Cartoon Humor: Dropping Bombs

Genesis of a Comic Strip Idea
Dogs are a lifestyle choice. You arrange your personal living space to accommodate them. We have a large fenced yard, dog run through the garage, beds, and comfy places in every room so they can hang out with us wherever we happen to be. Extra messes occur. You deal with them. Even when they involve bringing perfectly happy still-living wildlife indoors.

What can I say? Our dogs have big hearts and want to share their lifestyle with the less fortunate animals in the back yard. Our greyhound once gently carried a baby rabbit in his mouth up to his bed. I think he wanted a pet of his own. It explains why he didn’t make it in the racing world.

We somehow ended up with three canine companions. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Our big mistake was not realizing that the “mess factor” didn’t grow in a linear fashion, it multiplied itself several times over. It isn’t too bad inside the house, but the potty yard needs extra cleaning. Lots and lots of extra cleaning.

We’ve made arrangements to make the chore as easy as possible. Scoop poop into shovel, toss poop over fence into forest. We built the fence pretty far back from the property line for just this purpose. Otherwise we could only do it at night when the neighbor couldn’t see, and odds are good we’d end up with a bigger, stinkier mess than when we started.

The dogs, by the way, are fascinated with the process. They want to play fetch *so* bad.

People ask me, “Where do you get your ideas?” and I reply, “I’m easily bored and my inner eight-year-old forces me to make the drudgery more fun.” Thus, when scooping dog droppings recently, I thought about the task from the other side of the fence. For example, what do the rabbits think when they are being bombarded by stinky predator bombs?

Just like that, a comic strip idea was born.

Original Script
I write my original scripts in Scrivener, which will one day get a review here. The short version: When three can legally marry next year, Scrivener will be joining our marriage. Shhh! Codex doesn’t know; won’t she be surprised!

I’m including the script as best I can in WordPress, which hates all things written, drawn, or pasted. This is the “rough draft”, I haven’t gone through the extra passes it usually takes me to get the wording/humor/storyline development just right. That’s because this script was (cough) rejected.

Frame 1:
Drawing: Q, with shovel, on grass, lumpy things all over
Dialog: “More dogs mean more cleanup. Scoop poop; chuck poop.”

Frame 2:
Drawing: Q, shovel in air, lumps flying through air over fence
Dialog: “Over the fence it goes. I wonder what the rabbits in the forest think?”

Frame 3:
Drawing: Scalzi, holding coffee cup, looking up
Dialog: “Huh. Strange stinky lumps falling from the sky?”

Frame 4:
Drawing: Scalzi, mad, clay-like swirly lump on head, ‘splash’ coming from cup
Dialog: “Wait a minute! What is this sh-”

The script was rejected because Codex does not channel her inner eight-year-old; she channels her inner-Mom instead. Yeah, Moms ruin everything. I should really be running this on Mother’s Day, but making Scalzi the back-end of my jokes a second time this week is his punishment for sabotaging yesterday’s comic.

Apparently scatological humor will trigger some of our more refined readers. Sigh. Codex is probably right. Still, just because an idea gets categorized as “inappropriate” doesn’t mean it stays “inappropriate”. I’ve worked around this “good taste” restriction before. Those of you who have been reading for a while can probably even guess which comics those are.

I asked for a rough visual layout of what she could give me based on the central idea: throwing meadow muffins at Scalzi.

Bunny-boy-Scalzi is surprised by flung poo whilst mowing the lawnNo context. Not very funny. No pithy social commentary. Can’t use it. A good idea born from the bowels of my imagination, yet still flushed away to a Thursday column. Tuesday and Thursday content is mine and mine alone, and if they stink then I have to suffer the complaints. Codex can walk away smelling like Clive Christian ‘No. 1’.

So now you’ve gotten a glimpse at some of our process and what things look like “in the raw” before you get the final product on your screens. More importantly, you can be first in a new social media trend: #WhatCanWeThrowAtScalzi. Be sure and tweet something before all the funny ones are taken!

11 thoughts on “Cartoon Humor: Dropping Bombs

  1. For once, a punless comment.

    In my opinion, there’s no such thing as “bad” language, there is simply language. What there is are ‘registers’, that is to say there are words that are appropriate within certain social settings but not in others. Ex: a fart joke is OK while standing around the BBQ, but not if it’s the pastor’s BBQ.

    And as for this “family friendly” stuff. Now, I hold to the normal definition of children (short, high squeaky voices, the amazing ability to go from adorable to minions-of-Satan within milliseconds, you know, the usual). That having been said (typed, for all you pedants out there) this isn’t some easily accessible comic strip. The memes, tropes, inside jokes, etc., isn’t something that a kid would get, and perhaps y’all are worrying over nothing. TiaT isn’t something that a child would be interested in.

    I’m not advocating for f-bombs or anything like that, I’m suggesting that you keep your readership in mind, and that the line defined by “family friendly” isn’t the line that should be honored. As for triggerable (shut up, spell check. That’s totally a word) readers, you may wish to point out that there’s some really nice traffic outside that they can play in. Tone policemen and nannies are part of what defines our ‘friends’ across the divide, are they not? We shouldn’t tolerate them amongst ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In fairness to Quizzer, I really do believe that profanity weakens the mind and cheapens the soul.

      The wider American culture is an open sewer, true, but I don’t want to add to it. I want to be part of the human wave / superversive movement.

      That said, the “family friendly” thing really is meant as a joke.


  2. Our pre-teen daughter reads us. She doesn’t understand everything but she understands a lot, in fact far more than I would expect. We hope to inoculate her from ridiculous double-standards and magical thinking that authoritarians engage in. Some of her friends are mature enough to do the same. We are trying to make our strips enjoyable and meaningful on different levels for different people. The potato cannibals story line is a good example. It works without knowing anything about immigration, but if you know the broader context of immigration you’ll recognize the strips as the political commentary they are.

    Our “family friendly” line is for us, not for anyone else. When we use that expression it is almost always intended to make fun of ourselves, or to use as a shield for why we are *not* going to cover something. Our readers are free to comment as they wish, for the most part. Our swear word filter is very sparse. We are hopeful that the regulars will honor our unenforced wishes, but it isn’t like we are going to spam someone who types a swear word. Heck, we’re international! Define the swear words we should ban, right?

    That “family friendly” line is there mostly because we are convicted in our faith to be “in the world, not of it.” It also helps us to stand out. There are many cultural libertarian humorists on the web, but not very many are doing it without all the crassness and crudity. I’m not criticizing their approach. Some of them are very funny. It isn’t the approach we can take, however. It just isn’t us. We could try doing it that way and I guarantee you it wouldn’t be as funny.

    The big question for us, going forward, is this: Are we getting better as cartoonists? Can we write and draw strips that work on multiple levels, and still make a point for the person who knows a little bit about what is happening in society, but hasn’t figured out why or how serious things are? Can the “awake” person link us on their Facebook page to make a serious point in a humorous way to their “moderate” or “know nothing” friends? Ultimately, that is our goal. Looking back, we have gotten better at hitting it. We still have a long ways to go.


  3. Fair enough.

    As the Supreme Dark Lord hath written, there’s a distinction between Christian and ‘christianist’, and you’re on the right side of that divide. I shall speak no more of Family Friendly.

    Your approach and philosophy goes a long way towards explaining why Bunny Boy doesn’t have 6,492 offspring following him around. And why we need not fear the Spawn of Terri.



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