October 24, 2006 12:00 AM
Dead End on Easy Street
The Broncos have been coasting now for the first part of the season. The real tests will come in the next few weeks, especially this upcoming game against the Colts. Simply stated, this game is a MUST win for the Broncos and for Jake Plummer if they hope to be able to be successful in the playoffs. Obviously the offense will be the key and I don't think we've seen one good enough to win a big game.
Thanks for all those who have entered the "nickname the Offense" contest. I'll be selecting the winner on Wednesday (the day I draw Bozos of Blitz) so you still have time for submissions. Keep them coming.
I picked up a great book over the weekend that I highly recommend. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is a hysterically funny memoir by Bill Bryson about growing up in the midwest during the 50's. Bryson recounts his youth in hilarious detail that reminds me a lot of The Christmas Story. I grew up more in the 60's, but the recollections found in this book of take me back to my childhood and those of my brothers Gary and Alan, in El Paso, Texas. If you want to remember what it was like to watch Sea Hunt, play electric football, and find some way to listen to or watch the World Series when they played it only during the middle of a school day, this book is a can't miss adventure for you. Humor is very difficult to write and Bryson does a masterful job of pulling it off. I've spent the last few nights gasping for air between fits of uncontrollable laughter reading this thing. Go. Buy it. Now.
I also spent some time reading the forward by Bill Waterson that he did for The Complete Calvin and Hobbes books that were released last year as well as a terrific article on Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau that appeared in the Washington Post Sunday magazine. They are very different cartoonists but are two of the most reclusive artists in the business.
Trudeau is to appear tonight as part of the Pen and Podium series that the News helps to put on. My wife and I have been invited to attend his talk as well as a pre-talk meet and greet cocktail party and I'm still mulling it over as whether to attend or not. I'm never very good around large groups of people and though I would love to talk to Trudeau, whom I have admired since I began this career, I'm always at a loss as to what to say in those situations. That, and so often times, meet and greet parties often dissipate into gatherings for the over-egotistical to go to so they merely can spend the next day at the office bragging that they now are on a first name basis with Garry Trudeau. Sorry, but that's not my style. We might just go to hear Trudeau speak because I find him an incredibly intelligent master of the craft.
The Bill Watterson forward was interesting but left me empty. I admired and immensely enjoyed Calvin and Hobbes but always found Watterson a little self-absorbed. Watterson spent a great part of his career fighting any commercialization of his comic strip but is quite happy, thank you, to retire on the enormous fortune he made...uh...in the commercial printing of his comic strip.
My studio at home is full of comic stautes, cartoon art by other cartoonists and stuffed cartoon characters that I find inspiring. I would have loved a collectible from Calvin and Hobbes to add to my ensemble of cartoon tributes. I came to love the characters that Watterson brought to the comics pages that became a part of my life and the lives of millions. But Watterson denied his fans anything that could connect them to the wonderful world he created beyond the book collections he allowed. Would a high quality statue of Calvin and Hobbes complete with a famous Calvin quip have hurt the integrity of the strip that badly? The answer, to me, is no. I think it would have enhanced the strip and the legacy Watterson left, or didn't leave as the case may be. Don't get me wrong. I'm not for the bombardment of Calvin and Hobbes underwear and pilowcases and floormats for the car. I just believe Watterson owed his readers, and quite honestly, his syndicate, which took an enormous financial risk to launch the strip in the first place, a lot more than he gave them. But, hey, Happy Retirement, Bill. You made your big bucks off the newspaper industry and complained every inch of the way about the living it afforded you. Sounds a bit hypocritical to me.
I'm reading a lot of these kinds of things lately because I am contemplating trying my hand again at drawing a comic strip and pitching it to some syndicates. It's a tremendous amount of work but I have always wanted to be on the comics pages. l would, of course, continue to draw my win, lose and Drew sports cartoon but the thought of doing a strip that connects with readers in a more personal way has always appealed to me. I did a strip for the News called "Duncans Dilemma" for a while in 2000 before I was diagnosed with testicular cancer and chose to stop drawing it. The strip was the wrong vehicle but I learned a lot from it. The newspaper industry is changing rapidly and I'm trying to weigh whether it is worth pursuing a dream I have had since childhood against the fast and furious challenges the newspaper industry faces. I'll let you know if I ever find the answer.