Hello. I’m Kevin Fagan, creator of the Drabble comic strip. Thank you for continuing to read this far.
I have drawn a new installment of Drabble every day for the past 36 years. How many strips is that? Let’s see, 365 days times 36 years … well, I’ll let you figure it out.
I signed my first syndicate contract when I was 21 and still in college. I had drawn cartoons for my college newspapers at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, California, and then at California State University, Sacramento. While in Sacramento, the editors of the Sacramento Union saw my work and invited me to draw cartoons for them on a freelance basis. The Union eventually folded, and I still feel partly responsible.
I wrote a letter to Charles M. Schulz while in college and asked him for advice on getting my work syndicated. I was thrilled to get a response in the mail on Snoopy stationery! He declined to comment specifically on my work, saying it was not him who I had to impress, but an editor somewhere. But he did include a list of newspaper syndicates. On that list was United Feature Syndicate (the one that syndicated Peanuts). I sent samples to all on the list, and everyone rejected me except for United, which asked me to change my single-panel cartoon into a strip.
They must have seen something in my work that they liked. An executive from New York City flew out to Sacramento with a contract, and Drabble was born. The thought of creating a new strip every day from then on was a little intimidating, but 13,140 strips later, so far, so good!
When Drabble started, I was Norman Drabble, the shy, nerdy college student. At some point, I turned into his dad, Ralph, who kind of took over the strip.
The early years were exciting. Ron Howard invited me to his office to discuss turning Drabble into a live-action sitcom. It went pretty far, but never made it on the air. Peanuts animator Bill Melendez wanted to turn it into an animated feature and did several minutes of animation, but he was always very busy with Peanuts. Zero for two. Those were fun experiences, though. Maybe one day Drabble will make it into a different medium.
Then again, maybe it already has. I’m pretty sure the term “mall cop” was coined in Drabble. I remember seeing a mall security guard for the first time in the early 80s, and I thought it would be the perfect occupation for Ralph Drabble. (Malls had been around for a while, but I had never seen any security officers in uniform.) I didn’t know what to call it, though. “Mall security guard” didn’t have much of a ring to it. “Retail security officer” had too many letters for a comic strip. I remember talking to my brother about it, and we came up with “mall cop” and both laughed. That became Ralph’s occupation for the next 25 years!
I work in a studio in my home. Actually, it used to be my studio. Now it’s my wife’s studio. She does most of the computer work for me. I draw the strips by hand and give them to her. She sends them off to Universal Uclick, the syndicate that now distributes Drabble. I guess my pens make scratchy sounds on the drawing board, so she usually asks me to beat it when she’s working.
I wander around town and try to find places to sit and think of ideas. Most of the locals assume I live on the streets. As I write this, I am sitting in a fast food restaurant. No one ever bothers me here. I guess when a middle-aged man is sitting by himself drawing funny pictures and occasionally giggling, most people are happy to leave him alone.
I’m a big sports fan. Several years ago, the Angels redesigned their stadium and tore out all the seats. My wife bought a couple of them and had them installed in my studio. I sit in them all the time when I need to think of ideas, so that’s kind of neat.
My favorite comic strips growing up were Peanuts and Herman. Herman always made me laugh out loud. Peanuts made me want to be a cartoonist. I also loved Dennis the Menace, B.C., The Wizard of Id, Tiger, Momma and Family Circus (which, if you have a young family and feel stressed out, is a lot cheaper than going to therapy!). I also loved Don Martin, Sergio Aragones and the rest of MAD magazine.
My wife and I have three kids and we’re very proud of them. We also have a couple of cute grandkids. Oh, and we also have a crazed dachshund that gives me lots of ideas for Wally the wiener dog! The kids and grandkids say a lot of things that end up in the strip, too. I guess it’s kind of a family business!
It’s amazing to me that I’ve been drawing this strip for so long, and it’s still so much fun! Most people say they hate Mondays. I’m just the opposite. I love Mondays! I love looking at that blank paper and wondering what’s going to be on it by the end of the day. You’d think a cartoonist would run out of ideas after a while, but I’ve realized that it is impossible to run out of ideas.
So that’s a little about me. Thank you for reading Drabble. I’ll keep trying to give you a laugh every day!
Read Drabble here, or like the comic on Facebook.