Coming up with ideas

People always ask how I come up with the cartoon ideas. They just pop into my head. I don’t usually dwell on things, although sometimes I do, I might have a great drawing, but I hate the text, so I’ll let it sit – sometimes for months, and then the gag hits me and I change the text/wording in the cartoon.

Today’s cartoon – the Columbo – “watch one” came to me while watching (watching, see what I did there?) North Woods Law. I wasn’t even watching, I just overheard one of the officers say, “It happened on my watch, I’ll handle it.” And the rest is history. I used Columbo because he’s my favorite detective and he was popular in a past cartoon, where he used Siri for help solving a crime. And I read recently that he’s become even more popular with people during the pandemic.

This one from last year – the “Ice Hole” one, I explained once before, it came to me while watching Life Below Zero. I wasn’t really paying attention either, I think I was dozing off, and I heard Chip Hailstone, one of the people on the show, say to his kids, who were going ice fishing, “Hey, there’s an ice hole!” And it made me look up and laugh and just totally struck me as being hilarious. And voilà – there was a comic idea.

I played around with it a bit. At first there was a bear hibernating behind a bush and he heard the guys say “ice hole,” and he looked up with one eye open. It was titled, “Trouble Brewing,” but I couldn’t get the image setting right, so I made it another ice fisher.

Most times I’ll read something or see something or overhear something and just twist it in my mind for a bit. So many times I hear something and rush to write it down so I don’t forget.

After the cartoon is done, I end up changing it in some way – up until the last minute – sometimes it’s something simple like a color change, other times it’s the wording or maybe the expression on a character’s face. Never a dull moment.

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The Addams Family, in color

Today’s cartoon over at TomFalco.com is of the Addams Family. I drew this a few years ago, but I keep seeing them in the new Progressive Insurance commercials, so I thought I would dust it off and bring it out. There’s a new Addams Family movie coming out October 1. The cartoon originally had Lurch saying, “You Tweeted?” but I thought texted sounded more personal for the Addams household.

Anyway, notice the walls in the living room? Pink. Why? Because that’s what color they were!

I’ve been seeing this photo below, around the internet for years – it’s by Richard Fish, a well-known photographer at the time. It’s not colorized, this is the original color photo.

I never did find out why the walls were pink and green, but maybe that showed up better on black and white tv at the time and perhaps they thought the tv show would eventually be done in color.

Swipe back and forth and see the difference between color and black and white.

COMPARE – COLOR TO BLACK AND WHITE

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No shift, Sherlock

I didn’t think people would get today’s cartoon, but I’ve been living by Jason Chatfield‘s credo – “Don’t curate your art to what gets likes. Curate it to what you like.” So I did and people do get it. At last count, there over 2000 shares on Facebook!

Originally I did this cartoon years ago and it was Watson handing Sherlock a dress, which is called a “shift,” which I remember from my grandmother for some reason, she must have used that word. And he says, “No shift Sherlock,” handing the shift back to Sherlock, and the explanation is, “Watson does not like this week’s disguise.”

But I didn’t think people would understand that “shift” is a dress. According to a blog called Who, What Wear, “A shift dress refers to a short dress that hangs straight down from the shoulders with clean, simple lines.” But who knew except my grandma and me.

Just what the doctor ordered

I was holding off on posting this Doctor Who cartoon until there was a male Doctor Who again because I didn’t want to redraw it with the female Doctor Who. I felt it suited a male Doctor Who better for the gag. This is a cartoon I created in 2014.

When I first published it, it was shared a lot online. George Takei shared it on his Facebook page and at the time it got thousands of likes and shares; that was April 1, 2014. He called it “Just what the doctor ordered.” Here is the post and the comments from that day.

Anyway, I am publishing it today because I notice the other day that another cartoonist posted something similar and I didn’t want to publish it in the future and make it seem as if I took his idea. And therein lies the rub of cartooning. There are so many similarities and so many minds think alike that there always looks as if someone is copying someone else.

In the past could swear that people were stealing my work. How could they not I thought. But in reality, I guess there are only so many ideas. Many people feel, “It’s all been done” regarding so many things in life. I see it happen so often with cartoons and comics. I’ll create something and then see it has been done or someone does something and I think they took it from me.

For years, one of my cartoons, “When the milk goes bad,” has been compared to a Far Side cartoon. I think there may be two of them. One is “The chicken went bad” and he’s holding a gun from inside the fridge, you don’t see him, but his hand/wing is sticking out holding a gun.

I had never seen the cartoon when I created this one. Mine was created in the mid 1990s and I had not seen the Far Side chicken one until a year or two ago! But it always gets compared. It bothered me for a long time because I like mine and I use it on my business card, I feel it sets the tone for my humor and people can “get me” by just looking at this one cartoon.

But after years of hearing “it’s been done” or seeing “my work” in others’ work, I’m over it all and I grew a thicker skin.

I don’t know if it’s true or not, but in 1899, Charles H. Deull, the commissioner of the U.S. Patent Office said, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” In other words, we don’t need to patent anything else. It’s all been invented. In 1899. Can you imagine if all inventions had stopped then?

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New design

A friend suggested I design a character or something that could be sold on items or as posters, etc. I came up with this design. I’ll do more.

This is the first design, but I’ll get into it more when I get a chance and do themes. For instance, say NYC, I’ll do a piece with all NYC images or Paris with Paris images and so on. This one is a mishmash of different happy images and I like it.

I have it on some items at my Etsy shop – t-shirts, mugs, hoodies and even a shower curtain. You can see them here.

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Work from anywhere; just answer the phone

This cartoon from the other day reminds me of an old neighbor I had. She and her husband used to spend time between Miami and New Hampshire and I asked her how she did it. Didn’t her clients (they were lawyers) care that they were not always present or in the same city?

She said, “It really doesn’t matter where you are. They just care that you pick up the phone.” And I always remembered that. I don’t always pick up the phone – I prefer email or text. But I did like the thought that if you get the job done, who cares where you’re getting it done from.

She ended up moving away, but was still in Miami. She ended up on the city’s historical board and was probably the only one who cared about preserving history and was anti-development. I always agreed with her regarding that stuff. In Miami, there is no reverence for history – it’s all about new – new chrome and glass.

Regarding the fact that you could be anywhere and conduct business, it reminds me of when I first started an online business, back in the stone age when things were new online. Customers would call me on the phone to give me their orders. They didn’t feel safe putting their credit card numbers online. But the thing is, I would take the numbers and put them online myself, that is how you put the credit cards through the system – online. And when I would take the number from them, there were times I was at a restaurant or in the park and I was literally taking their info down on a napkin. So much for keeping their credit cards secure. It would have been secure if they had just put their numbers into the system online to begin with.


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Getting the gag

The above cartoon seemed to be quite popular. Over 800 people shared it on Facebook as of Sunday.

I wasn’t sure people would get it. But apparently they did. I love when that happens. I’ve been publishing work I like in hopes that the readers will like it, and get it, too. When that happens, it’s a big bonus.



This comic about the “hood/hoodie” wasn’t as popular, yet, many people did get it.

It’s featured on the Comics I Don’t Understand blog, and some people have something to say about it. Whether they like it or not, I think they all get it.

I wasn’t sure how that would go over either. But I thought it was funny. And I do think that “hood” is used as a shortcut for “neighborhood” by many people now. It’s just a change in the English language. How many of us write “u” for “you” when texting?

I have a red hoodie that I love. I left it in NY one time – in the Hamptons, at my cousins house, and it was there for maybe three years. I missed it. I was embarrassed to ask for it more than once, because it’s a $20 hoodie, but I love it so much. It’s a perfect color red and it feels so soft and comfortable. I’ve bought others, in red and other colors, but none are the same.

I use it in Miami when it’s chilly and in the fall when I travel up north I wear it in the plane, I put it over my head and close myself off from the rest of the travelers, which by the looks of things these days, just might be a good thing to do when traveling by air.

Anyway, one of my cousins finally brought the red hoodie back to the city and gave it to me one Thanksgiving.

Went I went up to NY this summer, I had it out on the bed, as I was packing and I forgot to bring it, I left it on the bed. But it was so hot the time I was up north there that I didn’t need it once. I’ll bring it back again in October, when I go up for ComicCon.

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The lilies

Last week I started placing lilies in my cartoons. You may have noticed.

They are in honor of something personal and I don’t know how long they will be there, but if you scroll through above you can see the last five cartoons that have had the lily or lilies. Can you spot them all?

It’s not a game, but if you want to make it one, check these out and all the upcoming cartoons which may, or may not have lilies.

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Drawing styles

Today’s comic looks a bit different than my usual work. Why? Because it’s old! It’s one of my old ones.

Recently I’ve been redrawing old art, but I liked the look of this one, so I didn’t change it and a reader noticed. He commented, “This comic doesn’t have your touch. Like, you have a separate way of art and this toon doesn’t have your common art sense. But it’s funny.”

I really appreciated that comment. I like that he notices my usual style and the fact that I ever have one and I like that he mentioned it.

It’s always interesting to see how people’s drawing style changes over the years. This was my Far Side period, I did a lot of weird stuff. I have published some of them lately, but since they were redrawn, they fit in with the rest of the cartoons.

I like my line work better these days, it’s evolved, and I don’t use as much background if any, these days. In the past, I filled in the whole panel with background. But now I find it cleaner to use less background. I may put one image to set the scene – sort of like a black box theater where there isn’t much scenery on stage, just maybe table and chair.

For instance, in the snake scene above, I would have used the sign of course, but maybe just have the stage door with the star on it, where the voice is coming from. I doubt I would have used the dressing table or even the pipe up at the ceiling. And I don’t think I would have used a lot of color, I think mostly white would be the background.

Cartoonist Jason Chatfield said, “Don’t curate your art to what gets likes. Curate it to what you like.” And I’ve tried to live by that. Not so much the drawing, but the whole comic and gag. Sometimes I feel that the audience won’t get the gag or think something is funny, but I go with my gut feeling, and it seems to work out.

The lemonade comic had many comments – people were dissecting it on one website and on another, there were about 150 comments where people described similar incidents at their places of work or shopping! So you never know what is going to work, so it’s true, go with your gut and see where it falls. I wasn’t sure about that one, but I liked it so I published it.

I wasn’t sure about yesterday’s cartoon – this office one. It didn’t have a gag and I felt that people would be looking for the gag, but people got it. It was just a slice of life – a period of time where people are returning to the office and the happiness (I guess on most parts) of people seeing their co-workers and friends in person again. People liked this cartoon. So another gut reaction on my part that was right.

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Borrowing

Yes, today’s cartoon does take part of a previous cartoon. You can see the two here. The top is today’s and here below is a cartoon I ran about a year ago.

There is also another change. Before I ran the black and white one a year ago, the people did not have masks on, and then I added the masks, and that was was published! You can see the original here.


I know there are many ways to have done this – the “wholesale” could have said, “organic” or “free range” or something else, but I try to be “organic” myself when coming up with ideas and I got the idea from one of my own businesses.

I noticed that one of my businesses is popular when searched using the word “wholesale” on google. What I mean is when you type in the product and put “wholesale” as part of the search, I come up high in the searches. But the thing is, all of us who sell the same products sell wholesale. So by just putting the word there, it brings eyes and customers. So that’s what made me think of using that word rather than “organic” or “sale” or whatever .

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