I'm pretty sure Steve "In the Bleachers" Moore was not involved in this direct-to-video sequel that came out eariler in the week. But he was responsible for executive producing and for coming up with most of the story for the original ... which did almost $200 million global box office. Steve also has an animated movie "Alpha Wolf" in development with Lionsgate.
During our move last fall, I found this old UPS brochure from 1983.
Before I saw this, I had no idea we syndicated a Richard Simmons column ... and to my surprise, the column isn't just about wearing shorts that are too small for you and how to execute a perm at home that looks great and won't hurt you too badly in the pocketbook.
... syndicate editors aren't perfect. I know what you're thinking, "Say it Ain't So, JG." or maybe you're asking, "If syndicate editors are allowed to make mistakes, who will keep the pressure on the fat cats in Washington?"
And while both are important and thoughtful concerns, the gracious and uber-talented Richard Thompson points out on his lovely blog we missed the extra "tang" (highlighted in yellow) coming from the dialogue balloon and erroneously leading to Mom.
COMICS FUN FACT/DID YOU KNOW? : (apologies to Amy Sedaris/Ruben Bolling) A tang or a speech line lets the reader know where the dialogue is being generated. Not to be confused with THOUGHT BUBBLES!
It's on at 10:30 (ET) Friday ... and when you do be sure to check out the backdrop. It's done by our very own Corey "Elderberries" Pandolph. Some of you may know Corey for his work on "Toby: Robot Satan" or his smash-hit Web comic, "Barkeater Lake" or for "Lil Spencer Adventures."
And since John Updike's death, I think Corey now holds the unanimous crown of "World's Scariest Eyebrows."
It's also a little-known fact that Corey was the "Leonid Breshnev Fellow" at University of Maine-Orono's Center for the Advancement of those with Scary Eyebrows in the Summer of 2006. He was not asked back. (long story)
Back in the olden days, you had to pay a nickel to the newsy on the street corner and leaf through until you found the funnies (many of which are still running almost a century later). Nowadays you can simply bust out your iPhone or iPod touch and have literally hundreds of comics and features at your disposal. All via the UCLICK GoComics app. Check it out here.
Thanks for joining us, comics fans. Today, we have a delightful treat in that we've secured an interview with the socially well-adjusted and non-reclusive cartoonist -- and all-around great person -- Jan Eliot. Be sure to check out Jan's work at www.gocomics.com/stonesoup. And be sure to buy the latest book collection here. ... a great gift for Valentine's Day, the Ides of March or to celebrate the conversion to Daylight Savings Time.
1. Stone Soup is now going on 14 years in syndication, is that correct? But you started in an Oregon weekly during the first Bush era, yes? Can you give us a bit of the Stone Soup timeline?
HA! you are pretty funny. Yes, we are coming up on 14 years. I started cartooning in an Oregon Alternative weekly newspaper during, um... hmmmmmm...the CARTER years. But Stone Soup took shape in its current form in the Eugene Register Guard, our daily paper. They gave me a weekly spot off the funny pages. It was a great gift, and helped me gain skills and an audience while I still had a day job.
2. What exactly is Phil supposed to be?
A guy. Is that not clear?
3. Sorry, I was talking about his rank on the police department: sergeant, captain or lieutenant?
AH. He's modeled after a sergeant in the Eugene Motorcycle Squad.
4. You’ve chosen never to really age your characters … is it possible for you to chose that for me as well?
Well, I'm choosing it for ME, so you bet --- bling, you're forever 31.
5. There’s a rumor that you shunned an offer from Jerry Bruckheimer for a “Stone Soup” TV show because he didn’t want you involved in the creative process. Can I just say I admire your integrity? The strength? The courage?
I said Jerry, Jerry, Jerry, you know me better than that. (pause) Seriously, I have been known to turn down things in the past that threatened my control over Stone Soup, but Jerry? Really? Have you heard from him? 'Cause I'm a BIG fan :-)
6. Are you Val? Do you ever wear an red or orange-haired wig while writing to get yourself into character? Follow up: What percentage of your waking hours is spent in a wig?
I am VAL in thought and speech. I modeled the character after my best pal Val, who really does have red hair. Her looks, my mouth, no wig.
7. How would you help save the newspaper industry?
Well, for one, I'd get them to run more comics and better TV guides. My local paper just cut 11 pages from the TV guide. Really? Do you WANT readers? Readers generally need more from their TV guides than a time slot for Monday - Friday that says "various programs".
Other than that? Fewer stockholders, more independent journalism, more local news. And more funnies. Always, more funnies. And more women's sports. When I want thorough women's sports coverage, I buy USA Today. If they have readers who are interested in Geno Auriemma and Pat Summit, my paper must too. C'mon guys!
8. Who’s your favorite fine artist?
Hmmm... Van Gogh. The colors... so amazing. He was so far ahead of his time. A hard place to be, obviously.
9. If you could take an out-of-towner to one restaurant in Eugene, which would it be?
Well, tragically, the local favorite for 20 years -- Cafe Zenon -- recently closed. So now the best food in town is served up in a tiny place squeezed between Jiffy Market and Dairy Mart called Chef's Kitchen.
Amazing food, but it comes on paper plates and you get to listen to the chef yell for his wife, who hustles out the food, pours wine and chats up the regulars. Sometimes one of their 5 kids busses tables. He was trained in Switzerland, and once cooked for the Grateful Dead. Very Eugene.
10. There were allegations some years back that you were the prime suspect in a string of currency exchange holdups in the late 80s, could you fill us in on where that investigation currently stands? This is the proper forum to get your side of the story out.
You know, I was a stretched-thin single mom. You can't really blame me. I had to pay for the kids' shoes somehow. But I'll never confess to anything but being desperate, and bold.
11. I know it’s out of your hands, but if you had to guess what Holly was going to end up doing … career-wise … what would it be? The Vegas line has her as heavy favorite to be “cranky airline counter staff.”
Holly Holly Holly. What do you MEAN, it's out of my hands? I couldn't control what became of my OWN kids, but I have complete control over Holly, poor thing. I have great plans for her. Even though she's not growing up in the strip, SOME DAY it will be revealed.
12. What age does Val think it’s appropriate to have a girl’s ears pierced?
Actually, if you look closely, Holly already has little hoops. We go with 12 in Stone Soup land.
13. What’s the hardest part of your job?
Monday morning with a blank sheet of paper. It's all about ideas... having them or NOT having them. The writing really pains me, it's truly agonizing. Sketching up the ideas is also tough, because I'm editing and fretting as I work out the drawings.
When I'm inking, I'm in heaven, cranking up the happy music and talking on the phone. Because by then, the tough work is done and the fun of drawing begins.
14. Do you think there’s a bias against women cartoonists in the industry? How do explain the relative lack of female cartoonists?
That is a really tough question. Disney actively refused to put women in their studios at one time... Dahlia Messick had to change her name to Dale to get Brenda Starr into syndication in the 50s... Hilda Terry fought (and won) an uphill battle to break the gender barrier in the National Cartoonist Society in the 50s. When I started cartooning in the late early 80s I was told there was limited room for comic strips done by women. If a newspaper had one or two, they didn't need any more. Something that, I think, African American cartoonists feel they face today. As if we don't write for everyone, as if only a part of the population would be interested in what we had to say.
So, that's the HISTORY... does it affect women now?
In that there are few of us, and therefore less community and mentoring, it may feel like an unfriendly place for women. I enjoy my women friends, I'm sure that men feel the same, they like to hang together. At big gatherings of cartoonists, overwhelmingly male, it might seem hard to find a place for yourself as a woman. Add to that that the majority of syndicate salespeople and editors are male... you can feel like a stranger in a strange land.
There are a lot more women in greeting cards... but from what I hear, it's still tough to be female in the comic book world. If you are a female comic book creator, feel free to comment here. The women that I know in comic strips... Sandra Bell Lundy, Hilary Price, Anne Gibbons, Anne Telnaes, Rina Piccolo, Lynn Johnston, Cathy Guisewite... their friendships mean a lot to me. I'm always hoping to see more women at the NCS events.
Still, the world of cartooning is like anything else... there are great people and there are jerks. There are plenty of men I admire and who have been very kind to me--- John McPherson, Jerry Scott, Jim Borgman, Dave Coverly, Rick Kirkman, Brian Crane, John Kovaleski... I've also had the pleasure of meeting great guys like Tom Richmond, Jeff Stahler, Joel Pett... really, there are lots of nice guys in this field. Not least of all Sparky, who was very kind to me, very inclusive of women in cartooning, and whom I am grateful to have known, even for a short while.
I have to tell this funny story, in conclusion. My husband Ted and I were at the Reuben awards in San Antonio, maybe 1998. Everyone wears the same big yellow NCS button. Ted is in an elevator with a group of older cartoonists. One of them asks him what feature he does. Ted replies "Oh, I'm a spouse". Silence. Then, as the doors of the elevator are opening, one of the men says "You know, there are some gay guys in my neighborhood, and they don't bother me at all".
With that, they left. That Ted might have a cartoonist WIFE was just too much of a stretch, I guess. He must be gay. News to us!
15. How far ahead of deadline are you?
Well, I was farther out before I started answering these questions! Thanks for the diversion, anything to procrastinate. I'm usually 3 weeks out (6 weeks for Sundays). I hate being right on top of my deadlines... it means there's no room for a bad day. Leads to burnout. Deadly.
16. What do you like most about Lou Gossett Jr.?
Sorry, but I just don't ever think about Lou.
17. What’s with those hideous University of Oregon football uniforms?
Ask Phil Knight. (Nike) He seems to be behind everything in Oregon Athletics, except women's sports of course. The very strange thing is that this year's uniforms are BLACK. Not one of our colors. One of our RIVAL's colors ... but not ours, which are green and yellow. The DUCKS. Quack.
I like the tire tread thing on the shoulders, though, and the ones that look like wings. Have you heard how MANY variations there are??? I think that the uniform budget alone could have funded a new building for the English department at UO.
By the way, in case you don't know the connection... Nike began in a garage in Eugene, where UO's famous track coach Bill Bowerman poured rubber into his wife's waffle iron. He glued the rubber waffle sole to track shoes. Ta-Da! An industry as born.
18. Do you use a computerized font?
Nope. I like lettering, and I like putting emotion in my letters. You know, if I'm thinking about the text, and it has emotion, that somehow runs through my fingers into the lettering. I can see the advantage of having a font of your lettering... but I like that what I do is not so uniform. And I like having artwork that is complete, in the end. Selling original strips helps pay for my vacations. And why work if you can't pay for vacations???
19. Do you write a week first and then draw? When/how do you know a joke is ready?
I try to write a couple of weeks at a time. I always try to write more than I need, so that I can throw the weaker stuff away, or save it for later when I might be able to revise it into a better gag. I get an entire week written, sketched and approved (by me and one other reader) before I start inking.
I know a joke is ready if it makes me laugh. I usually have Ted (husband) preview my cartoons, because he shares my sense of humor and he's a good reality check for me. I also have a great editor at UPS who can give me feedback. But mostly, I trust myself. If the story and/ or gag mean something to me, say something funny or meaningful, that's enough for me.
20. Do you laugh out loud at your own writing?
That's a very, very good day.
21. What else makes you laugh out loud?
I laugh at everything. I laugh at tragedy. It's rude, but it's reflex. When something bad happens (ok, not like someone DIED) I can't help but think "OF COURSE!" and it makes me laugh.
22. Best movie comedy of all-time?
That's tough... I don't like slapstick. I loved "Punchline" because it was about writing comedy.
23. Best TV comedy of all-time?
Dick Van Dyke... Mash... Frasier. I can't pick. Each in their own era -- the greatest. Frasier was brilliantly written. Mash offered so much beyond comedy. I wanted to BE Dick Van Dyke when I was little... that guy in the room with Buddy and Sally who got to write jokes for a living. Funny for money, a dream job. I didn't want to be Sally because she had to type and wear those dumb barrettes.
24. If one of your children wanted to continue Stone Soup on your retirement … what would you say?
Nope. Not a reflection on my kids... but I believe to my core that this practice, and the practice of reruns, has killed the comics. Without fresh talent, the funny pages are DOA. My dear daughters have their own things to accomplish.
25. You’ve been very vocal about the ridiculous process for the awards voting by the NCS. Can you elaborate and who’s your least favorite member of the NCS? Note: I am an associate member, so I do not count.
ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha rhymes with.... wait, maybe he's dead. We can hope.
26. Who would voice Val in an animated Stone Soup? I vote Julia Louis Dreyfuss, Gwen Stefani or Meredith Baxter Birney.
Gwen Stefani? See, Val's an alto. Kathleen Madigan! Of course, if you can get Julia... can she bring Wanda Sykes? I want her for Gramma.
27. How did you come up with the name? What was it named before Stone Soup?
It was Sister City. Apparently some focus group somewhere didn't like it. Sounded tooo feminist. SIS-tah. Since the powers that be had no interest in changing my concept, just the name, I was happy to comply. Stone Soup is from an old medieval fairy tale. It means something from nothing. A little help from here, a little from there, you beat the odds. A bit like my life.
Incidentally, Stone Soup is the national dish of Portugal. Which might explain why I was the first property acquired by Editorial Bizancio, in Lisbon. So far they have published 5 of my books in Portuguese.