April 3, 2006 12:00 AM
Opening Day for Blogs and Baseball.
"Where do you get your ideas?"
That's the question cartoonists hear the most. Oh, sure, people ask, "Is that all you do?" Or the other fun inquiry, "Do they really pay you to do this?" But the question that comes up the most is definitely,''Where do you get your cartoon ideas from?" And it's a tough one.
Do cartoonists get ideas by guzzling gallons of Starbucks mocha lattes? I wish. Does inspiration strike while listening to a Beatles record played backward? Nope. Pepperoni pizza at 2 a.m.? Sorry, just heartburn. Or do good cartoon concepts come from spending the day at Coors Field watching the Rockies try to play baseball? Bingo. Now we're onto something. That's what I want to do here. Maybe not definitively explain the creative process, because that's kind of like trying to explain what happens to the Rockies on the road. But I hope to give you a front row seat on how the cartoons you see in the News come to be.
So on this blog, you'll find rough drafts of cartoons as I work through my daily process and a comment or two on how I decided on the cartoon that you see in the paper. It's almost always the result of my drawing several rough drafts of concepts that are then discussed with my editors.
After we reach a consensus, I go back to my drawing board and redraw and ink the cartoon that goes to print. That process is always preceded by a ton of reading and thinking and mulling and pondering recent sports developments before I even sketch the roughs.
Pat Oliphant, the great editorial cartoonist, once described it as a 24-hour-a-day job that culminates in two to three hours of work. It's a pretty apt description.
Except for today. The full page of cartoons began to take shape at spring training in Tucson, when I watched the Rockies take batting practice and play exhibition games. (I generally get a good sense of what to expect on Opening Day from the time I spend watching the team during spring training.) i got to the office about 10 am and began working on the title panel for the full page. It's always a time-saver if I can get that out of the way before I draw later in the afternoon. I left for LoDo about 11 and absorbed as much of the outside Coors Field activities as I could before going in to take in the Opening Day festivities. I worked in my sketchbook all afternoon long trying to come up with ideas and formulate a theme for the day.
I got back to the paper about 4:00 pm, updated the blog and dove headfirst into filling a full page with cartoons from the sketchbook I'd done at Coors Field and a few extra ideas that seeped into my mind on the cab ride back from the ballpark and as I drew the page . I finished the panels about 9:15, checked with Jay my night editor to make sure everything is spelled right. I updated th blog a bit from the earlier entry and finally left for home about 10 pm. This is almost always my most time consuming assignment and usually zaps me creatively for a day or so. I missed the national championship game between Florida and UCLA except for a few glances at the TV behind my drawing board at the Rocky. Such is life with a deadline. Thank goodness for Tivo.
The main idea behind this blog is that I want to hear from you whether or not you liked a cartoon, or, if you just want to ask how I feel about the Rockies' chances in 2006. Slim and none, by the way. One thing I do ask, though, is that you hold off on offering suggestions for cartoon ideas. I like to think of my own ideas and if someone is going to get upset about something I draw, I really feel that it should be me, and only me, they can get mad at! Other than that, this blog is wide open to discuss what you want to talk about. I look forward to it.