Often, I have gotten suggestions
for cartoons from well-meaning readers, and my standing response is
that I may use your their idea, or a portion of the suggestion, or
their idea may send me in a useful direction, but I make no promises
that I will use their idea. The reason for this is simple, most of
the suggestions that I have gotten are simply not very humorous, in
fact, they often suck. Normally, these suggestions are much like a
funny dream that someone has. If you have ever tried to write it down
immediately after you wake up- it may seem hilarious to the dreamer
at the moment, but when you read what you have written later in the
day, it reads something such as,
“Uncle Paul is chasing me
and he has a tomato for a nose.”
The average person reading
this will later ponder what the hell was so funny about that?
Unfortunately, the cartoon
suggesters are not so easily shown that their idea is a loser, and
the cartoonist, who does not want to turn off a loyal fan who simply
wants to share what they think is a really good idea is now placed
in the “your idea stinks dilemma”.
Then again, there is the slob
who simply wants to see themselves featured in the cartoon itself.
This type of suggestion always follows the exact same pattern. The
salivating suggestor pulls you aside and using the greatest degree
of hand gestures says;
“I’ve got this great idea
for a cartoon.”
“First you’ve got Klyde over here...”
“Then you’ve got ME over there, and I say...”
“Then Klyde says...”
“Then I say...”
“Then Klyde says...”
“Then I say...”
“HA HA HA HA HA HA HA” [protracted boisterous laughter intended
These animals are only put
off by being told by the cartoonist, “I’ll see what I can do with
that.” Then alerting the authorities that a potential stalker has
just been born.
Often, however, suggesters
can send the cartoonist thinking a new direction, which is usually
productive. In very rare cases, the suggestion is so amazingly funny
that it must be written exactly as suggested. In fact, the cartoon
that appears in the “Klyde Morris” section of this web site on 8/30/99
is just such a suggested idea. It was submitted by James "ZWebMaster"
who helps me bring Klyde to you each week. His wife got a new job
and had to take a drug test, thus a great idea for Klyde was born!
Such was also the case in the
autumn of 1978 when a bunch of us were hanging around the motel room
that the university had rented for us in place of a dorm. This was
a gathering of flight students who were all sitting around discussing
aspects of our flight training and some of the “wouldn’t it be funny
if...” situations began to pop up. A fellow student by the name of
Mike Morrone, who lived next to my room, came up with a suggestion
of what would happen if your flight instructor pulled your engine
on you to simulate an engine failure and when asked “What are you
gonna do now?” you yelled “Jump for it!” and tried to open the door
as if to jump out of the aircraft. Immediately, we recognized this
as a great cartoon. I rushed back to my sketch pad and drew it out.
Later the next week it ran and everyone loved it, but I had to give
the credit to Mike.
This all is not to say that
the cartoonists themselves can not draw strips that absolutely no
one else “gets”. The only problem is when the cartoonist draws a loser,
it gets printed! On more than one occasion, I have written cartoons
that I thought to be amazingly funny, but that absolutely NO ONE else
In the summer of 1978 I had
been reading a book titled “The Ghost of Flight 401”, and conceived
a cartoon based on that Eastern Airlines ghost story. Foolishly, I
assumed that everyone else was familiar with the story- I was wrong.
The cartoon ran and not a single person who read it “got” it. A few
years later, I made a similar boner when I wrote a cartoon based on
my roommate Dan The Man’s addiction to a video game called “Tempest”.
This arcade-styled game ate quarters and looked much like a psychotic
episode, and Dan could not stop playing the crazy thing. So I figured
it would be fun to have a Daytona approach controller addicted to
it in a far greater way. The problem was, that hardly anyone else
played the stupid game, and again, no one “got” it.
Later on, as the cartoon grew
in popularity, I found that I could write a “no one gets it” cartoon,
and people never said anything. It was the Paul Simon song lyrics
syndrome. Your stuff is popular, so no matter how little sense it
makes... because “YOU” did it, everyone still thinks its good. This
is the path that leads a cartoonist to Charles Schultzdom. So, when
I suck, please, someone, tell me!