Tuesday, August 23, 2005

See You in the Funny Pages

Consider this a companion piece to The Best Men, because here is another instance where Señor Squeegee and I have collaborated on project that has never come off. This time it’s a comic strip idea called Bucky and Sparkles. The premise is simply this: the strip follows the lives of two clown roommates who never stop being clowns — in other words, the make-up stays on 24/7. Their refrigerator is stocked with seltzer, custard pies and banana peels, and they drive a Cooper Mini that can hold themselves and a dozen of their friends. But what makes it interesting is that we’re talking about a rodeo clown sharing living arrangements with a circus clown — in other words, two entirely different kinds of clowns. Sort of a clown odd couple, if you will.

I basically gave the concept to John and he was supposed to run with it, with me serving as an occasional consultant. John came up with with the idea of Bucky sleeping in a barrel instead of a bed, and a few other nice little touches I can’t recall. I envisioned them living in a wacky apartment building, with tenants like the Fat Lady, an opera singer who always goes around in Viking garb.

Here is my concept of what Bucky and Sparkles could look like:

Hmm. Maybe they’re a bit too cutesy. A little edgier might work better, right?


Speaking of unfulfilled comic strip ideas, about fifteen years ago I planned to create a cartoon strip called Doctor Time. The story is hardly original: a scientist constructs a time machine and he and his loyal assistant take a ride in it but can never get back to the present; instead, they wind up bouncing here and there among the epochs and have many adventures. Doctor Phineas Time is a goofy, well-meaning professor who blithely leads himself and his long-suffering assistant, Simpson, into many scrapes. It’s meant to be funny and possibly educational — certainly it would have caused me to do considerable research.

I actually drew up two or three strips, but a search of my basement the other day for them came up empty. I do remember how one of them went and I’ve sketched it out below. This occurs when Doctor Time and Simpson find themselves in the company of prehistoric man:

DOCTOR TIME: Simpson — do you spy that caveman over there? I shall attempt to communicate with him!

SIMPSON: I don’t know sir . . . do you think that’s wise?

DOCTOR TIME: Tush, tush, Simpson — you forget I’m a trained anthropologist! I will gain his trust by imitating a caribou, a creature well-known to him for its docility…

…When he sees I mean no harm, communication will happen naturally!

CAVEMAN: Buddy — if ya need to relieve yourself, there’s a whole woods right over there!

Two things I discovered about cartoon strips: it’s hard to think of gags and they take a long time to draw! These are just crude sketches and it took me a while to do them. It makes me appreciate the pros!


Blogger Mrs.T said...

This cracks me up... I think the clown needs a booze bottle.. for some reason I always see clowns as drunks, or something. Maybe repressed childhood memory or something.

6:40 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

Bucky is supposed to be the cantankerous one. Maybe the ceramic jug with the XXX across it could be worked into his act. And spitting tobacco juice into an umbrella stand next to the front door.

4:28 AM  
Blogger :phil: said...

Great idea. Maybe when they get home, they take off their makeup, but have different, not so cute expressions. Like one could look like Tammy Faye Baker or something. I've alway loved cartoons. I would buy Playboy just for the cartoons. Okay, also for the interviews. If I could draw, I've always wanted to draw a cartoon titled 'where the get table syrup from' and show a dinning room table with a maple syrup spigot in it with bucket being filled with yummy table syrup!

6:12 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

Hey, I loved both strips. I think the clown strip is great, and I like the rodeo vs. circus clown gag, and the sleeping-in-a-barrel touch. Great drawing too. I'm very impressed.

7:24 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"I would buy Playboy just for the cartoons."

No, no — you buy Playboy for the articles, The New Yorker for the cartoons.

Thanks for the comments, Scott.

7:35 AM  
Blogger trinamick said...

Great cartoons. You got John involved in something about clowns? I knew it - he just pretends to hate them. Probably dresses up as one at home.

The rodeo clown has to have a plug of chew. I don't know any self-respecting rodeo clown who doesn't chew tobaccy.

9:04 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"I don't know any self-respecting rodeo clown who doesn't chew tobaccy."

Absolutely. And when he spits the juice, you hear a clanging sound.

Believe it or not, John was pretty enthusiastic about this clown strip for a while. We might still do it.

9:15 AM  
Blogger NYPinTA said...

Maybe you could do what Berke Brethed does and have a Sunday only cartoon! A tabaccy spitting clown in color! *thumbs up* Sure to be an inspiration for kids all over the country. Hehe.

I once suggested to john that he do a coloring book of Joe being eaten by an acid dropping tiger. And yet... nada.
That slacker. :P

11:22 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

John is slacker, isn't he? And now he's being pampered by Michele like a little momma's boy. Maybe if he lets her rub calamine lotion on him she'll give him a lollypop. Wait ’til he finally comes back to work! (pounds fist into other hand)

11:42 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Schprock, let's face it, you're just really creative, talented, and funny. Your drawings are great and I loved the strips!

12:15 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

God bless you for saying, Knitter!

12:45 PM  
Blogger :phil: said...

Well, quit 'clowning around' and do it my man!

6:12 PM  
Blogger John said...

I thought the deadline was next month, when I moved back home. Oops.

The clowns are just on hiatus. I don't have any problems coming up with storylines, but like Mr. Schprock said, it takes a long time to draw these things. To draw them well, anyway. So my plan is to draw them up in Illustrator. It'll cut down time spent having to redraw all the characters. And maybe I could add a few finishing touches in Photoshop. I do have some character designs (I'd say they're "edgier" then the ones presented here.) but another stumbling block I have is that I can't draw backgrounds to save my life. The detail is there, but the perspective is always off.

My ultimate goal would be a Flash cartoon, I've got the voices down and everything. But I don't have the funds to buy the program yet. But I am planning on working on this strip at the start of next month. Really.

The fact that clowns creep me out doesn't help much, either.

6:15 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

There's no real "deadline," unlike the case with The Best Men.

6:50 AM  
Blogger Chloe said...

Can one of the clowns have a brother who visits, a sad hobo clown?? They're very funny despite (or is it because of) their depression.

5:43 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

Sure. He'll be Boxcar Joe, Bucky's cousin from Tennessee.

4:38 AM  

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