Today Rackafracka made it on to the SFGate the San Francisco Chronicle online. Albeit a more nontraditional manner through a bike blog, but none the less the cartoon is on there for all to see.
The author of the post on SFGate is Amy Harcourt who is cyclist and is co-founder of the company Bikes Make Life Better. BMLB hired yours truly to illustrate a couple cartoons for their marketing including the one you see on SFGate.
I want to thank Amy for thinking of my cartoons when she wrote this blog post.
This last Sunday I spent the sunny afternoon in Oakland at the Royal Nonesuch Gallery at 4231 Telegraph Ave. I went to see the latest exhibition by Matt Cella as part of the 21 Projects x 21 Days x 21 Hours. The premise as I understand it is that there are twenty-one projects to be done by twenty-one artists and each will show for one hour. This last Sunday was Matt’s turn.
So how did a cartoonist get invited to such an event? Beside the fact that Matt is one of my friends, Matt had asked about 15-16 other artists to contribute art work as part of the prizes of a carnival style game to played in the gallery. Yours truly was asked to contribute and I did. My contribution was an original cartoon. The prizes ranged from paintings, shirts, used dog toys to drawings on scrap paper, and digital art.
The game was a dart game. Matt had covered the wall with black balloons. Some filled with Tempra paint and some were filled with glitter and confetti along with a corresponding number of the piece of art which you won if you could pop the balloon with a dart. Matt wore his best carnival costume which was a mullet wig, trucker hat, and fake cigarette. The rest of his costume was a track jacket and jeans. Matt would then holler out insults to the crowd spurring anger and daring people to try his game of chance.
“A sucker for a sucker.” Matt would yell out after you lost and he would hand you a kids lolly pop. “Is that all the money you got?”
Each sucker that tried the game had to pay Matt $5 which went to the gallery. (There were refreshments, hot dogs and cookies too that you could get with a suggested donation of $3.) Once paid Matt handed you 3 darts along with taunting and jeering from on lookers. Once a balloon was popped by one of the darts either an explosion of paint would splatter every where and the crowd would cheer, followed by more mocking from Matt on your lack of skill or a celebration of glitter and happiness would burst out of the balloon with a winning song. But even in victory the Matt Cella insults always brought you down to earth just like a true carny.
I dropped $15 on trying to win some art. As it turns out my skill of picking the winning balloons are equally matched to my skill at throwing darts at big round targets. I didn’t anything. Not from my own money anyway. Like every scam, I should have known that they would eventually lower the price in order to get more people to step up. The price got down to $1 per dart in the last 10 minutes of the hour. Of course I had spent the last of my money on beer and hot dog donation. I resorted to borrowing a dollar from another artist Rob (who had won pieces of art.). On my first throw with darts from Rob’s money, I hit a winning balloon! I won Rob’s t-shirts!
It was a great afternoon. I failed to catch the name of the woman who won my cartoon but she seemed excited. I was happy to be a part of the show. Check out Royal Nonesuch Gallery and check out Matt Cella’s art Matthew Cella.
Hey mom! Look what I can do! I’m blogging through my iPad. I’m using the WordPress app to post to my blogging from the comfort of my comfy chair. The last two days I’ve done the following things on my iPad:
A. Watched a movie on Netflix
B. Drawn two Rackafracka cartoons
C. Managed my fantasy baseball team
E. Posted comments to Facebook
F. Read the New York Times
G. Read The Daily
H. Sketched out thumbnails for clients and emailed them
I. Used penultimate app to take notes during a client meeting
Let’s see if I can post a cartoon from my iPad to this post….
Pretty cool stuff.
My new toy is the iPad 2. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of it. It’s a tablet with a touch screen with a billion apps. One of the reasons that I wanted the iPad is because I can draw on the tablet from anywhere and get sketches to my clients with ease. I can do a quick sketch using Sketchbook Pro made by Autodesk, and then email the sketch directly to the client. No more scanning!
I’ve been drawing by hand for years so drawing with a fat finger or a stylus takes some getting used to. Nothing will ever replace drawing by hand on paper, but for the most part it feels pretty natural especially with the stylus. (I’m not a fan of drawing with my finger.)
Here are some photos of my process.
I do Rackafracka every day, but I make my money on doing custom cartoons for business. Some companies buy cartoons I’ve already done and some ask for custom cartoons that are drawn on demand. Either way its how I pay the rent. I just posted an article on Squidoo as to why you should use cartoons for marketing in your business. Check it out and let me know what you think. Here is a section of the article to give you a taste.
Ways to Use Cartoons for Business
In this post I want to explore the creative and fun ways to use cartoon illustrations for marketing your business. Some of the ways include direct mail, social media, blogs, websites, greeting cards, calendars, sales letters, presentations, email marketing, signs, electronic displays, newspaper ads, trade show graphics, post cards, and more.
There are many reasons why a business should use cartoons in their marketing. One reason is that cartoons are EASY TO READ. Especially in single panel cartoons the captions a typically short. The characters and backgrounds are simple using large shapes and contrasting colors so that the reader will capture the story right away with out a lot of trouble. The advantage of this simplicity is that your message is identified by the reader very quickly with very little effort.
Another reason why cartoons are an effective way to be used in your marketing is that EVERYONE READS THEM. Being that cartoons are simple, they also have a reputation of being fun to read. This possible chance at hilarity is why people when faced with a cartoon will take the 10 seconds to read a cartoon to ponder its joke and its message. By putting your company’s message in with an equally funny joke the reader might think to read further in the email or blog post to find out what more you might have to say on a topic.
CARTOONS CREATE FANS. A regular installment of cartoons on your website or marketing campaign can create fans among your readers. For example if your company sends out a email marketing to your customers and you put a funny cartoon in that email on a regular basis, your customers will know that there is a funny cartoon in the email and they will gladly open the email to see what the cartoon is about. And if you create regular characters your customers will start to care about the character and what happens to them. This takes time, but these characters can become a very important icon to your brand that can reach your customer a lot easier than just text in a marketing campaign.
CARTOONS ARE VERSATILE. Again with single frame cartoons they can put used in multiple areas of marketing. Much like your company’s logo, a good cartoon can be put in forms of marketing. For example if you post a cartoon with your blog post on your company website then a while later send out a post card with the same cartoon your customer, if they like this cartoon, they might hang the post card with the cartoon on it on their fridge, filing cabinet, or in their work area. If you put a series of cartoons together into a calendar and put it along side your branding then the calendar will no doubt hang in front of your customer for an entire year.
CARTOONS CAN EXPLAIN VERY DIFFICULT SUBJECTS If your company is in a industry where your products are difficult to understand by your average customer such as a new technology than a cartoon can help explain it. Because cartoons are easy to read you can use simple images in sequence to explain a difficult process. Using cartoons rather than long paragraphs of text of instructions can be more effective and less frustrating to your customer.
CARTOONS LIGHTEN THE MOOD. Not to pick on any one industry, but there are industry’s out there that are very important to the world, but can quite boring to talk about or listen to. For the boring topics that are abstract and not tangible like insurance, banking, microbiology, etc., one way to lighten the mood or wake people up might be a funny cartoon. Cartoons engage the reader or listener to your presentation. Cartoons invite the reader to read them and invite them to laugh. Now that you’ve woke them up with a cartoon you can now continue on to your more difficult topic.
Bikes Make Life Better. Unless you are me and you have to bike up hill. There are some nuts out there that like biking up hill though. Amy Harcourt and Kurt Wallace Martin are those nuts. Crazy about bikes, Kurt and Amy have started a company that allows company’s to create and maintain a bike commuting program for thier employees. Their message is clear. Bikes help the health of the employee, bikes help save the environment, and bikes are FUN!
So when it came to do some marketing for Bikesmakelifebetter.com, Amy and Kurt thought to focus on the fun aspect of biking. What better way to do fun than to use cartoons to get their message across.
“We needed to appeal to a corporate audience, but wanted to convey the fun of riding bikes. Fritz’s cartoons are perfect! We’ve used them on postcards, posters, our website, email and social media. They’ve been so well received. We couldn’t be happier with his work and will no doubt, hire him for more!!” said Amy Harcourt.
If you are a company looking for a unique and fun way to share your message with your customers consider cartoons for your website, blog and email marketing.
And if you need a company to manage your bike commuting program than visit bikesmakelifebetter.com and tell them Fritz sent you.
On Saturday I was at the Charles M. Schulz Museum booth handing out buttons and talking with the awesome fans of Mr. Schulz and his creation Peanuts. It only dawned on me later that I should have taken a lot more photos. I only took like 4 the whole day. But I’m sure you’ve heard the rumors that these comic book conventions bring out all types of people and all types of costumes. My booth partner Kristi got a ton of photos and I will try to get some from her to post on this blog, but in a city like San Francisco you don’t always know if the person behind the costume is a man or woman even if it’s a Wonder Woman. (Yes there were a couple Wonder Women who made you wonder if they were a woman.)
My responsibility was to tell people about the museum, get people to sign up for the email list, and tell people about the summer classes. The most fun out of the day was the spin wheel that we had set up from 12 to 2 in the afternoon. People lined up and they would take turns spinning the prize wheel to see what prize they would win. The worst prize was a rock. I felt sorry for the people that waited in line to win a rock and I made sure to illuminate them to that fact. No punches were thrown, but some people wanted to win the rock! Other prizes were Free Passes to the museum, a 60th anniversary tattoo, a eye glass cleaner that had “Happiness is a Warm Blanket” printed on it from the graphic novel and animated cartoon. The most coveted piece of swag was the Sally Pin. It was just fun to talk to everyone and see how excited some of the people got when they won something. I felt like one of those carnival guys yelling “Step right up! See the bearded lady and her midget monkey!”
This last weekend was the perfect weekend to spend at the Charles M. Schulz Museum (CSM). It rained most of the weekend and was no fun to be outdoors. I had planned to be at the museum anyway since I have been looking forward to the Masters class presented by Hilary Price (the creator of Rhymes with Orange) for a couple of months now. Rhymes with Orange is a syndicated single panel comic strip and I have read this comic for a while. If you are reading this blog you probably have noticed that I too do a single panel strip and I was looking forward to the class because the topic of discussion is coming up with a gag everyday which I too strive to do. I was hoping that Hilary would give insight into how she comes up with gags and she didn’t disappoint me.
I don’t remember the exact amount of people that were there, but it was about 10-12 people from a wide range of ages starting from college age on up. The class was held in the Education Room in the CSM. Hilary began by going around the room asking what peoples names were and what they wanted out of the class. Many there were hoping to get started in the world of comic strips and a small hand full where already in comic strips but wanting to push it to the next level. Hilary went on from there defining what a comic strip was and the basic construction of a gag cartoon. One thing that stuck out to me was she defined a comic strip as an “economical short story.” She continued on describing 3 major elements to the gag cartoon that one needs in order to tell this story. Which were: Characters, Setting, and Plot.
In order to get the characters, setting and plot, you need to do some writing.or brainstorming. And this is the meat and potatoes that I came to see. I’ve always done my brain storming and writing my own way but never really put down a formula or method to my madness. I was surprised how similar my process is with the one Hilary shared. One method Hilary shared with the class was something she had gotten from cartoonist John Hart (the creator of B.C.). It’s the “Justification Game.” Here’s how you play. You get a piece of paper and you draw two columns. On the left column you write 10 different jobs, characters, or animals. On the right column you write down 10 situations or props. Here is a list that the class came up with.
10. ??? (didn’t write this one down for some reason)
3. Waiting in line
4. Doggy Day Care
5. in jail
6. on an island
7. with a baseball bat
9. eating a waffle
10. in a library
Now that you have the two columns you take one from the left column and match it to one of the situations or props and you start to “justify” why a character would be in the situation. The best example in the class was “Why would a “baker” be “in jail?” One of the comments was “Assault and battery.” They don’t always fit this easily but this was a fun game. I like this game because there are only so many caveman jokes you can do so this game allows you to dive into many directions. You can mix and match or just keep taking it to many levels or degrees away from where you started.