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Interview

Derek Evernden p2

Derek Evernden talks about how he comes up with gags for Bogart Creek, and different styles of humor…

READERSVOICE.COM: In your book Bogart Creek Volume 1, the Heimlich maneuver robot made me laugh out loud. And so did the clowl: it was so bizarre. And so did the Stormtrooper gag. But there are other styles of gags in the book, too, like what the undersea robot finds on the ocean floor, and the Viking raiders gag. But do all your comics start the same way? How do you start, with a doodle every time, or a topic that interests you?

DE: I try to mix up the subject matter and style of humour (from parody to absurdism). Part of the joy of single panel comics is that you’re not bound to recurring characters or story arcs, so you might as well push it.
I keep scraps of paper around the house so I can always jot down ideas as they come. However if I just need to accumulate jokes on a tight schedule, I sit down and deliberately think of topics – I’ll write out a list and come up with a gag for each one. If that doesn’t work I go full-on stream of consciousness, switching off the brain and seeing what comes out. It works remarkably well, and very often leads to jokes with no words, which always feel like a real coup.
I keep anything that seems promising and put it in a box marked “jokes”. If it’s not fully formed I come back to it after a few months and it’s sort of like a New Yorker caption contest – I’ve had enough distance to allow some fresh perspective.

RV: I know you like Gary Larson, whom you mention as an influence; and in one interview you mentioned many other gag panel cartoonists you’ve admired over the years. And one panel gag comics have a long history. Do you see or foresee a bit of a resurgence in the one panel gag comic?

DE: Larson just launched his new site and promises to share sketches and even new jokes, so that alone gives me hope that the format may have a resurgence. I don’t think the single panel comic has disappeared, it’s just evolved into memes. Political cartoons are alive and kicking, even though newspapers are laying off their artists, which is tragic. I’ve also had the good fortune to have Bogart Creek included in Bob Mankoff’s Cartoon Collections, and was happy to learn that they have works from over 250 cartoonists – I had no idea there were that many working today. So it seems like the format is alive and kicking. Even if it was going the way of wood-cuts and lithographs, I’d still be doing it.

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