Friday, September 24, 2004

Behind the Scenes

Let me take you on a journey, a journey into a dark abyss. An abyss filled with darkness. Darkness surrounded by an abyss.

There, you’ve gotten a pretty good taste for what my movie synopses are like. Especially the movies so bad that no one wants to give any information on them. Movies like National Lampoon’s Holiday Reunion. Now, I’ve never written a synopses for this movie but the other day Tanya brought the screener home for us to keep!

I think I’m going to make her take it back. It’s quite possibly the worst movie ever made. Even for a Judge Reinhold flick, it’s bad.

I just had to share that with you.

Now to the real “point.” Thousands of people have asked me, “Tam, how do you create the TAM cartoon? It’s so fantabulously fantabulous. Is it possible that something so fantabulous could be made by human hands?!”

Okay, no one has ever asked me how I draw the TAM cartoons. Not ever! I’m pretty sure that they’re just too embarrassed. They don’t want to admit that they read it.

So, for all of you just dying to get a look behind the scenes of the TAM Cartoon, today is your lucky day! I was inspired by watching the bonus material on my new Star Wars boxed set. Plus, it gives me something to post.

Let’s get to it.

First, I start with a horribly unfunny script. I usually write it about 15 minutes before I start to draw. I usually get the idea about…15 before I start to draw. Very professional. The script looks like this:

Did you work on your screenplay?

You don’t just work on a screenplay. You have to nurture it. You have to take it by the hand and coax it from the shadows like a frightened child.

Why don’t you put the energy into writing that you put into your excuses for not writing?

I don’t remember what I said. Was it good?

Wow! Can you believe that writing? And so descriptive!

Then I take a smoke break.

Next, I prepare the paper with a T-Square and some non-photo blue pencils (the blue pencil lines won’t be picked up by the scanner). The un-scanned strip is 5” X 14”. It’s not the “industry” standard. But I’m not in the industry so any cartoon geek reading this can kiss my grits.

Then I layout the “dialogue” and sketch the characters (also in non-photo blue).

I know what you’re probably thinking. “If he’s just tracing the words, how come his lettering is so bad?!”

It’s because I’m lazy.

Then I fill in the letters using a Picma Micron 08 pen filled with #1 archival ink. It sounds pretty complicated. It’s just a small marker. But a good small marker. Real cartoonists use nib pens for this, but I’m not very good with calligraphy.

Then I take a smoke break.

Next, I use a Hunt 512 extra fine tipped nib and Higgins waterproof black India ink to do the initial inking of the characters. But after two smoke breaks, I’m pretty shaky. That’s why I can’t seem to draw very fluid lines (it’s a lot less noticeable once the cartoon is scaled down). Actually, the 5 diet Pepsis I drink during the day don’t help much either.

After I’m done with the initial inking of the characters, I use a 003 sable hair brush and more Higgins ink to fatten the outer lines of the main characters. It gives the strip a little more depth since I refuse to do much shading. Plus it gives it a more “painted” look. I would paint the whole thing, but that takes forever. I’m not made of time people!

Now, the cartoon is basically done. All I have to do now is clean up any mistakes (I use white latex paint instead of white out. Because we don’t have any white out), add in the border lines (which are never square, I think my drawing board is crooked), put in the “dialogue bubbles” and add those black things at the top of the frames (they’re there to add visual “interest” in lieu of an actual background. I told you that I’m not made of time!). In case you’re keeping score, I use my 003 brush, the Micron pen, white paint and a sharpie (to save ink. So pro!).

Now the cartoon is done. All I have to do is sign it.

I put this last picture in just because I took it and it was not an easy picture to take. So now you have to suffer.

Anyway, I scan the cartoon into the computer in two pieces (it’s too big for the scanner), put it back together using Microsoft Picture It and it’s ready to be ignored by the entire internet community!

All in all, it takes me about two and a half hours to get one done. Y’all better laugh at it!

Now you know.

Fun Fact: The Apprentice was lame last night. Trump needed to be fired right along with crazy restaurant lady. I don’t care how much money he has. He’s a moron.

And I swear that I’m going to stop watching if they don’t nix that stupid trumpet fanfare every time Trump comes down the escalator.

And the new TAM Cartoon is up! Yes, the one from the behind-the-scenes extravaganza! Kismet!

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