Sunday, October 11, 2015

Inspiration and writer’s’s block

Slipped images and story © Michael Chevy Castranova 2015

Last weekend’s Cartoon Crossroads Columbus events were great fun. I bought lots of books, including Dylan Horrocks’s “Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen,” an entertaining graphic-novel adventure about writer’s block and creativity and originality, and had a good chat with Chris Schweizer while I picked up a couple of his excellent sketchbooks.
Also there was Bill Griffith, promoting “Invisible Ink,” his memoir about his mother and her affair with cartoonist Lawrence Lariar.
I didn’t think I’d ever heard of Lariar — until Griffith talked about Lariar’s mail-order cartooning lessons based on the notion that all characters should start in the shape of peanut. I recall even as a child thinking that was pretty ridiculous.
During his Friday afternoon presentation, Griffith talked about how he’s taken the advice of Ernie Bushmiller, of “Nancy” fame, when stuck for an idea: Griffith calls out all his characters, then asks, “OK, who has an idea today? And Mr. Toad raises his hand and says, ‘Me, I have an idea today.’”
Which reminded me of when I working through the two most-recent chapters of “Slipped,” 351 and 352. I couldn’t see a credible way to motivate Tyler and Mendacity to take up the adventure Delacroix had proposed. Then the characters just acted it out — the sisters would brave the wildebeest’s dubious plan, they said, to find their father.
And Cartier herself decided she should be part of Tyler’s quest.
Though, frankly, Tyler has never liked sharing, just as she makes it known if she thinks she hasn’t been the focus of a story for too long.
Whose comic strip is this, after all, she’s asked.

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