Category: Read this Comic
BACK IN 2003, I was working my way through my Associate of Arts degree at a community college in Maryland. In addition to my coursework, I worked for the campus newspaper writing small articles and spectacularly unpopular opinion columns. Eventually, the editor gave me the opportunity to draw a weekly comic strip, which was a very big deal for me! Although I had been drawing cartoons my whole life, I had never put together a strip with recurring characters and storylines. I set to sketching, trying to find characters that could be drawn simply and quickly, which would allow me to focus on gag writing (which I felt would be stronger at that point). After several hours of furtive sketching and pen-chewing, my muse delivered two penguins who live in a bathtub that routinely engaged in witty wordplay and creative visual hijinks. But what to call it? The utterly inspired (insipid?) title “2 Penguins in a Tub” was applied, an homage to the set-up from the old “No Soap Radio” comedy trope.
After getting a handle on the basic concept, I went out and bought “The Idiot’s Guide to Cartooning,” which suggested that I buy quill pens and India ink to draw my comics. So, being a complete idiot, I did just that – and having never used a fountain pen before, the results were somewhat predictable:
Needless to say, the text in the title block is pretty rough, given that I was just learning how to navigate a fountain pen. Regardless, this comic establishes some pretty important things in the Penguin Comics Universe (PCU):
What also became clear was that I needed to be able to edit the strips digitally after scanning them in, which I did using Photoshop (albeit with a very limited understand of how to use the program). I eventually digitally “cleaned up” this first strip, which yielded a (slightly) improved version:
I think that being able to digitally shave down their coneheads helped the overall aesthetic of the strip, as well as being able to fix the shape/size of their eyes. My process for drawing comics remains essentially the same today: roughing out the strip in a separate sketchbook, preliminary sketching in blue pencil, inking by hand, digital scanning/clean up to finish.
While launching the strip was very time and labor-intensive, it still remains one of my proudest creative accomplishments to this day. Each week, I will share the next strip from the run, along with some brief editorial commentary about the strip itself.
Until next week…..