Many years ago I worked as a freelance cartoonist and though I was never very good, the humour was ok but unfortunately the drawings were terrible, I spent countless hours trying to create a ‘line’ that was uniquely mine.

I tried dozens of pens and used acres of paper looking for that elusive quality that is the stamp of a good cartoonist and, although I was having my work published, I was never really happy with what I was creating. I did however learn an awful lot about what makes a line ‘alive’… How did the ink flow? How thick should the line be? Was board or paper best? Did the ink sit on the surface or was it absorbed into the paper? Was a fast line better than a slow line, etc., etc.?

The variables of pen and paper are infinite and often produce minuscule changes of which only the artist is aware. Don’t be afraid to look for inspiration in the ‘Funnies’… these are professionals working at the top of their trade, and they can teach you a lot if you open your mind.

I eventually decided that I didn’t have what it takes to be a good cartoonist and stopped trying but the lessons I learned during that time have since proved invaluable.

Time spent with a pen or pencil in your hand should never be wasted. You can even make writing your grocery list a learning experience by experimenting with different pens and paper...



May 01, 2024 — Francis Boag