Sunday Mailbag: Penciled Finals?

November 16th, 2014 | Posted in Mailbag

Sunday Mailbag!

This week’s question comes from Ginger Meggs cartoonist, illustrator and caricaturist extraordinaire Jason Chatfield:

Q: I notice your sketch-of-the-week pencils are a lot tighter than your MAD parody draft layouts. Have you ever considered doing a parody as pencils a la Mort, then colouring over them? I realise it’s not your usual style, but your Sketch-Of-The-Week sketches are incredible.

A: Thanks, Jason. Glad you enjoy the SotW.

Jason refers to some of Mort Drucker‘s later work in MAD, which seemed to get away from his traditional pen and ink style and includes more pencil work and less ink. Having never seen any of the originals of that later Mort art, I can’t really speak to how much of it was really pencil, and how much other mixed media like marker pens and such, but it definitely looked a lot softer and looser than the straight pen and ink work he did up through the late 90’s.

It would be an interesting experiment to do a parody entirely in tight pencil as opposed to actually inking it, but I don’t see me doing that unless exactly the right subject matter came along. It would certainly need to be in black and white… I don’t think color and pencil would mesh very well in print unless I basically fully painted the whole thing, and that would take forever. The hard black lines hold the looser color technique I use for my MAD work together… you’d be surprised how sloppy my painting looks when zoomed in. The strong lines make that work, softer pencil lines would need a lot more of a tight painting.

Most of my “sketch of the week” drawings are not really sketches. A “sketch”, at least to me, is a visual exploration or study of a subject as opposed to a finished piece of art. That implies taking risks, following paths in the sketch that might end up in a dead end, and generally being loose and carefree with the drawing. The ones I post here are (usually) way too tight to be a real sketch. They are more like graphite paintings than sketches, and rely on values much more than line. So, many of my more elaborate sketches would not translate well into a line drawing unless there was a fair amount of values added in the form of painting or crosshatching.

Because the panels in MAD are small and my caricatures by necessity are very small to fit into the format, it’s better in MAD parodies to stick with caricatures based on lines as opposed to values, and least for me. The approach to each is different.

Never say never, however. Who knows? The right subject may come along where something like a pencil and painting technique would be perfect. The only thing that worries me about doing it is that the editors at MAD might pay me a lower page rate because they’ll say I saved money using no ink!

Thanks to Jason Chatfield for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar, e-mail me and I’ll try and answer it here!


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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

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