Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Lank Leonard...In His Own Words

Here is another installment in my series of comic creators who describe their day to day life and work in the cartooning field. This time up is the talented Lank Leonard... I always loved drawing, and I was determined to make my living in that field.I was encouraged by the late Clare Briggs, a noted cartoonist in his day. Briggs looked over my drawings and told me I had talent but that the drawings were pretty crude. Another famous cartoonist, Carey Orr, suggested a correspondence school course. I enrolled, completed the course, and then studied nights at the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago and the Art Student's League in New York. I really started out as a sports cartoonist, that is primarily what I    still consider myself. My character, Mickey Finn, was the basis of the present strip. He was a wrestler at first. Since I've always liked sports, tried to work sports ideas into the strip...and I still do. However, I think I exhausted the sports situations with Mickey himself, so I tried out new ideas for developing other characters more fully.

Uncle Phil, for example, now dominates the strip. Years ago I really knew such a character...curly hair, sideburns and all. The idea clicked. If a new character does click, then I get to know his character well. I know what kinds of situations that character might get involved in. I work this out, and with the help of God, I come up with an idea for a story. I write my own material for the strip. I write out the background for continuity, then lay out the rough ideas on ordinary typing paper. I pencil in the balloons myself. Then I give it to my assistant, Morris White, who inks in the lettering.the strip comes back to me, and I carefully draw in the characters. Since I draw these very tightly, there isn't much left for my assistant to do but ink them. I always talk over story ideas with Morris, and we make changes as we go along. We do the daily pages first, then the Sunday pages. Unlike some cartoonists today, I also draw in my own backgrounds. I draw in the women, too, but since, as I said, I'm primarily a sports cartoonist, I'm not too good at drawing beautiful women. I sketch them in, and my assistant proceeds to beautify them.

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