No Present Like the Time


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You’ll remember this recent A&J episode. I hope you will! It appeared last month in newspapers. No, I’m not quite that hard-up for classic strips yet, but I want to illustrate something. This is why I can’t get ahead of deadlines, no matter how much I’d like to or how hard I try. The work expands to fill the time allotted! I first drew this yawner at a leisurely pace, well ahead of my weekly deadline, except I wasn’t quite satisfied with it. I didn’t like the last panel, which originally was this:

Janis’ body language was off slightly, and body language, to a comic, is almost as important as the written language. Oh, it was close. Under the pressure of deadline, I would have let it pass, but given the time, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I drew a fifth panel, to replace the above. So, I spent an arguably inordinate amount of time fretting about this one strip, and the next thing you know I’m racing to finish the others. Business as usual. By now, you’re thinking the same thing I’m thinking: I’d be a better cartoonist if I’d only take more time with my work. Well, that’s another topic, albeit related.

61 thoughts on “No Present Like the Time”

  1. We are truly appreciative of your work, this is what sets you so far above so many others in your field. It is admirable that you spend so much time on your finished product and in this particular example, yes I see exactly what you mean and you were right.

  2. But, Jimmy, we notice you didn’t have to fuss with the other panels. The salmon sofa is always good with its cushy geometry; there’s Arlo’s slightly lidded (therefore sly) eye in panel three, his yawn in panel two that looks a trifle Disneyish, his index knuckles slightly longer like real knuckles—but above all, the deep love they have for each other. Arlo builds the energy of three panels, and Janis responds by taking over the last.

    The first time I saw a clip of Sparky Schulz drawing, I was so surprised at how fast he was. But that didn’t mean he hadn’t been thinking about it.

    So did you have to cut the last panel off the paper or just paste the fifth panel over it?

    This is the 21st Century, or so I’m told. I drew the new panel separately and placed it in Photoshop. Corrections are so much easier today. — JJ

  3. 21st! I just knew it! I’ll change my clocks.

    So that means there’s no original strip to buy! Virtual reality—

    Not in this case and not in many cases these days, but I’ not going to abandon the classic pen-and-ink technique. In fact, after experimenting with felt-tip pens and computer-generated fonts, I’m returning to the older methods: nibs, India ink, etc. Hopefully, there always will be originals—on archival quality Bristol board, of course. — JJ

  4. I guess this is part of the reason that I love coming here. Sure the comments are interesting, but getting this kind of feedback from a genius is well worth the price to come here. Oh wait a minute, we don’t pay to come here!

    I mentioned a while back that my wife was forced to change her website. Where are you at on your rollout? I think once you publish it, you will enjoy the finished product, but it can be a royal pain in developing it.

  5. “The work expands to fill the time allotted!” Indeed. Much the same way as, to my continuing vexation, “expenses rise to meet income”.

    There are many reasons why I continue to visit here, not the least of which is the insight you sometimes give us regarding your creative process. Not that we expect you to give away all your secrets, but I hope you can continue to do that periodically.

  6. Every couple, Jimmy, knows how much meaning body language holds. The change in the last panel illustrates (tee-hee) that.

  7. Methinks the unused panel would fit into the used sequence just before the final panel. Janis is [faking] a chewing out, and then, in the used last panel, she is settling into “I’m just fine with that!” mood.

    Sixty years ago today, Queen Elizabeth II had her coronation. I remember it. Wasn’t eMb in England then? Perhaps he got to join the crowds on the streets.

  8. Jimmy, two panels have terrifically different meanings. The original clearly shows Janis isn’t letting Arlo get away with the move. The final, on the other hand, shows that she welcomes the attention. Neither is wrong, but definitely different outcomes. Overall, Janis’ increase in security over past years would tend to make the final result more likely.

    Thanks for the explanations and the discussion!

  9. Always interesting to see the process behind the finished product. Of course, the process is what makes the finished product so compelling. Thanks for sharing.

  10. “…nibs, India ink, etc. Hopefully, there always will be originals—on archival quality Bristol board, of course.”

    Good to know I’m not the only old fogey around here. 🙂 Hey, I still use a fountain pen for “important” writings.

  11. Thanks for the insight, Jimmy. It just proves that in most instances, a work of are is never finished, it is merely abandoned . . .

  12. Jimmy, inspiration doesn’t punch a time clock, nor does it care about one. So sometimes all of us get our best ideas at the last moment. Thank you for caring enough about your art (and fans) to go for better rather than just good enough. The final version is much better and a more affectionate pose for both Arlo and Janis.

  13. JJ, I WAS THINKING ABOUT YOU THIS MORNING AS I INSPECTED THE KITCHEN IN THE NEW HOUSE. iT HAS BEen (darn cap lock, why don’t they put it somewhere else) staged for the parade next week and the decorator had put several roosters in the kitchen, mostly above the cabinets. I offered to contribute to the collection and the builder said that he would talk to his wife. She’s the decorator.

  14. The change really made a huge difference, thank you for sharing the process, I really appreciate that. One of the reasons why I love your work so much.

  15. GR6
    The comparing of Luxembourg to Alaska brings up SO many questions.
    Not the least is Size,Population density, per capita output ….
    I don’t think there are many oil fields in Luxembourg.

  16. There’s a limit to how productive a small population can be (just under 3 million in Utah as of 2014 vs 156,594,962 in Bangladesh in 2013 according to Wiki)… so we’re 52 times as productive?

  17. Good morning Villagers….

    Sitting here looking at the full moon peeking thru the trees…well, it was full yesterday according to my cat calendar 🙂

    JJ…you did good, like the ‘redux’ better. (Like that $50 word there GR 😉 ?) It shows you care about your readers/fans….thanks.

    Mark, that egg eating snake puts a new meaning to “don’t bite off more than you can chew”.

    Loon, saw close ups of the Queen’s coronation gown…in color, it is beautiful…curious, wonder how much that dress weighs, no wonder she sat down thru the three hour event.

    GR 😉 Hippie Chick approves 🙂

    Jerry, why did they put roosters on top of the cabinets in your home? Does your new kitchen have a theme? Hey, I could provide them with real ones. My boys survived and are doing well.

    Hey, ya’ll have a blessed day

    =^..^=

  18. I’m cheering those tough roosters, Debbe! God bless their pin feathers!

    Now we know a little more about Robin: at least one other being lives with her. The third panel in today’s real-time was amazing, Jimmy! I look forward to the Robin strips, and those with Gene and his family’s doings, too. We joke about Jimmy peeking in our windows, but he allows us to peek into other windows.

  19. Oooo, oooooo!!! (Hand waving wildly in air) Jerry and Debbe, I know why they put roosters on top of the cabinets. Because the elephants were too big!

  20. “““““““““““`
    Yes, emb was in London during the coronation. Authorities had built gates on the side streets along the planned route from St. Paul’s Cathedral [I think] to Westminster Abbey. They believed gates might be needed to protect the route and public from surging crowds. But there was a boom in tellies, mostly b&w, the weeks before, so street crowds were manageable. 1st Lt. emb [in civvies] had climbed atop one of the gates [actually the non-moving part across the sidewalk], I believe on Beak St., which tees into Regent St.: https://www.google.com/maps/@51.5113854,-0.1361825,17z I was pretty concerned about the approx. 40 year old Brit. next to me, who likely stopped at a pub en route to the procession. Maybe he had a flask in his pocket, but didn’t partake while we were up there. I have a Kodachrome of him. [Granddad, what’s a Kodachrome?]

    Procession was heading approx. S. on Regent toward Piccadilly Circus. Emb saw most of it, waved at the Queen [a couple of years older than emb] and she waved back at all of us [most others, I assume, were native Brits], + other dignitaries that followed, including the massive Queen of Tonga, who had become a favorite in the “birdseed press.”

    Can’t remember how emb and other USAF officers rendezvoused, but we drove to a known movie theatre where the coronation itself would be aired. Unfortunately, a TV glitch occurred and all we got was the sound. So I am grateful for the photos posted in the blog. Still working on my laptop’s inability to write in the A&J comments section, or even copy comments. Will say ‘hi’ when I can.

    The above was copied/pasted from an email to me from eMb.

    Peace, emb

  21. Some church steeples are topped with a rooster, instead of a cross.

    One theory (NOT proven)
    “The rooster is a symbol for the Apostle Peter, the first Pope. The symbol refers to the cock (rooster) crowing during the Passion narrative, the incident that causes Peter to realise his betrayal of Christ. Christ told Peter during the Last Supper that He would be denied three times before ‘the cock crows’, Peter denied that he would ever [forsake] His Lord, yet out of fear, he did.”

    Interesting explanation, if not proven. I remember when Pope Francis was elected, a dove perched on the chimney where the smoke indicating a Pope would appear. Some saw it as a sign as Francis loved animals and because the dove is a sign of peace as well as the Holy Spirit.

  22. A recent booking photo from our local gaol showed a detainee wearing a tank top, the narrow straps of which failed to cover the straps of her pink bra. (That’s a fashion statement which seems to be popular among other female scofflaws; three of her sisters-in-crime were rocking the same look that same day).

    I mention it because I noted she was charged with a form of domestic abuse and, me being me, I couldn’t help but wonder if, in the name of gender equality, tank tops for women should now be known as “husband beaters”.

  23. Work was thirteen and a half hours of headache, that I could take. However, my aunt informed me that her youngest sister passed away this afternoon. It was expected (stage four cancer), but still sad. What has me furious, heartbroken, and spiteful is her sister’s NO GOOD, ROTTEN, SOUL-LESS, *!@~$#¡* husband (and their children) would NOT let my aunt NOR their 94 year old mother be with her because “they weren’t family.” !!!!!!!

  24. Lady Mindy, one doesn’t even to particularly believe in the existence of Hell to hope there will be a special place in it for people like that.

    And if you can’t yell at friends when you need to yell, who can you yell at?

  25. I’m so sorry, Mindy, that they were denied the chance to be with her. The husband and children truly have a bizarre notion of relationships and love.

  26. Mindy from Indy, my condolences to your aunt. It sometimes seems like that kind of illness brings out the absolute worst in people. Hang in there, and don’t let these people drag you down. We know you aren’t yelling at us, just in our presence, because you trust us. Thank you for that.

  27. Mindy we are ALL family – you yell as loud and as often as you need in our presence.
    I thought I heard an atmospheric disturbance about the time you posted.

    I’ve learned…. That I can always pray for someone when I don’t have the
    strength to help him in some other way. AR

  28. emb, it’s 48 degrees and the sun is up on Abbey Road. People are out jogging and riding bikes to work. I never see Bobbies on bicycles as Roger Miller said. I wonder if they don’t do that anymore.

  29. Good morning Villagers….

    Indy Mindy, you vent all you want….we’re fam damily, remember? I am sorry for your loss and sorry that your aunt and her 94 year old mother were not allowed to be there…some people are just born to be a$$holes. Sp, like Gal, love, hugs and prayers from me to you.

    Jerry, I can’t top Denise’s answer (pun intended)…and Mark’s too.

    And I learned something from Steve today regarding roosters…..thanks, never knew that.

    GR 😉 love “Sultans of Swing”, out of curiosity, I Wiki’d it and also learned some interesting factoids. Check it out, guitar George…..

    So, The Boss finally gets things moving by sending in his main man, got the augers all in sync, we’re down to 17 fans being down, nothing like a catastrophe to pull one’s head out of their a$$.

    Thanks cxp for keeping us updated, copied and pasted, on emb. Great memories there.

    gotta go

    ya’ll have a blessed day

    =^…^=

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