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"If you think with your emotions, slight glandular changes are sufficient to revise your entire outlook."

— Brian Aldiss

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Monday, August 8th, 2005

Update this evening...

Update: In this entry, I'll discuss the creation of the "Mind Blowing" cartoon that appeared four entries ago.

The idea for the cartoon occurred to me as a vivid mental image while I was in the shower. I get many ideas there that make me laugh, but most of them wouldn't mean much to other people. (Among science fiction writers, failure to filter out such private jokes when creating a work is called the Squid in the Mouth syndrome.) I felt that this concept stood a chance of appealing to others, so I kept it in mind for future use. (I was referring to this idea when I wrote in a previous entry that I was starting to assemble a backlog of material... heh.)

I actually sat down to draw this one about a month before I finished it and put it online. On the first attempt, I was determined to be methodical and do it 'right'. I made some thumbnail sketches that captured the emotions I wanted to convey, as shown below:

Notice that there are two sketches for panel two; I had to try twice before I got what I wanted. This panel was the hardest one, as the man had to be showing both surprise that he had such a thing in his nose, and grim determination to pull it out. It would have been possible to split this panel and show one emotion at a time, but I preferred the four panel structure for timing reasons — when I visualized the strip with five panels (1: Picking nose; 2: Surprise; 3: Pulling out something big; 4: Puzzled and looking at pin; 5: Bang!) it felt wrong to me, as if there was an unnecessary part in the design. Thus, I collapsed parts 2 and 3 into one panel. I also enjoyed the challenge of trying to make his face convey two emotions at once, so I'm glad it worked out that way.

Having completed these sketches, I then outlined the panels and started to redraw the thumbnails in greater detail. The first and only panel of this attempt is shown below:

I didn't like how it was turning out — the new face lacked the bored complacency of the original rough sketch — and I erased and redrew a few times. I felt that I wasn't gettting anywhere and I felt frustrated, so I set the project aside, meaning to get back to it soon, and wound up putting it off for several weeks.

When I eventually came back to the project, I thought it best to take the original sketches which had captured what I wanted so well, and ink directly over them in Illustrator. I scanned the sketches, outlined the first figure, then copied the outlines over the other figures, adjusting as necessary. The result is here.

As the Duke of Albany observes in King Lear: "Striving to better, oft we mar what's well."

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