Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Where do Ideas Come From?

So where exactly do ideas come from? The easy answer, of course, is everywhere. With a little imagination, and the drive to look for them, ideas can be found in everything we see and do. The hard part of the answer is that ideas need a venue to be actualised. For a Cartoonist with a comic strip, the characters of that strip reside within us, and when we find the germ of an idea, it is the characters who take that idea into their world, and do something special with it.

In the case of this strip about the annual Perseid meteor shower, we need to look first at The Inquiring Minds. The Inquiring Minds comes from my childhood, and my longing for something from that time... a feeling, a special feeling where everything is possible, and the world is a safe and happy place. I was fortunate enough to have an idyllic childhood (until my sisters learned to talk, that is). This was back when television stayed in the background, and video games were entertaining but not riveting, and telephones and music players and all other gadgets were left behind when one left the house.

As kids we gathered to play sports, or games, or just to get out and about exploring. Exploring was my favorite, and back then we had fields and woods and dusty paths leading to mysterious places. And as a kid there were no worries about Lymes disease, sun poisoning, poison ivy, or... any of the things we adults worry about today.

So, The Inquiring Minds are about my idea of what childhood should be. For this particular strip, I looked at that childhood through adult eyes. I always stayed out late every August to watch the Perseid meteor shower, and still do. As a kid we'd have sleepovers, and hang out all night talking about life, the universe, and.. everything! All while keeping our eyes on the stars for those elusive streaks of light that would suddenly appear above us.

Today? I had to do some menial task the other night, so thought, "hey, why not drag the work outside, and work in the fresh air, while watching as the lightning bugs do their thing?" Right. Within minutes I was covered with mosquitoes, and running for the door. It didn't take me long to mix my childhood camp-outs with my mosquito-bitten attempts to return to that idyll. Counting mosquito bites today was easy to compare with counting meteors back then.

So there you go. That's where the idea came from. Not so easy, in retrospect, but a wonder how the brain puts things together, and so quickly.

Ideas, and comic strips, are expanded by our influences. In this strip, the light sabers came from my buddy Mohan who is a huge Star Wars fan. I wanted Bobby and Albert to have some kind of light source so that the illustration wouldn't be all shadows. A lamp or flashlight would have been okay, but the idea of lightsabers makes it more special. The "Indeed" comes from T'ealc, and Stargate SG-1, and the rest comes from the above situation of trying to enjoy the fresh air of evening.

"Whew!" And that's just the concept! Then you have to draw the darn thing, which is another blog all together. Today's lesson? Cartooning sure looks easy, but it takes a lot of hard work, discipline, and a sharp mind. Maybe some of you will remember that the next time National Cartoonist's Day comes around. (A card would be nice, but an email will do) :0)

Cheers, JOHN :0)

PS If you like The Inquiring Minds, then please stay tooned! They are about to embarck on a very ambitious summer project, and you won't want to miss it. More about that later. :0)


Meera said...

Well written!

John said...

Hi Meera,

and sorry it took so long for your comment to appear... I had forgotten that I have to publish each comment at this blog, since spammers were becoming a problem.

Thank you so much for the kind words! I wrote this all in my head at first, and it seemed brilliant, but when I finally typed it out no amount of editing could capture the feeling I was truly going for.

I guess I have so much to say, but try to keep blogs short to avoid boring the audience, and I invariably get caught in the crossfire.

So where are you in India? I've been there several times, and wrote about my visits in my graphic novel, 3 Knights in India. My avatar, in fact, is from my rendering of a market in Bangalore.

I checked out your blog.. is all of your work computer generated, or mixed?

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Meera said...

Hi john,

yes I'm from India. Liked your blog!

All my cartoons have been created on ToonDoo, only the ideas are mine!

Will follow your blog. Keep up the cartoonist thoughts!