This Hybrid Strip Is a Brilliant Idea! vs. No, It Isn't.
This Hybrid Strip Is A Brilliant Idea!
Cartoonist Who Refuses to Frigging Retire Already
I'm a genius!
When I turned forty, I began to think about retirement, as people of that age usually do. Yet, somehow it didn't just set right with me. I still felt chipper and spry, and the characters in my comic strip were so alive to me, I just couldn't set them aside.
So, it continued. The Pattersons continued on in their journey, and I just followed along for the ride, letting their stories evolve according to what the characters wanted -- I'm just the vessel, you know. But once I reached the truly advanced age of sixty, I felt it was time to finally lay down the pen.
But those darn characters just wouldn't let me! So, I hit on a compromise. I'd do a 'hybrid' strip, incorporating new and old material. The 'present day' characters would look back on their counterparts of the past. Isn't that brilliant? And so much more of a calvinistic, hard-working, and dare I say, unwussy approach than those lazybones who either retire outright or just draw Sunday strips. Yes, Watterson and Amend, I'm talking about you! This is unique, no one else has ever done this before, but I've always fancied myself as a bit of a trailblazer, no matter what Sparky said. There are still stories to tell, and awards to win!
So, I forged ahead with my idea. It's the best of both worlds! This way I don't have to work so hard, sketching out every last floor plan down to the number of cans of waxed beans in Elly's pantry, but I still get paid as much as I ever did! Plus a whole new generation of fans will get to know and love the Patterson family. If I didn't do this, how else would they get a chance to appreciate my early work?
Take today's strip for example. It's just as fresh and topical as the day I drew it twenty eight or so years ago. In it, Elly has returned from a trip to visit her parents, and asked how John liked being a bachelor. Now, us gals know what he was probably thinking but I had him say "the chaos"! Isn't that a hoot? And just think, if I hadn't had this inspiration to hybridize the strip, my readers would have missed this slice of life!
Oh, sure I've said that if it doesn't work I'll retire and let someone else have a crack at my real estate, but just between us, I'm not too worried about that! I'm sure my fans will stick by me and that my strip will continue to paper fridges across the world for years to come!
No, It Isn't.
The Edsel. Prohibition. The Iraq War. And now, For Better or For Worse, the Hybriding.
Look, woman, the idea itself wasn't so bad it's just that your execution sucks. We wanted to give this a chance, we really did. After all, done right it could have worked. As it is, all we can say is: WTF?
As in, what the fuck are you doing? What is this? Let's see how you kicked this mess off. You have characters recalling events they either didn't actually witness or could not accurately recall and you pick strips which do nothing to answer the question which led into these trips down memory lane, in this instance, what made Great Grandma Marian so great? This is hardly an auspicious beginning.
As for your blather about your trailblazing uniqueness, we'll give you that one. Surely, no one else in cartooning history has ever come up with such a clever way to get a syndicate to pay them for doing essentially nothing.
You're right, this did take genius. A special kind of genius for sloppy storytelling, for picking the most boring past arc you could possibly find out of what has to be 10,000+ strips. The kind of genius which holds utter contempt for other people. Because that's what this is, a huge insult against the intelligence of everyone save a select few in your fan base. You ... ah, fuck it. There's no point.
Look, fish or cut fucking bait. Either do this thing right, and by right we don't mean a half-assed lead-in by your favorite character (tell us, is it possible to cure one's Penis Envy by just DRAWING what one considers the perfect son?) to some dumb-assed arc about a stupid-assed trip, or just don't do it at all. It's not like those book collections won't keep selling (that would be where anyone so inclined could 'enjoy' your past work, BTW) or that you couldn't keep drawing adverts for the sides of buses or garbage cans if you stop this travesty right now.
Give someone else a chance. I mean, if the Katzenjammer Kids hadn't dropped off the comics page, you might never have gotten your first break, right? Don't be so goddamned greedy.
The sad thing is, in the right hands this really could have been the best of both worlds. Someone with a lick of sense and an ounce of self-awareness and a desire to do more than just phone it in really could have made this work. The right person would have thought this out, made a effort to tie in the past with the future.
That person isn't you.
New Windjammer! chapter is up!