The Yawn:

It seems ironic here in the cell that the word "yawn" is defined as "opening the mouth wide with a deep inspiration", as if death were funny and something that was born of a good idea. Of course by this definition, they mean "inspiration" as "the act of breathing in", but here it means the act of snuffing out.

Money is of course a prioritized reason of keeping a cartoon in existence. Without it, only the most devoted (read: obsessed) artist can continue a body of work. If a cartoonist already has money, that can suffice as well, though money tends to breed more laziness than devotion.

But even if the money is there, a cartoonist need only yawn. The "inspiration" is gone. And even if he or she doesn't cut your cord of life at that moment, it is a slow path towards death from thereafter.

I spoke briefly with Jim Davis, one of the kinder pro-cartoon cartoonists, but also one who has long lost inspiration; and he told me how he has hired others to continue drawing his characters in order to keep them alive. A genuine philanthropist. Though I question whether that life is worth living. Like being immobile on a life-support system, does there reach a point where it's just not worth it?

But for the most part it seems, if the money is good, that most cartoonists are excruciatingly slow in ending a strip no matter how much they yawn; they drag their feet for years and years and their cartoons are forced to trudge behind him, chained by the neck, miserable and hateful, waiting for the cartoonist's whimsy to declare the actual end.

But the yawn is the end. Whether the start or the finish of the end, it is the end.

I asked Chris (hypothetically, so as to not arouse suspicion as to my intent) what causes yawns. He said that most often it's contagious. One person yawns and everyone else is soon doing it. So for this column I went on-site, to many of the current running comic strips, to ask the characters there about this problem. In interviewing them I found that there is a general hardness to them, a mercenary quality, as if they know their days are done. I have suspicion that the yawn plague may have infected the cartoonist community, that the creators all been watching each other so closely, that when one caught the "yawns", an epidemic was born. I have no other explanation.

shep main