Visible Guy

Another rumination on being naked. Belated discovery: a thong looks a lot like a valentine.

The challenge in doing this strip: the invisible guy lacks a visible face. He can’t show emotion in the usual way. The reader can’t see what the character is feeling or thinking. The eyes are the window to the punchline, as well as the personality.

How do you bond with a sight gag?

You can laugh at it, but can you laugh with it?

There are ways around it. The visible character could be the true central figure of the strip. Readers would bond/relate to him, not the titular character. Or I could make sure the invisible guy always has a handy prop to show his feelings. When his face is wrapped in bandages, they could twist and warp into rough expressions. His hat could tip meaningfully, his glasses could bend to suggest raised eyebrows.  I could even re-title the strip, make it Visible Guy*, telling the reader to pay more attention to the character he/she can see. I’d work to make the invisible guy a readable and relate-able figure, but in the meantime the reader could hang a hat on the visible character.

*bonus for Visible Guy as the title: the invisible guy isn’t all that invisible, because of his sundry machinations to fit in, appear normal. He wants to be noticed. That’s his dream: to be seen. He likes some of the advantages that come with being invisible, but he also wants to be seen for who he is. It’s a view I understand. I want my work to be noticed, not me. I’m not social; the internet is. One of the things I loved about cartooning was its anonymity. I could be seen and unseen.  There and not-there. 

Invisible Guy

Invisible Guy

Not enough comic strips use theramin as a punchline.

The sound is often imitated — by a human voice, a computer, a bow drawn across the blade of a hand saw — but the theramin isn’t used, or even necessary. I’ll occasionally read the back story of a movie, tv show or pop song and discover that the wailing glissando was an uncanny imitation.* It’s as if the sound, once created, is free to roam the Earth like a shared mp3.

The slippery, operatic, chilling cry is the theramin’s ghost; a noisy spirit with a life long after the host is dead. Which is probably why it suited the score for Dark Shadows so well.**

*The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations,” for example.

**though, offhand, I don’t know if the sound was the ghost of a theramin, or the living instrument.