The Klyde Saga continues...Part 5
Still, Wes never strayed far from topical events that would shake up the powers that be. Although he was “edited” on three occasions, Wes never had to print a single retraction for any of his cartoons. It was said that as an administrator, “...You haven’t made it ‘till you’ve been in Klyde Morris” and there were actual cases of several employees being fired due to the cartoon strip. One source even says that the reason for the university changing food service contractors was due to Klyde Morris alone. As a student, Wes was asked to pledge every fraternity on campus- some more than once. He declined, reasoning that he may one day have to turn his strip against such an organization, and he did not wish to have the conflict of interest. It got to the point where the cartoonist could not go into the administration building and sign up to receive an un-official transcript without drawing three administrators to the scene in a defensive posture in fear that they were being set up to be the next to appear on the editorial page.
The oddest, yet somehow the most flattering occurrence was the day that one of Wes’ friends, Russ Severino, came up to the Avion office and informed the cartoonist that some freshman kid was down in the University Center dining room telling everyone the he was Wes Oleszewski the cartoonist! Of course Wes went down and casually sat at the table where the boasting kid had drawn a fair crowd- most of whom were Wes’ friends and who were listening intently to the kid’s line of crap.
“Wow,’ Wes said, “that’s so cool, can ya’ draw one for us?”
“No,” the impostor scoffed, “I only draw when I’m gonna’ put them in the paper.”
The impostor was not going to get off so easily as Wes’ buddies got hip to the challenge and began to chide the kid into a drawing.
“Go ahead,” Wes urged sliding a pen and paper toward the kid, “do one for us right here.”
“Well okay,” the kid surrendered as he began to draw a very bad image of the ant, “but this usually takes hours.”
When finished, the drawing looked nothing like Wes’ work, but the crowd faked approval.
“Can ya sign it for me?” Wes baited.
“Sure.” The kid scribbled a signature that was no where near that of the real author.
“Gee,” Wes went on, “I think it goes more like this...” With that he quickly drew the ant that he had been doing for so many years, and attached his signature. Passing it to the kid he told him, “Keep that one to remind you not to go around telling all of my friends that you are me.”
In August of 1987, just a few days short of exactly a full decade from the time he had first stepped onto the Embry-Riddle campus, Wes walked across the stage in the graduation ceremony, and the following May he finished his last flight course thus earning a Bachelors degree in Aeronautical Science. With that, Klyde Morris was officially retired after the publication of more than 1,200 strips. Just prior to graduation, Wes was awarded special recognition for 10 years of outstanding service to the university through Klyde Morris.
Demand was heavy to have the strip continue and Wes was talked into running it in the alumni newsletter, “The Update”. Unfortunately, this publication lived up to its nick-name, “The Out-date” by hitting the public several months after it had been written. As a result, the timely nature of the strip was greatly reduced. Additionally, the publication had to clear several layers of administrators, most of whom were already nervous about Klyde Morris anyhow. Wes felt his work was heavily watered down, and no longer timely, and after just a few “Outdates” he stopped submitting the cartoon.
Later, the idea was put forward to run Klyde on the university web site on the alumni page. This required Wes to draw the strip and sent it by mail to Jim Cieplak, a highly over-worked alumnus who then would clean the piece for computer transmission and post it on the web site. Again, the delay was often several weeks, and the timely nature of the cartoon was lost, so the strip was discontinued. Finally, in the summer of 1998, Wes’ sixth book, which was on Great Lakes lighthouses, hit the market and turned a terrific profit. With that he went out and purchased the state-of-the-art computer hardware which allowed him to scan and clean the cartoons himself thus paving the way for posting the strip in a timely manner. With the idea of returning the cartoon to the web site, Wes approached the alumni relations webmaster. Several weeks later Wes was informed that the alumni “council”, a university selected puppet group, had decided that Klyde Morris was too, “...negative... and did not represent the alumni as a whole...” and thus they had decided that it would not be allowed to appear on the university web site.
Like all self-important blow-hards who have tried to smite the little ant, these idiots drew exactly the opposite reaction from that which they had intended. You see, Wes had only been “partially motivated” to re-start the strip prior to the “council” decision. Now they had gone and pissed him off- so he elected to return Klyde Morris at full strength in a forum that such self-important blow-hards could neither control nor stop- and he assured his readers that all of the blow-hards are not going to like it, they are not going to like it A LOT! Thus, on the fifteenth day of March, 1999, Klyde Morris came to the Internet at www.klydemorris.com with no editors, no administrators, no strings and only Wes in control.
Today more than 9 million readers world wide read Klyde Morris on the internet... if only Wes could get each one to send a dollar to his PayPal account...