Sunday Mailbag

January 31st, 2010 | Posted in Mailbag

Q: During the last 15 years what caricature or drawing skill have you developed the most?

A: All of them.

I debated whether to use this question, as that is really the only answer. I don’t know what else to tell you. As an artist, unless you completely focus on only one thing to the exclusion of all else (faces for example), you are going to improve your overall drawing skills with constant work and practice. It’s gratifying to be able to look at work I did 15, 10, 5 or even just a few years ago and see glaring faults that today would never have gone unnoticed and uncorrected. Growth as an artist is the most exciting thing to see. It makes all the hard work put in to achieve that growth worthwhile.

Want to see an example? Here is a page from an issue of NOW comic’s Married… with Children featuring Christina Applegate from 1992, so this is 17 years old:


Now here’s a page from my parody of two years ago of “Samantha Who?” from MAD, also featuring Christina Applegate… so this is 15 years of improvement under my belt:

Not the best example but I can certainly see a huge difference in virtually every aspect of the work… caricatures, expression, visual energy, composition and layout, storytelling, perspective… just plain ol’ better drawing.

The best part? Even after just two years I see lots of things in this more recent piece that I’d have changed or made different if I were doing it today. Christina’s face in panel one is awkward, and her hand is gigantic. The expression and head angle is also too similar to the one in panel two, and I should have changed one or the other. The standard “pointy finger” pose is something I used to screw up a lot by making the index finger too big for the rest of the hand, as in panels one and five. The window/floor position in panel five is confusing. Etc.

I’ve always said if you look at something you did five years ago and are not dissatisfied with it, or better yet downright embarrassed by it,¬¨‚Ć you aren’t trying hard enough.

Thanks to Robert Sharp for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar,¬¨‚Će-mail me and I’ll try and answer it here!


  1. sharprm says:

    Thanks for taking the time to answer my kinda dumb question. For some reason I had wrongly thought that after someone hit age 25 they wouldn’t improve.

    I wouldn’t have noticed that index finger thing if you hadn’t pointed it out but it looks weird now.

  2. Vee says:

    Side note, I recently found 3 of the Married With Children comics.

  3. gustavo says:

    The bottom line: We are our best critics.


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

Workshops Ad

Dracula ad

Doctor Who Ad

Superman Ad

%d bloggers like this: