Q. How often do you use other people's ideas?
A. On occasion.
Lots of readers send me their ideas "free of charge!" They tend to be hopelessly complex with lots of symbolism and frequently involve eagles and flags and something labeled "the scourge of liberalism" or "this generation's sense of entitlement."
On the other hand, about once every year or two a beauty slips under the door, like last Sunday's editorial cartoon which a reader submitted needing only a couple of wingnuts and a slight adjustment of the transmission.
Sometimes a reader suggests an orchestra of an idea and I use only the tuba. Then I put the tuba into a marching band and surround it with a stadium. Then I focus on the drum major and before you know it the cartoon is about clowns in a Volkswagon. Who knows how this works?
Eudora Welty said, "Nothing in life is wasted." In one sense, I seldom use other people's ideas. In another sense, I use them all the time.
Q. What do you use for lettering? Could you send me your font?
A. I just letter like I was writing a note -- I don't pencil anything out or draw rules. I do sometimes move the lines a bit on the computer to center them above each other, but mostly I just leave them alone.
For Zits, I letter with a Micron 05. I'm kind of eccentric with it, though. I always face the "05" on the barrel upward so that the tip flattens in a consistent direction over time. This gives a subtle thick-and-thin look to the otherwise ordinary line. Hey, it's a microscopic thing but this is the stuff that turns me on.
On editorial cartoons I typically "draw" each letter with a Micron 03 if it is in a balloon.
Rarely, I use a Speedball D-5 to write a thicker caption below an editorial cartoon.
Now and then, like on the Cheney Family Tree cartoon, I letter the big headline with a brush and fill in details with an 03.
Q. Shouldn't you be working?