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Derek Evernden p3

Some tips on creating one-panel gags...

READERSVOICE.COM: How many one panel comics a week do you try to complete, and what percentage are keepers?

DEREK EVERNDEN: I aim for around 5-10 a week and one out of three are usually good enough to post. I try them out on a group of friends before I decide what to keep because you just can’t know how something is going to go over. It’s like writing a mystery novel – the author already knows the ending, so they can’t know if it’s going to surprise anyone.

RV: What are the main things to remember when writing and drawing one panel gags?

DE: Don’t include information that you don’t need – you risk slowing down the ‘read’ and, even worse, distracting from the gag. Style-wise, if you make the drawing too tight, people may look AT it more than lose themselves in it; loose, slightly flawed art is more humorous in and of itself, like an unattractive comedian vs. a handsome one, or a great live performance in a small club instead of some massive, auto-tuned, lip-synced monstrosity at a stadium.

RV: What did you mean in one interview when you said the comics had to have a three beat rhythm to work?

DE: Single panel comics don’t have to have three beats, but I find that most successful jokes work with that rhythm. You have a limited space and time in which to get a point across and you’re essentially telling a little story. Most stories have three acts, and most jokes have three parts (“a priest, a rabbi and a nun walk into a bar”). Three just seems to be the magic number for humans. I don’t go back over my jokes to make sure they have three beats unless they aren’t working. If something’s not right, I’ll check to see if it has too many beats/points of interest, and try and trim the fat.

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