Mike Baldwin, Creator of Cornered

13 December 2001

    Mike Baldwin, the creator of Cornered, is a man with a mission. The cartoonist is determined to have cartoons appear on more than the comics page in the newspapers.
He wants readers to be laughing with the front page, to counteract the dark news splashed across the headlines. Mike Baldwin's plan is working.

    Cornered provides good morning giggles on the front pages of many newspapers. The single panel comic is specifically designed to meet an editor's needs for quick humour in a small space. When placed in those small and unusual places, Cornered displays a dollop of colour in a sea of black and white words.

    The characters in Cornered are reminiscent of the characters in "Herman", by Jim Unger. They have large and chunky bodies with a tendency to widen towards the floor. Baldwin uses his wide range of characters to make fun of everyday events that almost all readers can connect with. For example, the December 10th 2001 panel shows a large character dressed in a robe, looking at the mirror. There is a sign tacked up on the wall that says, "Warning: Contains scenes that may be considered disturbing to some viewers."
Who hasn't felt that on occasional days?

    As a teenager, Mike Baldwin began his working career with a very short stint in a meat packing plant - four hours. Immediately, he knew that was not the line of work for him. A few years later, he joined The Burlington Gazette in Burlington, Ontario. He created a weekly comic called "Peepal" and another called "Aunt Alas." In time, Baldwin earned the editorial cartoonist position at the Gazette.

    Baldwin honed his artistic skills in moves to several other newspapers and in positions of advertising artist, cartoonist and art director. While editorial art director at The Hamilton Spectator, Baldwin created Cornered. The Spectator was the first newspaper to herald the birth of the new comics panel. It was placed on the front page of the Entertainment section on April 01, 1996.


    The refreshingly funny Cornered was quickly scooped up by several other newspapers. Universal Press Syndicate picked up the cartoon in 1997 and now appears in papers in Europe, the USA and Canada. It is also a regular feature in the Reader's Digest, since 1998.

   Baldwin used his background skills as an editorial art director to design the technical basis of Cornered. He is one of the first cartoonists to apply the colouring himself. The usual method is to have the colouring completed by an outside agency. Mike noted, in an article on the apcatoon site, that Cornered is "created in colour daily, as opposed to being coloured as an after-thought."

   Colouring is utilized by Baldwin to make his single panel cartoon appear larger. He uses different palettes to evoke the mood desired, like warm colours for relationship cartoons and more greens for hospital scenes. The Cornered cartoon is completed by the vector art process, and may be resized by subscribers without loss of sharpness or resolution.

   Vector graphics are made on programs such as Freehand or Illustrator, and produce sharp, crisp art. The graphics created by bitmap, on programs such as Photoshop and Color Me!, are good for complex and detailed pictures, but they are not as crisp and not easily re-sized. Vector art is perfect for cartoons and takes much less hard-disk space.

   Each Cornered panel begins as a drawing on paper. Baldwin scans the art into his computer to enhance the sketch, add his colouring scheme and the captions. He uses .eps files for newsprint and .gifs for cartoons on the Internet.

   The comic's home page is an engaging website with information about the cartoon. There are panels to print out and colour, postcards to send, and slideshows of Cornered cartoons. There is also a promotional area where Cornered stuff can be purchased; reprints of favourite cartoons, T-shirts, tote bags, mugs, caps and mousepads are available. There are mini-animations where Cornered briefly comes to life, all in colour, of course. The site also offers much encouragement for visitors to call their favourite newspaper and request the addition of the strip to their cartoon line-up.

   Mike Baldwin was born in Ontario, Canada, in 1954. He and his wife Lynda live in Burlington, Ontario. This man with a mission is changing the methods of creating cartoons and urging the varied placement of comics in the newspapers. It can only be a good boost for cartoonists and their fans.

   More cartoons! Bring ‘em on!

The home page of Cornered and Mike Baldwin: http://cornered.co.nr/

Find a daily instalment of Cornered with Universal Press Syndicate:
© Susanna McLeod 2001
(Originally published in The Cartoonists on suite101.com.)