OK, I’ve never made any sort of comics in my life… except once. When I was in Junior High, I was transferred to a parochial school, which was a big life switch but that’s another story. Anyway, my class at this parochial school started up a kid’s newspaper. I wasn’t interested in doing anything but then the idea of a comic strip came up and so a buddy and I jumped at the chance to do something really fun.
Neither of us had any artistic talent but we plunged right in and made our first attempt. I decided that the cartoon needed an anchor character like real newspaper comics and I came up with Waldo (this was before those Where's Waldo books). He was a smart Alec, class clown type of kid and like us; he would be a student at a parochial school. I wanted to make him visually interesting, so gave him what I thought was a Roman Empire Helmet (the design I used is actually more Greek). I must have been thinking of Marvin the Martian. The helmet was both a joke and a very subtle protest on my part as it both symbolized that Waldo was at a Roman Catholic school and the fact that we as students had to wear uniforms (which I thought was ridiculous). Anyway, Waldo’s teacher, Mrs. Snodgrass, would also be a major character in the strip and she was designed to suffer the insult of most of his jokes giving the student readers vicarious payback.
Both my buddy and I decided on the content. I drew the strip and he handled the word balloons. We created one full-page of comics with four Waldo strips and turned it in to the editor. Later the editor (who was a student) came back and said that two of the strips had been rejected and so we had to redo them. I was indignant and angry. How dare the teacher tell us what to do, this was our paper and our strip. I refused to make any changes and quit working on the newspaper. My buddy created two new strips, which he drew by himself, to replace the rejected ones. So two of my original Waldo strips made it into the photocopied newspaper and two did not. The school “published” a few more issues of the newspaper but can’t remember if any comics were in them. I think my buddy may have come up with something but what ever was produced I didn’t have anything to do with it. Thus began and ended my comics career.
The funny thing is that while the rejections were ridiculous, I should have taken it as a challenge to come up something else rather than be so angry because I might have learned something. I realize now that in some sense the Waldo character was in essence me, and so I felt I was being rejected.
As I was cleaning up recently I found a packet with old documents and in there was the original artwork for Waldo. A few of things strike me looking at these pages now. One is the lack of consistency, even though we didn't have any kind of image manipulation software; it’s amazing how the characters look so different from frame to frame and why didn’t I use a ruler? Secondly, I hate the placement of the world balloons. I gave all this room for the words and yet my buddy placed most of the words too close to the character’s heads. And Thirdly, The jokes aren’t that bad when compared with strips from actual newspapers.
So here are the four original strips. Keep in mind I was a kid and had no artistic training or talent (and I still don't), plus some of the art has smeared with time.
This is one of the rejected strips. My resentment at being forced to go to church is very evident in this. Not surprising it wasn’t approved of.
It’s weird that this strip wasn’t rejected as it has a punk kid that insults a girl because of her looks. It's interesting to note that Waldo, who I identified with, was not making the sexist comment.
Insulting the teacher is always fun but the joke was ruined by the "two or three or four." It was just supposed to read "two or three." I may not have been sexist in Jr high but I sure must have been ageist. This one wasn't rejected.
This strip was rejected because my teacher said it was making fun of poor people. No, it was making fun of how stupid some folks are. It was the ultimate irony that my teacher didn't get it.
So that’s it. Hey, I got an idea. If any of you artistic types want to redraw these cartoons with better art that would be way cool, if you have the time and inclination that is. Or maybe a sketch with your interpretation of the Waldo character and his funny, Marvin the Martian hat might be fun too.