It takes time to tell a compelling story. After all, you have to create intriguing settings, develop fascinating characters, and tell everything in a beautiful language. And while many comic artists draw long strips to please their readers, Derek Evernden does this all with single panel comics.
By the way, Derek was fortunate enough to find a publisher (Renegade Arts Entertainment) for his first cartoon drawings collection, due in stores at the end of March. So if you find his dark humor as awesome as we do, you can learn more about it on his website at bogartcreek.com
"I started by emulating Herman and The Far Side when I was a kid, and even at that early age I knew I was making derivative crap, but the love of cartooning persisted through high school and university," Derek told Bored Panda. "Bogart Creek is only two years old, but I’ve been drawing comics in various forms for many years. A pivotal moment for me was was about twenty years ago when I worked summers as a caricaturist at Toronto’s Ontario Place, drawing hundreds of tourists every summer. It was a weird sort of performance, trying to save the punchline for the very end to get the best reaction from the crowd. Can't say I’m a fan of being 'on stage', but I get a similar kick from seeing how people respond to my black and white drawings online."
"Bogart Creek largely happened because I was getting too depressed drawing political cartoons of Trump," Derek said. "I was gaining some momentum in that social commentary field and it was suggested that I send some in to The New Yorker. At the time their policy didn’t allow for political cartoons so I started doing dry, cerebral single panel gags on social issues."
"As it turned out, the jokes that cracked me up were a lot more dark and absurd than The New Yorker seems to prefer (perhaps excluding the awesome work of Edward Steed), and I gravitated to that. I’ve been seeing how far I can push it ever since. I’ve got some basic rules I try to follow: no swearing, no sexual humor (except for the odd reindeer in drag), I try and avoid puns and overtly ‘relatable’ stuff, and no political gags. Beyond that, sky’s the limit with these dark comics. I’ve been really amazed at how much people of all ages and lifestyles seem to be OK with really dark, violent, and twisted sense of humor."
"Visually I aspire to Jim Unger and Bill Watterson’s brush and ink work (although more and more I lean on a tablet instead of traditional media), the latter is probably most obvious whenever I draw a dinosaur or space ship, but of course The Far Side is the gold standard for single panel humour. I desperately try to avoid mining the same material, but there are neurons deep in my brain that are so imprinted it’s inevitable that they influence me now and then - I count on the sharp hive mind of Imgur to call BS on me if that ever happens, and so far I’ve been pretty lucky. I imagine it would be like an animated cartoon writer who grew up on the Simpsons trying to get out from under that shadow. It’s a bloody long walk!"
"Most of my humor is based on the fear of the sky falling, compounded by looking stupid as it happens. Other topics include: the underdog’s revenge; windows into the minds of outliers and weirdos; the corruption or perversion of pop cultural icons; laughing (or trying to laugh) in the face of life’s utter cruelty; humanity’s complicated relationship with non-humans; the silliness of machismo; the ugliness of avarice."
"Trying to make a joke work in a multi-panel mini-story has always seemed much harder. I like the idea of having everything in that one frame - a pivotal moment in a movie that’s in the viewer’s imagination. It’s a fascinating challenge finding just the right amount of information to put in or leave out in order to get the proper rhythm leading up to that ‘aha’ moment when you (hopefully) get a laugh. If you hold the reader’s hand, you get a ‘groan’, and if you’re too vague, you ruin the joke with confusion. I’m always amazed when it works."
According to Derek, creating single panel comics has way more pros than cons. "The advantage is that you’re always looking at a new blank page with unlimited possibilities and no need to ‘hold the plot’. It’s a thought experiment, of sorts, and a very low-pressure one if you’re able to crank out a bunch at a time. You’re not bound to recurring characters or storylines, and it seems to be perfect for our modern attention span (not to mention smart phones). I’m frankly surprised at how well a lot of sequential grid or “swipe-to-read” comics do, given the time they demand of their readers. Of course in single panel comics you generally don’t have recurring characters and the corresponding affinity an audience can have for them. You’ve got fewer immediately recognizable icons for any kind of spin-off, ‘brand recognition’, or marketing - but that’s a small price to pay for the freedom."