There are two basic types of cartoonists. It’s not based on which subjects they draw. Or how successful they are. Or whether one cartoonist’s dad can beat up the other cartoonist’s dad. (Unless you happen to have the stronger dad.) It has to do with the originality of the work. But I mean something very specific by that.
Most cartoonists enjoy drawing existing characters, like Spiderman, Naruto, Finn from “Adventure Time,” and others. Recreating an established character, in different poses and in different scenes, is a very important skill for a cartoonist. In fact, most professional artists primarily draw other people’s characters. For example, the artists who draw Spiderman and Batman in today’s comics are not the people who invented those characters. And the people who draw the storyboards for the animated shows you love probably didn’t invent those characters, either. Although someone had to invent the characters in a video game, it takes many more people to complete the project.
Some artists have gotten famous drawing characters that were not created by them. One of the most recognized comics talents is Alex Ross, who does fantastic images of Superman in his own, unique style.
For cartoonists, there is a personality type that enjoys drawing existing characters. These cartoonists like the challenge of coming up with new and interesting ways to portray the same characters. They also like getting to know a character from an insider’s point of view.
Then we have another type of cartoonist. This cartoonist gets bored drawing the same character over and over. His, or her, idea of hell is being locked into doing a comic strip with the same cast of characters. This type of cartoonist prefers to jump from one idea to another, like a fountain of creativity. He or she may work in a number of different styles, for the freshness variety it brings to new projects. This second type of cartoonist is well suited for character design. But you need the first type of cartoonist to turn it into a long-running success.
So, have you figured out which you are? I’m curious to know.
Your Cartooning Sherpa,