First appeared in The Comic Reader #180, May 1980
Jim Engel: So we meet Daphne Duck! Take a good look—she never appeared again. Not my INTENT, but the way it panned out… In re-looking at this page, I noticed room 306—that was our apartment number at the time I drew this one. Also, that music looks real, and knowing me, it probably WAS. I can’t recall what it is, and I can’t read music. If I hadda GUESS? Percy Sledge’s “When A Man Loves A Woman”… The punch-line (if there is one), was just my being (as I recall) sick of the term “relationship”, which by 1980 was in vogue ad nauseam. This “pals” was pure “pals”… I still draw the pals characters today, usually for the same reason I first drew them, in notes to my wife Charis. I also just like drawing the for fun. “pals” BONUS! When I got my Wacom Cintiq a coupla yrs. ago, one of the first things I drew on it was “pals”. In fact, I re-drew the FIRST “pals” (very hastily, without doing a “rough” or “pencil” layer). Slap-dash, but here it is below…
Archive for Jim Engel
First appeared in The Comic Reader #180, May 1980
First appeared in The Comic Reader #179, April 1980
Jim Engel: Nothing more dramatic in comics than killing your lead character, right? And introducing (if only verbally) his long lost love on the same page…
I said last time I’d name the Doc, and explain his name… Richard Adams’ “WATERSHIP DOWN” is my favorite book (well, it vies with “THE LORD OF THE RINGS” for that title). My being a “Funny Animal Cartoonist” has a lot to do with my lifelong love of animals, and anthropomorphic animal characters in books, comics, cartoons, etc…
WATERSHIP DOWN is an epic story about a band of rabbits leaving their doomed warren in England, and traversing the countryside to find a new home. I can’t recommend it to anyone reading this highly enough (and I can’t discourage you from seeing the abysmal animated adaptation strongly enough). My love of W.D. and adams took me naturally to another of his books– “THE PLAGUE DOGS”, another anthropomorphic animal epic. To quote Wikipedia: “This book tells of the escape of two dogs, Rowf and Snitter, from a government research station in the Lake District in England, where they had been horribly mistreated. They live on their own with help from a fox, or “tod,” who speaks to them in a Geordie dialect. After the starving dogs attack some sheep on the fells, they are reported as ferocious man-eating monsters by a journalist. A great dog hunt follows, which is later intensified with the fear that the dogs could be carriers of a dangerous bioweapon, such as the bubonic plague.” The “research center” is where Rowf & Snitter are experimented on daily–Rowf drowned (nearly) over and over, and Snitter having his brain probed & poked, giving him delusions & visions. Snitter was one of those characters you can’t forget, and the doc in DD,DD was my little tribute to great character and book (and a lousy cartoon).
First appeared in The Comic Reader #178, March 1980
Jim Engel: What to say about #13? I remember a lot of people telling me it was a favorite… I couldn’t (well—WOULDN’T) have done it without the access I had to a photostat machine at my greeting card day job. Poor Jerry Sinkovec had no similar short-cuts when it came to COLORING it—he had to hand cut separations for every panel. The Doc in the last panel gets a name next chapter, so we’ll talk about him then…
Two chapters ago we saw Lackluster Lizard’s debut, and last time a “Bungalow Bill” strip in the Krazy Kat style. Below is a Lackluster Lizard strip from 1976. This originally appeared in “BUMBAZINE”, a fanzine put together by Alan Jim Hanley, Chuck Fiala, and me. The Lackluster character is evolving visually into the character he looks like in DD,DD. Actually, I had a second character called “Newt the Newt” whose visuals I co-opted and gave to Lackluster when I decided to insert him in the DD strip. The strip below is the the first appearance of “Pigs Benedict”, and the rabbit is essentially the look I used for Bungalow Bill in DD. Don’t ask me who the mouse is.
First appeared in The Comic Reader #177, February 1980
Jim Engel: Dick Duck himself doesn’t appear in this installment, but he’s there in spirit as Lackluster Lizard, Bungalow Bill, and Pigs Benedict, filling in at the office for our hospitalized hero, recreate the very first Dick Duck strip. As mentioned last week, these three were all characters I’d played around with prior to Dick Duck… “Bungalow Bill” Bunny appeared in a few one-pagers, and was done in the George Herriman/KRAZY KAT style, which I really enjoyed doing. The example below was printed in NATIONAL COMICS WEEKLY, a great ill-fated color funny animal comic weekly (with really great artists–Neal Sternecky, Mark Martin, Wm Van Horn to name a few)…from 1994
First appeared in The Comic Reader #176, January 1980
Jim Engel: The DICK DUCK cast grew by three with this installment, as we are introduced to three of Dick’s old friends: Lackluster Lizard, “Bungalow Bill” Bunny, and “Pigs” Benedict (P. Benedict Pig–the “P” stands for “Pig”–hence “Pigs”). Actually, they were MY old friends, and all pre-dated Dick Duck. Lackluster Lizard was the oldest. I started drawing him in the early ’70s, and did a few one-pagers of him for Chuck Fiala’s fanzine “FVP”. Bungalow Bill (named after the Beatles song) appeared in a couple one-pagers (with Vernon Lion and Fleming the Lemming) that were done as an homage to Krazy Kat, drawn in the George Herriman style. They appeared in BUMBAZINE (a fanzine Chuck & I did with Alan Jim Hanley—“J. Hanley Horse” in panel 4) and Pacific Comics’ WILD ANIMALS (I think)… Pigs Benedict appeared only once, in a Lackluster page, also in BUMBAZINE. The trio would later be revealed as the Bombay Rhythm Boys–America’s favorite Goodtime Band.
Jim’s earliest published character—LACKLUSTER (The Licentious) LIZARD, from FVP #5, 1972 (Jim was 15). The joke was a commentary on Ray Miller, columnist for the legendary fanzine RBCC, who was then running a “contest” asking readers to send in drawings of famous comic book heroines naked.
First appeared in The Comic Reader #175, December 1979
Jim Engel: This strip marked the only “physical” cross-over between the two COMIC READER funny animal strips, DICK DUCK, DUCK DICK, and BULLET CROW- FOWL OF FORTUNE (by Chuck Fiala). Dick was referred to in BULLET CROW, but never appeared in the strip itself. Physically, when they appeared in TCR, they were side by side, with DD,DD on the left and BC on the right.
Bullet Crow’s appearance here was essentially the punchline, because Chuck’s hero and strip were less “realistic” (if that makes sense)…more slapstick-y than DD, and Dick had to be rescued by Bullet Crow, who was completely inept…
While Dick Duck & Bullet Crow didn’t appear together in their strips (save this once), they were linked in people’s minds by their TCR affiliation, the friendship of their creators, and this ultra-rare T-SHIRT sold by STREET ENTERPRISES during their original publication run.
First appeared in The Comic Reader #174, November 1979
Jim Engel: Hmmm…. not a LOT to say about this one… I DO remember by this time trying with every page to throw in an interesting “camera angle” or two… I was as influenced by the “realistic” artists who drew all my favorite super-heroes & adventure strips (Eisner, John Buscema, Kirby, Romita, etc.) as I was by Walt Kelly and the great funny animal cartoonists, so I was trying (however primitively) to employ storytelling that was more like The Spirit or The Avengers than the basic standard funny animal comic. I remember enjoying doing the last three panels of mob violence, and I was really starting to enjoy doing the coloring when I got to that part of the process… THIS “pals” was sort of continued from the LAST “pals”…
From 1976, one of Jim’s earliest greeting cards for Mark I features pre-DICK DUCK cameos of PAVLOV (hugging Jim’s future wife Charis as the Statue of Liberty), “PALS” (with the boy in a blue striped shirt, and the dog with a black nose), and Elton John–one of Jim’s musical obsessions at the time. (The funky look to the outlines is the scanner picking up the embossing of the characters on the card).
Jim Engel: With DD,DD #8, I began to recognize that a loose continuity was something I wanted to maintain (and a little later would be more important), so I added the little “summary” box up by the logo.
I liked Sam Ram (from last time), and kept using him. I also used him to share with the reader that Pavlov had an irresistible cuteness— “almost supernatural”…
“SERGIO’S WATERING HOLE” was introduced to give the gumshoes an apropos hangout, and to give me an opportunity to pay tribute to a real cartoonist’s cartoonist, MAD’s Sergio Aragonés (AKA ” SERGIO ANTELOPE”…AN-tell-O-pay ). Like all cartoonists, I loved his work, and had met HIM on several occasions in San Diego , L.A., and Chicago, initially through our mutual friend, Scott Shaw!…
Jim and “Sergio Antelopés” inspiration, Sergio Aragonés (1994)
The punchline for this one comes from the popularity at the time, of Barry Manilow (“Barry Armadillo”), who was one of those “love ‘im or hate ‘im” performers. Dick hated him.
“pals” this time? Surprise!
Jim Engel: With DD,DD #7, I was starting to flesh out Dick Duck’s “back story a bit more, specifically introducing some of his colleagues at a “Private Dick Convention”… The idea of a convention of guys all identically dressed in trench-coats and grey fedoras amused me, as did the Holiday Inn sign (in those pre-internet-easy-access-to-reference days, I actually stood outside a Holiday Inn and sketched the sign). Sam (ala Sam Spade) Ram debuted, demonstrating my love of names and revealing that Dick had been part of a team (ala Spade & Archer)–”Duck & Ram”.
Dashiell Hamster (a play on Detective fiction great Dashiell Hammett) also appears for the first time. The name “Dashiell Hamster”was actually made up by my cartooning partner-in-crime, Chuck Fiala. We had “traded” each other character names. Earlier, I had given Chuck the name “Joe Crow” and the strip name “Joke Row starring Joe Crow” for a character he was developing for his “FVP” fanzine. I’d had a Joe Crow character in High School, kind of an old-time song & dance guy (star of “The Joe Crow Show”). Chuck reciprocated by giving me Dashiell to add to my detective strip.
A hand-made button (from Jim’s High School days) featuring “Joe Crow”.
Also referenced was Dashiell’s “old enemy”, “The Ghoulish Archie Pelican” (a very esoteric pun on the book “The Gulag Archipeligo”). Pelican would actually appear in the one longer form Dick Duck story I ever did, “NO SWEAT” — recently reprinted at Mykal Banta’s, THE BIG BLOG OF KIDS’ COMICS, and available HERE for your perusal.
“The Ghoulish Archie Pelican” from “Dick Duck, Duck Dick in: NO SWEAT!”
The dialogue of the background detectives (Snoopy cameo) in panel 2 was my responding to mail THE COMIC READER had been receiving about the new strips (DICK DUCK, BULLET CROW, and the fumetti I did with Chuck—FANDOM CONFIDENTIAL) it had been running. “Bruning Bear” was Richard Bruning, who’d written something nice (Bruning would have a distinguished art/design/writing career with Capitol & DC Comics), “John Durning III” was somebody by that name (Gee—I didn’t even anthropomorphize him!) who’d dissed us, and “M. Stroud Stork” was an “M. Stroud” who’d also praised us. I (we) certainly appreciated the supportive letters to TCR (the highlight there being Alex Toth writing in to say he ENJOYED our strips, in direct response to a guy who’d requested we be dumped in favor of more pages of SUPERMAN dailies), and I got similar compliments from people at cons (notably Dave “Cerebus” Sim, and Frank Miller), which imbued me with enthusiasm to keep it up…
That’s it for now… “Pals” are nice again, and oh yeah—that’s me in panel 7 in the round glasses.
Jim Engel: Boy–this one needs annotation if only to explain that once attendants pumped your gas for you, and that once “regular” and “no-lead” were your two basic types of gas…
I was starting to enjoy playing around with camera angles and panel breakdowns, and looking at this page now, I remember thinking that the last panel Pavlov was my cutest yet.
And speaking of “cute”, this is my all-time favorite “pals” strip. They’re SO happy, they’re happy even when they’re totally oblivious.
In my comments on DD,DD #3, I mentioned that some yrs. after DICK DUCK, I tried to sell a syndicated comic strip (“BUTTONS”) starring Pavlov (renamed “Buttons”) and Lackluster Duck (essentially Dick Duck in another get-up). The third character in that strip was a little chicken kid called “Egg”, who was in his own way as cute and naive as the “pals” boy & dog (in fact, the Tribune Syndicate, who was pretty interested in “BUTTONS” wanted me to reshape the strip into a kid strip centered around Egg)… Anyway, I re-used this “pals” gag as an Egg gag in my sample submission.
“MacIntosh Mouse” (mentioned in panel one) was another puppet on GARFIELD GOOSE & FRIENDS, as was last installment’s “Romberg Rabbit”…another little tribute, and a little extra for any Chicagoans reading TCR.