Thursday, March 30, 2017

Now, What About Political Cartoons?

     In this early part of 2017, there is tremendous political turmoil. Trump is President, and let’s say that both parties can agree that he has made some serious mistakes. The country is divided, in conflict within itself, and there has been a huge ruckus about the repeal of Obamacare- which was just defeated.

     What’s a cartoonist to do? Nowadays I see streams of political cartoons showcasing all the issues to hand. The cartoon mag I work with the most, the Funny Times, is now chock full of political cartoons.

     But here’s the controversy. My “mentor” as a newbie some years back was a book I read by the wonderful cartoonist Randy Glasenbergen, called “How To Be a Successful Cartoonist”. In this book Randy notes that one should never make a cartoon that is offensive to anyone. I liked that advice and have always followed it. Thus I have always avoided doing political cartoons.

     An additional factor is that my family, friends, and in-laws are all over the map. Some are Christian, Mormon, Buddhist, Republican, Libertarian, Democrat, Independent, conservative, liberal. I cherish them all. How does one manage to not offend anyone?

     Recently my editor at the Funny Times challenged me to make a cartoon about Trump. That opened up a new door. But I developed cartoonist’s block over that one, and weeks went by with no ideas. Perhaps it is because the current political situation, in my opinion, is just not funny. Creepy, yes. Scary, yes. 

     But then I had a flash of inspiration, and here it is in the below cartoon. Just take your Most Hated Politician (admit it, we all have one) and plug them right into this cartoon. And there you have it! Problem solved, and I got to make a political point in there as well (subtle, but there nonetheless).

     As an aside, the Funny Times is a great cartoon mag. It comes out once a month in hard copy. It does not carry ads so is not beholden to any corporations or companies that would crimp their style or limit their humor. And they feature lots of different artists, styles, and types of humor not seen elsewhere. I highly recommend it. 

     Here’s a link to their site:

     I’ll also post a link to Randy Glasenbergen’s book “How To Be a Successful Cartoonist”. It is out of print and somewhat out of date as digital work, the internet and email submissions have now taken over. 

     But his advice on starting out in cartooning is true and timeless. His writing is encouraging, positive, and covers all the important points. The book also has lots of funny cartoons. Randy was one who was able to actually make a living doing cartoons (very rare these days) and he did it by making cartoons prolifically and supplying very creative humor that resonates with just about anyone. One can still get a copy on Amazon:

     If my political cartoon is well-received and gives no backlash, I may do another one soon. Stay tuned! 

     Feel free to visit my website, , for a relaxing time enjoying some unusual cartoons with a messsage. Best enjoyed with a glass of wine or herbal tea, take your pick. 

#PoliticalCartoons,#RandyGlasenbergen,#FunnyTimes,#CartoonsBy Shelli,#UnusualCartoonsWithAMessage,#CartoonsOnline,#BuyCartoonsOnline,#Politics,#TrumpCartoon,#ShelliPruett,#Cartoonists,#TrumpHumor

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Cartoons and a Sense of Identity- Who Are We, These Days?

    This may be a strange topic for a cartoonist’s blog, but, hey, cartoonists - possibly more than others - can cover just about any topic you can think of. As long as we are funny while doing so.

    My latest commentary (or rant?) is about the intricate bonding of a person’s identity to their online persona and connection to today’s technology communication channels.

   There are many statistics and demographic studies these days that point up how much time, energy, and attention is spent by the average person online- browsing, social media, Twitter, Instagram, on and on.

   The question that comes to mind is, if all of this were to suddenly disappear, where would the average person be? WHO would they be?

  I actually had a small-world version of this happen today. Over the last few weeks, my Google Chrome (which I use for my Windows 10) began to stall and crash. Then, suddenly, that alarming alert window appears out of nowhere. “You have a Zeus virus- Microsoft is down! Call this number right away or all of your data will be lost!” Computer now frozen.

   I called Tech Support at Time-Warner (oops, Spectrum these days) and was advised that this is a scam, and not to call the number. I was told to take the computer immediately to Best Buy to the Geek Squad, as it was infected with ransom-ware. That’s where you call the number on the alert, the guy pretends to be Microsoft, and guides you to unwittingly give them access to your computer. Then you have to pay $500 to get control of your computer back!

    Luckily I was aware of this and it all turned out well, as I never called the number. Unlike what the agent predicted, I did not in fact have to re-install Windows and erase all the content of my computer. The guy at Best Buy showed me a simple way to exit off the alert, no big changes needed.

    But during those hours of queasy dread as I hauled off to Best Buy, I had an existential crisis of sorts. I realized that my computer had become my lifeline and there was literally almost no action I could take in life without my computer.

   I work from home, so all my business records, links, docs, are on this computer. All my artwork, art connections, and data are on this computer. All my precious photos are here. I need not go on- I’m sure your computer is the same.

   Suddenly I was forced to face the prospect of losing all that data and starting over, and not having computer access for at least a day. Yeah, yeah, I run a backup every month on my computer. But who knows how to take the backup drive and re-load everything again? Not me, that’s for sure. That would lead to another exhausting bout of anxiety, more calls to Tech Support and more. And more days offline. What crucial posts and communications would I be missing during this time? I'm having a panic attack after being offline for even an hour.

    A friend of mine refers to the online community as a “hive-mind” and he may be right. For me, the prospect of being disconnected even for a short time from "the hive" was, I confess, horrifying.

   But underneath all this is a more philosophical point. Where have our identities gone? Are they really merged with our online persona? Are our physical lives in the real world becoming just a sideline activity? If I were to lose all my files, docs, and art, what would be left of me? Would anyone know I was here? Would I know I was here? 

    After this crisis, one thing I can say is that I have taken all my cartoon art and backed it up on a good, old-fashioned large-volume thumb drive. So if it all goes down, I have the one thing left and right to hand that is really precious to me - my cartoons.

    Cartooning gives one a sense of identity. It may not be something in the physical world like singing, or throwing a clay pot. But each cartoonist has their own unique style and their own voice. So far, every cartoonist I have met told me they started cartooning at a very early age (5 years and up) and never stopped. There’s got to be a reason. For a cartoonist, each cartoon is an expression of themselves and the essence of their being.

     Not to get all lofty, as cartooning is also just plain fun. So that’s all for now. I’m off to start my next cartoons- which are on physical universe paper with ink and water colors. After all this, I need something I can touch.

   Here’s a cartoon I made to put all this fuzzy thought into picture form.

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

How To Enhance Your Readership with Cartoons

   It’s time for me to make a commentary on the decreasing use of cartoons in publications. Cartoons abound on Facebook, and that should tell any editor something- what shows up on Facebook is what people really like to see. And in that venue, cartoons are all over the place.

   But nowadays in newspapers and magazines, there are fewer and fewer cartoons. The major mags like the New Yorker, Saturday Evening Post, Playboy, etc. still have cartoons. But many other publications no longer print them.

   So I’d like to make a case here for the value of cartoons in any publication- a newspaper, a magazine, a blog, a website, or whatever someone wants to communicate.

   There are numerous reasons format-wise that a cartoon or “spot illustration” can increase the readability of a page. In today’s attention-splattered culture, having to face a big page of pure text is daunting, no matter how good the article. The page can be broken up somewhat with photos. But a cartoon can make a point that is part of the article, and with color and humor- something everyone seems to like.

   I’ve found that my cartoons at times are placed with an article around them that pertains to the cartoon. The reader first sees the cartoon, is drawn in, and then reads the article. This is a good use of page composition to make the text attractive visually.

   Besides, I know of very few people who can resist reading a cartoon caption once they see the cartoon image! Can you?  Curiosity draws them in.

   Second, in an ideal world, every last square inch of available space would be used in full with articles, photos, and ads. However in the real world, there is often an unused space here and there, especially in the back ad section.

   Here cartoons can be of good use as well. Rather than a bland ad page that most readers will skim over, placing a cartoon in an unused ad space makes even an advertising section interesting to read.

   Here’s an example of cartoon use to enhance text. I did the below cartoon in 2014, just during the time when there was controversy about new laws in California and Western states banning plastic bags. Several papers picked up this cartoon to flag their articles about the proposed new laws and its pros and cons. From this, an important topic was brought to light on the page with a splash of color and humor and a message. This was far more effective than just a page of text.   

   I hope this article helps you in your design of text and pages. It’s all really common sense.

   My private theory is that with all the cartoons and humor on Facebook, and its irresistible draw, there has got to be a connection. How many times have you gone onto Facebook “just to check notifs” and ended up browsing away, hours later? There- I rest my case.

   You are welcome to browse my page for lots of quirky and unusual cartoons with a message, at my website of Put up your feet and have a glass of wine and enjoy!

 Shelli Pruett
Cartoonist, Blogger, Marketer


Friday, March 25, 2016

   It's been awhile since I posted on my cartoon blog so thought to jot a note.

   The life of a cartoonist can be quite lonely. First, of course, is hours of toiling over the cartoon itself, a solitary pursuit. Then, sure, we can share our cartoons with Friends on Facebook or with our families...but any cartoonist with some ambition sends their cartoons in to newspapers and magazines in hopes they will get published.

   That is where life gets lonely. Normally you mail or email in your cartoons...and hear nothing back. You know, even a rejection slip is much us much better than just.....nothing. You at least know you can now send out those cartoons to some other agency, which is valuable. Many high end  magazines won't print stuff that has been published before, so when you send your cartoons into those, they are out of commission indefinitely.

   And where does that leave the cartoonist? It's no fun to make cartoons that never see the light of day and no one gets to share the laugh. After awhile, what's the point? We got into cartooning to have fun and brighten up our own life and those of others.

   One of the things that kept me going in my early days of cartooning was one editor who seemed to enjoy my witty cover letters and would almost always respond to my emails, answering with humorous replies. It let me know someone was out  there in the cartoon ether. Had she not done that, I probably would have given up long ago.

   Since then I've gotten many cartoons published, but I send most to the publications that actually answer up and are, well...friendly. OK, I don't expect the Holy Grail of cartoon mags like the New Yorker to answer up, as they surely get thousands of cartoons each week. But I noticed that even they now have a very artist-friendly site where you can submit a cartoon electronically, track its progress and see when it has been viewed and accepted or rejected. You get closure!

   If any Editor should happen to read this, please consider taking a moment to reply when someone sends in their work. You may end up getting the best out of that artist and get some treasures to print that you might not have gotten otherwise. Letting a submitting artist or writer know the Submission Guidelines if their work is rejected is also a plus.

   That said, now, onto my next cartoon! I'll insert below my latest, which is pure and dorky fun with no pithy message at all. You can see many more quirky cartoons at my website,

#cartoon, #dogcartoon, #onlinecartoons, #aliencartoon, #spaceshipcartoon, #buycartoonsonline,#quirkycartoon,#quantumleapcartoons,

Monday, August 3, 2015

    It's somewhat sad to make this blog post, as I naively thought it would never happen to me. It's the topic of copyright violation.

     For cartoonists, this is almost a moot point in the current culture. Cartoons abound on Facebook for free, and one can share them easily. But if you want to sell your cartoons, you need to keep control of them but also to publish them online so they can be seen and marketed. What to do?
     Now, probably for those millenials and younguns who have grown with computers, this might be an easy problem to solve. Any 14 year-old who reads this and can advise me, please write. But in the meantime, I am finding that I now have to deal with my cartoons being lifted and used without my permission, even though they clearly have a copyright sign.

     One day, I was googling my name to see what might come up. We all do this, from curiosity or professional scrutiny, whichever logic works best. There I found one of my cartoons published in New Zealand, on a site I had never heard of. Now the dreaded copyright violation had hit home and me personally.

     I had heard horror stories about China lifting art and stories from the internet and publishing them broadly over there without the original artist ever knowing. But it seemed so far away, nothing that would ever happen to me. At least this site author had attributed the cartoon to me by name, which is how I was able to see it.

     I also found some cartoons posted there by a very famous cartoonist, whose style I know well, with the artists signature, website, and copyright sign cropped out.

     But I looked through the site content and liked what I saw. Here was a site of an independent thinker, with interesting quotes and articles, no ads, and plainly no commercial intent. Did any harm come to me from this act? I thought not. I don't charge small, honest indie journals and websites for my work anyway as unlike the big corporate newspapers, they are actually doing something for society.

     But it unnerved me to find my cartoon had strayed out of my firm grasp. I could only wonder what other places my cartoons may have been without my knowledge.

     Now I am putting a watermark on the new cartoons I post on my website and will eventually go back and replace all of them with watermarked cartoons. I feel the watermark detracts from the impact and aesthetic of the cartoon, but now seem to have no choice.

     I emailed the web author and said my piece, in what I felt was a kind and diplomatic way. I  stressed that if they had asked for permission, I would have granted it easily. I hoped to hear back, be acknowledged, and perhaps strike up a new contact and (this time with permission) have more of my work posted there.

    It's been over two months now. I never heard back, and the watermarks are now, sadly, a permanent part of my online repertoire. Live and learn, I suppose.

Shelli Pruett,


Saturday, June 13, 2015

   Here's a tidbit about creating cartoons. I do them the old fashioned way- by hand. I first scribble down an idea, then make a pencil composition sketch. I then follow with a seemingly endless stream of revisions: revise, erase, revise, erase, and so on. This requires a sturdy paper to not disintegrate with all the erasing! When I get the image right, I then ink wash it with India Ink and shading. Then draw in the lines. And from there, the next stage is water color, Photo Shop color if needed and corrections.

    The irony of a good cartoon is that once it is done, it looks like it took only a few minutes to make. It is simple. The eye glides over it and the punchline stands out clearly. But in truth, one cartoon (at least for me) can take many hours to get just right. I'm not complaining, of course. Perhaps other cartoonists have devised shortcuts - I have my suspicions. Then there are those computer programs that generate the whole cartoon for one.

   But there is nothing like the feeling of starting with nothing but a blank sheet of paper, pencil, and idea, and then seeing it unfold and reach fruition on a page. And, hopefully, to later get published and get a good laugh from the readers.

    You can see samples of my cartoons at my website, Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

     Shelli Pruett, Quantum Leap Cartoons,

Monday, September 3, 2012

There's something that is very special about creating and designing a cartoon. You have to put all the elements together just right- so that the image and the caption can be understood in a flash- with the punchline or message fully understood. This all has to happen in a split second. Cartoons that you have to mull over to figure out are generally not a success. Every part of the image has to be just right, and without distracting from the key message. It's like making a puzzle from scratch. Really gets you in the zone once you get started.

I have a Facebook Page now, it is  , or just type in "Quantum Leap Cartoons" in the search field on Facebook. You can see all my cartoons and lots of comments from various and sundry friends- and you are welcome to join the soiree.