Imperfections are Perfect

28 Nov

As a cartoonist, I sometimes get asked how I create my art.  Is it all done digitally or hand-drawn?  Crayons or markers?  Pizza or hamburgers?  (Okay, I’m getting a little off course here.)

Many of you know this, but I prefer the old-school method of using paper and ink.  Well, technically it’s not ‘paper’ but Bristol board that I use.  It’s a material that’s tough and can weather a sharp pen nib quite well.

I have several methods for my madness on creating the way I do.  For one, I love originals.  They stick around through even a computer crash.

Another reason is the flaws; the imperfections.

To me, having noticeable errors are great.

I love it when I find them in art or cartoons.  It enforces, once again, the notion that we’re all human and a human created it.

I remember one time I found a typo in a Peanuts strip.  To this day, I still try to find it (it was from the early 50’s) but I can’t remember which one it was.  Anyway…it was like one of those rare upside down airplane stamps worth a lot of money – pretty cool (and I’m guessing the original would be worth a lot of money).

This day and age with everything digital, you’ll notice a lot of cartoons appear to be, well, perfect.  No lines out of place, no ink smears or obvious difficulties with the flow of ink onto paper.  Nope.  Just solid work.

Yeah, a computer can do that.

And that’s great!  We need this.  We really do.  I’m not knocking it or anything.  However, I like to see the true nature of what happened when the piece – whether it be an oil painting or comic strip – was created.  You can learn a lot from errors.  It’s just my cup o’ tea.

Actually, I don’t know if I’d even call them errors.  They’re natural.  They’re like birthmarks.  I’ll get back to calling them by the title I associated with this post – imperfections.

So, let me point out just several of common errors, um – imperfections,  I have happen to me practically everyday.  You, the viewer, is probably unaware of quite a few of these.  A lot of times it’s because I doctor up the MAJOR stuff on my work before they go public.  However, I’ve had a few slip through the cracks.


On the above panel, you’ll notice I overshot the lines in the upper right-hand corner.  This type of thing happens all the time.  No biggie.  Sometimes I leave them alone and publish them this way.  Other times (especially if they’re extremely off-course), I’ll just erase the little line in Photoshop.  Easy thing to clean up.


The same thing happens where I under-shoot the lines.  You’ll notice that the lines don’t exactly connect right up.  Again, sometimes I’ll fix it – sometimes I won’t.


My BIGGEST errors are grammatical.

The above comic is a good example.  The whole point of the gag is for the mild picante sauce to say, “I was born to be mild.”  ‘Mild’ being the key word.  However, you can see in the original, well, it’s a bit off.  I don’t know how I messed this one up (I’m guessing lack of coffee) but it happened.  Luckily, I caught the thing.  And obviously, this was one error I corrected.

Born to be Mild

But, that being said, I like having the original that is totally wrong.  It’s cool to look back on that and say, “What the….”.

I guess what it boils down to is the published material is not exactly full of noticeable imperfections – but the unpublished stuff, there’s a ton of them.  And even in the work that I do publish, if you look closely, you’ll notice I often times over-shoot lines, go outside the box and make a circle look like a square.

So the hand drawn art has its in imperfections, but in an imperfect world, they’re (I guess) perfect.


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