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
Cats versus mice
Cavemen – and women
Cave paintings
Chalk outlines at crime scenes
Chickens and eggs
Christians and lions
Clowns in a tiny car
Cloudwatching and identifying
Comedy and tragedy masks
Complaint windows
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
The Fountain of Youth
Funeral-parlour viewings
Firing squads
Galley slaves
The Garden of Eden
Gates of Hell
Genie in the Lamp
Gladiators in front of Ceasar
God looking at Earth
Good cop, bad cop
Greeting Cards
Grim Reaper
Groom carrying his bride over the threshold
Guru on mountain
Guy in stocks
Hansel and Gretel
Hibernating Bears
Humpty Dumpty
Husband behind newspaper at Breakfast
In Out Boxes
Invention of fire
Invention of the wheel
Ice Hole Fishing
Jesus on Cross
Jesus Walking on Water
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
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
Men working
Men’s Club codgers
Mental undressing
Mermaid on rock
Metal detector
Military round table
Mobsters and victim with cement shoes
Modern Art
Mount Rushmore
Moses and the Burning Bush
Moses parting the Red Sea
Moses and the Ten Commandments
Mountain climbers
Murphy beds
Noah’s Ark
Operating Theatre
Ostrich with Head Underground
Owl and Pussycat
Password Security Questions
Patent Office
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
Road Sings
Robin Hood
Rubik’s cube
Sandwich Board Ads
Santa’s Elves
Santa’s Sleigh
Scarlet letter
School of fish with leader
Sherlock Holmes
Sky Diving
Smoking after Sex
Snow White
Song lyrics as captions
St. Bernard Rescue Dog
St. Peter
Star constellations
Stock-market graph
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
Traffic cop pulling over speeding motorist
Trojan Horse
Tunnel of Love
Turtle and Hare
TV Weather Forecasts
Two Guys in a Horse Costume
Volcanoes: Gods are angry
Voting booths
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
Zeus throwing lightning bolts

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

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