Wally’s wisdom: “Never draw anything you can copy, never copy anything you can trace, never trace anything you can cut out and paste up.”

by Laszlo on March 29, 2009

Although it is Sunday, we had not planned on reading comics until Storybird tipster dger pointed our beak to Joel Johnson’s blog and his post on Wally Wood’s “22 Panels that Always Work.” (Large version here.)

wally-wood_22-panels

We had seen Wood’s panel before and, like many, assumed he used it as a catalogue of ideas to mentor other artists. But Johnson, who purchased a hi-rez scan of the original paste-up in New York, contacted Wood’s previous assistant to ask about the origin of the document.

Ironically (and rather understandably), Wood didn’t so much use the manual to help other artists as he did to reduce his workload by avoiding unncessary choices. Larry Hama, Wood’s assistant, explained:

I don’t believe that Woody put the examples together as a teaching aid for his assistants, but rather as a reminder to himself. He was always trying to kick himself to put less labor into the work! He had a framed motto on the wall, “Never draw anything you can copy, never copy anything you can trace, never trace anything you can cut out and paste up.” He hung the sheets with the panels on the wall of his studio to constantly remind himself to stop what he called “noodling.”

We are now wondering if such a pithy visual guide exists for building startups focused on collaborative storytelling.