The Washington Post

‘RHYMES WITH ORANGE’ guest artist ‘honored’ to be playing in Hilary Price’s creative yard

Jen Sorensen is this week’s guest artist for Hilary Price's "Rhymes With Orange." (Jen Sorensen/King Features)

Whenever a vacationing cartoonist decides to turn over her or his dedicated real estate to a guest artist, the choice is intriguing. It’s like picking a housesitter: Whom do you like, appreciate — and mostly, trust — enough to turn over your precious key to?

This week, “Rhymes With Orange” creator Hilary Price has left her single-panel abode in the ever-capable hands of “Slowpoke” alt-cartoonist Jen Sorensen.

“Working on ‘Rhymes With Orange’ was a definite departure from ‘Slowpoke’ — a welcome change of pace, in that I was free to not think about politics,” the Charlottesville-based Sorensen tells Comic Riffs.

“Writing single-panel gags isn’t something new for me, however,” she continues, “as I had drawn a number of cartoons over the years for Nickelodeon Magazine’s ‘Gag Station.’ I find it to be a fun mental exercise.”

(Jen Sorensen/King Features)

In drawing a daily comic strip instead of an alt-political cartoon, did Sorensen find herself altering her style?

Graphically, “I was told I didn’t need to imitate Hilary’s drawing style, and for the most part I think the artwork is a toned-down version of my own style,” Sorensen tells us. “But I did find myself drawing people with bulbous noses, the way Hilary draws them. The woman in the ‘Mayonnaiseum’ cartoon has one.”

And what about editorially — especially since Sorensen typically delves into sociopolitical commentary?

“The editorial tastes of daily newspapers are somewhat more mainstream, so I avoided some of the weirder or off-color humor that I can get away with in alternative newspapers,” she says. “On the other hand, ‘Rhymes With Orange’ is smarter and more offbeat than a lot of dailies, so it wasn’t like I had to censor myself or anything. There was still plenty of room to be creative.

And did she feel any special responsibility as the keeper of the King Features-syndicated strip for a week?

“It was an honor for me to work in Hilary’s ‘real estate,’ as I’ve been a fan of ‘Rhymes With Orange’ for years,” Sorensen says of the strip, which last year received an NCS divisional award. “I felt I should respect the strip’s overall feel, which I suppose could be described as bookish whimsy.”

As for Price, she wrote of the guest stint:

“I am a long time fan of her political cartoon Slowpoke and am thrilled she’s got the helm.”

Sorensen turns over the “Rhymes” house key on Sunday.

Writer/artist/visual storyteller Michael Cavna is creator of the "Comic Riffs" column and graphic-novel reviewer for The Post's Book World. He relishes sharp-eyed satire in most any form.

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