I dug into the archives tonight and found this odd cartoon. This was done in the early 80s, back before I really understood how to create a gag. At that time most of my ideas were more weird than funny. A chameleon doing inventory on his fly snacks would qualify as pretty weird, especially since it's not really related to the actual word play about his eyes. One thing I've learned is you can't have two funny ideas going at the same time within a panel cartoon, conflicting with each other and diluting the focus of the humor. Most cartoonist's minds are racing with crazy ideas, so it takes a lot of discipline to filter all that down into one solid gag that makes sense. It took me years to figure this out, and I'm still learning.
I believe my fascination with the single-panel cartoon rather than strip cartoons is in the challenge of fine-tuning a single moment, with all the information, staging and story telling frozen in time perfectly. You can't set the stage a minute before the event takes place, or the momentum is compromised, a minute later and the message is confusing. It's like dialing in a radio signal for clarity. You need to give just enough information, but not all, in order to engage the reader's imagination. A gag is working when the audience is part of the process, when their mind completes the riddle; give them too much information and they might feel you're talking down to them. Anyway, I think I've figured out how to do it, but I still struggle with each one. I suppose I always will, the proof is in the trash can I fill with rejected jokes every week, and the occasional clunker I post right here on this blog. Your comments help me a lot in that area, so thanks again for that. -Ted
Oh yeah; as an art director I'm known for being quite a stickler about having the correct ellipses in artwork. So it amuses me greatly to see the jar lid I drew on the desk top in this cartoon. It's so wrong it's ridiculous.