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