Cartoon: What I Wish I Said / What I Said

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Although I draw this strip from the perspective of a fat man, I think everyone who is in any marginalized group has experienced moments like these. Moments where someone says something that stabs you a bit, and then you have the choice. One option is to be the party pooper: To speak up and bring down everyone’s mood and make people uncomfortable.

And it’s hard! For me, it goes against my strongest social instincts, to get along, to make things easy for people, to try and be liked. I think a lot of people share those instincts.

The other choice is to just swallow what I might say, and withdraw from the situation, either in my head or (like the character in this strip) by walking away. And I do this a lot – not (just) out of cowardice, but also out of self-preservation, conserving energy, picking my battles.

The art for this was fun to do. To draw three characters in full-figure in four panels is actually significantly more work than, say, if I had made panel 2 a close-up of the fat character’s head with no background. But I’m happy with how it looks. I’m especially pleased with panels 1 and 3, because both of them have foregrounds, middle grounds, and backgrounds, and I really enjoy that feeling of a world with depth.

The bad part of that is that the more extraneous stuff that’s in a panel, the more likely readers are to find it a mess visually. I just have to hope that I’m skilled enough to keep that from happening!


This cartoon has four panels, plus a small panel underneath the strip. The first and last panels are colored in shades of purple; panels 2 and 3 are colored in shades of blue-green. All four panels show three people walking through a hilly park. There’s a thin short man in a striped shirt; a thin woman with glasses and black hair in a ponytail; and a bald fat man wearing a button-down shirt.

Panel 1

Stripes and Glasses are cheerfully chatting, and Baldy looks back at them, looking concerned.

STRIPES: I ate too much on vacation and now I’m so fat and gross!

GLASSES: I know just what you mean! Let me describe my new diet in mind-numbing detail!

Panel 2

A large caption at the top of the panel says “WHAT I WISH i SAID:”. The three of them have stopped walking; Baldy has turned around and is talking to Stripes and Glasses, who are listening.

BALDY: Hold on a sec. Neither of you are fat. But I am. When thin people call themselves fat and gross, what does that imply about me?

Panel 3

The three have resumed walking as they talk. Glasses is thinking as she speaks, a hand on her chin; Baldy has his hands spread in front of him as he talks, Stripes, looking perhaps a bit nettled, is raising a finger to make a point.

GLASSES: I hear you, but isn’t this just how an anti-fat and misogynistic society has conditioned us all?

BALDY: But it still feels like you’re co-signing anti-fat bigotry. And I’m sure I’m not your only fat friend you’re making uncomfortable.

STRIPES: That’s not what I meant to do….

Panel 4

This panel has a large panel at the top, which says “WHAT I SAID:”. In the background, stripes and glasses are happily chatting with each other. In the foreground, Baldy is walking away, with a hand on his stomach as if he’s got an upset tummy.

STRIPES: Diet talk calories lifestyle change blah blah

GLASSES: Carbs keto diet talk blah blah blah

BALDY: Gotta go. Bye.

Small “kicker” panel under the bottom of the strip

Barry the cartoonist speaks directly to the reader.

BARRY: The funny thing is, at one time or another, I’ve been all three of these characters.

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