...I received plenty of advance notice for this project, and the topic seemed pretty clear to me, so I was able to do quite a lot of sketching and thinking-- a few days' worth of doodling during the idle moment. I was imagining fun and light-hearted examples of cheating to use as a humorous representation of the column's topic. Horseshoes in boxing gloves, rockets or springs on shoes, big wads of tobacco thickened saliva on fast-balls, etc. Ha ha!
...I was searching for a complete idea and a style that felt right, a few samples are these two collections of sketches here:
...The top left hoopster was my first effort and I "painted" it with a technique I've been using often. I enjoy working that way but I felt it might be more fun to use a "pen and ink" cartoon drawing. My further efforts fell into that style and I stayed with that look for the final.
...Out of necessity, I do many of my illustrations without having seen the story-- it's not unusual for story and illustration to cross the finish line at the same time-- therefore it's possible for the artist or the writer to stray a little bit in tone or content, which can leave you with two elements that might not be entirely in sync.
... Lately, I've been working with writers I'm very familiar with and those assignments are easy because of our history-- I know them, they know me-- it's more comfortable. And, if I really mess up, I can count on our good relationships to discourage them from yelling at me.
...Well, my spider-senses were tingling this time because I hadn't worked in tandem with MT2 before and, though I read most of his work and stay pretty current with his blog, I didn't have an intuitive feel for how he would handle the topic. After a quick email he let me know that his story was mostly done, and I was able to read the unedited version. Good thing. Madcap comedy and mayhem was definitely not in tune with the column.
...After checking the editor for vibes about what they were anticipating, I took a more literal approach by caricaturing people mentioned in the column; I abandoned the concept of a zany representational illustration. It isn't the presentation I daydreamed about at the beginning but I like the more restrained tone and, as a package, it's much better because of it.
...Of course this meant I had to essentially start over and go like crazy to get it done but, like I said, much better.