Concession Stand Man

>> Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Found while cleaning up my office files: The Adventures of Concession Stand Man, a comic I drew and published in the University of Tennessee Daily Beacon when I was an undergraduate. Concession Stand Man began as a doodle over a couple of summers working the concession stand at the dollar movie theater in Knoxville, Tennessee, and evolved into an ongoing character I would draw panels for among friends. Later, when I worked in the production department at the Beacon, I worked up five official strips and ran them one summer session week when I was sure very few people would actually read them.

Here's the first strip, where I try to pack in as much info and jokes (such as they are) as I can. WAY too much copy in that last panel, but I was learning. (You can click on the strips to see them larger.)

In strip two, I get in some topical humor--jokey titles riffing on current movies--and some concession stand in-jokes. I like the establishing shot of the theater and the lab coat on the mad scientist, but again, WAY too much copy in that last panel.

Aha! Look at the evolution between day two and day three! I'm using a much bolder line for my panels, cutting down on the copy (somewhat) and doing something more creative with the panel construction. Diagonal lines! Woohoo! I'm also not connecting all the panel corners, a look I still like. The silhouetted Concession Stand Man was an attempt to be artsy combined with a cover-up--my drawing of him was poor, so I decided to fix it by doing a negative image of him. I'm also giving the narration boxes shadows. I like too the "OOF!" voice bubble.

But the real stretch for me here artistically (such as it is) is the image of Concession Stand Man doused with butter in the last frame. My figures until that point had all been of roughly the same size and pose, with minor variations in arm and leg movements. That last panel was my first real attempt at a more realistic (such as it is) representation of his figure.

In strip number two I get even more open with the panels, leaving plenty of room for the Mad Scientist's villain solioquy. There's much I like about this strip--in particular, the hanging Concession Stand Man and the hint of a stone wall in the first "panel," which I'm insanely proud of. Because the strip was only running for five days, I knew I had to wrap things up quickly, and I turned it into a joke about the action happening "off stage." Even the Mad Scientist asks, "How come I never saw it happen?" Can't touch this, of course, was a more timely joke.

The final strip of the week, and, as it turned out, the series, as I never did more official Concession Stand Man strips. Finally a REASONABLE amount of text--although probably still too much. And another topical joke, a riff off the Hannibal-Lector-behind-the-glass scene from "Silence of the Lambs." I even tried to reproduce the warden's bad toupee. (Such as it is.) I remember another of the cartoonists, a guy who also worked with me in the production department at the paper, being supportive of my primitive efforts and complimenting me on the suggestion of bars in the prison scene in the last panel. At least I was trying to be minimalistic. Or perhaps it's just that I knew I couldn't really draw anything and so I just had to hint at it.

After the strip ran, I went back and redesigned the first panel, trying to simplify it. This one never ran, but I still have it in the files. I use the diagonal panel again, and cut out half the text. It's still a bit busy and cramped in that middle section, but it's better. I like the darker lines too.

And I had begun redrawing the second panel too. Still too much copy, but better. But this is as far as my cartooning career went.

It was cool to find these and remember all the fun I had with it, particularly as I just read "Adventures in Cartooning," a really excellent book about drawing cartoons put out by The Center for Cartoon Studies. It's making me think about turning some doodles into real cartoons again.

You know, in all my free time.


Fabricationist July 8, 2009 at 1:05 AM  

Well, lest you forget, I gave you a week or two, can't remember which, to draw full time in Gallery 1010 in the Candy Factory when I ran it. Did you ever document that. I remember we covered the walls with white paper and you came in every day and drew live. Performance art, maybe.

Alan July 8, 2009 at 12:00 PM  

Oh, I remember that very well. I had a great time doing that! I hung on to those panels for a long time, but they are now lost to time. Don't know what I'd really do with them anyway. I think one or two people poked in to see what I was doing, so I guess it was performance art, of a kind. Very bad performance art.

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