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Webcomic / So... You're a Cartoonist?

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Portrait of the artist as a young bear.


So... You're a Cartoonist? is a webcomic started by Tom Preston (real name Andrew Dobson) in 2011. SYAC is a comedic autobiographical comic about Tom Preston’s life as an unemployed cartoonist and the challenges he faces day-to-day both on and off net.

Until June 2015, SYAC was available on Dobson's website and DeviantArt page. From 2015 to 2017, it was updated only on his website. In 2017, the comic went on hiatus, and many strips were deleted. Some strips have survived, thanks to blogs discussing Dobson's work.


So... You're a Cartoonist? provides examples of:

  • Art Evolution: In the older comics Preston drew himself as a human but later pages show him as a blue bear.
    • In general, his art style as a whole shifted drastically at the beginning of this 17th August 2012 comic strip by using thicker line art and more cartoony proportions for faces.
  • Art Shift: Happens occasionally. Example.
    • Downplayed with the New SYAC comics (i.e. a series of strips starring an aspiring female cartoonist named Emily) which has a brighter color palette, a flat coloring style, and uses colored outlines instead of the usual black in the Classic SYAC comics (i.e. gag-per-day strips).
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: When he was younger he had a Chinese roommate who had immigrated recently and thus didn't speak English very well.
  • Author Avatar: Tom Preston a.k.a Andrew Dobson, is the protagonist of the comic. He originally represented himself with a cartoon version of him, then a younger looking man, only to end up as a small, blue anthropomorphic bear.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Preston's is artists thinking they can skip learning the basics because they draw manga. In fact manga and anime seem to be Berserk Buttons for him in general.
    • He also hates misogyny and sexism.
  • Black Bead Eyes: One-shot characters often have them, and Persistent Pam have these as part of her design.
  • invokedCaptain Obvious Aesop: Brought up in this strip. Preston says he's thinking of making a comic addressing terrorism or gun control. His friend argues that criticizing something everyone already hates takes no real effort. Preston thus decides to give himself a challenge and deliberately unleash a flame war... about Mario.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Andrew Dobson's former girlfriend was a recurring character in the strips, but she stopped appearing when she and Dobson broke up.
  • Disembodied Eyebrows: In this strip, Persistent Pam brings up her dislike of this trope when she points out Preston utilizing this occasionally. He reacts with exaggerated surprise, much to her annoyance.
  • Double Standard: Andrew Dobson has a recurring problem with empowered female characters, and how they tend to be called boring or Mary Sues, while male characters with similar attributes don't get this reception.
    • This strip, for example, has the Straw Character complain that Captain Marvel is boring and overpowered, asking who would want to watch that. Dobson looks at how there are eight Superman movies, and point out the double standard.
    • Another strip , he goes on to define a Mary Sue as a "idealized and seemingly perfect fictional character. Often this character is recognized as an author insert or Wish-Fulfillment". He then complains of how the biggest mary sue is Batman.
  • Droste Image: Downplayed due to a lack of the infinite mirror effect. This strip where a power outage reveals that he's working on a drawing that resembles the strip's first panel. In short, he's drawing a drawing of himself drawing.
  • Dumb Blond: In a strip using the cast of Alex Ze Pirate, author Andrew Dobson depicts the winner of a beauty contest, who is blond, as a dumb broad.
  • Flame War: In-Universe. He demonstrates his "talent" to start an instant flame war by yelling "Metroid: Other M rocks!" Cue exploding computer.
  • Freudian Excuse: Andrew Dobson, in his words and artwork, has suggested that his dislike of blond people come from a bully he had when he was a kid in school. This grudge is intense enough that when that bully reached out to him to become friends on Facebook, he rejected it.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: In the comic's art style, humans have five, funny animals have four.
  • Funny Animal: Preston's later blue bear appearance, potraying himself as an small anthropomorphic blue bear wearing glasses and a nice hat. It's a funny thought that in an earlier strip he mentions he doesn't understand furries.
  • It Makes Sense in Context: In one strip, his roommate abruptly ran into their room and screamed "EAT THE PENCIL! RUNNING LIKE A DOG!" The next day it was made all clear; his roommate was referring to a new invention of his, a model car that could transform and grow legs if you stuck pencils in it.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Before he became a bear anyway, Preston only represented himself wearing a blue shirt and a pair of pants. As a bear, he goes full commando.
  • Scully Box: invoked Parodied in this strip. A fan sent a doodle pointing out how the height difference between bear!Preston and a human is incongruous to their proportions, so in response, Preston drew a sketch outside the panel which shows two dead bodies with a paintbrush to the eye and an artist palette to the back respectively, with Preston standing on top of the former.
  • Yonkoma: A lot of his gag-based strips are formatted like this, especially during his Animesque era back in 2011. Lampshaded in this strip when Preston is admonished for trying too hard to stick to the formula.
  • Young Future Famous People: He's pretty surprised to hear years later that his old roommate, Ke Jiang, now works at Disney.