Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Cartooning Without Tears

There's a fine site called Cool Tools, which is about sticks and stones and other, more recent, inventions. The latest new tool in our house is the knitting needle, so I perked up when CT mentioned Knitting Without Tears, a primer with more than a little philosophy:

If you are a habitually tight knitter, try to kick the habit. Loose knitting tends to make your stitches look somewhat uneven, but what of it? Are you trying to reproduce a boughten machine-made sweater? Besides, it is surprising what blocking and a few washings will do to uneven knitting.

I used to think that people in the Olden Days were marvelously even knitters, because all really ancient sweaters are so smooth and regular. Now I realize that they probably knitted just as I do, rather erratically, and that it is Time, the Great Leveller, which has wrought the change - Time and many washings.

I think cartoons are the same way. At least I hope so. I know I draw Spot and Karl and Buddy a bit differently from strip to strip, depending on my facility and mood and memory. But I have an idea that once a reader takes enough of a character's image into her mind, it creates a vast and forgiving template of how the character looks. A blueprint for building Spot with half-inch tolerances.

Or maybe I should take the other lesson: loosen up, and let the lines take care of themselves.