A doodle/sletch I created several years ago for a New year's Eve comic strip. it's been in my doodle pile for years. i still haven't used it, but yanever know.

A doodle/sletch I created for a New year's Eve comic strip. it's been in my doodle pile for years. I still haven't used it, but ya never know.

It sounds cliche, but the question most often asked of cartoonists really is, “Where do you get your ideas?”  I get the question quite often myself.   Answering it always makes for a fun discussion with a reader or comic fan.  And there’s no way to answer it definitively. The idea process for just about anything created in the arts or industry takes many different paths.

Similarly,  my ideas for my comic strip and other features come about in a variety of ways.  I get ideas through observation, scanning newspapers and news sites on the web, playing around with a word combination or famous phrase, and having things just pop into my head (the easiest and best way to get an idea, by the way).

But  the main method I use is to just sit down and start doodling. I grab a pen or pencil and start sketching my characters or other cartoon figures.  I just sort of let go and let the pencil take me away.  Sometimes when I start a drawing, I really don’t know where it’s leading.  It may not amount to much at all.  Or, it may offer a spark of inspiration that leads to a final comic strip or comic panel.

And these doodles become pretty valuable. I have piles of them sitting next to my drawing table. If I like a doodle or sketch, but it doesn’t bring forth an idea, I’ll put it in a pile and tuck it away for awhile.  It may be months later that I’ll come across the doodle. Looking at it a second or third time may be the moment that a completed comic strip idea comes into focus.  Or, I may add to the doodle and tuck it away once more.

The frustrating part of the process arethe times I don’t makea quick dodle or sketch.  I’ve had many an idea evaporate because i failed to put it down on paper.  i tel myself that I’ll remember the idea,but later when I try to recall it, it’s gone. maybe gone forever.

This doodle eventually became a Double Take comic game panel.I havebn't thrown it away because I like the sketchy puirty of the drawing.

This doodle eventually became a Double Take comic game panel.I haven't thrown it away because I like the sketchy purity of the drawing.

Over the years, I’ve learned to never let an idea go.  I try to jot it down immediately.  When I get back to the studio, I pull out the papers from my pockets and go through the various doodles.  I then draw ’em up or put ’em in my doodle piles.

I think the next step in this process is to take it into the digital age.  I really need to start scanning these doodles and tag them with key words.  Many graphics catalog/browser programs do this.  Linux has several like GQview and Digikam that allow you to browse and tag image files. Tagging images allow you to search by the keyword.

But, I still like grabbing the pile and going through the sketches and doodles one by one.  Sometimes, it’s a nice break from the computer screen to just sit back in my studio chair and thumb through a pile of thumbnails.


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