When I was twelve, I tried to create a comic over the summer. It was, like most comics created by kids, a mish-mash of cheap jokes and ideas lifted from comics I read at the time. Comics like “Bloom County”, “Garfield”, and “Pogo” reprints. The idea of it was very much the same, structure-wise, as Bloom County - humans and talking animals. One of them was a turtle, who smoked cigars and wore a derby, named (for some reason I can’t recall as an adult) Stapleton.
Flash-forward almost a year and a half. My youth minister, who’d been a journalist, was doing a youth group newsletter and wanted someone else to take it over. For some reason that fell to me. He told me it needed to have news for the youth group, a Bible-related article, and the last page could be a comic. I pulled the comic idea back out, replaced all the humans in the comic with people in our youth group, and dropped all the animal characters but Stapleton. About a year later I was told he had to stop smoking the cigar by the new youth minister.
I quit that church in Autumn of 1991 for a host of reasons and started attending a nearby Methodist church. I turned the newsletter over to another kid when I did. At the time, I was on newspaper and yearbook staff at my high school (the newspaper was and still is named the Palantir, Tolkien nerds, and the school had permission fro Tolkien himself a few years before he passed). I was doing the “political” cartoons for the paper (I was state ranked for that sophomore through senior year, and nationally ranked my senior year). I was also doing a super parody comic book based off a friend of mine. But I kind of missed the turtle.
My junior and senior years I got to do a comic strip in the newspaper. I brought Stapleton (and his cigar) back and paired him with a little girl named Pandora who was basically horrible. Unsurprisingly (and uninterestingly), the comic was called, “Pandora’s Box” - CUZ THE COMIC HAD IT’S OWN BOX IN THE PAPER, GET IT? Ugh. For two years I got away with jokes I’m pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to get away with. After that, I never really used him or Pandora again
And I’ve never really used him since. Every once in a while I mess around with him. The weird thing is he looks ALMOST EXACTLY THE SAME in design as he did when I was 13 (the design from when I was 12… no idea what I was thinking). I considered using him for a movie review comic that only focuses on the B and C grade movies people consider renting and think better of it. I dunno.
Oh, and I still have all that old art at my parents’ house. Which, honestly, is kinda weird.
A weird aside. Years ago I was looking through a box of records for sale. On the cover of “Cheap Thrills” by the band Big Brother & the Holding Time from 1968 was, amongst other things, a cigar smoking, hat wearing turtle looking mournfully at betting forms. The entire cover was drawn by R. Crumb. Thing is, I was definitely NOT raised around rock music (nothing after 1960, anyway) so I know I never saw it. But it was surprising.
And that’s my uninteresting ramble for the day.
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- uncalar said: I’m more than a little okay with this idea :) Also, Stapleton looks terrific. Maybe he just arrived early in your brain. He looks like the impatient type ;)
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- oddmodout said: You also said that you were unfamiliar with Soft Cell’s song “Sex Dwarf”when you created Pepito.
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