Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Messing with masterpieces

For anyone who didn’t read Monday’s post, I’m still not Jef—I’m his wife, Patty. (For further explanation, please read Monday’s post.) For anyone who did read Monday’s post and commented on it, well—that was certainly gratifying. Thanks!

So Chria asked: What it’s like to letter Frazz?

Jef pencils out a week’s worth of daily strips at a time, which means I letter six strips in a single sitting. (Sundays are usually penciled—and lettered—on a different day.) Jef has the advantage (or sometimes, the disadvantage) of being married to a writer/editor. That means I ask questions.

Sometimes my questions are simple and focused on making the lettering fit in the space he’s provided for it: “You said X. Can I shorten it to Y?” (The answer’s almost always yes.)

Sometimes they’re a little more complicated: “How did you come up with the number for the mileage estimate Caulfield’s using? I did the math, and it doesn’t make sense to me.” Or: “You have Mrs. Olsen talking about her hollyhocks being in bloom, but they don’t bloom in the spring here. Can I change them to something else?”

And sometimes, yes, I have to ask him what the strip means. I suspect that one of the things Jef most hates to hear from me when I’m lettering is, “I don’t get it.”

It doesn’t happen often. But it does happen.

When it does, Jef patiently explains the strip to me. His favorite response from me is something along the lines of, “Oh. Duh. I’m a little slow today.” His least favorite?

“I still don’t get it.”

Depending on the proximity of his deadline, his impression of my general intelligence that day and his confidence in his writing, Jef may choose to leave the strip as is. But just as often, he’ll re-work the writing until it works for both of us.

Because the goal, ultimately, is to make it work for you.

Time to get some sleep…

6 comments:

spottheblogger said...

Hey, I get it! :-)

It's wonderful to hear from you Patty. I love hearing how you and Jef work as a team on the dialog. Keep on keepin' on.

Sam Horowitz said...

Thanks for some insight into the workings of a comic strip. Great stuff!

Derek said...

I appreciate your blogs, Patty. It's interesting to me to hear about how you work with Jef. And the "I don't get it" section of Wednesday's blog (Sept 29, 2010) is very topical for me today, October 1.

I'm wondering if I am suffering from a regional problem. Caulfield says, "You can plant as many pine nuts as you want, and you won't grow a pine tree." Really? Here in New Mexico, we harvest pine nuts every year about this time, by placing blankets on the ground around the tree, and then shaking it and whacking it with sticks. The pine nuts fall onto the blanket.

Mostly, we eat them. Sometimes roasted, sometimes not. We cook with them, add them to salads, and eat them as a snack. We also plant them, in the hopes of growing more pine trees. When we remember to plant the raw ones, rather than the roasted, we are seldom disappointed (although the trees grow slowly).

The pine beetle has taken a terrible toll on our trees in the last decade, so we are planting even more pine nuts than ever before. And buying more pine nuts from the grocery store (they all carry them), since local harvesting is harder. In popular speech in this area, it's more common to use the Spanish name for them: piñón (plural, piñones). But the grocery store packaging always says "pine nuts".

I have a vague memory of an elementary school snack made from corn(?) and chemicals, perhaps called "pine nuts". I'm guessing that is the heart of the joke. But maybe not. Around here, planting pine nuts to grow a pine tree is a normal activity.

It's probably like when the hollyhocks bloom. Different answers from different parts of the country.

Lars Larson said...

Patty. I sent the link for this post to my mother, who, as it turns out, sometimes "doesn't get" Jef's work in Frazz.

She was very entertained and felt somewhat vindicated.

She also has no idea why her 47 year old son wishes to run as far as possible for as long as possible on trails and ride his bike as much as possible up interminable hills.

All my efforts to explain have failed. Maybe you can help.

Mate Filipović said...

Hi,
I've discovered Frazz 2 years ago and I love it!
Greetings from Split, Croatia, Europe

Anonymous said...

You two sound like a great team, which makes me enjoy reading Frazz even more. :)