variance, El Goonish Shive is very good-- Height and race differ all over the place, and people actually have different frames and body types. Which is also a trait of Sarge and everything she works on.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

My problem is getting the same character to come out looking the same way twice in a row.

You object to all characters looking the same ... and yet your job is editing manga?

Bo Lindbergh (blgl) says: Hey, Shaenon, how do you write your comics?
kicking_ k (kicking_k) says:

I have Ed's problem, too. And also, I can't seem to learn to draw faces properly in profile. The mouths and chins never seem to work. Which is a bit limiting.

I've always admired the way your characters seem to be properly grounded in their surroundings, even in the early art.

Rex Vivat (sirgarberto) says:

I remember reading the script for the "More Fun" strip made me suspect that you were even more talented at pure writing than comics. Some time later, when I read the complete Narbonic filename story, I confirmed it.

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The education bestowed on Shaenon K. Garrity by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged. ... full profile