Sunday, April 10, 2011

Things That Go Bump in the Morning

The year is 1975. The month is November. It's a couple of months into my sophomore year at MIT, and I'm starting to find out about all the little nuisances that make campus life so interesting. For one thing, sophomores receive grades for the first time (freshman, at least in our day, were graded "pass-fail"). For another, you learn when the truck arrives to pick up the garbage. Usually, it's 7 in the morning, when most reasonable persons are already awake. MIT students, being unreasonable (especially about their late night hours) are mostly sound asleep when the truck arrives, and even though they could sleep through their neighbor's stereo cranking out "Physical Graffiti" by Led Zeppelin, they tended to be disturbed by the truck.

An artistic note: you probably have noticed the blue lines that shadow the inked drawings on most of the cartoons. Having pretensions to being a good artist, I sketched all my cartoons before inking them. Instead of using a Number 2 pencil, I used blue pencils. Blue was preferred because most copiers in those days could not reproduce a blue line. It disappeared, leaving a clean cartoon. When we created the newspaper, each edition was laid out on a storyboard, which was a ruled page that corresponded to the actual newspaper page. It was all black and white in those days, and we made photo plates - negatives - of the finished storyboards, which we would take to the printer at the Harvard Crimson, who would collate the negatives, turn them back into positives, put them on a press and then print the newspaper. The photo camera that made the negatives also could not read blue pencil, so the finished cartoons had no tell-tale blue lines (and neither did the storyboards, which were often covered with blue edit-marks). Since I kept only the originals, they all have blue marks, which show up on the scanned color images. I never drew Stickles in color; that would have been an extra complication in my life, and MIT provided plenty of those to its undergraduates, as it was.

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