John Klossner

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Klossner: Why did you do this?


My cartoon process has several compartments. There is the
communication with an editor or writer at FCW who gives me a subject
matter for the issue's cartoon. After that I do my research,
depending on my familiarity, or lack thereof, with the subject — this
involves reading through FCW.com, with stops at The Lectern and FCW
Insider
. Then I'll usually spend anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours
trying to think of a concept for the cartoon.

When I finally arrive at an image or idea, I pencil a rough sketch of the image, after which
I ink and electronically manipulate (adding shades, fixing any
lines) the cartoon. Inking, from the stories I find, seems to be a
fun period for cartoonists and illustrators. How to describe it? It's
as close to physical labor as a drawer gets. It is a time where I can
let go of the mind clutter that accumulates during the
conceptualizing and sketching parts of the process. Most cartoonists
who I talk with spend the inking time listening — to music, to
television, to anything that can serve as aural wallpaper.

My personal favorite is online archives of a growing corral of radio,
television, podcasts and Web shows. (As the technologies continue to
grow, will the terms "radio" and "television" become extinct? Should
we be working on one catchall term for electronic content? I nominate
"digital flotsam.")

Without boring you with a list of my listening preferences, today was
an interesting coincidence. While inking this week's cartoon on
nominations for this year's Fed 100, (see below)  I decided to catch
up on archives from one of my favorite radio programs, The Vinyl
Cafe
. The Vinyl Cafe is a show on the Canadian Broadcast
Corporation, starting to be heard on more and more U.S. public radio
stations. I would call it the Canadian "Prairie Home Companion," and
it's host Stuart MacLean the Canadian Garrison Keiller, but I find
that such comparisons usually don't do either party justice. In this
case it's about as accurate as comparing the United States with Canada — it
gives you an idea that they're near each other, but the comparison
ends there.

As life's little coincidences would have it, one of the archived
broadcasts featured something they called the Arthur Awards. The
listener was told that Arthur was the name of the dog of one of the
characters in a running skit on the show. The awards are given to
celebrate small acts of kindness. This particular episode awarded someone who built a wheelchair
for a paralyzed rabbit, a realtor who sold his building and the
restaurant in it to the lessees for well below market rate, and
someone who befriended a lonely college student and welcomed her into
her home.

Similar to the United States and Canada, I'm not comparing these
accomplishments with those of Fed 100 nominees, but I found a similar
spirit in both awards. Stuart MacLean, the host, calls each of the
"winners" (which seems like too small a word in these cases) and asks
them "why did you do this?" I imagine the Fed 100, like the Vinyl
Cafe Arthur Award winners, do not act out of the possibility of
winning awards but out of something bigger. Although their reasons for
their actions are probably widely varied, why they did what they did
seems like something that we'd hope we could bottle and have on the
shelf in every home in the United States and Canada.

Posted by John Klossner on Oct 20, 2008 at 12:18 PM


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