When you pick up a newspaper first thing in the morning, chances are that you will turn to the top corner to see the cartoon of the day. It might be a political satire, a spoof on societal or civic problems or a comment on the times we live in. You'll admit that the visual impact of that single panel is capable of giving you more pleasure and is more thought-provoking than the mile-long columns elsewhere. Alternately, you may first flip pages to check out the comic strips for the relief it offers from the ponderous news and views. That, all
of us young or old -- love cartoons, is an undisputable fact.
Cartoons peep out at us from newspaper and
magazine pages, comic books, as illustrations in books, advertisements
and billboards. But what is a cartoon, really? A few strokes of a pen
or a flourish of brush, a simple line drawing and a cartoonist is ready with a sketch! Seems like child's play, isn't it? That it certainly is not. Cartooning is a highly creative art.
Cartoons are classified as caricatures, comics, gags and illustrations.
They can be single panel (standalone) or strips. A caricaturist has to get into the skin of the person or personality to be able to exaggerate his key features to bring out a stunning likeness to him. As an editorial cartoonist or political satirist, a cartoonist has to have his pulse on current
affairs and understand the nuances of governance or any other subject
for that matter, exactly like a journalist.
Bill Watterson of Calvin and Hobbes' fame and
Hank Ketchum of Dennis, the Menace were creative story-tellers and
writers, apart from being cartoonists. A cartoonist, as you can see, is
something more than a mere sketch artist. Cartoonists admit that the
drawing part is perhaps the easiest part of cartooning; it is the conception of the idea that is agonizing.
Many cherish the art of cartooning as a hobby, but few develop it as a profession. We have instances of people though who have not only pursued cartooning
as a profession, but have made it big on the basis of this talent. The
name that comes to mind, first and foremost, is that of the legendary
Walt Disney. His character, 'Mickey Mouse' became a runaway success and
thence Disney took the art of cartooning to giddying heights creating history.
In India, editorial cartoonist,
R.K.Laxman is an institution. For 50 years, he has been portraying
political shenanigans in the leading newspaper, 'The Times of India',
everyday, through the eyes of the 'Common Man', who is his protagonist.
Mario Miranda is perhaps India's only cartoonist who makes a living out
of his standalone creative works! He has to his credit series of works
on cities like Mumbai and Paris, and his home-state, Goa, which boast
the status of coffee-table books.
Good career prospects
A thin line divides a hobby from a profession. In the field of creative arts like painting, writing poetry, and cartooning
this is particularly the case. A hobby that is passionately nurtured
has the potential to be developed as a profession, but often it is the
practical aspects like its commercial viability that comes in the way
of its professional pursuit. Many established cartoonists, therefore,
prefer to moonlight or work part-time. Ponnappa, a well-known editorial cartoonist, was an architect by profession before he decided to follow professional cartooning.
Fortunately, today, there is a lot of scope for professional cartoonists, as the market for cartooning has widened considerably. Cartoonists can find jobs at newspaper syndicates, magazines, book publishing houses, greeting card design houses, ad agencies and animation studios.
Moreover, cartoonists have the option of freelancing and working
part-time. Only in an ad agency or animation studio team work is vital,
otherwise a cartoonist can easily work out of home all by himself.
How does one become a cartoonist? Well, first and
foremost, a person needs to have it in him. If you are the kind who
loves to doodle and are never at a loss with a pen and paper, then you
have it in you. Many people are given to sketching faces and places on
any available paper such as napkins in hotels while in waiting. They
certainly have the talent; after all cartooning
is a form of creative doodling, according to some cartoonists.
Therefore, if you find your teenager is given to doodling irresistibly,
then maybe you would like to encourage him to pursue this hobby
Some journalism colleges offer courses in cartooning.
Then there are online courses, and definitely lot many workshops where
professional cartoonists teach the art. Ponappa holds workshop for
budding cartoonists in Bangalore. Charles Schulz, the creator of comic
strip, 'Peanuts' (his Charlie Brown and Snoopy are household names today) trained himself through a correspondence course in cartooning! So can you.
Animation is a big thing today, what with the legion of animation
movies being made. In fact, Hollywood is outsourcing animation talent
from India and career prospects for animation artists have never looked better. There are several institutes in India and abroad which provide special training and in-depth courses in animation.
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