Apparently there's a "controversial" college editorial cartoonist on DC's Real World.

January 8th, 2010

A friend who reads feminist blogs cued me in on one Andrew Woods. andrew.jpg

Since most readers of josheiserike.com probably have no idea who the fuck this is (I didn’t either), let me bring you up to speed.Woods is a cast member of the current “Real World,” which was filmed last year in my native Washington, D.C.  Normally I wouldn’t give a shit about him or the show, but apparently he’s a cartoonist who ran into some trouble at his student newspaper, The Rocky Mountain Collegian, for drawing, according to my friends at the Washington City Paper, “sexist” cartoons.

Needless to say I like the guy already. I watched a video of him and he kind of came off like a douchey Jack McBrayer (you know, the dude from Sarah Marshall and 30 Rock).

Check out some of his cartoons. Again, the City Paper has a good collection. Granted, they’re hard to read (dude, learn how to letter… or barring that, grab a shitty free font from somewhere online). But some of them were kind of fun. And, I’ll be honest… my first thought was “is he a better and funnier cartoonist than I was at his age?” (I’ll let you be the judge).

So here’s the question. Is he creepy or funny? I have no intention of ever watching this show, but I’m interested in the dude’s work (hell, one Real World cartoonist alum went on to write some awesome Superman and X-Men spin-off comics).

My opinion? The joke is on him and he knows it. He’s portraying himself as a creepy guy in the comics and that’s precisely the point, the joke. It’s a one-note gag. Andrew does something creepy or offensive to women (writes the guy who draws “Assholes”). The City Paper– which I love and used to freelance write for– seems to go after him and everyone else on the show simply because they’re on the show. Andrew’s an easy target. He’s a sexually awkward cartoonist drawing sex gags. And he wears funny hats, so he must be a furry.

But my favorite is when the argument devolves into “what’s funny and what isn’t” below in the comments section of Amanda Hess’s blog. To some people these jokes are very funny and to others they’re downright offensive. Which is fine, because that’s the nature of humor. The good news is if you find something offensive you don’t have to read it. But guess what– there’s always going to be a market for offensive humor and there will always be a market for family friendly shit.

So let’s talk about Andrew’s actual work.

He’s not a bad artist, especially for a college paper. Certainly I’m not one to talk, but he has a way to go developing his style and finding his voice. I hope he sticks with it. Andrew, if you’re googling yourself one day and find this page, here’s some friendly advice:

1) Lettering. This is a skill unto itself, one that I gave up on after discovering and experimenting with digital text combined with illustrations. Your handwriting is only one step above mine, so I’d say Photoshop or illustrator is a wise investment. But whatever you do, DO NOT USE COMIC SANS!!! It’s the shittiest, laziest font ever. There are some good lettering books out there too, or Internet tutorials. I’d say check them out.

2) Cross hatching and inking. You’ve got a pretty good balance of lights and darks which, in your better moments, remind me of Washington Post political cartoonist Tom Toles. But you kind of get carried away at some points, as if there is little intention behind your negative space. Like in this cartoon you did for the Washington Times–its taking me way too long to figure out what the fuck is going on here and what kind of point you’re trying to make because you’re letting the illustration overcome your message. And if I can’t figure out what you’re trying to say the cartoon fails. In an editorial cartoon you need to be simple and clear. There are really effective cartoonists who use a lot of hatching and sketchy lines in their work (Pulitzer Prize winner Matt Davies comes to mind)… but pay attention to how these guys (and yes, they are mostly guys) leave the negative space alone and don’t feel a need to hatch every centimeter of their space. They’re clear and to the point.

3) That’s a good rule too. Be clear and to the point. Some of your college strips do this, so nice work there.

4) Tell the jokes you want to tell. And fuck everyone else. This is true with all art. Go with your passion– people have tremendous bullshit detectors. Something tells me that you’re not the kind of guy who would make a Family Circus cartoon, so don’t waste your time on something that would be a transparent cash grab (unless there is cash to grab… then I say do it!) But there are so few working newspaper cartoonists today any unique voice is a good one. The good news here is with the Internet you can do this. The bad news is that it’s a lot of fun to have a racy cartoon in a paper. But you know this already.

5) Tell a story. Granted, I haven’t read more than what’s (poorly) replicated online of your work, but it seems to me that you’re recycling a gag over and over again. Tell a story. Who are these characters (including your cartoon stand-in) and what makes them tick? My guess is people will be more forgiving, you’ll seem smarter and you’ll be more successful if you are more than a one-trick pony. Maybe telling a story isn’t a solution (Gary Larson did just fine), but reading your cartoons I’m seeing all sorts of funny possibilities if the thread were continued for a few days.

6) Milk this Real World thing as far as you can. Hey, Judd Winnick published a book about his HIV-positive roommate Pedro and it was awesome. Why not you?

That’s all I got for now. Good luck, sir. I won’t watch your show but I’ll read your fucking comics.


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