Category Archives: Strip process

Pumpkins as far as the eye can see… [Updated]

I’m pretty sure that’s how the description went in the gag for this strip. I can’t actually prove it, because in those days, Jerry sent gags to me via fax. Hard to believe we spent the years 4 through 15 with gags being sent as faxes. We’ve since moved into the modern world and use email.

Jerry sends gags to me as little scripts. A brief, not-usually-very-detailed description of the scene, and the dialogue. The panels are numbered. Most of the time, it leaves me some leeway as to the setting, the peripheral action, scene blocking. If it’s really critical for a bit of stage action or direction, he’ll indicate that for the panel. Then it’s just a matter of who says what.

It’s a great system. I’m not too roped into the details of how he sees it, which gives me room to play around with the characters. The nice thing is that he says most of the time, the finished strips look just like he imagined them.

I guess knowing someone for about forty years pays off.

This particular strip, though, was his Halloween “trick” to me. And an early one—we produce the strips several weeks ahead of publication. I wasn’t in the trick-or-treat mood yet. Continue reading

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Filed under Baby Blues history, BBXX, Cartooning, Contest, Creative process, Drawing, Family, Holidays, Jerry Scott, Strip process, Where ideas come from

The Comic Strip Supergoup That Never Was: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Fogelberg

On this 44th anniversary, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young appeared at Woodstock on August 18, 1969, only their second public appearance as a group. Here’s a look back at how one of our more popular series in Baby Blues came to be.

In early 1992, my wife and I went to a concert—possibly the first since our second child had been born—to see Dan Fogelberg at the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix. My wife was a huge fan, and I had become one through her. We drove to the concert in our brand new minivan, which we’d purchased after selling our Volvo; we now had two children and needed the extra space to haul all the supplies and kid-paraphernalia and to give us room to manage car seats. The concert came on the heels of a three and a half year stretch of our younger one not sleeping through the night. We were overdue and primed for a concert date night.

When we pulled into the parking lot, we noticed we were far from the only concertgoers arriving in a minivan. The lot was packed with minivans. And Volvos. It was then that we realized we had hit that certain age, the age when we cared less about looking cool and more about safety and getting the job done. We melded into line with all the other thirty-ish and even forty-ish ticketholders who wore similar I-can’t-believe-we’re-out faces.

Once inside, there was an amazing feeling of relief, of escape, like slipping into an old memory. The theater had a bar, so we bought drinks. With alcohol, no less. My wife was happy—no, ecstatic—to oblige when she’d been carded by the bartender. We settled in for a couple hours of music bliss in-the-round. This was before we had cell phones, so there wasn’t the temptation to call home to check on the kids every few minutes. Actually, this was a time when I knew only one person with a cell phone, my art rep, who had one installed in his Beemer. It took up his entire console between the front seats.

So there we were, sipping our drinks and waiting for Dan Fogelberg to come out and sing to us. After a while, our drinks were getting low. I checked my watch. People around us checked their watches. We were past the start time of the concert.

Ten minutes, still checking my watch.

Twenty minutes, still no Dan Fogelberg. We were now restless and fidgeting.

Thirty minutes past due and our collective I-can’t-believe-we’re-out faces were turning into I’m-paying-for-a-babysitter-so-what’s the-hold-up faces.

At forty minutes, my wife suggested we start chanting just that. I was about ready to lead the audience in a rousing round of “We’ve got babysitters!” complete with footstomps, but Dan Fogelberg took the stage and we all sunk back into our bliss. At least partially back into our bliss. First we had to calculate how much the delayed start had cost us and determine if we had to find an ATM on the way home to make up the shortfall, or leave early to make it back before the sitter’s curfew.

Fogelberg was fantastic and chagrined over the late start. All was forgiven.

On the way home, an idea formed about how we could make hay out of the event in Baby Blues. I regaled Jerry with the saga of our concert experience and how it might make a good series of gags. He set to work, taking the highlights and separating them into five installments to create the story. Jerry needed a way to tie the story more into the world of Baby Blues, and thought the song, “Teach Your Children,” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young would be perfect.

Sorry Dan.

Because space in comic strips is limited, and we need to keep things as short as possible, the group had to be cut to Crosby, Stills & Nash.

Sorry Neil.

Click to biggify.

Not long after the series ran, a producer acquaintance of ours had the idea to fax CSN the strips they were mentioned in. We heard back that they were very pleased by the series. Coincidentally, they were coming to Phoenix on August 9th for a concert. We and the producer were given backstage passes to meet David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash.

On the night of the CSN concert, we entered the parking lot in our minivan.

Déjà Vu—more minivans and Volvos than you could shake a stick at.

Jerry and I brought originals of the strips in the series to give to the group after the concert. Stephen Stills didn’t stick around long…I think he went off to ice his hand after the concert. As it turned out, David Crosby’s wife was a fan of the strip. He and his wife and Graham Nash talked with us and our wives for a little bit in the stark room backstage. Photos were taken.

So ended our little brush with icons of the Woodstock era.

We drove our minivan home and paid our sitter.

And I quietly thanked Dan Fogelberg for not starting on time.

(Sadly, Dan Fogelberg passed away December 16, 2007)

View the strips below: Darryl and Wanda see Crosby, Stills & Nash (Click to biggify.)

 

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Filed under Baby Blues history, Creative process, Family, Jerry Scott, Strip process, Where ideas come from

Rick Kirkman of Baby Blues interviewed by Mr. Media

I wish I had a nickname like Mr. Media (Bob Andelman), although in my case it would probably be something like Mr. Big Nose.

If you like watching other people draw—I know I sure do—or like to see a little of the inside workings of a comic strip, you might enjoy this podcast. This was a strange marriage of hi-tech and very lo-tech. The interview was conducted on my iPad, propped up by a Peanuts book, all sitting on a music stand to get a decent angle. It fell over two or three times, but Bob edited all but one. While drawing, the iPad was attached to my drawing board lamp with a bullgdog clip.

Hope you enjoy it!

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Filed under Advice, BBXX, Cartooning, Creative process, Drawing, Jerry Scott, Rick Kirkman, Strip process

Father Time is running out…

Only days left to get your Baby Blues 2013 Day-t0-Day box calendar to start the year off on time. Or else you’ll be playing catch-up the rest of the year. Available at Amazon.com.

 

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Filed under Announcements, Holidays, Jerry Scott, Strip process

A very special Baby Blues Thanksgiving memory

With Thanksgiving approaching, I thought I’d find a Baby Blues strip with a Thanksgiving theme and write about how it all came about and the meaning of it to our family. Something poignant and funny.

I started by searching through my emails for “thanksgiving”—that’s an easy way for me to find something like this quickly. If that doesn’t work, I’ll head over to the BabyBlues.com archives and search.

While I was going through the emails, I ran across one that seemed odd to come up in a “thanksgiving” search. It was an email from Stephan Pastis, creator of the comic strip Pearls Before Swine. The email was shortly after Thanksgiving of 2005. He had sent me the fourth in a series of gags he was working on. The email contained this strip, the peak of the action in the series where Zoe and Hammie, out on a beer run, ran over Jeremy from Zits and blew up a gas station:

Pearls Before Swine/Baby Blues crossover (Click to biggify)

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Filed under BBXX, Cartooning, Creative process, Drawing, Family, Holidays, Jerry Scott, Rick Kirkman, Strip process