Cartoon Stories: Lightly Macabre

Posted by ractrose on 17 Mar 2020 in Cartoons

Pencil and pastel drawing of woman and man feeling distressed

Cartoon Stories

Lightly Macabre














Your challenge, in creating scenarios and casting characters to act them out, is how to portray both the person as his/her individual self, and that self reacting to…a circumstance. Above, one in my cartooning style, but done for my poetry series The Folly. Nell Newton, a lower middle class Londoner of the mid-1930s, needed not only a high achievement in marcelling, but a facial expression to combine consternation, repulsion, and a lingering hope. While Lem is gentle, easily cowed, dutiful…but short on imagination. And the two together are afraid they’ve left it too long, looking in on their lodger Krug, who is possibly dead…

Writers of fiction will appreciate that the nuances of emotion often carry the scene. 

But cartoon characters have their fine points, too. Below, some drawing questions, considered.




Cartoon of allegorical plague


Beshrew Thee. This is from January of 2018, so not topical, except in the sense of hell generally breaking loose. This was where I began, because I happened to draw it that way, to give my skull-faces a little eyeball character…which makes them sort of winsome.



Cartoon of chicken-man after operation


That Twilight Zone Conundrum. If you recall the show, you know they tended to reverse expectations. Will Mr. Carmichael be disappointed by the head or the body?



Cartoon of dead leader's head on pike


The Stars Don’t Lie. For this gag, I had to ask myself, what does a head on a pike look like? And I had to tell myself, how would I know? It seemed intuitive, though, that being severed, the head has no muscle tone, so properly it ought to be sagging around the jowls and the eye-bags. 



Cartoon of dead man preserved at public institute


The Constant Presence. I read some news tidbit, maybe an obit, where a man was described as not wanting to be remembered…etc. So I did this literal take, calling for a half-mummified figure dressed as a Mr. Caruthers ought to be, in v-neck sweater and khakis.




Lightly Macabre
Cartoon of smiling uranium atom

See The Cartoon House
Historical Hijinks















(2020, Stephanie Foster)



%d bloggers like this: