Early in my career I learned that whatever brain defect makes a person become a cartoonist is the same defect that prevents that cartoonist from having the same sense of humor as the general public. In other words, if I make a comic that I personally feel is hilarious, the public will be disappointed in it. They might even hate that comic. I’ve discovered that the most successful cartoonists have learned to write for the readers and not their own sensibilities. Normally I try to do that too.
The problem is that no jail can hold art. Sometimes I simply … have … to … create comics that I love and you don’t. That happens about five percent of the time. And those comics probably appeal to no more than five percent of the public – the people who have similar brain defects.
The Dilbert comic for 2/13/13 is a perfect example. You can see from the online comments that the public isn’t impressed. Personally, I find this sort of humor hilarious.
I’m generally attracted to humor that involves wrongness, rule breaking, or inappropriate behavior. The adult comic-reading public is mostly interested in humor that has the “That happens to me too!” element. To put it another way that is less flattering to me, I enjoy the same sort of humor that children do. All I’ve done is transition from fart jokes to indirect references to erections. It’s the adult version of childish humor. I’m not proud of it.
I felt an explanation of this phenomenon was necessary because people act puzzled when one of my comics seems to miss the mark by a mile. One would think that after all of my practice even my misses would be near-hits. The reason for the bad misses on some days is that I can’t help myself. Sometimes the comic is just for me and the few freaks that never lost their childish sense of humor.
For what it’s worth, I consider it a failure of professional discipline on my part. But I can’t promise it will improve.