Portrait of the Cartoonist as Philosopher – Grant Snider

Yes, it’s true, we have a little something extra today…an article about Grant Snider, as opposed to our most recent presentation of his brilliant work, just a little earlier this morning. So glad we found this one:

by Jeffrey Kindley

GRANT SNIDER’S first book, The Shape of Ideas: An Illustrated Exploration of Creativity, a compilation of cartoons from his website Incidental Comics, has just been published by Abrams ComicArts. “What do ideas look like? Where do they come from?” asks the jacket copy. Surprisingly, Snider’s beautifully composed cartoons have cogent answers to those questions — or if they don’t, he’s at least an urgent asker. He’s created something unique: a synthesis of comics, philosophy, and poetry: a thoughtful new way of packaging eternal ideas in cartoon boxes.

Snider grew up in Derby, Kansas, outside of Wichita, reading newspaper comics like Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side and drawing with his twin brother Gavin. “Our parents gave us an easel,” Gavin remembers. “Grant would have one side and I’d have the other. We’d tear a big roll of paper and stick it on there and get markers and create these imaginary worlds.” They drew pirates, asteroids, aliens, and Bigfoot, and used the drawings to tell stories to each other.

“I kept drawing past when most people stop,” Snider says, “but I didn’t start seriously cartooning until late in college at the University of Kansas.” Then, while he was in dental school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, he won the Charles M. Schulz Award for college cartoonists, which came with a $10,000 prize and a trip to the National Press Club in Washington, DC. That caught the attention of the Kansas City Star, which started running his strip Delayed Karma.

In 2009, Snider launched Incidental Comics, which gave him the freedom to draw whatever he wanted. “When I first started putting it on the internet,” he says, “nobody was reading it, so it didn’t really matter.” Soon, however, thousands of people were reading it and finding new favorites every week. He began drawing smart, fanciful, hilarious literary cartoons forThe New York Times Book Review as well.

I spoke to Grant Snider a few days after the publication of The Shape of Ideas.

JEFFREY KINDLEY: You’ve described your work as “self-help for myself,” but another word for it might be “philosophical.” In creating “An Illustrated Exploration of Creativity,” you’re providing endless images for the mind’s activity — even one called “The Internal Decathlon.” I can’t think of anyone who’s done this before: ideational cartooning.

GRANT SNIDER: I love that term, “ideational cartooning.” It reflects the goal of much of my work: capturing my mental state in graphic form. I’m also trying (and sometimes failing) to find a closer connection between comics and poetry. Both contain condensed language, strong imagery, and ideally leave the reader with a new insight. Lately I’ve been obsessed with Billy Collins’s poems; I’ve tried to emulate his approach of following a line of thought wherever it takes him. He also has a lot of poetry about the writing process, which appeals to me as a writer, but also in the unusual connections he draws between writing and life.

That said, I try not to think of these things as I’m drawing each individual comic. I’ve found that having grand ambitions for my work (planning multiple comics on one theme or plotting the creative arc of my future projects) takes away from the discovery and exploration that should be present in each new piece. Maybe this is the reason I tend to work in small, short bursts of inspiration: I prefer to craft a single page that stands alone, rather than a comic essay or graphic novel. As a reader, I prefer the haiku to the long poem. My mind is impatient.

Many of the cartoonists you admire — Matt Groening, B. Kliban, Roz Chast, Tom Gauld, Chris Ware, Dan Clowes — have a somewhat jaundiced take on things, whereas your perspective is uniquely open and celebratory. Do you feel like an outsider in the world of cartooning?

No, I very much relate to the stereotypical cartoonist persona: grumbling, introverted, slightly misanthropic. It’s my default mode of seeing the world. Maybe it’s due to the lonely hours spent at the drawing table? The celebration that comes through in my drawings is me trying to transcend my normal way of looking at things.

And much of the celebration and joy in my comics follows panels of building frustration. Usually it’s frustration with the creative process. There’s one called “Hitting a Wall” where every introductory panel is some creative wall, and in the following panel I find a way over that wall, including charging at it on horseback and vaulting over it with a spear. In those moments of frustration, I’m always looking for the way out.

I want my comics to be motivational but honest. It’s a fine line; inspirational stuff can easily become sentimental. Sometimes I find the right balance, other times I don’t. Cynicism is easier than sincerity, but for me sincerity is more powerful.

It may come as a surprise to some that you’re an orthodontist in Wichita with a wife and three kids. People tend to imagine artists devoting themselves to their work 24/7. You have a brilliant cartoon, “Day Jobs of the Poets,” which features, among others, William Carlos Williams, pediatrician; Wallace Stevens, insurance executive; Robert Frost, failed agrarian; and T. S. Eliot, bank clerk. Why is it, do you think, that we expect artists to be above the workaday?

A lot of that stems from a misunderstanding about how art is made….

Read it all at L.A. Review of Books

Distractions aren’t the Enemy. WE are!

Know all those distractions that seem to band together to clobber us when we sit down to write? Ever wonder what kind of monstrous villain would create such bullies to keep us from realizing our potential? Try this on for size: Our foe is us.

by Patrick Allan

Welcome back to Mid-Week Meditations, Lifehacker’s weekly dip into the pool of stoic wisdom, and how you can use its waters to reflect on and improve your life.

This week’s selection comes from Marcus Aurelius’ and his Meditations. He has some thoughts on the things which distract us from our goals in our day to day lives:

The external things whose pursuit or avoidance troubles you do not force themselves on you, but in a way you yourself go out to them. However that may be, keep your judgement of them calm and they too will stay still – then you will not be seen either to pursue or to avoid. – Meditations, 11.11

What It Means

One of the main ideas Aurelius focuses on in his stoic writings is the notion that the mind is immune to all external things. For example, you can’t control a situation’s circumstances, but since they do not affect your mind, you can control how you react to them. The same goes for all of the “external things” you pursue or try to avoid when you’re trying to get work done.

You do not pursue distractions because they command you to do so; you pursue them because your mind chooses to. You do not avoid distractions because of their nature; you avoid them because you believe you can’t control yourself around them. Basically, something is a distraction because you allow it to be, because you judge it so. All distractions require your input for them to exist—otherwise they are just a thing that exists in the world.

But if you adjust your input, if you choose to see those external things as just that, as things, they lose their draw. When you’re not pursuing or avoiding something, it’s simply there. Out of judgement, out of mind.

This concept can be hard to grasp at first, so perhaps a real-world example is the best way to explain its practicality. Say, you have a video game that’s eating up all of your free time. You know you have side projects to work on, errands to run, and relationships to maintain, but this game is keeping your from getting anything of value done…

Read it all at Lifehacker

Larry Brody: TVWriter University Fall 2017 Update

by Larry Brody

It rained last night, the slow, easy, beautiful rain that’s a big part of what makes the Pacific Northwest so wonderful. This is the first real sign of Fall here at TVWriter™ Central and a sign that it’s time to plunge right into action with new classes.

So here’s what’s happening:


The 33rd Master Class, AKA The Class for Pro Level Writers Who Firmly Believe They Don’t Need No Steenkin’ Classes begins next week, AKA Thursday, Sept. 28th.

The Master Class is held entirely online. It’s the one where we start off by reading the completed first draft of your current passion (or paid) project and then take it through 4 weeks of revisions to give you all the help we can to make this your career best.

The absolute max number of students for the Master Class is 3, and 2 places are still open. If you think you qualify and will have a finished first draft of your latest literary child for us to work with by Sept. 28th, let me know, ASAP, via email HERE.

For more info about the Master Class the place to visit is HERE


Our 167th Online Workshop will start Wednesday, Sept. 27th.

Most students in this, our most popular offering, return time after time, but as of this writing 2 places remain in this class of 5.

The Online Workshop is the one tailored specifically for each member. If you’re new to TV or film writing we bring you through the basics via weekly assignments until you’re ready to run with a full teleplay or screenplay of your own. If you know your way around the format, then the class is all about uploading 10 pages a week for your classmates and me read and discuss and give you insight into what can make the delicious goodness of your work even tastier.

More info about the Advanced Workshop is HERE

It’s always a joy for me to work with fresh, eager new writers. I’m more than happy to answer any Online Workshop questions HERE


Cope With Stress by Convincing Yourself It’s a Good Thing

We here at TVWriter™ have been talking about how the title of th is article might better be, “The Art of Lying to Yourself in the Most Positive Way,” but the point is that sometimes we all need to know how to, um, approach the truth in a looser, more helpful way than usual if we want to survive.

Especially we writers. Because, let’s face it, stress is anathema to productivity, and our productivity is pretty much all we’ve got. So:

by Emily Price

Stress is one of those things we all have to deal with. But what if you could use stress to your advantage?

Brad Stulberg, coauthor of the book Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success (that’s a mouthful) recently spoke to Business Insider about how we can all use stressful situations to our advantage.

His recommendation?

Instead of looking at stress as something negative, where you need to tell your body to calm down because you’re too stressed, look at it as a positive “I’m excited. This is my body getting ready to give its best. These are my perceptions being heightened.”

Stulberg argues that at its core, stress is just a stimulus. A stimulus could be a workout, or it could be a performance review with your boss.

Read it all at Lifehacker

Starting a Writing Career? Here are Some Things You Need to Know

Here’s a fascinating article by a new writer that we here at TVWriter™ think should be on the must-read list for every aspirant in just about any field we can think of:

Dreaming Vs. Living the Dream: 3 Things I have learned from the past 3 years
by Dilpreet

It’s been about three years and two months since I last wrote on my blog… Wow! A big well done to me for neglecting the FootprintsInButter blog, I do apologise blog… But in these last three years I have learned a lot of valuable lessons from life, people, digging deep, my persistence and my results.

So I thought, since I’ve missed 3 years of filling you in on my writing and puppetry, that I would share 3 valuable lessons I’ve learnt from the last three years:

  1. Unbelievable amount of determination & a vision.

This first one is vital for everyone who starts out with a dream or just a simple thought. For me, I always see my future and dreams as pictures in my mind. I sometimes like to draw them out as well as writing them down. However, one dream I had as a 20 year old emerged when I entered a writing competition.

I found out that I had made the short list for a children’s TV writing contest and I was super excited. I remember standing by my bed imagining a canvas, with a printed image of my puppets-my characters-and I posing for an official photo, hanging above my bed. The thought of seeing my words come to life as a puppet show was so exciting, I couldn’t wait for the results!

I didn’t make the finals, but hope was not lost, I continued to compete in competitions and didn’t look back. Little did I know that when I was 20 I had a small dream and one day when I turned 25 I would actually see that canvas-dream come half-true…

Half, since I haven’t written a children’s TV puppet show…yet.

However, I was blessed enough to see a Muppet dressed as me appear on TV alongside Cookie Monster. That was an unbelievable day in real life and seeing that scene on the TV screen too! That image had to go on the wall… The canvas-dream was just a small thought but the reality I got about 5 years later was larger than life and far from a dream, it was a fantasy-dream that actually became a reality.

This experience showed me that even the crazy-impossible IS possible with faith, work and a vision to start it all off with!

  1. Being a living example to yourself of the impossible.

What I have learned from the last three years is how each time I’ve written out a Disney-dream-plan or a goal I have eventually managed to smash them. That’s a pretty satisfying feeling and I wish it for everyone. However, it’s not just about ticking things off the list, it’s about growing, progressing as a person, as a soul. Building yourself up so that when your time comes, you’re ready and you are the person you need to be. Understand yourself, be so sure of yourself that no one, no negativity, nothing, can touch your core. Know yourself.

Also from spending time on self-awareness you also see how giving to others around you is a beautiful thing, and how when you nurture a dream with positivity you spread that positivity around you too….


Read it all at Footprints in Butter


Writing Meme of Great Meaning & Truth

Found on the web via John Ostrander’s Facebook wall thing: