I was on the chess team in 8th grade. This was at all hispanic Bel Air Jr. High School in El Paso, TX. I was the only anglo kid. They called me Miguel Frito.
Let’s make a list. White kid. Thick glasses. Three hundred hispanic kids. Middle School. Puberty. Band Nerd. Chess Club. Desperate need to blend into the background. Impossible to blend into the background. You couldn’t create a better recipe for life long dependence on therapy if you tried.
I remember being driven to the first day of classes and the radio was playing Three Dog Night’s, “Black and White”.
The ink is black, the page is white
Together we learn to read and write
A child is black, a child is white
The whole world looks upon the sight, a beautiful sight
Uh-huh. Skinny white kid caught in gang crossfire. Details at ten.
I was terrified.
But it turned out to be a great year. The hispanic kids seemed to appreciate the irony of a majority kid at a minority school and instead of ostracizing me, they embraced me. I was actually popular. Girls talked to me. They thought the Chess Boy was cool.
And the next year we moved across the freeway and I went to all white Eastwood High School. And I was not popular. And girls did not talk to me.
And the Chess Boy was no longer cool.
I had blended in.
I use puns all the time. But I’m not proud of it. Puns are the laziest form of comedy. But they’re reliable. Like a John Williams score in a Spielberg movie (laid on like butter on a butter croissant), puns bypass the thinking parts of the brain and go straight for the gut. You laugh, but then you’re brain catches up and says, “Why am I laughing at a simple letter substitution that retains the sound of a word, but changes it’s meaning in a mildly surprising way?” Brains can be very wordy.
It’s a forced laugh. And as any Tea Bagger will tell you, shoving comedy down our throats is just one more banana peel pratfall down the slippery slope to being body-snatched by Sweden. First puns, then forced blondenization and then we’ll all be ending every sentence like a question? And…
…I’m pretty sure puns were born in Kenya.
Okay, look… I’m not destitute. Tom Joad aside, I’m not going to miss a meal any time soon. But it’s a fact that Over the Hedge takes time to write and draw. Time we’re paid less and less for with each dying newspaper. Sure, we had a big hit movie, but after the hookers and cocaine there was hardly any left for tequila.
So, I’ll make a deal with you. I’ll promise to keep providing this daily annotated version of the strip (plus lots of fun, fascinating tid-bits culled from my ADD-addled wanderings across the web) and you promise to make a choice. You can either…
1. Continue to enjoy this endlessly fascinating behind-the-panel reportage for free — thus ensuring your eternally guilt-riddled soul will burn in Hell forever and ever, A-men. Or…
2. You decide to forgo two venti caramel macchiatos, or one Stoli martini straight up with a twist (your choice (it’s all about choice!)) and pay me $10/year. Ten bucks! Ten bucks is nothing! It’s hardly money. You see ten bucks on the street, do you pick it up? Of course you do! Because ten bucks is a LOT of money! Am I INSANE?!
I’D HAVE TO BE TO WRITE FOR THESE PRICES!
Burn in hell for all eternity or pay me ten bucks. Your choice.
I can’t draw cute. I’m physically and psychologically incapable of it. My hand cramps up and goes into seizures. My heart starts racing, my breathing becomes labored and I turn the color of week old snow. I almost died once trying to draw a smiley face.
But my partner T Lewis can draw cute in his sleep. I think he actually does draw in his sleep since he illustrates the strip between 1 and 5 AM the day before deadline (“Same day he gets the script from me,” he said self-deprecatingly). This is because T is, by nature, cute. He says things like groovy and gee-whiz and gosh-golly. And he hums. He hums happy songs like, “76 Trombones,” and “Sugar, Sugar.”
I do not hum. I say things like, ”What do you mean I can’t get a #@$%!! beer here.” I brood. I fume. I spend an embarrassing large part of the day having imaginary arguments with people I’m upset with. My coronary arteries are probably blocked with the bile of a thousand imagined insults. T’s arteries are as spick and span as a McDonald’s restroom. T once said he’d hooked his wagon to a dark star. That’s me. Look toward the southern sky in the constellation Dickus Major.
Sugar… Honey, honey… You are my Candy Girlllllll. And I can’t stop lovin’ youuuuuu….
Crap! Now he’s got me humming it! Curse his cherubic cheerfulness!
This is a comic from the Committed panel I created and drew from 1994-2006. It was never in more than 80 papers, but it did inspire a prime-time animated series for the WE cable network and CTV in Canada produced by Nelvana. A TV series you never saw because it was pretty mediocre. It’s a long story, I’ll blog about one day.
This particular comic is from 1999 which for some reason was a brief miraculous period where I could draw.
For more of the Committed strip check out the comic.com archive: link
Fantastic ad for a hat store.
Got a pretty provocative comment on today’s cartoon over at comics.com/over_the_hedge from “trainwreck”…
“then there be monsters” That vernacular is disgusting! Even more so with the characters drawn with dark skin. And the negative inference about the edge of the earth makes me sick! Shame on you Michael Fry and T. Lewis
Hmm… Well, first off trainwreck may be being i-ron-ic himself. Hard to tell. If he/she is not, than he/she is another poster person for the lack of history education in our culture. “Edge of the earth,” and “there be monsters,” are what flatearther ancient sailors warned against if one sailed too far into the ocean. The only implication here is that closeted suburbanites have fenced themselves in from the wonders of nature with a metaphorical hedge.
Which brings to mind what E.B. White said about explaining comedy… Something like, “Dissecting comedy is like dissecting a frog. You can do it, but the subject tends to die in the process.”
One more thing… I would brag that this is the first chance ever to show off my history degree, except I’m pretty sure I learned about “there be monsters,” from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.
Spleen is my favorite funny word. I use it WAY too much as a comedy cheat. If you don’t have a solid punch line, just add the word spleen. Stick any other body organ in Hammy’s last line and it’s just not as funny. Say it quick. Say it slow. Say it after Idaho. Spleen, spleen, spleen wonderful spleen. Fun to say and fun to write, spleen was made to delight. And…
It’s Verne’s biker name.
I love stuff like this. Over at nytimes.com, Drew Hodges, founder of the ad agency, SpotCo, narrates a behind the scenes look at how they picked the winning design. Can you pick the winner? Link
Here’s my solution to global warming. Chia Hats. Topiary Headwear. Haberdashery Horticulture. Living, breathing, CO2 sinks atop our noggins. No copyright. Run with it. You’re welcome.
Plants on the head!
Plants on the head!
Lookin’ real cool with plants on the head!