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An Ancient Comic Strip I Did

Writing a blog on what I guess will be a daily basis reminds me of the first time I tried “daily programming”—in elementary school, I think in fourth and/or fifth grade. I created, with some friends (hello, Primo Lombardi, Jon Barlett and Frank Flanders), a comic strip called “Bob’s Bar” and envisioned making my own Peanuts, Garfield or Bloom County (I think this was pre-Calvin and Hobbes). I LOVED comic strips, and loved to draw, though I didn’t stick with it (to my dad’s dismay). I soon moved my interest from comic strips to comic books, and adored the mid-1980s Marvel work of John Romita, Jr., Walt Simonson, John Byrne and others, but couldn’t come close emulating their skills.

For a few months, I wrote and drew a daily strip and put it on a bulletin board outside the library at the West Tisbury Elementary School. I think I went a few months straight before stopping and moving on to something else. My favorite teacher, John Budris, will remember, and might see this if he follows it from Facebook. The strip was about an urban bar and grill called Bob’s Bar and to this day I remember the frustration of wanting to convey truth about the adult world while knowing NOTHING about it.

The above single panel that I found and scanned—I forget if it’s a standalone, or part of a longer story—features a character named “Soda Can” who lived inside the soda machine outside Bob’s Bar. (Not sure how the physics of that worked. I guess if Oscar can live in a trash can, why not?) Incidentally, Soda Can is not African American...I don’t think he has a race at all...he’s just really grungy.

Please read the dialogue bubble. I am mildly impressed with myself! This is 1984 or thereabouts. I am probably ten years ago. All the terrible developments with C.T.E. and football players are decades in the future. And yet this was somehow on my mind, and I felt compelled to editorialize about it in a comic strip. (I misspelled “vegetable.”)

Happy Labor Day...and farewell, Michael K. Williams, a unique screen presence who gave life to one of The Wire’s most unforgettable characters.

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