People have often asked how I got into cartooning? And what were my first cartoons like. Well- here’s the answer. My very first cartoon strip.

It was early 1975 and while at my workbench in the electronics lab at COC, I felt the urge to do some cartooning. I wanted to do cartoons with sick violence, death and laughable characters. Of course, if an 11th grader got caught doing such involving lots for people getting mowed down, even in 1975 I’d have found myself in protracted counseling. I pictured myself in old Dan Jacoby’s office looking at ink blots until I graduated. The answer was “ants” you can kill as many as you want and no one cares! Since I’d been featuring ants aboard my model rockets crashing to their doom- it was logical that his ants and their ant world that exists among, but un-noticed by the humans, would be the setting. Inspired by the old television series, “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea”, I began work on “Forage to the Bottom of the Sea” which featured not only the ants, but my boyhood best friends Jim Brink and Ken Wolff.

Sketched within remarkably small frames and done totally in pencil, the strips were crude and contained both off-color language and sometimes humor that only the three of us could understand. The story was that of a miniature submarine and its crew of ants that sailed from the creek that ran behind my house in the farm-town of Freeland, Michigan to another creek that ran near my old neighborhood on the east side of Saginaw, Michigan. Interestingly, if you followed a map, in the 1970s it was indeed possible to connect the two locations by way of water, so long as you can sail in depths of less than three inches. Once back in my old neighborhood, the submarine ants engaged in a fictional havoc imposed on Jim and Ken.

I knew nothing about cartooning and was doing the strips off-the-cuff as a pass-time to get my brain off of electronics (which by the way, I passed with an “A” in the 11th grader and qualified for “Advanced Electronics” in my senior year plus a job in that area after graduation- I was not a fan of electronics, but felt it may one day help me in aviation. The electronics training saved my ass in the cockpit more then once.) My ant characters were crudely illustrated and my penmanship and grammar were awful. Most of the jokes were inside stuff that only Jim and Ken could snicker at. I did, however, leave a few “easter eggs” as they call them today, for the guys. For example, the fish on the tree refers to Jim’s passion for fishing. Also "Brink" is the name of the ant who invades Jim Brink's home and then Jim feeds him to his fish- so he fed himself to the fish. Additionally, the serial number on the side of the “Flying Snub” 738278 was my serial number when I was in the Civil Air Patrol. Those give a clue as to how “inside” the humor was.

Yet cartooning was a great pastime. While most folks sat and watched TV to pass the time- I sat and drew mindless cartoons. The work quickly evolved and bettered. When I got to college a friend in the dorm insisted that my cartoons go into the Avion student newspaper… and things went nuts.

That, however, is another story.


No comments:

Post a Comment