The question I get asked most often is, "Where do you get your ideas?"
A variation of the question is, "How do you come up with all that stuff?"
I'm fairly certain the reason both questions are asked so frequently is because lots of people don't understand my cartoons. Or they don't think the cartoons are funny. But that's okay, sometimes I don't think they are funny either.
Other times, I can't stop myself from laughing throughout the entire process of creating an individual cartoon. It just depends on what it is, I guess.
Explaining where ideas come from is difficult because they arrive from a variety of sources. Occasionally, I hear a voice in my head. Usually it's a woman's voice. The problem is, I rarely understand what she's saying, I think she speaks Mandarin, or maybe Bulgarian. That might explain why I don't 'get' those particular cartoons.
Some ideas come from caffeine. I can't explain those either.
Funny ideas can strike instantaneously. For example, you might be lying in a recovery room after a colonoscopy and as you begin to wake up from the effects of sedation, 'BAM!' every single poof of flatulence might make you giggle hysterically. However, I'm not sure that example has anything to do with cartooning.
When I was drawing newspaper cartoons, it was not uncommon to get cartoon ideas from friends and co-workers. Surprisingly, some of those were the most outrageous and generated the greatest amount of negative reader reaction.
A few years ago, I taught a series of cartoon classes for the Shelbyville Parks and Recreation Department. I told students that cartoon ideas would come from their minds if they had plenty of stuff inside for their brains to work with. That's still probably the most honest explanation. Just try to cram your head full of all kinds of information and experiences, then let your mind go to work.
...sometimes, a mysterious, unidentified individual purportedly representing an anonymous group of local people, like maybe, uniformed police officers, will deliver a cryptic verbal message containing an obscure cartoon idea.
And sometimes, if the idea appeals to me, and if the timing is right, I just might use it. The April 12, 2010 cartoon may be the most recent example. Then again, maybe not.
No matter how or where the idea originates, that's only half the fun. The other half is drawing the cartoon. I've prepared a sheet that demonstrates the steps involved in creating a cartoon for this web site, you can view it here. It also shows how much time is involved in the process so you can better understand why I don't publish a new cartoon every day. If you're interested,