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Buy the new book, "Beaucoup Arlo & Janis!"Today's "Arlo & Janis!"
We were talking about Charles Schulz the other day. Most comic strip artists working today would include Sparky when answering the FAQ, “Who were your cartooning influences.” I would be one of them, but not in the sense the questioner usually means. When someone asks a cartoonist for influences, they generally want to know what comics the cartoonist enjoyed as a young person, what artist inspired that person to become a cartoonist. I would not list Sparky, although as a boy I enjoyed Peanuts. I would not list Sparky, because I can’t think of anyone in particular who made me want to take up cartooning. I just did. Sparky’s influence upon me, and it was significant, came much later, even after I’d launched Arlo & Janis. That’s when I began to understand his boilerplate advice to aspiring cartoonists: it’s all about the funny pictures. If a reader is able understand a comic strip without the drawings, he said, it’s just an illustrated joke. Because I was much more confident of my writing than my drawing, I did a lot of joke illustration when I started out. When I looked at my work, I could see what he meant. I consciously began to incorporate Sparky’s dictum, and it made a lot of difference. The above cartoon would be an example of what Sparky might regard as a good comic strip, whether it is a good A&J comic strip notwithstanding.