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Cartooning. Where to begin?

Cartooning.  Such a weird profession.

It really is.

It’s a line of work (no pun intended) where you produce images by yourself, stare at blank sheets of paper, try to get people to laugh (without being a comedian) and the industry seems to change regularly.  You no longer need to draw that great, be published in newspapers or have your own Christmas special to be a popular cartoonist.

Also, you might be a relatively unknown cartoonist, but are KILLING it with client work.  Or you might be an unknown cartoonist with NO clients.  So many factors.

Again, it’s a weird profession (not to add — also full of silly pictures).

On top of that, if you tell an average Joe that you want to be a cartoonist (or that you are one), you’ll often get “the look”.  Like a, “Oh, really.  Sell crazy somewhere else, buddy.  I’m not buying it here.  A cartoonist….ha!”

Bottom line:  it’s hard to get taken seriously as a cartoonist!

It’s not always easy.  Especially dealing with the haters.  God forbid you try to make it in this profession, right?

That’s why I started this new website, blog and courses.

As a fulltime, often times frustrated cartoonist, the road for me to get to where I am wasn’t easy.  I’ve worked more day jobs than I care to count, I’ve sacrificed a ton of time and energy on things that didn’t work and, though a professional, it took me almost two decades to “make it” completely.  I hope to help cartoonists that want to do it professional, or hell, do it for fun.  Either way, I plan on tackling everything imaginable in regards to cartooning.




You name it.  I hope to cover it all.

More importantly, I’d like to have some fun while I’m at it.  After all, nobody likes to have a lame time. (Especially on websites. Bla!)

I’d love for us to swap stories, take bits and pieces of our own experiences and knowledge and get cartooning figured out to the best of our abilities.  I’ll share my experiences and hope you’ll do the same.

SO…let’s kick this off.

What’s YOUR biggest struggle with cartooning?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment area.

Now back to more weirdness…


  1. Luis says:

    Hi, Nate. Thanks for the courses. I’m starting and not sure if it is correctly displayed on my 6 year old iPad because some information seems to be cut off. So far I have been able to watch only the intro video. About my struggles with cartooning: Sometimes I think I have a great idea, but when I draw it it doesn’t seem so funny anymore. And procrastination.

    1. Nate says:

      Hi Luis! The videos seem to run okay, so not quite sure what’s causing it to cut-off. I’ll check into it though! As for your struggles, I totally get procrastination. It took me years to develop a routine. Routine is about the most important thing you can do. I mention in the course that even days when you come up with NOTHING, it’s a good thing. Your brain absorbs all of that nothingness and it becomes something later on.

      As for your ideas, even bad ones can work. And they might not be all that bad after all. The important thing is to start, get your work out there and fine-tune from there. I wouldn’t worry about if you think your idea is bad (some of the ideas I’m the least fond of end up being some of my most popular cartoons).

      Hope you can take the course! You might want to try on a different iPad or maybe a PC? Let me know if it starts working!

      — Nate

  2. Mily says:

    I suscribed to your blog a few months ago, and honestly I don’t usually keep the tracking of the courses, sometimes there’s an specific topic that I find particularly interesting so I take a look.
    Don’t get me wrong, I suscribed for a reason and actually, I like receiving the daily emails because it’s a reminder for me that I can come back to drawing at any time.
    One of my dreams as a kid, was to become a cartoonist, I really loved it…but then, life took me through mysterious ways, I ended up studying pychology, which is another weird (and at least here in Mexico, complicated, not good rewarded) profession.
    But drawing is something that is always there, hidden somewhere in my mind…my two main troubles are:
    1. Not knowing what to do, how to start, and what to focus on.
    Following my intention of starting, I bought a basic wacom, I think two years ago now (wow), and at the beginning, of course it was like a whole new big gift on Christmas, but after some time (not much sadly), I just left it, I couldn’t get used to it the way I expected, I found it complicated of using because it’s obviously not the same drawing over there than a simple paper and I didn’t reach my goal of creating a routine/habit…sometimes that I feel inspired enough I try it, but I can’t go further…
    What would you recommend?, starting a routine with paper at first and then move to tablet?
    And about the not knowing what to do or to focus…I really don’t know how to start, I mean, how to start with something that allows me to keep going, get inspiration in a daily/weekly basis, I just don’t know.
    I’m not sure if I want to have a particular subject and characters, or if it can be better just making random characters and jokes without any relation?, how can I get to know that?

    2. Time, procrastination too.
    As I mentioned before, I think that my biggest problem is taking time for this, but also is related to the fact of not knowing what to do or how to start, because if I don’t have an idea I don’t find it useful to take some time to not knowing what to do, not sure if I’m clear?
    I think, it would be easier for me to have an schedule, daily or weekly, if I know what to do or if it could be easier for me to get some inspiration.

    Sorry for writing this much, I just want to express how I feel about this cause I would like to do something.

    Thanks, good day!

    1. Nate Fakes says:

      Hi Mily!

      Thanks for the comment. Sounds like you have a lot going on and I totally get where you’re at as well. I’ve had numerous times (even today) where I’m not sure where to begin with a certain direction or routine.

      I’ll try to start from the top:

      As for a routine, I think the best start is just starting one. I wouldn’t worry so much about using a tablet opposed to paper. Just getting of the habit of sketching, drawing — anything is beneficial. Since you’re a bit undecided on where to even start, I would recommend maybe starting with a reading/observing routine. Go to the library, check out some comics/art/graphic novel books that look appealing and might be SOMEWHAT of the way you’re thinking you might want to go. Do you have an idea of what you want? For example, do you find that you’d enjoy creating graphic novels? Maybe comic strips? Webcomic? If you could narrow-down what area you think you’d like most, then maybe find a good example of someone that’s doing it, start there. Read the material, familiarize yourself with it and then, I believe, it will CLICK and you’ll have a better idea of what to even start sketching. There are so many resources (beyond the library) to see what’s out there and what might be best suited for you — or seems best!

      I create mostly gag cartoons, however, I’m now venturing into graphic novels and other mediums, so I’ve been reading a lot of books that are appealing in the format of something I’d like to create someday. Even books that AREN’T appealing can be helpful to read to see what not to do. Going back to gag cartoons, I read and read and read before I started to really crank them out. And early on, the material I created was beyond bad. It took a LONG time to develop, but it also went quickly, if that makes sense.

      To help keep you on a routine and inspired, I’d start posting on Instagram. Even if the material isn’t up to where you want to be, you might get some great feedback and get it all figured out just by getting it out there. Also, it helps procrastination by coming up with a posting schedule of when, no matter what, you’re going to post something. Even if it’s just a rough pencil sketch.

      I know time is a big thing. It’s everyones biggest factor (wouldn’t it be great if we could just draw all day and there was no job or anything else needed done from time to time?). Start with maybe the weekends, or early mornings. There’s time if you can find it.

      Hope this helps a bit! Just you writing your post is a start, so remember that. You can take “baby steps” to get to where you need, or want, to be. Progress is just doing SOMETHING, which you already have by voices your concerns and challenges.

      Keep me posted how you progress and what you’re up to!


  3. Anonymous says:

    Hi Nate,

    Thanks for your reply.
    And yes, I think the most important thing is creating a routine, I’ll try to start with that.
    For now, I’d prefer to focus on gag comics either, do you have any recommendation for other websites or blogs I could learn about, as you said, just for reading, knowing different styles, etc.?

    Would you recommend to create first an small portfolio before starting on Instagram, I mean, just to be sure to have enough material for the very first couple of weeks…or you think is better just jumping in and try to be constant in a daily or weekly basis?

    1. Mily says:

      I forgot to write my name hehe.

    2. Nathanael Fakes says:

      Hi Mily!

      I think the best resource for gag comics is probably GoComics ( I’m syndicated on there, along with DOZENS of other gag cartoonists. You’ll find all kinds of style, humor and more at that one-stop shop. As for books, I’m a huge fan of Gary Larson’s Far Side. I also like Chas Addams from the New Yorker (which, by the way, The New Yorker has some amazing gags, too).

      As for Instagram, totally up to you on your approach. I would have a timeline goal of when you want to do what. So, if you want to launch on Instagram, say by September, you might want to build-up some inventory. I WOULDN’T worry about perfecting anything. That will take time. The cool thing about Instagram as well is you’ll see your material improve over time. Also, you might get some really great feedback that might help.

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