I don’t know how many of you read my last cartoon before the one I posted today, so I will repost it below (because I am writing about it today).

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I was planning on doing a 3-4 day sequence on race relations as a kind of mini storyline.  I think that Jesse Jackson/Sesame Street thing inspired me to reach for the stars.  Instead, I ended up taking a week long break and the cartoon I just posted has nothing to do with race.  Why, you may ask?  Because I hated everything I wrote and I didn’t think any of it was funny enough or important enough or even silly enough to see the light of day.  It was rather strident and some of it was stupid.  Ugh.  I HATE when this happens, and it tends to happen every summer.

I have the sort of kids who expect to be entertained on long summer days.  They want to do things like go to the beach and the pool and the park.  They want crafts and sprinklers and snacks and library runs and puppet shows and Barbies… and they GOT the sort of mother who likes to hide in her room reading novels and eating ice cream or talking on the phone with the door locked between us.  …This is not a good fit.  I spend much of the summer either doing good motherly things and feeling exhausted and vaguely resentful, or doing all of the extra chores that come from having 5 kids home pretty much 24/7 (well 4 kids really.  My oldest is so rarely home that when she is here we barely recognize her…) and feeling VERY resentful, or doing  MY thing and feeling guilt-ridden.  My point is that it’s a stressful time that I am poorly equipped to handle.

I love my kids, but I have found that I both like and need the break from them that public school provides.  We get along much better that way and I actually miss them and look forward to their coming home.  What does this have to do with anything?  I am getting to that.  When my kids are home in summer, my cartoon suffers.  It happens every year.  I look back on the stuff I produce in the summer and it’s not as good as the rest of the year.  The decline was more pronounced when I was syndicated because I HAD to produce 7 cartoons every week even if I had nothing to write about.  Now that I’m on my own I am not under that pressure anymore and I don’t want my strip to go into it’s annual suckfest (thankfully, no one else seems to have noticed this phenomenon.  Isn’t it HELPFUL of me to point it out to you so that you may see if it’s true?)  Anyway, I could have produced cartoons for every day this last week.  I had them written.  I even had good ones written.  But I got it in my head that I wanted to do this race storyline and then my mind went blank and/or stupid.  Finally, after a week of trying to force what wouldn’t allow itself to be forced, I just said the hell with it and posted one of my other cartoons.

…Which I happen to like, so don’t think I am foisting a subpar cartoon on you today.  I have done it before, but this happens to be one that I actually like.  I am back to the daily production schedule (more or less) and if I ever think of good cartoons about race that I can use, I just might have Manny run at night again to set it up.  At this point I wish I hadn’t ever published the cartoon above.  It was a good setup for a storyline.  RUINED.  It was also a good setup with a ho-hum punchline.  I forced this one and that was probably why I had such a hard time writing anything else to go with it.  It’s the times that I don’t force it where I get my best material.

Oh well, live and learn…

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