What's the ultimate advice an amateur cartoonist can get?

Just about every cartoonist has sometime in his or her life dished out advice they feel will be helpful to anyone else entering their field. Charles Schulz once stressed the importance of a good formula. Formulas are the backbone of all good comics, he said.

Well, he couldn't have been more WRONG!! That's right, it's possible for the creator of Peanuts to be wrong on something. If you haven't noticed, cartoonists who stick to the same string of gags for a long time in a strip eventually have two options. They can keep going for 30 more years and bore everyone, or they can abruptly quit and make everyone cry. Avoid formulas, people. No matter how often they work.
And this is the thing. I read the advice a lot of cartoonists give and it's not always universally true. Cartoonists are a diverse lot, and different methods work for different people. And they all seem to think theirs is the only way. Some tell you to go to art classes and study anatomy and perfect the human figure and draw realistically more often. Some tell you to forget that and draw as imperfect and 2-D as you want to because they'll buy it anyway. Some tell you to draw fast because people will demand fast results; others tell you to take your time. Of course, these advice things always come to a point: what the cartoonist feels is the ULTIMATE THING TO REMEMBER.
Some have said that the MOST IMPORTANT THING is to get a sketch pad and fill it with drawings and keep doing that forever. I tried it once...I didn't care for it much. It's just not my thing. I can't JUST draw. I have to always be going somewhere with it. My boxes are filled with stories, not just pictures.
Some say the MOST IMPORTANT THING is to have fun at all times! If it feels good(to draw it), do it! "You're in this to make YOU happy, and if you draw things that make YOU happy, OTHERS will like it as well!" they say. Well, up to a point that's true, but this philosophy can be deadly if taken too far. Did you know it IS possible for you to be wrong on something? If you put something in a cartoon that you think is funny, but your editor doesn't think it's funny, and your readers don't think it's funny, and no one thinks it's funny, and people are writing you letters saying the thing you're doing is dragging the cartoons down and to stop doing it immediately....FOR CRYING OUT LOUD LISTEN TO THEM AND STOP DOING IT. The Star Wars prequels may be making George Lucas happy, but do they please anyone else other than George Lucas? Know this well...you are not always right, no matter how good it makes you feel to think that.

So, what do I think is the most important thing? I think it's something that's often overlooked, and tragically so. The most important thing, the thing that should always be on a cartoonist's mind, is his/her relationship with their audience.
This is what's always forefront in my mind. Drawing cartoon stories is fun, but it just doesn't feel complete to me unless someone else sees it, and likes it. There are few joys greater to me than hearing I really made someone's day. I love entertaining others with this stuff. And I'm always trying to make it better based on their feedback and what they tell me. People need to sit down to whatever you draw for a living, and know--just know--that they're going to have a good time. I don't care if I particularly liked a certain story. What really matters to me is if YOU liked it.

Try to entertain your audience as much as possible. Try to surprise them, try to make them laugh, try to make them cry. Never underestimate their intelligence and never do something to deliberately tick them off. Remember, these are real people out there. When they're having a good time in unison with you, it's the greatest feeling in the world.

Dude! Return to the FAQs!