Wednesday, January 23, 2008

No More Mullet!

It was 1995 and I had settled with my Girlfriend At The Time (GATT), Sonya in Federal Way, WA, a suburb of Seattle. I had taken my first full time job since I moved to Seattle at a warehouse in Kent, WA. I hated the job but I liked the people I worked with, my supervisor was cool but I wasn't losing weight. So I was a bit depressed. I grew a beard and took on a red neck persona.

Then I got a call out of the blue from Humongous Entertainment, A computer gaming company for kids based in Woodenville, Washington.

I had an interview with them in May of 1994 which went well, but my inexperience with computers probably cost me an opportunity to work as an animator.

So now it was February 1995, I had worked at a warehouse for less than 6 months so the idea of working at Humongous Entertainment looked like a golden opportunity to move on up in the world and maybe move with or without Sonya to a better town.

Oh, it was good news.

At the same time my friend Sean called me with the opportunity to do caricatures for Guinness for bar clients in the Seattle area.

Kaloo, Kallay! Two jobs involving my skills at art that will get me out of the low wage jobs I had done since my move to Seattle. I was ecstatic, surely they would not call out of the blue to not offer me the job.

I was wrong. I got the call from Humongous stating I didn't get the job. I was devastated. I really wanted the job and if I had gotten it, my life would be so different, opportunities would have banged my door down. Instead I continued to toil in the warehouse, bitter and embarrassed by my excitement at telling my co-workers I was going to leave that miserable job.

Still, I had some compensation. I did get the gig with Guinness. I had an all expense orientation trip to Connecticut in which I showed my appreciation by getting drunk on beer that wasn't Guinness. My need to NOT kiss ass almost cost me the job. The job was good paying but it was a part time gig, so it was just extra money. Money enough to take a vacation finally with my GATT.

To this day it is the best vacation I took with anyone I have ever dated. We took a drive down the west coast, with stops in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Mexico. It was beautiful and a lot of fun. Boogie boarding at many of the places listed in the Beach Boys "Surfin' USA", visiting Richard Nixon's grave, and other fun activities.

I was amazed that I had time to work on Pipe Dreams. This set of strips I felt was the best constructed of the strips I had submitted at that point. I made one significant cosmetic strange in the look of the strip. I had gotten rid of Dirk's mullet. I don't know why I had it in the first place. Maybe the late 80's was a fine time to have a character with a mullet but by 1995, a mullet was way out of style, an object of ridicule. dirk was too well liked by those who read Pipe Dreams to accept a cheap shot so I cut the mullet.

These set of strips feature more of Julian and his rebel ways. I liked the character but I feel that in some ways , he was too radical to be accepted in the mainstream comic strip pages. Still I go for the joke.

Pipe Dreams was starting to have the proper balance of good art and some increasingly good writing and dialogue. Some of the strips in this group I am particularly proud. By this time I had enough of a back catalog that if one of the syndicates were to come a calling, I would whip out my sketchbooks and previous submissions to prove I had what it takes to produce a daily comic strip.

Just give Pipe Dreams a chance.

Anyway, some new comic strips were being published by this time. Ones that were conceived around the time I conceived Pipe Dreams. Some were great like Mutts but others like Mallard Fillmore which is the biggest waste of space any newspaper could possibly give. Some of the others were niche and not very good. Still, I was starting to feel that Pipe Dreams would never be syndicated because I wasn't either bland, right wing or great. I felt Pipe Dreams was better than most of the new strips that were syndicated after 1992. Some went by the wayside but others are still published to this day.

I still had hope...but I was feeling trapped living in Federal Way unable to develop a career that would enable us to move up and start a family.

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