1996 vs. 2014: How drawing cartoons has changed and stayed the same

10653584_10154684178860721_7769900995930628832_nOn December 17, 1996, my first cartoon ran in The Clarion-Ledger. It was drawn the previous day. But while the cartoons look pretty much the same, so many other things have changed:

1996: I asked for a computer on my desk in 1996. I think my editor laughed a little and wondered why I needed a computer.

2014: I have four computers on my desk. My laptop, a desktop, my phone and an iPad.

1996: My cartoon was sized and shot on a giant camera and pasted up on a layout page, then shot again by the giant camera, made into a negative and then a plate that was put on a press. The cartoon would be nearly 12 hours old by the time you saw it and had been copied several times.

2014: Today, I scan in the cartoon, color it and e-mail it to a hub where it is put on a page. A plate spits out here by the press (the big camera is long gone). And I post it immediately to the website or social media. You can see it instantly and it’s the second generation when you do.

1996: I took nearly 10 hours to come up and draw a cartoon.

2014: I have six hours to do the same thing. Plus I write, do social media, do a radio show, speak around the country, write and illustrate books, etc. My time is used a little more efficiently.

1996: I got fan mail or hate mail from the post office.

2014: You can text, tweet, e-mail, Facebook, Instagram, etc. your likes or dislikes instantly. Or you can post anonymously a million different ways.

1996: My cartoons appeared in the print edition in black and white.

2014: They still do, but like I said before you can see them so many other ways now in color.

1996: It took me 30 minutes to e-mail my cartoon to the syndicate using AOL and a 9600 baud modem.

2014: I can send them instantly thanks to high-speed internet. No AOL, though.

1996: I sat in a cubicle by a window in the editorial department on the second floor.

2014: The editorial department is gone and I currently sit downstairs in a nice little office (I will soon go back upstairs).

1996: Duane McAllister was publisher.

2014: Jason Taylor is publisher.

1996: I was drawing Governor Fordice, Mayor Kane Ditto and Sen. Thad Cochran.

2014: Thad’s still around unless Chris McDaniel gets his revenge.

So much has changed over the past 18 years. But what has stayed same is my process. I still draw my originals by hand using Micron Pens and Calligraphy pens on 11×14 Bristol board. I still come up with my ideas the same way. I could draw them using a Wacom Tablet and Photoshop, but I am a luddite who enjoys pen to paper.

And another thing hasn’t changed: I still am amazed and charmed by a state that I’ve come to truly love. I don’t think that will ever change.

About Marshall Ramsey