To most of us the phrase "cartoon" brings to mind the image of a single square illustration of a humorous nature. This can also be said of the "comic strip", where several panels are placed side by side. While both are similar in nature, structurally, they are quite different.
Most often the "single panel" is used for one-line jokes (the "punch line" being delivered below the panel depicting the "set up") as well as political humor where the caption and/or set up is usually contained within the panel.
On the other hand, the comic strip is a story told in several "scenes" or panels. Usually, the strip deals with reoccurring characters and running story lines that are told with dialogue balloons contained with-in the panels.
It is hard to say which is most important; the writing or the artwork. There are times when a weak story or joke is lifted up out of mediocrity by bizarre or ridiculously funny artwork. Sometimes just the opposite can be the case.
We are going to deal mostly with the artwork, but we will attempt to touch on writing. I have found the best tool for writing dialogue and depicting situations is to always carry something with me that will allow me to remember ideas. In my case, and I know it would work well for others, is to carry a small tape recorder.
Talk to friends, go to the mall and watch people. You will be amazed! I've even gone so far as to talk to people at the store or at the doctors office, explaining to them what I do and was even further amazed at how quick people would tell me of situations their kids have put then through. Some you won't be able to have printed in a family newspaper, but then, that is why God invented Playboy.
Most of the time our own families are a mother-lode of material. Trust me, of this, I know what I speak!!
Have Fun!! That's what its all about!!
Tomorrow; Art equipment, the tools of the trade