Ever wonder how slowly time passes in continuity-comic-strip land? Here's a handy measuring device: It's now been exactly a month since Sam Driver of "Judge Parker" was given 24 hours to solve the shooting of Saudi national Bubu Chibale before young Judge (Randy) Parker's girlfriend, ex-CIA (ex?) agent April Bower (Bauer??!!), gets taken in by the cops as their prime suspect. As near as I can figure, it's now about mid-day, and Sam's made some progress: he's leapt to the conclusion after a "chance" meeting with the sultry Monique Zatari that she's the most likely candidate to be the true would-be assassin. What makes him think so? Well, it's a comic strip. Why else would she show up in the storyline at all?
I thought I noticed something a little different in the art and the writing this morning when reading today's installment of the comic strip "Cul de Sac." Then I saw it wasn't a previously published strip from 2009, as cartoonist Richard Thompson's syndicate had been running while Thompson was undergoing treatment for Parkinson's. It was a new strip signed "Jantze 4 R.T." Sure enough, a quick check of Michael Cavna's Comics Riff blog (always a great source of the latest comic industry news) told what was going on:
COME MONDAY, the characters of “Cul de Sac” may look a little odd to the eye. Then again, that’s the hazard of letting your comic children be babysat by six sketchy cartoonists.
Richard Thompson, who is on hiatus from his Universal Uclick strip as he receives treatment for Parkinson’s disease, is turning his Reuben Award-winning comic over to a half-dozen potentially demented foster parents for about five weeks of dailies and Sundays.
It’s not uncommon for syndicated cartoonists to let a colleague sub for them for a week — but letting so many creative uncles move in for at least a month could be considered an act of bravery. So, how’s the father of “Cul de Sac” feel about it?
“I’m tickled, honored and grateful,” Thompson tells Comic Riffs, “that cartoonists as talented as Mo Willems (Pigeon), Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine), Lincoln Peirce (Big Nate) and Michael Jantze (The Norm), Corey Pandolph (Elderberries) and Ken Fisher (Tom the Dancing Bug) would babysit my collection of poorly socialized children ... and adults.”
(Those first four cartoonists, by the way, have previously “channeled” Thompson’s creations at least once — for the upcoming Team Cul de Sac artbook to raise money for Parkinson’s research. Update: And it was announced Friday that Pastis is a finalist for the NCS Reuben Award, which Thompson won last year.)
So is the “Cul de Sac” creator concerned that these interlopers will run amok through the wry, suburban life of his Otterloop brood?
“I let them have free rein to re-create ‘Cul de Sac’ as they saw fit,” Thompson tells ‘Riffs, “hoping only that no one introduced anything too bizarre, like an angry talking Rat, or a Pigeon with some kind of bus-mania.”
The guest cartoonists will be drawing the daily strips through the week of March 19. They'll draw the Sunday strips from March 18 through April 15.
The rest of Cavna's post, including comments from the six cartoonists on the experience of writing for and drawing Thompson's characters, can be found here.
Welcome to You Write the Caption, the Charlotte Observer cartoon caption contest, an opportunity to test your wit and win a prize. Each Monday, Observer editorial cartoonist Kevin Siers will post a political cartoon that needs a caption and invite readers to write one. To learn more about our contest and see our caption writing guidelines, please click here.
Submissions must reach us by NOON, Wednesday, Feb 8.
Enter as many times as you wish. To submit your caption on-line, just click here to e-mail us. (Or address your e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Please include your mailing address and daytime phone number.
To mail your caption to the Observer, address it to You Write the Caption, Editorial Department, The Charlotte Observer, P.O. Box 30308, Charlotte, NC 28230-0308.
"I'm not technically ON city property."
-- Bill McGloughlin of Charlotte
The police kicked us out of our Occupy camp.”
-- Brandon Swann, Baltimore
“Four more years?”
-- Bolyn McClung, Pineville
-- Ross Levin, Charlotte
“Forget winter. How many more weeks of Newt?”
-- Rob Christensen, Charlotte
“So the bank turned down your home loan too?”
-- Jesse Steele, Boone
“When you gotta Occupy, you gotta Occupy!”
-- Kevin Siers (sorry, couldn’t resist)
Thanks for the many great entries. Here’s just a select few of the many we received:
“Nine more months of campaigning!”
“Six more weeks of debates?”
"Either way we have 9 more months of a bad political climate!"
"I'm rooted in dirty politics."
“Oh great! Another six weeks of foreboding forecasts, and still no viable candidate in sight.”
“Let me know when the DNC is over.”
“I’m looking for lodging for the DNC.”
"Forget Winter! The shadowy figure you just saw wants to be president!"
“My home used to be underwater.”
“Careful, six more weeks of no winter makes you obsolete.”
Bev Perdue saw her shadow last week and liked it!
"Believe me, we're better off down there!"
“My constituents don’t believe me either.”