(Click on the actual strip for a larger view)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

He speaks too soon.

It is not now, nor was it ever, "cool" to be a Billy Joel fan. Particularly since he's slid into self-parody, flogging the old hits with one hand with his other wrapped around the neck of a Beefeater bottle. Even his touring partner, Elton John, has lost patience with him, publicly announcing the man's desperate need for some "real rehab, with no TVs." But even back then, when he was at the top of his game, he got little respect. This has never deterred me from liking anything, of course. I never based my fondness for something based on someone else's fondness for it. If I had, I might have been a lot less homesick, with a lot more friends those first few semesters. But I can't fake it. What's ironic about this strip is it ran before the Dean Dome was completed, and one of the first concerts in the Dean Dome was...you guessed it.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

I've struck a nerve.

Believe it or not, it took me until sophomore year to get around to some good ol' cheap-shot State-bashing. It would be a popular well I would go back to time and again, but this represents its debut. On the side, I was designing t-shirts for various campus organizations (payment: a sample shirt and a six-pack), and many of their themes revolved around UNC's superiority over our Raleigh neighbor, particularly when it came to athletics. I just took it to the next level (borderline libel). Not that anyone remembers now, but the cow was a loving homage (i.e. ripoff) of the cows Gary Larson used to draw in The Far Side.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Celebrity Couple-of-the-Moment

Nothing dates your strip faster than a pop culture reference, particularly one as flash-in-the-pan as Sean Penn and Madonna. Who ever thought that was a good idea, huh? It provided good comic fodder while it lasted, though (I believe I even go back to this same well junior year). For you younguns, their courtship and marriage basically consisted of paparazzi swarming around them followed by Sean punching as many as he could before they scattered. Naturally, this escalated the tension between the two of them until SeanDonna (it never caught on) imploded. Artistic detail: there's that rotary phone again! So much fun to draw, especially the cord.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Breaking the borders

Well, not so much "breaking" as "rearranging," but I liked the alliteration. I'm typically a fan of the time-tested, Peanuts-proven four-panel structure. Occasionally I'll use three (a la Garfield), for more space per panel, or if the gag works better that way. Here, however, I went for a hybrid: panels one and four are the same size as they'd be in the four-panel approach, but I've eliminated the middle gutter to create one doublewide center panel. Makes for a nice panorama of the fraternity's interior. Personal favorite detail: note the record-scratching sound effect.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Too much humor, too few panels.

Despite the cinematic ambitions for this strip, I was severely limited by the four-panel format (incidentally, when a cartoonist trips up, it's customary to blame the medium). Having established Goebel the house dog, I proceeded to give him a bad-ass attitude. Very un-Snoopy, although Snoopy was a bad-ass in his own way. Again, the gag here hinges on Goebel being insulted, or being treated like a typical dog, when he's clearly a more advanced being. He walks on two legs, he has coherent thought balloons, he even wears a turtleneck, for Pete's sake! Nick condescension takes it a step too far for Goebel's taste. So with a snap of his fingers (wait, a dog with fingers?), he bolts Nick in the bathroom as punishment (wait, where'd that board come from?). He just wants to show Nick who's boss around KEG. He was most certainly not the boss of the strip, and the sooner I took away his power, the better.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Shoehorn, stet!

Yeah, about that dog. I've always loved drawing dogs--my first attempts at cartooning were of Snoopy. Why I thought this was the place and time to introduce a thinking, anthropomorphic dog, I cannot tell you. I know the fraternity I was pledging had a house dog, as did most. And of course, I had (for the time being) free reign over the strip's content and characters, so I probably thought, why not? What did it matter if he had a legitimate place in the strip? Or that I'd drop him like Richie's brother Chuck in "Happy Days" within another week or two? So I named him "Goebel," with the ersatz-French pronunciation (jzho-BELL). I don't think we invented this; I was pretty sure it was a joke that had been passed down from one incoming freshman class to another, like calling Target "tar-JAY" to make it sound upscale. In any event, the dog is offended that his name received the gutter pronunciation, emphasizing his lower-class status. His revenge? Pants the guy. Now that I've explained it, isn't it so much funnier?

Monday, January 25, 2010

And off we go.

This was a subject ripe for satire, and while I'm not sure I did the best job, at least I tried to cover all the bases. I thought this made for a pretty effective setup--remember, in a series, each strip has to stand on its own as well as further the continuing narrative. Once I figured out the name of the frat (by the way, those actually in a fraternity are forbidden from calling it a "frat"), the rest of the series fell into place. It is during this period that I think my drawing style finally began to achieve a level of smoothness and consistency. Nick, for example, had evolved far beyond his debut my freshman year, but was a far cry from the hideous man-attached-to-a-nose he would become. For you art geeks, I drew every single one of these strips with a Penstix India ink felt tip (not sure if they even still exist) on a half sheet of 14" x 17" vellum surface Bristol board. The boxes were hand-inked with a Sharpie.