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So Mandolin handed me this script for a four-panel comic strip, written in marker on a sheet of typing paper.
Several days later I had created a sketch, which I submitted to The Nib, not necessarily expecting them to accept it, and then forgot about it. Then a Nib editor emailed to ask me if I could get the strip done by the end of they day. Which I did, if by “end of the day” one means 2am. But it got done! And when I was finally done, my back felt like someone had stabbed it with a shoe horn. A day later, my drawing shoulder is still a bit sore. But it’s still sort of exhilarating to get a rush job done every now and then.
I’m pleased with the art for this, despite the circumstances under which it was produced. If I had more time, I would have done a real background in panel 4, and perhaps more supermarket shelves in panel 2. But I like how the colors came out, the figure drawing looks decent, and I actually took the time to measure out perspective in three of the four panels.
The sketch is 90% as Rachel’s script described it, although I did suggest a couple of changes (like making the stranger in the supermarket dress as a cliched spy).
Rachel’s script didn’t specify race or sex for any of the characters, so that was something I had to put thought into, to avoid accidentally using any ugly cliches. So, for example, in the original sketch the photographer in panel 3 was male; but then Rachel asked for over-the-top limp-swinging enthusiasm, and I didn’t want the character to look like a flaming gay man bothering someone in a public restroom, so that character became female. Then the other character in the panel had to become female, too, since I didn’t want to have a panel that could be misinterpreted as “wrong sex intrudes into bathroom” in a trans rights cartoon. Thoughts like this go into almost every “casting” decision; that’s just part of the job of being a progressive cartoonist, I think.
Transcript of cartoon.
A BIG CAPTION AT TOP OF CARTOON says “Questions You Probably Shouldn’t Ask a Stranger.”
A man turns back from an ATM machine, surprised at a woman putting her hand on his shoulder.
WOMAN: How much money do you make?
A grocery store. A woman in the foreground examines a can of food, her back to her little son in the cart. Another woman, dressed like a movie spy (trenchcoat, dark glasses, cig dangling from lips) leans towards the toddler and whispers to him.
WOMAN: How can you know for sure your mommy loves you?
A public bathroom with several stalls. A woman is just emerging from a stall, and stumbles back in surprise as another woman, who bears a camera and has extremely energetic body language, approaches her, talking very cheerfully.
WOMAN: Can I take a picture of your poop?
A woman sits behind a table. The table has a big sign that says “Trans Student Union.” Another woman cheerfully asks her a question.
WOMAN: So, do you have a penis?