Today I'm going to write about a comic that you won't ever find on GoComics. The comic, "Walter and Jasmine," appeared toward the end of the movie Secondhand Lions, starring the unlikely trio of Robert Duvall, Michael Caine and my seventh-favorite child actor of all time, Haley Joel Osment. I honestly don't know how Secondhand Lions ended up in my Netflix cue unless it was because I clicked on the wrong Michael Caine film at some point (reminder: never drink and update your Netflix cue). But, I decided to get my money's worth and watch it anyway.
The film itself was pretty cheesy, as expected, but at the very end something caught my eye. The HJO character is shown as a grown-up cartoonist, an interest that was never once touched on earlier in the film.
The comic in question is called "Walter & Jasmine," and tells the story of young Walt and his titular pet lion. My wife asked me what I would say to the comic if it came in as a submission, and my first reaction was to give it a "no thanks" — just another Calvin & Hobbes knock-off, and a blatant one at that. But after looking at the drawings I could see these were no ordinary stock cartoons, and I admitted that the art alone made it worth another look.
For once, my hunch was correct — these illustrations were indeed the work of a master, Berkeley Breathed of "Bloom County" fame. Apparently the film's director, Tim McCanlies, persuaded Breathed to come out of retirement to create these for the film.
The director's commentary says:
And so ... we had no money to ... you know, these cartoons needed to be great, they show Walter is successful, they need to be good, and they should be whimsical to really capture the show. I wrote Berkley the biggest butt-kissing fan letter you ever read, and he said, even though we had no money, he did these for us out of the goodness of his heart, AND he just did SUCH an amazing job....
Ironically, Breathed's signature touch was something he actually tried to avoid shining through in the Walter & Jasmine drawings, according to one source.
Check out the strips' appearance in the film here (or watch the whole film like I did) or just skip to this fan site which reproduced all the actual illustrations.
AND... (and and!) ... don't forget to tune in this Friday for our live Tweet session with Berkeley at 1:30 p.m. central time via @GoComics using the #AskBerkeleyBreathed hash tag.
See you then!