Sunday Snippet: Gary Larson from The Far Side

“You know those little snow globes that you shake up? I always thought my brain was sort of like that. You know, where you just give it a shake and watch what comes out and shake it again. It’s like that.”

Before I got into blogging and product reviews, my first real writing-related ambition was to be a cartoonist. I’d go to the local public library and read just about anything from the Calvin and Hobbes series by Bill Watterson and Garfield series by Jim Davis. One of my other favorites was The Far Side by Gary Larson.

Most of his comic strips were single frame affairs and he had a very distinct art style, whether he was depicting anthropomorphic bovine characters, dinosaurs dealing with every day problems, or “gifted” children who can’t figure out how to open a door. While I never did pursue cartooning as a career, I highly respected the people who did. Not only would they have to come up with fantastic writing and great jokes on a regular basis; they also had to draw them. I always wondered how they could come up with these ideas on a daily basis.

In the quote above, we are offered just a little insight into Gary Larson’s creative process. It’s not really possible to seek out inspiration, but if you rattle your brain and observe what falls, you might be able to grab a few tender snowflakes. It is only when you shake things up and embrace the chaos that you can unearth some great ideas that have since been buried under a lot of not-so-good ideas.

“People try to look for deep meanings in my work. I want to say, ‘They’re just cartoons, folks. You laugh or you don’t.’ Gee, I sound shallow. But I don’t react to current events or other stimuli. I don’t read or watch TV to get ideas. My work is basically sitting down at the drawing table and getting silly.”

And that’s really what is at the heart of it all. We can go out into the work in search of our muse, but true inspiration must start from within. It’s in there. You just might have to give your brain a few shakes to find it.