Disclaimer: Today is 4/20. What else did you expect me to title today’s piece? Plus there’s a reference to weed in the last panel of my last strip.
Today I offer up tales about the debut strip and the finale of the comic I drew in college, Talking Styx.
These are those stories.
In May of 1989, near the end of my junior year at Northwestern University, I saw a classified ad that was in the college’s weekly conservative newspaper, The Northwestern Review. The ad was looking for a new cartoonist to replace their current artist. The ad said that applicants needed only two qualifications: an ability to meet a deadline and an ability to draw stick figures.
I took the ad and the samples of my comic strip I had submitted to the other newspaper located at the school and brought both to the offices of the Review. Upon a cursory review of my portfolio (which featured stick figures, no less), I was hired.
Below is the first strip I penned for the Review, which ran on May 19, 1989.
As for the meaning behind these four panels, I have already written a decent analysis of them in another blog venue. For the stories behind each individual square, you can click on the links for panel 1, panel 2 , panel 3 ,and panel 4.
I was told later in my tenure that the placement of the ad I saw was initially meant as a joke. The editors of the Review were upset that their staff cartoonist kept missing deadlines and so they placed the ad looking for a replacement as a mock threat. The editors never thought anyone would actually take them up on their offer, but when I showed up – portfolio in hand – they decided to jettison their tardy artist and take their chances on me.
All good things must come to an end and that is what happened a year later (May of 1990) when my run as the Review‘s official cartoonist ended – mainly because I was graduating. I had planned for my final strip to be a giant thank you to important people, but because I made a mistake in planning out the Review’s publication schedule (they ended a week earlier than I expected), I had to cram my appreciation into the margins of my final strip.
The margin reads, “My last strip – Thanks to Page, Bill, Eric, “The Trinity” (Adam & Jeff) & Jodi for inspiration / To my test audience Alice & Laura for opinions / To the Review for having me / To y’all for laughing – Thanks!”
Those are their stories.
P.S. As to an explanation about all the inside jokes about Northwestern’s Dillo Day…well, that’s a story for another day.