Friday Funnies Presents: Dick Duck, Duck Dick #3> Jim Engel

By the time I got to this 3rd strip, I’d been thinking that I wanted to introduce another character for Dick Duck to interact with…

While he (Dick Duck) was created FOR the Comic Reader page, his new sidekick (like “pals”) had had a prior “life”…

Somewhere around 1975, my wife (then girlfriend) Charis had given me a gift that I particularly treasure to this day. We were walking past an antique store, and noticed a cement bulldog that was being used as a doorstop to hold the door open.

“Pavlov” the statue—the real-life statue “Pavlov the Pup” was modeled on.

I was immediately taken with it, and CHARIS (being the swell dish she was) insisted on buying it for me. He’s probably 60-70 years old by now. His basic look/style seems to have been used for statuary as well as ceramic and carnival-type prizes– a sitting bulldog wearing a collar/ harness deal…I’ve since seen similar dogs. I immediately named him “Pavlov”.

Laying around my office (I was apprenticing in a Chicago advertising art & photography studio) was a cheap party-favor version of the iconic “Groucho Glasses”. One day, I cut off the plastic eyebrows, detached the plastic nose & mustache, and adhered them to Pavlov via black photographic tape. I liked the look. My tough little bulldog now had a slightly incongruous bookish look, which I thought gave him character…

Pavlov was a regular fixture on the Engel & Fiala caricature tables at the Chicago Comicons. Here he is in 1978. (L-Chuck, R-Jim)

Pavlov, like “pals” had, took on a life of his own in the little notes and drawings I gave Charis. He also joined a lot of my friends and favorite characters in making cameos on the greeting cards I would do for 9 yrs after I left my apprentice job. SOOOO, by the time I started “Dick Duck”, he was very real to me, and I thought I’d add him. As for characterization, I portrayed him as completely innocent & naive, and well…. Cute. I figured that’d provide a nice counterpoint to the tough, cynical Dick.

Pavlov makes a cameo on the cover & inside of an Engel greeting card for MARK I (late ’70s).

As for depicting him, I broke one of my own cardinal “funny animal rules”, and clothed him only in the harness he’d always had, VS fully clothing him (that would later bug me, as he always looked naked, and I WOULD dress him, but I’d keep him in a green shirt that evoked (at least for me) the harness.

Long after DICK DUCK ended, I would use Pavlov as the star of the comic strip I would attempt to syndicate in the (late?)’80s. By THEN, another strip had emerged titled ” PAVLOV” (also about a dog), so I was faced with changing his name. I opted for “BUTTONS”‘ which had been the name of a beloved family dog of Charis’, and which I thought sounded cute (and somehow “fit” with the glasses). In giving BUTTONS a side-kick for THAT strip, I played around with several characters before deciding to basically use DICK DUCK under another name. I stole the first name of my first fanzine character, LACKLUSTER LIZARD, and “BUTTONS” was joined by “LACKLUSTER DUCK”. Wheels within wheels…

“Pavlov” would become “Buttons”, and “Dick Duck” “Lackluster Duck” when Engel attempted to sell a comic strip for syndication (circa 1985).

PS: In panel one, Dick is reading “The Mana-Mana Gazette” (and that’s me on the cover)… Jerry Sinkovec & Mike Tiefenbacher were the publisher & editor respectively of “The Menomonee Falls Gazette”, a great weekly paper consisting of classic and (then) contemporary syndicated adventure strips, and that’s a reference to that. The clunky “J.S.” on the side is Jerry’s self-attached “credit” for hand-cutting the color separations.


2 Responses to “Friday Funnies Presents: Dick Duck, Duck Dick #3> Jim Engel”

  1. I was so eager to read this, I did so before my morning coffee! That says a lot.

    More brilliance. Not only is Jim’s cartooning top notch, his stories are really funny. The writing on Dick Duck is always very sharp and clever.

    I also loved the background on Pavlov. What a screaming shame that Lackluster Duck strip didn’t take off.

    Love your stuff, Jim. And thanks, ComiCrazys.

  2. ComiCrazys Says:

    Mykal – What amazes me is Jim’s memory and picture catalog from a series that ran 30 years ago!!! I am honored to be able to run Jim Engel’s Dick Duck, Duck Dick retrospective!

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