Bear Necessities

Bear Necessities

I know this will come as a shock to you, but I’ve never considered myself much of a “fine artist.” Oh, you’re too kind, but it’s true. I’ve never taken serious art lessons, and I’m living proof you don’t need to do so to be a cartoonist. However, I can attest that if you aspire to draw cartoons, art lessons will help. It’s true what the how-to books tell you: no matter how exaggerated your cartooning technique, a grounding in good art fundamentals will make life easier. And your work look better. I think of this now when I look at the above A&J from five years ago. At the time I drew it in 2014, I was pretty satisfied with myself. I had come a long way to arrive at what I judged was the final version of the characters. However, since the above comic strip first appeared in newspapers, I began dabbling in more reality-based figure drawing for my own amusement. It immediately had an impact on my work. It made me wish I had taken those lessons a long time ago! I have to go. Maybe I’ll talk about this a little more tomorrow.

23 responses to “Bear Necessities”

  1. We all evolve in our craft. My life loves all of her books and a few she would not touch, but a few might need a little tweaking. In my job, I look at what I have learned and when I started my new job it did not take me very long to settle in. All of my previous jobs took a long time.

    But you have to be pleased with where you at today. But if you are not evolving, then life can get a little boring. I do like your artwork better today than I did 30 years ago.

    Might we see Gene pretty soon?

  2. I was a computer programmer most of my life. When asked how much experience I had I would say “I’ve had 1 year experience, 35 Times.” There wasn’t a lot of diversity in programming. Some experiments with new, and generally redundant, languages but nothing too exciting. One advantage of doing the same thing over and over is you get really good at it, and fast. I was the fastest de-bugger in the west.

  3. Comic strip lovers just got a Christmas present. Gary Larson has allowed the creation of an authorized site for The Far Side. It is If you are a fan of that, please give it a look and enjoy.

  4. Jimmy, the best cartoonists aren’t necessarily great artists, they’re great storytellers! Whether it’s a one-off or a long arc, they combine the art and the dialog to create a story that involves the reader emotionally. To misquote Thurl Ravenscroft, “You’re Great!”

  5. I do notice in recent years how well you handle motion. I loved figure drawing whenever I had the chance to do it, and it’s one of the hobbies I hope to pursue if I can make it to retirement! But I wonder if that’s the secret to your very nice “animated” drawings that I mentioned. Figure drawing is based on a still model, but I can imagine a study of structure and transitions could be helpful…

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