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

Happy Birthday, NASA! Darryl reveals 4 secrets of the cosmos.

On this day in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was formed. To celebrate, Darryl shares his knowledge of the cosmos with Zoe in a strip from August 26, 2001.

Click to biggify.

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Year of the fortune cookie

 

 

This year was the 67th Annual Reuben Awards dinner. In February, Tom Richmond, the president of the National Cartoonists Society informed me that I was nominated for the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year.

From most people that garners a shrug.

To cartoonists, it ranks right up there with an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy or Tony. But in our case it’s even more special because, at some point in the 1990s, the award was made a once-in-a-lifetime award—no repeats.

This was my first nomination. My fellow nominees, all nominated by the membership of the National Cartoonists Society, were: Brian Crane (creator of Pickles) and Stephan Pastis (creator of Pearls Before Swine). The announcement of the winner would be made at the awards dinner during the Memorial Day weekend convention of the NCS in Pittsburgh, three and a half months from then.

I have to admit, for the first few weeks, it messed with my head. Every drawing raised the question, Was it good enough? After a while, that gets pretty exhausting, mentally. I was finally able to get to a point where the nomination stopped sneaking into my head. Continue reading

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Filed under Announcements, Baby Blues history, Cartooning, Rick Kirkman

A career path in the rear view mirror

 

 

 

 

 

 

It recently occurred to me that I had a path toward Baby Blues even before Baby Blues existed—before I even knew I had a path.

In the few years before Jerry and I became syndicated, and before we ever had the idea for the strip, I found myself gravitating toward freelance work that involved drawing kids and parents. Or maybe it was the other way around. Maybe clients sensed something in how I drew that led them to seek me out for that kind of assignment. You can never really know, but things like that become more obvious when you look back on them. Among those magazine clients, where I was a regular, were Woman’s World, Redbook, Parents magazine and Sesame Street Parents Guide.

So, from Ye Olde Freelance Files, I give you a few of the freelance jobs just prior to the creation and syndication of Baby Blues. You can see a lot of the MacPherson clan showing up in the drawings.

All of the above drawings appeared in Redbook on their back page.

Detail of the hyena family.

(Above and below) Sesame Street Magazine Parents Guide

Click to biggify.

Sesame Street always liked big illustrations that covered the whole page so they could run the headline and the beginning of the story over the illustration. I learned a lot from the work of Elwood Smith, master of the watercolor wash. In the late 70s, I’d attended a demonstration by him showing how he prepared his watercolors and applied washes to his cartoon illustrations. I stole  borrowed his little background flecks and added some squiggles of my own.

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Filed under Baby Blues history, Cartooning, Creative process, Drawing, Freelance, Rick Kirkman

Cartoonists Demand Action video

Baby Blues is included, along with twenty-two other cartoonists, in the latest “Demand A Plan/Demand Action” video. It’s a call to action for people and our leaders and representatives to take steps to end gun violence. There is no one particular solution proposed because it is a very complex problem that requires many approaches in many areas. It’s up to us as citizens to demand that we start addressing the issue in all the areas it involves. Inaction is not a solution.

Since we are not getting into any specifics here, we aren’t asking for a debate on this page—there are plenty other places on the Internet for that. You can watch it or not, take it to heart or not. Above all, please keep the comments civil.

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Filed under Announcements, Cartooning, Jerry Scott, Parenting, Rick Kirkman