The Morning Line: Cartoonists -- No Vacation for You!
Vacations, like sabbaticals, have long been a heated topic in cartooning circles. Readers and client newspapers must be served daily, of course, so creators make individual choices about how -- or even whether -- to take an extended vacation. For most, there are only a few options:
1. Draw Double-Time. Some cartoonists work sufficiently ahead, motivated either by an endless supply of fresh ideas or the fear of losing a single client should they resort to reprints.
The upside: A feature's readers get an uninterrupted flow of new material. The vacation is imperceptible.
The downside: The caffeine drip it can require to pull several all-nighters at the drafting board.
2. Recruit a Guest Artist. This week, "Bizarro" by Dan Piraro is being guest-cartooned by "Sally Forth" artist and King syndicate-mate Francesco Marciuliano (so reports Editor&Publisher, citing Comics Curmudgeon). The guest artist -- at least as an announced matter -- has increased as a go-to option, especially among Colleagues of Mutual Respect.
The upside: You leave your baby in trusted hands -- and perhaps increase the exposure of a fellow cartoonist.
The potential downsides: Your eager surrogate shines so brilliantly in your space that your return is viewed as a creative comedown. More likely: The "experiment" rankles a few readers or editors upset that the Real Cartoonist is away.
3. Open the Vault o' Reprints. The option to go into reruns seems increasingly common -- and in turn, readers and editors grow in their acceptance of this practice.
The upside: As with TV reruns, your readers enjoy a period of nostalgia.
The downside: As with TV reruns, your readers decide to quickly flip the channel and develop a new viewing habit.
4. Take a few extra weeks off and call it a "hiatus." If your strip is not a "Doonesbury"-esque fixture, this option can induce sweaty palms (which isn't usually conducive to quality cartooning -- severe pen slippage is not pretty.)
One upside: This option gives editors a chance to test other strips -- in a tight business in which every opening is highly competitive.
The downside: When's the last time you tried returning to work after a blissfully relaxing 12-week vacay?
And then there's always another option in a wired world: Whether you're heading to Botswana or Boca, pack up your art materials and make it a working vacation. Why, you haven't lived until you and your sweetie missed the seafood brunch buffet because you needed till noon to nail a gag.
So what do you think -- are you a fan of reprints or guest artists, or do cartoonists owe readers unceasingly new material?
LATER TODAY: A cartoon twist on presidential politics.
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