I am generally five to nine months ahead of deadline, which is unusual for cartoonists, who are generally no more than than two or three weeks ahead. Most cartoonists would love to have this problem, but the truth is, it does create some difficulties. Today’s strip is one such example.
Four or five months ago, I drew some comic strips where Rat was testifying before Congress. These are the strips that are running today and tomorrow.
A few weeks after I drew the strips, I saw in the paper that Darrin Bell (“Candorville”) did the exact same joke, with comic strip characters testifying before Congress.
This illustrates some of the pitfalls of being so many months ahead of deadline. For one thing, I can’t be as topical as everyone else. By the time my strip appears, the news story I am commenting on is many months old. And for another thing, if I do have an idea concerning something in the news, it will be 6 to 9 months before anyone sees my strip, raising the chances that someone else’s cartoon on the topic will run before mine.
Sometimes, I will try to get around this by substituting out strips for ones I’ve just drawn. But even this is difficult, as the subbed-in strips still won’t run for 4 weeks or so. Also, you run the risk of an error, where some newspapers don’t get the substitute and end up running your original strip that day. Then you have some papers in the country running one Pearls strip, and other papers running a different Pearls strip.
In this particular case with Candorville, I contacted Darrin and let him know of the similarity. He had a great idea, which was to reference my strip within his strip on these two days. That way, anyone seeing mine today and thinking I took the idea from Darrin will see that we know each other and view the whole thing as more of a collaboration. Anyways, Darrin did a great job on it, and it provides a second angle on what Rat is doing in Washington D.C. when not testifying. You can see the strip here.
As an aside, Darrin’s strip also raises an interesting idea about something I’ve long wanted to do. And that is to have five or six cartoonists all agree upon one event that they will cover in the same week of strips. Take, for example, a bar fight. All of the creators’ respective characters will be in the same bar, scattered throughout the bar, and will see the fight from their own individual perspectives. In short, it will be like five or six separate cameras all covering the same event, but with different cameramen who all want to emphasize different things. Each artist’s strips will have to be able to make sense on their own (because you don’t know which of your readers will see the other artists’ strips), as well as make sense in the larger context of this one common bar fight. I think it would be an interesting experiment.
Hope nobody beats me to it.