Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Humor-Centered Design

I think it's really weird to try and analyze why things are funny.

But getting funny things down in a form that other people can enjoy - that requires some thought.

When I go to create a cartoon, often I have some fragment of an idea in my mind - like, "that's stupid," or "Huh," or something really articulate like that.

These get put on shreds of paper all over my house and car.

Then I have to get from that shred to something that's actually able to be seen and read and understood.

Single-panel cartooning presents special challenges. I think of my panels as one-frame movies. They've got a plot, and characters, and a setting, and dialogue.

There's a past, a present and a future, and you have to decide in which of these the cartoon takes place. Did something just happen? Or is it about to happen? Or is it happening right now?

Something stupid that is about to happen is funny because the reader can anticipate it. Something stupid that just happened is funny because of the reaction to it. Something stupid that is happening right now is funny because it's an observation of life.

Here's something stupid that is about to happen:
And, here's one where something stupid already happened:



And here's one where something stupid is happening, also known as "observational humor:"


See? Humor being designed. Telling a story, one frame at a time. Someday maybe I'll string all the little panels together and that will be my life story. There are over 2,200 of them at this point, after all.

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