Artist's Statement

At first glance, Talkin' may seem like just a quickie, too-easy, lame-ass attempt to do a comic because I'm too lazy to do a real one with original art. But it's more than that.

Talkin' takes it's name from the term "talking heads". No, I'm not talking about the David Byrne musical group. It's a term used to describe a certain type of comic strip convention: multiple panels of the same characters in much the same pose with the only real differences being changes to the mouths and the word balloons. In the worst cases, it really is exactly the same images in every panel with only the word balloons changing.

It's a simple formula and it's used a lot even by many of the best comics. But is it enough?

In particular, we're seeing it more and more in online comics because online comics are almost always created at least partially in a paint program and it makes it so easy to do a talking heads comic strip. We're getting good writing from a lot of those strips but the artwork is so undifferentiated that it almost seems as if we might as well just be reading a text file and leave the visual artwork out.

So I gave some thought to this simple little formula. It's easy to do. It's common and accepted even in syndicated comics (maybe even especially in syndicated comics). Doesn't the audience care whether they get any new visual art in each new comic? Is the predictable repetition somehow comforting? Just how much repetition will they take before they catch on?

Just how far can this formula be stretched? Is there a limit?

And so Talkin' was born. In part, it is an experiment to explore the limits of this simple formula. It is also a satire of comics which use this formula.

It sure is.

I wanted the comic to be as repetitious as possible. Every strip is the same length. They even have the same three panels. I didn't even draw two characters - I drew one character and then mirror-flipped it. And the dialogue for the one on the right never never never changed (which actually made the comics harder to write).

What have I learned from creating Talkin'?

Well, first I learned that most people wouldn't know satire if it bit them on the ass.

Second, I learned that I can get a lot of unique comics out of this formula without having to draw any new artwork, more than I even thought was possible at first.

Ultimately, I learned, much to my dismay, that, while a purely talking heads comic is not entertaining enough to be #1, it is good enough to stay in the top 20.

  • Dov Sherman, 2001

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson November 11, 1987
Calvin and Hobbes 1987/11/11

Read some more thoughts on the "talking heads" phenomenom from the mind of David Craig Simpson of Ozy and Millie.

"Talkin'", "the one on the left", and "the one on the right" are © and ™ 2001 by Dov Sherman. All rights reserved. All characters appearing in this comic strip are fictional and any resemblance to person or persons living or dead is purely coincidental. May contain small pieces; not safe for children under 3 years of age. Some restrictions may apply. Check your local listings.

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