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Bob Erskine

Bob Erskine

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and after college I worked on archaeological digs in the Middle East. Between field seasons, I did illustrations for scholarly publications. These days I'm a painter and illustrator in Silver Spring, Md. ALL POSTS

Real Time

See Bob Erskine's response to the second challenge and read what the judges had to say.

Amy Lago: "Nice color work, but the gag seems to be lacking something. For the character sheet, I'm wondering why the images aren't shown as snapshots."

Michael Cavna: "I've drawn a few elephant/weight jokes for publication myself over the years (as have many gag cartoonists), so such a joke has to feel utterly fresh. Like the elephant herself, this gag feels straight-ahead and a little underweight for me -- I'd like to see either a strong twist or perhaps a visual embellishment. Something else to think about: Gag cartoonists might have the toughest job on Sundays -- a single joke, out there in one panel covering a wide expanse, with no multipanels for 'cover.' I'd recommend what some gag cartoonists do: Run two or three cartoons in that Sunday space -- gives you a coupla more rounds to hit the target."


By Bob Erskine  |  July 2, 2010; 11:10 AM ET  | Category:  Amy Lago , Michael Cavna
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Previous: Hoxwinder Hall | Next: Forever Endeavor


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I like Real Time & Forever Endeavor the most of the last 5 cartoonists because they remind me of The Far Side & don't take up as much room ( I'm afraid the longer ones will eliminate the current print newspaper comics [ like The Wash. Post has been doing for at least 5 years now without the longtime subscribers consent; even tho I didn't understand Zippy the Pinhead, it was removed without doing a readers' poll; in The Baltimore Sun during the 1980's & 1990's an annual January ballot only removed those comics that hardly anyone read or liked to make way for new ones & not a decree from The Comics Dictator--like The Wash. Post! ] ).

Posted by: gailschumacher | July 13, 2010 2:30 PM
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Definitely a biased opinion here - Good luck, Bob - we're pulling for you! I've loved your drawings!

Posted by: JudyFurukawa | July 10, 2010 9:46 AM
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Stone4, you're right about the book being edited, not written by the authors I cited. My apologies.

Nonetheless, an elephant cow who gains only 300 lbs has a high likelihood of giving birth to an underdeveloped calf and/or fails to produce enough milk to feed it.

Y'all are welcome to find humor in this. To me it's tired and reflects trite human vanities on an intelligent noble animal. I"m sure it'll get lots of votes, but not mine.

Posted by: MsJS | July 9, 2010 1:33 PM
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I love this cartoon. The single frame, the simplicity, is rare. And working in that medium requires a delicate touch.

And no offense, but who cares about elephant biology...? The joke is in the human relations part. We've all heard conversations about weight gain with pregnancy... its mundane, but there is a shade of vanity ("only" 300 pounds), and I imagine the other elephant is like, "ok, whatever." And then there is the point that "who the heck cares if you gain weight in pregnancy... there's a baby in there for c sake!"

So for me, its the thing about taking people-to-people interactions that we all recognize, and putting them in an exotic and completely different context that is why this is strong. It's more effective that way b/c you actually focus on the interaction... the picture surrounding it, once you've got the interaction and the joke, makes you laugh.

Sly humor that makes you think, and that you "get" in a milisecond is rare. a la classic Far Side. I love this cartoon and hope more of these make it into the Post! Go Erskine!

Posted by: MtPDH | July 8, 2010 10:28 PM
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Regarding MSJS's "picky" comment:

1. Biology, Medicine, and Surgery of Elephants" is a book, not an article.

2. It's edited by by Murray Fowler and Susan Mikota, it's not by them.

3. Its only mention of weight gain during pregnancy is on p. 350: "Total weight gain during pregnancy should be LESS THAN 250 kg (550 lb) in a mature cow" (emphasis added).

4. It's a good cartoon, but it's hardly "high brow humor."

You only said 4 things and all 4 were wrong. Maybe the career as a stickler isn't right for you.

Since elephant birth weights vary greatly, and since younger cows would gain less than mature ones, 300 lb. would be just about perfect to use in a cartoon about a female elephant bragging about how little weight she gained.

Posted by: stone4 | July 8, 2010 8:43 PM
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I'd like to see more of Bob's work -- love random humor. But for me, this one is not quite there. The gag is too direct. Give the caption more subtlety, let the reader figure it out (quickly, of course). Middle of conversation captions, for example, allow the reader to be surprised. "It's baby weight, thank you very much."

Posted by: JMarie4 | July 7, 2010 6:53 PM
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Posted by: whiteside595 | July 7, 2010 11:06 AM
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I'm the one who got picky about Mr. Erskine's use of a whole note in a 3/4 time bar, so you just know I'm going to look up the facts behind elephant pregnancy.

According to the St. Louis Zoo, an elephant calf weighs anywhere between 250 lb and 350 lb at birth. And in less than 3 minutes of internet searching I found an article, "Biology, medicine, and surgery of elephants" by Fowler and & Mikota, that suggests typical elephant weight gain during pregnancy is more like 500 lb in a mature cow.

The high-brow humor Mr. Erskine gravitates to works much better when the underlying premise or facts are correct.

Posted by: MsJS | July 7, 2010 10:34 AM
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