Sunday, July 15, 2007

Small touches

I realize that about 80 percent of my readership is probably already tuned into this strip, but this morning's "Watch Your Head" struck me as exemplifying something important about cartooning.

Robin, the young woman receiving the present, is the crush-interest of the strip's protagonist, but dates Steve, who is portrayed as an insincere egotist, although, in the spirit of this often subtle strip, most of his negatives are being seen through the eyes of the guy who wishes Robin was in love with him.

But that is not the small touch of which I speak.

I was struck this morning by the differences in how Cory Thomas draws Robin and Steve in the first panel, when they are all lovey-dovey, and the way he draws each of them in the subsequent panels when they are just hanging out with their roomies. Of course, it's not unusual for a cartoonist to depict a character as smiling, laughing, looking more animated on a date or in the middle of a ball game, and then more relaxed at home, but Cory does it with a subtlety that maybe could be called "cartoon realism."

It's made all the more striking in that the gag is not particularly fall-on-the-floor hilarious, though it does, in the context of the ongoing strip, add another element of Steve's manipulative nature. Or is he just being a guy? There's your subtlety all over again.

There's also a very interesting flow in the placement of the word balloons that significantly improves the strip's timing.

This is quickly becoming, not just one of my favorite strips, but one of my most admired. Cory does stuff that other people aren't doing, and I wonder if anybody out there notices, or if subtle grace is wasted in this medium?


Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

I hated to hear that the Charlotte (NC) Observer dropped WYH - seemed crazy, with UNCC and J. C. Smith right there, tho i wonder how often college students -in residence at the school- read the local paper. I rarely did. But Charlotte's my home town and i still thought it was just the kind of readership for WYH.

Intelligent work needs time to build momentum. If market forces kill too much work that requires readers to think, more dross and less good stuff will be offered - and talk about a waste! I'm very glad WYH is hanging in there!

Dann said...

Ok, I'm hooked for a while. Curiously, recommends this strip for those that like the following:

9 Chickweed Lane

Which I do, but thought those three strips were pretty dissimilar.