Cartoon: Questions You Probably Shouldn’t Ask A Stranger

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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.”

Panel 1
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?

Panel 2
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?

Panel 3
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?

Panel 4
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?

This entry posted in Cartooning & comics, Transsexual and Transgender related issues. Bookmark the permalink. 

6 Responses to Cartoon: Questions You Probably Shouldn’t Ask A Stranger

  1. 1
    Grace Annam says:

    I love this cartoon. Thanks, Barry and Rachel!


  2. 2
    MCA says:

    Awww, c’mon, this is seriously missing a fantastic opportunity.

    Step 1: Buy a realistic “flesh textured” dildo, jar, and food coloring package
    Step 2: Use a knife, potato peeler or other sharp object to “rough up” the base for a ragged, torn look
    Step 3: Place dildo in jar, add water, and apply yellow and orange food coloring to give it a dark yellow tinge.
    Step 4: “Why yes, I do have a penis, right here!”

    5 points for each person who runs screaming, 10 points if they pass out, 20 if they vomit. ;D

  3. 3
    Jokuvaan says:

    On the other hand its not something that should be kept a secret beyond a first date.

  4. 4
    Mandolin says:

    You should be able to ask people to take pictures of their poop after a first date?

    Admitting I do know what you mean:

    Unless you manage to maintain stranger status with people you’ve already dated (a state of affairs which I suppose is possible, but very unlikely in the current mainstream American context), that’s a non-sequitur. The topic of the cartoon is clearly stated.

  5. 5
    Ampersand says:

    That seems arbitrary, Jokuvaan. I’ve read enough trans people discusing this issue to have learned that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, either for all people, or for all dating partners.

    See Nicholas Oliver’s answer here, and then this blog post, for two different perspectives on this, both from trans people who are in the dating scene.

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