Mr. Blob returns and some other stuff

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Mr. Blob is mixing it up again with Picpak dog and this time he brought the whole Root Beer Party with him in this weeks drawings.

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I also broke out the oil paints and did a little painting just for kicks.  Until next True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

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My 2 Cents (for what it’s worth) Learning to draw Vol. 4 (#inktober)

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Practice, Practice, Practice!  Draw something everyday.  it’s the only training you really need as an artist.  Still keeping up my #inktober challenge, I hope you like them True Believers, until next time, may you mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

20 Questions with Web Comic Creators David Hurley from Don’t Pick the Flowers

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Here we are once again True Believers with another installment of our popular series of interviews with web comic creators.  Today we bring you David Hurley from Don’t Pick the Flowers.  This is a classic gothic strip in the vein of the original Addams Family, but with more heart.  The strip can be viewed here: http://www.dontpicktheflowers.com/

Don’t pick the flowers is one of the most interesting and original strips on the web and if you haven’t seen it yet, check it out now and without further ado, we bring you David Hurley:

Question 1: What got you started in doing a comic series?

I basically wanted to be a comic artist for many years, or at least in the back of my mind through the years. With the advent of webcomics I was able to start doing it on my own.

Question 2: Who was you greatest influence?

That would be hard to say, but I would go with Berkeley Breathed. My work is nothing like his but he is one of the reasons I wanted to make comics.

Question 3: What is your favorite root beer and why?

Haha, is this a trick question? Actually I’m not really partial to any brand but I will say A & W.

Question 4: What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?

To continually get better and I hope to inspire and entertain others.

Question 5: Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics?

There are many things that interest me like music, film and other visual arts. If you are asking if I plan to create art outside of comics, painting.

Question 6: Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself?

There is a certain distinction when you say professional cartoonist by the majority of your income that comes from cartooning or who you are employed by, so with that being said I consider myself a cartoonist who tries to be professional.

Question 7: What type of subject or humor do you consider out of bounds for your strips and why?

I believe a person has the right to create what they want. I personally don’t like to produce “trashy” comics or anything with foul language. It doesn’t fit what I’m doing with Don’t Pick the Flowers.

Question 8: What kind of equipment or style of drawing do you use?

For my comic I sketch out the drawings and usually ink with Micron pens, and then color in Photoshop.

Question 9: what sort of training or academic program did you pursue to become a cartoonist?

I have degrees in Studio Art and Art Education plus some Digital Media. But I never trained to be a cartoonist. It has and is a learning process.

Question 10: What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?

When I create something I’m really proud of, no specific moment.

Question 11: What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?

Again, it’s not a moment but when I’ve created crap. But you pick yourself up and do another one.

Question 12: Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If So where?

Yes and lots of things planned. I would suggest following Don’t Pick the Flowers on Facebook for updates. If you aren’t on Facebook, links will be provided on Don’t Pick the Flowers website: www.dontpicktheflowers.com And this is being updated so it’s best to check Facebook.

Question 13: Are there any other web comic artists that you really admire?

I can tell you my top 5 favorite comics (now this will exclude the obvious ones like Peanuts, Bloom County, The Far Side etc) and of course these are in no particular order and I can’t read them on a daily basis unfortunately. I love Dark Side of the Horse by Samson, Lio by Mark Tatulli, Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson, Zombie Boy by Mark Stokes, and I am sure there is someone else . . . but I will keep you guessing.

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Question 14: What kind of impact has cartooning had on your life and could you ever see yourself not doing it?

A positive impact of course, but like everyone else I can’t see the future. I just want to keep challenging myself to try something new.

Question 15: Do you have any advice for the Trolls out there who harass content creators? (no need to keep this answer clean.)

It’s best to block them and not engage with them, otherwise it’s a waste of time.

Question 16: Do you set yourself any deadlines or other tricks to keep yourself motivated?

Always, but I love doing it and that’s a good motivation.

Question 17: Apart from root beer, what is your favorite drink?

Milk

Question 18: Are you already a member of the root beer party and if not, what is the matter with you?

I was waiting for the invitation!

Question 19: What is the most challenging aspect of cartooning for you?

I do work so it would be my day to day work schedule.

Question 20: What are your future plans involving web comics or anything else going on in your life?

Always move forward.

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And there you have it True Believers, Another great interview brought to you by the Root Beer Party, So until next time True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

Comic strip collection review: Tumbleweeds by Tom K. Ryan

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To say that Tumbleweeds is just a cowboy comic strip is something that people who have never read Tumbleweeds would say.  It has one of the largest casts of characters of any syndicated comic strip out there: The cast list from Wikipedia reads like this:

  • Tumbleweeds, the main character, is a laconic cowpoke who would rather be anywhere else, but has no real ambition to do anything. Like his namesake, he is content to tumble wherever human foibles may carry him. His worst nightmare is to be caught by, and married to, Hildegard Hamhocker.
  • Blossom, Tumbleweed’s first horse; usually found asleep.
  • Epic, Tumbleweed’s toothless, alcoholic, plug-chewing, sway-backed horse; once a U.S. cavalry horse but drummed out of the service
  • Ace, a professional gambler, Tumbleweeds’s best pal and a real smooth operator.
  • Judge Horatio Curmudgeon Frump is the magistrate/mayor of Grimy Gulch. A pompous windbag who became a Justice of the Peace
  • The Sheriff, a man with a ridiculous handlebar moustache, is the short-handed “long arm of the law.”
  • Deputy Knuckles, who does not carry a gun but has a yo yo instead.
  • Quiet Burp is a diminutive lawman from Texas. His name, a play on Wyatt Earp, is a character name also used in the comic strip Rick O’Shay.
  • Hildegard Hamhocker, the town’s only known woman, is drawn as a stereotypical homely old maid, trying to snag Tumbleweeds as a husband.
  • Echo is an orphan girl. Cute and precocious, she knows how to use those qualities when necessary. She is Hildegard’s adopted niece.
  • Pajamas is Echo’s lazy pet dog
  • Claude Clay is Grimy Gulch’s undertaker, whose motto is, “You plug ’em, I plant ’em.”
  • Wart Wimble is a grave-digger who works for Clay
  • Blackie is Grimy Gulch’s saloon keeper.
  • Soppy Sopwell is the town drunk.
  • Grover Galley is the dotty editor of the Desert Denouncer newspaper.
  • Percy is a sardonic newsboy and copyboy for the Denouncer.
  • Dusty Dewlap is a local cattle rancher. He only hires Tumbleweeds when he is desperate.
  • Snake-Eye McFoul is an outlaw.
  • Snookie is Snake-Eye’s little brother, who suffers from an overactive pituitary gland. Though only 12, he appears to be in his thirties. He dresses in “Little Lord Fauntleroy” outfits.
  • Ham and Beans are muleskinners. Beans, who is short and loud, screams at the big, gentle Ham for pampering the mules to the point of carrying them around like infants.
  • Slats is a cowboy who is always leaning on the fence.
  • Hogarth Hemp is the town hangman.
  • Clodwell Gunkley who apparently wandered into the wrong strip, according to whoever he encounters, is a semi-effeminate bulk of a man whose speech patterns are somewhat similar to those of Ed Wynn. Ace was pleased to learn that Gunkley had wandered into the strip, because “If there’s a way in, there’s a way out!”

The 6 7/8 Cavalry

  • Colonel G. Armageddon Fluster, commander of the 6 7/8 Cavalry and Fort Ridiculous, is a parody of George Armstrong Custer. The Poohawk Chief refers to him as “Goldilocks” and “Poopsie.”
  • The 6 7/8 Cavalry itself consists of a major and troopers under Fluster’s command.
  • The General is Fluster’s superior.
  • “Mole Eye,” a scout from Fort Ridiculous, is almost always shown coming in from the desert with a couple of arrows sticking out of his back; he wears a buckskin with the word “Scout” on his hat.

The Poohawks

  • The Poohawk Chief is always lamenting his tribe’s pathetic standing.
  • Little Pigeon is the Poohawk Chief’s daughter, and “a flower among the weeds.”
  • Limpid Lizard is a klutzy Poohawk (Indiandom’s answer to Daffy Duck) and a suitor to Little Pigeon.
  • Green Gills is a Poohawk injun and was an early suitor to Little Pigeon.
  • Lotsa Luck is a very rich Poohawk, depicted for years as mute and communicating by writing notes. He soon started using a very posh voice when he had vocal cords cloned from William F. Buckley Jr. surgically implanted. He was a suitor for Little Pigeon.
  • Drudgeworth is a chauffeur employed by “Lotsa Luck” to “drive” his horse.
  • The Poohawk medicine man.
  • Screaming Flea is the smallest Poohawk, formally speaking in ornate word balloons. He is very sensitive about the size of his nose, which is enormous.
  • Bucolic Buffalo is the biggest and strongest of Poohawks, but he is not very smart. He is another suitor for Little Pigeon.
  • Rain Drop is a boy, the only apparent child in the Poohawk Tribe, and at least as smart as some of the adults.
  • Hulking Hawk is fearsome tribe-member and a more suitable suitor to Little Pigeon than Limpid Lizard, according to the Poohawk Chief.
  • Purple Polecat operates the trading post.

Tumbleweeds

Tumbleweeds is a multifaceted strip that embraces the worlds within worlds concept of comics.  A storyline may include the Poohawks and the Calvary or it may just be a story between the lovesick Hildegard Hamhocker and Tumbleweed himself.  There are lots of places to go with this strip.

It seems that Tom K. Ryan took Mort Walker’s advice with Beetle Bailey and created at least one new character every year.  The official Tumbleweed site is : http://www.tumbleweeds.com/index.html but the strip can be found in newspapers and at the Kings Features syndicate site online.  It was launched in 1965 and is still going strong today.

This is the first collection of the series published in 1968 by Fawcett and is a small paperback form, as were most comic collections of the era.  In this collection we are introduced to many of the characters of Grimy Gulch, although the 6 7/8 Calvary had not yet been introduced.  It is wild fun in the wild wild west, with the main character Tumbleweed sitting in the drivers seat of his old house Blossom.  This is one of the classic cartoons of the era which in terms of art is similar to B.C., Wizard of Id and Crock which all came out around the same time.

The early works are a little hard to find, at a decent price anyway, but they can be found cheap on Amazon if your not to particular about condition.  there is also a best of collection which can be gotten for free on the Amazon Kindle.  I would highly recommend the collection as a welcome addition to any serious comic strip collector.  So until next time True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

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My own little tribute to the series.  🙂

Web Comic Spotlight: Zombie Boy by Mark Stokes

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Zombie boy comics ( http://www.zombieboycomics.com/ ) is the brainchild of comic artist and one of the first really big webcomic creators, Mark Stokes.  The series has had many interpretations over the years as a comic book series before finding it’s home on the web as a gag a day comic strip.

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This is cast of characters on the site currently.  The strip follows the lead character of Zombie boy as he makes his way in the world of the living and the dead, but the strip is not limited to just the exploration of Zombie boy, in recent years Mark has expanded the Zombie Boy universe to include a collection of bug characters that give the series an almost “Through the Looking Glass” kind of feel as we begin to see Mark form a sort of worlds within worlds in the Zombie Boy universe.

He does play with some seasonal themes as well, with my personal favorite character of Gorr in his many guises as the leaf bandit in the fall and the snow bandit in the winter.  Under the guise of leaves and snow, Gorr gets into all sort of hijinks which often overlaps into the many worlds of the Zombie Boy universe.

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The supernatural aspect of the strip is downplayed in the web comic and it is much more of an all ages comic with supernatural elements, but a gentle humor which offsets the morbid origins of the series.  I often refer to it as the Addams Family meets Peanuts in it’s sensibility.

After about a year of harassment by myself and others, Mark finally gave in and published the first collected volume of Zombie Boy, which can be found on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Zombie-Boy-Some-Kind-Horrible/dp/0986440302

It is a great collection and in full color, so no short cuts were taken in the production of this book.  I got my own copy from his Kickstarter campaign which was a huge success to provide funds for the publishing.  Many people already know the wonder of Mark Stokes and the Zombie Boy Universe.  He is one of the most prolific and consistent artists on the web and his comic is nothing less than “magical.”

Check out Zombie Boy comics, I highly recommend it, and if you don’t want to take my word, check out David Hurley’s interview with Mark Here: http://www.dontpicktheflowers.com/blog/?p=3201 or his write up in Best web comics here: http://best-webcomics.com/artist-zombie-boy-webcomics/ or an extended interview on the webcomic show here: http://gooberandcindy.com/interviews/mark-stokes-of-zombie-boy

I think we are all in agreement that Mark is at the top of his game and Zombie Boy is truly one of the best webcomic series out there.  So for those of you who don’t already follow Zombie Boy, as Zombie Boy himself proves, there is always time.  So check it out now.  Until next time True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

My 2 cents, for what it’s worth: Learning to draw vol. 3

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Still at it this #inktober, doing my daily challenge to drawing something everyday.  I have been reading some classic comic collections and drew inspiration from them as well as adding some new comic clips to the Mr. Blob collection.

One thing I have learned from drawing other people’s comics is the different tricks and ideas for ordinary problems that come up like getting feet and hands to look right, or how to convey emotion and meaning in a picture with no words.  It is interesting to see the composition skills of many different draftsman and artists and how they make their characters come to life.

Hope you like the new series of drawings and maybe get something out of them, until next time True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

20 Questions with Comic Artists: Frank Page from Bob the Squirrel

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Well True Believers, today we deliver once again on our popular segment of interviews with comic artists.  Today we have one of the biggest and best known web comic artists on the web Frank Page (Sound of cheers fill the theater)  Frank produces a comic every day as well as doing his popular “Squirrel-osophy strips as well, that’s 2 strips everyday, something even most syndicated comic artists couldn’t manage.  He has been working at this unbelievable pace since 2001.

You can check out Bob the Squirrel here: http://www.bobthesquirrel.com/

This is the kind of drive and dedication unheard of in the web comic business where people managing outside lives as well as other careers often publish once or twice a week at most.  How does he accomplish this?  We find out in the interview below.  So now I give you the maestro of the Sciuridae set:  Frank Page

> Question 1: What got you started in doing a comic series?

I’ve always wanted to be a cartoonist. Doing a series is just an extension of that.

> Question 2: Who was you greatest influence?

There are so many influences… In the past, I’ve pegged a few individuals as greatest influences but I don’t think that’s the case anymore. I take a little bit from almost everything I see… to say that one creator is the greatest influence of all would be doing the others a disservice. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a whole bunch of cartoonists to make another cartoonist.

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> Question 3: What is your favorite root beer and why?

Saranac Diet Root Beer. Saranac is a brand that is brewed in Utica, NY… about 15 miles away from where I live. It’s the best diet root beer I’ve ever tasted… just like regular root beer without the caloric guilt.

> Question 4: What do you hope to accomplish with your comic?

There are several things. I want to tell a good story. I want to populate the world with believable and likable characters. I want to be able to support my family with my comic and I want to make it so when people see a squirrel, they think “bob”.

> Question 5: Do you have any other artistic interests outside of comics?

In 2010, I finished up work on my MFA in visual art. In the two years that it took me to graduate, I was exposed to a plethora of different forms of art. I’m pretty much open to anything: painting, sculpting, music, writing.

> Question 6: Do you see yourself as a professional cartoonist, or is this just something you do for yourself?

I definitely consider myself a professional cartoonist… I wouldn’t want to work this hard and NOT be considered a professional.

> Question 7: What type of subject or humor do you consider out of bounds for your strips and why?

I’m not in this to offend or hurt anyone. I stay away from violent, sexist, racist stuff. In the seven seconds a day I get someone’s attention, I want (hope) to make them happy… not intentionally (or unintentionally) piss them off.

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> Question 8: What kind of equiptment or style of drawing do you use?

I like to keep my setup as old-school as I can. Brush pens, non-photo blue pencil on bristol board. I do use photoshop for coloring and indesign for putting my books together.

> Question 9: what sort of training or academic program did you pursue to become a cartoonist?

I have a BFA in illustration from Cazenovia College and an MFA in Visual Art with emphasis on Sequential Art from the Vermont College of Fine Art.

> Question 10: What has been the highlight of your cartooning career?

Walking into a store and having a complete stranger come up to me and ask, “Where’s Bob?” That is the best feeling ever.

> Question 11: What has been the lowest point in your cartooning career?

Back in 2011-12, I was strongly considering ending my comic strip. I did a lot of thinking and thinking… for a moment there it looked pretty bad. I was ready to lose my best friend. Thankfully, good sense prevailed and I didn’t end it.

> Question 12: Are collections of your work available beyond the web? If So where?

I have over 20 books available on my website http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/bobthesquirrel. Yeah, that’s a LOT of nuts. (

> Question 13: Are there any other web comic artists that you really admire?

I admire anyone who is willing to put in the work and discipline involved in producing a daily or semi-daily strip. It’s not easy… and it’s even harder to maintain.

> Question 14: What kind of impact has cartooning had on your life and could you ever see yourself not doing it?

I often joke that if I could do it all over again, I’d be a plumber… I usually say that when I have to call a plumber. Honestly, I can’t see myself doing anything else.

> Question 15: Do you have any advice for the Trolls out there who harass content creators? (no need to keep this answer clean.)

Try thinking of 365 funny ideas in a year. If you can do that then you have the right to be a jerk… if not, shut up.

> Question 16: Do you set yourself any deadlines or other tricks to keep yourself motivated?

Thankfully, the psyching of myself up is not a thing I need to do. I set myself up into routine and I stick to it. No motivation is needed when you already know what you need to do.

> Question 17: Apart from root beer, what is your favorite drink?

Coke Zero. It’s the best.

> Question 18: Are you already a member of the root beer party and if not, what is the matter with you?

To quote the late, great comedian Groucho Marx: “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.”

> Question 19: What is the most challenging aspect of cartooning for you?

Thinking of new ideas. That will never be easy.

> Question 20: What are your future plans involving web comics or anything else going on in your life?

I’m just going to keep doing what I do and hope that people dig what I do. That’s all you really can do.

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(Frank also has a Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/bobthesquirrel?ty=h)

Once again True Believers, the Root Beer Party has brought you all the information you need to know.  Bob the Squirrel is one of the best and most consistently funny comics on the web, even his recent spat with Wikipedia over the deletion of his entry is the kind of stuff legendary comics are built on.

You really can’t say enough about Frank Page or Bob the Squirrel, it is really what all web comic creators aspire to be.  Frank has carved a part of the web out for himself and presides over the kingdom of comics with a sharp wit and a relentless drive to improve.  His Squirrel-osophy pages recently have contained a detailed rendering of squirrels, just to change the feel and look of the strip and flex his artistic muscles.  He   is not kidding when he says: Bob the Squirrel is the best comic you are not reading.  So True Believers, Check out Bob and all his crazy adventures and enjoy one of the best strips on the web and until next time True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

Comic Strip Collection Review: Blondie & Dagwoods Adventures in Magic by Chic Young

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This is an unusual comic collection in that it is actually a novelization of a storyline from Chic Young’s comic strip Blondie.  This is a small novella published for young readers and similar to the popular line of big little books except they are larger.  They come illustrated with scenes taken from the comic strip, but are for the most part text.

In this collection/novel we have Dagwood discovering his love of magic after he sees the great illusionist Murko.  He goes about his usual daily bumbling and seeks out Murko backstage in order to learn a magic trick.  Murko and his trope play a trick on the ever naïve Dagwood and cause him to believe he has learned one of the magicians secrets.

Needless to say, when he tries to replicate the illusion for his family and friends he fails and is the joke of the neighborhood as well as feeling the jealous fury of Blondie who doesn’t believe that Dagwood was backstage with Murko at all.  Dagwood storms out and goes for a long walk.

Hijinks ensue as Dagwood’s wandering leads him to the den of some counterfeiters and the rest of the story is the crazy antics of Dagwood and Blondie as they try to uncover the mystery of the counterfeiters and return their lives to the normal crazy antics that have made the strip a staple of the comics page for 85 years.

These types of books as well as the big little books were a great way and in many cases the only way for people to keep up with the continuity of the comic strips in the early to mid part of the last century.  Comic strip collections in book form were rare if not non-existent as comics were seen as a disposable medium, but for many, comics were an important part of cultural life, and before radio and television took over the continuity markets, comics were the talk of water coolers, smoke breaks and general office conversation.

Chic Young as well as many other comic creators were millionaires in a time when most people were making $5 a day as a good wage.  So this should indicate to anyone the importance that comics once held in the cultural development of the 20th century.

The novel is well adapted and well paced keeping a good balance of suspense and comedy, there are a few mentions of gag – a – day summaries in the flashbacks as well as the dreams which are rather ingenious ways of incorporating daily gag strips which fall out of the continuity of the strips overarching storyline.

For fans of the classic comics, these books can be picked up pretty cheaply on e-bay or in used book stores.  Some people place high dollar values on them, but just ignore those and keep looking, they are out there.  This collection was published by Whitman publishing in the 1940-1950’s and incorporate many of the great continuity strips like Dick Tracy, Terry and the Pirates, Brenda Starr and Red Ryder.  They are a great way to read comics in an unusual format.

The big little books I mentioned for some reason are almost identical in everything but size to these books, but for some reason command astronomical prices.  So for the comic collector on a budget, these are a great way to collect your favorite old time comics without going broke, and to this day they are still the only way to collect many of the great classic comic strips which have not seen publication in strip form.  I highly recommend these books and as always True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

Saranac Diet Root Beer

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Our next guest of 20 questions with web comic artists has introduced a new root beer to the Root Beer Party.  Saranac Diet Root Beer is a locally produced root beer from Utica, New York.  It is produced by a local bottling company: Matt Brewing Company

History of the Matt Brewing company from Wikipedia:

After working at the Duke of Baden Brewery of the Black Forest region in Baden, Germany, Francis Xavier Matt I immigrated to the United States in 1880. Matt worked at the Charles Bierbauer Brewery as lead salesman and brewmaster in Utica for a few years before reorganizing it into The West End Brewing Company in 1888.

During Prohibition, the company stayed afloat by producing soft drinks under the label Utica Club, and also made Ginger Ale and non-alcoholic malt tonics.[1] After the end of Prohibition, Utica Club became the name of the brewery’s flagship beer, promoted during the 1950s and 1960s by two beer steins, Schultz and Dooley, voiced by Jonathan Winters.Schultz & Dooley were first introduced to television audiences in 1959 and rapidly became the West End Brewing Company’s favorite “spokes mugs.”[2] Another very important factor for marketing was the “Utica Club Natural Carbonation Band Beer Drinking Song.” On March 21, 1968 members of Utica Club sales previewed a new campaign called “swings.” Created by Wells, Rich, Greene, Inc. “The campaign started with introductory television spots featuring a mythical nightclub, the “Utica Club,” which embodied the most desirable features of the best nightclubs in the world.” The campaign introduced “Utica Club Natural Carbonation Band Beer Drinking Song” (pg.221) “The selection was created for the Matt Brewing Company by one of commercial music’s best-credentialed composers, the great Sasha Burland” (Forgotten Buffalo 2014). This song aimed to persuade the customers that Utica Club was a hip night club, and people would drink Utica Club beer while listening to this song.[3]

The brewery, later renamed Matt Brewing Company, became popular throughout the Northeast based on Utica Club and its current flagship beer, Saranac. The company is in its fourth generation of family ownership and is led by Nick Matt (chairman and CEO) and Fred Matt (president). The brewery is served by the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway (NYS&W) from their line next to the brewery which runs down the middle of Schuyler Street. The NYS&W delivers covered hoppers carrying the grain products needed for brewing. Insulated boxcars carrying the finished product out of the brewery are also brought out daily by NYS&W. Gondolas carrying glass for recycling are also seen in the consist of NYS&W locals serving the brewery.

I have not personally been able to get ahold of this root beer to give a personal review, but I will continue to seek it out and update you as soon as I can find it.

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Until next time True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.

Comic Strip Collection Review: Kudzu by Doug Marlette

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Kudzu is a coming of age comic which ran from 1981 until the passing of it’s creator Doug Marlette is 2007.  It began as a comic about a young man named Kudzu Dubose in a small town of Bypass, North Carolina who is torn between his life in the small town and his longing to be a writer in the big city of New York.  He is sort of a hapless, sad sack character trying to find his way in life, but without any self confidence, he relies on a heartless cast of characters to lend their advice.

There is the Preacher, which would later become the main character of the strip as time went by, who in this collection is distracted and uninterested in dealing with his congregation or people in general.

There is Kudzu’s one true love Veranda, which has absolutely no interest in him and is sometimes flattered, but more often annoyed by his interest in her.

There is Mama, who is an older woman who does not want to lose the only man left in her life and guilt’s Kudzu into abandoning his half hearted attempts to move away.

There is Uncle Dub (short for W) which is the ultimate straight man in the strip and a true good old boy.

There is Maurice, who is Kudzu’s best friend and is often the realist in Kudzu’s designs to fame and fortune as a writer.

And finally there is Doris, the parakeet that won’t talk and Kudzu’s most faithful friend.

This collection deals with the beginnings of the comic and how it was originally presented, during the 80’s and 90’s there were a great deal of televangelists scandals and Doug Marlette, being an editorial cartoonist as well as a syndicated strip artist soon began bringing the character of the Preacher, later named Rev. Will B. Dunn to prominence in the strip.  Kudzu began to slip into the background more and more over time as a character and the focus of the comic shifted and became more topical.

In this collection, the first in the series, it is all about Kudzu and introducing the world of Bypass, North Carolina, which could be taken for anywhere in the Southern United States.  The comic begins like most with the clueless lead character being drawn forward by his dream of being a writer and coming to terms with all the mundane injustices of life, I imagine that the comic was quite autobiographical in many aspects to Doug Marlette’s life.

All in all, it is a good comic with great characters and a charming rural flavor.  At this stage in the comics history, it is funny and humorous throughout with good pacing and excellent modern style comic art.  This collection is a little hard to find, but can be picked up pretty cheaply when it is found on e-bay.  There are many more collections in the series and they likewise are difficult to find in many cases, but well worth the hunt.

Kudzu is a very good collection of what would later develop into a more editorial and topical comic, but this collection is classic cartooning at it’s best.  Highly recommended.

So until next time True Believers,  may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.