Creating Comics: Cartoon Cliches Exposed

Desert Island Mash Up Cartoon by John Freeman
John Freeman confirms the Desert Island gag is, indeed, something that needs to be put out to pasture…


Beano comic creator Nigel Auchterlounie has pointed me in the direction of an edition of New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff‘s “Cartoon Lounge” podcast entitled “Trop de Tropes“, webcast last year, in which he looks at the history of the cliché in cartooning.

Enthusing about some, such as desert island gags (which first appeared in New Yorker in 1931) and Crash Test Dummies (1993), Bob says he likes some cliches – but wants to wave a final au revoir to these now stale stalwarts.

You can listen to his podcast here.

“I’m certainly going to refer back to this whenever I get stuck,” says Nigel.

So, has Bob missed anything?

Abominable Snowmen
Airport security lines
Aliens arriving on Earth
Alien abductions
Anvils falling
Asking directions
Atlas holding up the world
Banana peels
Beached whales
Beds of nails
Bedtime stories
Big fish eating little fish
Birds versus worms
Board rooms
Bowling pins versus bowling balls
Brides and grooms on wedding cakes
Burglars in masks
Cannibals
Cats versus mice
Cavemen – and women
Cave paintings
Centaurs
Chalk outlines at crime scenes
Chickens and eggs
Christians and lions
Cinderella
Clowns in a tiny car
Cloudwatching and identifying
Comedy and tragedy masks
Complaint windows
Cornucopias
Counting sheep
Couples caught cheating in bed
Couples on a house during a flood
Crash-test dummies
Crawling through deserts
Customs agents
Damsels on railroad tracks
Damsels and dragons
Desert islands
Detectives at crime scenes
Dinosaurs and extinction
Dogs fetching Slippers
Door-to-door salesmen
Dungeon prisoners
Easter Bunnies
Easter Island heads
Equations on blackboards
Eskimos
Evolution
The Fountain of Youth
Funeral-parlour viewings
Firing squads
Galley slaves
Gallows
The Garden of Eden
Gates of Hell
Genie in the Lamp
Gladiators in front of Ceasar
God looking at Earth
Goldilocks
Good cop, bad cop
Greeting Cards
Grim Reaper
Groom carrying his bride over the threshold
Guillotine
Guru on mountain
Guy in stocks
Hansel and Gretel
Hibernating Bears
Humpty Dumpty
Husband behind newspaper at Breakfast
Igloos
In Out Boxes
Invention of fire
Invention of the wheel
Ice Hole Fishing
Jesus on Cross
Jesus Walking on Water
Jesters
Judges
Jumper on the ledge
Kid with their School Report Card
Kids sitting on Santa’s lap
King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table
Knife Thrower and Assistant
Lawyer reading will
Lemmings
Life-raft survivors
Light-bulb idea
Lion and Mouse
Little Engine That Could
Little Red Riding Hood
Lover hiding in closet
Man in stocks
Marriage counselors
Maternity Ward
Mazes
Men working
Men’s Club codgers
Mental undressing
Mermaid on rock
Metal detector
Military round table
Mimes
Mobsters and victim with cement shoes
Moby-Dick
Modern Art
Mount Rushmore
Moses and the Burning Bush
Moses parting the Red Sea
Moses and the Ten Commandments
Mother-in-laws
Mountain climbers
Murphy beds
Napoleon
Noah’s Ark
Nudists
Operating Theatre
Ostrich with Head Underground
Owl and Pussycat
Panhandling
Password Security Questions
Patent Office
Pinocchio
Pirate’s Buried Treasure
Pirate’s Flag
Police Lineup
Political Stump Speech
Prisoners Counting the Days with groups of //// and a Crosshatch
Poor Person in Barrel
Psychiatrist’s couch
Rapunzel
Road Sings
Robin Hood
Robots
Rubik’s cube
Sandcastles
Sandwich Board Ads
Santa’s Elves
Santa’s Sleigh
Scarlet letter
School of fish with leader
Sherlock Holmes
Sisyphus
Sky Diving
Smoking after Sex
Snails
Snow White
Song lyrics as captions
St. Bernard Rescue Dog
St. Peter
Star constellations
Statues
Stock-market graph
Stonehenge
Suggestion Box
Superman / Batman / superheroes
Talking trees
Tax Inspectors and Tax Audits
The Last Supper
The-End-Is-Nigh Guy
The Thinker
The Scream
This Side Up box
Three Little Pigs
Thinking Outside the Box
Tombstones
Traffic cop pulling over speeding motorist
Trojan Horse
Tunnel of Love
Turtle and Hare
TV Weather Forecasts
Two Guys in a Horse Costume
Umpires
Unicorns
Volcanoes: Gods are angry
Voting booths
Vultures
Walking the plank
Why did the chicken cross the Road
Wife with Rolling Pin
William Tell
Wishing Well
Witch’s broom
Witch’s cauldron
Woman trying on shoes
Woman trying on hat
You-are-here map
Zen
Zeus throwing lightning bolts
Zorro

Find out more about Bob Mankoff

• Nigel Auchterlounie is a British comics artist and cartoonist currently working on Beano. His brilliant graphic novel, Spleenal, was published by Blank Slate Books in 2009, and a new book is in the works. Check out his blog here and follow him on Twitter @spleenal

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a “freelance comics operative”, currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY.

John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor.

He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY.

Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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