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Thursday, 30 July 2015

WRITERS ON WRITING #68: Jules Feiffer


With only a topic in mind (and sometimes not even that), I would beginwith an opening line –– almost any line would do.  Without a conscious clue as to where I was headed, I began to riff off my opening, automatically putting words in the character's mouth, curious to see where this would take me –– if anywhere.
  And just as in improv a second character might decide to enter and, unexpectedly, I was writing a scene.  If the second character didn't work, it was a monologue.
  The words my characters spoke decided for me, by the third panel, where the cartoon was going, and by the fifth or sixth panel it was headed home.
  I seldom knew in advance where this process was taking me.  Any number of times over the years I'd be humming along nicely –– and then I'd arrive at what should have been the last panel without a thought in my head.  I didn't know how to end the thing.  So I'd stash the idea in a drawer and forget it.  A year or ten or twenty-five went by and, searching for something else, I'd come across the unfinished idea.  Thirty seconds later the ending would announce itself.  I'd draw it and send it in.  Twenty-five years in the making:  a comic strip.

Backing into Forward: A Memoir (2010)



Click HERE to read an April 2009 Bookslut interview with American cartoonist, playwright, novelist, screenwriter and social activist JULES FEIFFER by journalist PAUL MORTON.

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