Sunday, June 11, 2006
Here are just a couple examples of my own meager effort at doing a syndicated comic strip set in a bookstore. I created a couple of weeks of BESS SELLERS samples in 1990 for a King Features contest to find new cartoonists. They were rejected but I always felt the idea had potential and ten years later, Waldenbooks agreed to run it in their district newsletter. Although I had planned to do new strips when the samples ran out, the company started squawking about owning all intellectual property rights to any material created for the company, about the company or on company time and/or property. I understood their point but I refused to give them any rights to my baby in spite of the fact that I wasn’t doing anything with it. Thus, not even all of the old strips got printed. Note, however, that I snuck my copyright notice in.
The strip, originally called SKOOB (due to the word "Books" being seen backwards on the bookstore window from inside), dealt with a typical bookstore. Bess Sellers was our star, a career bookseller. Others included Rocky, the big, handsome wimp, Vlad, the Goth kid who only worked the night shift, The Boss, only heard behind a door with smoke constantly coming out of it, Tina, who looked seven years old and ran the Children’s Department and her twins, Sidney and Sheldon, who acted as baby Siskel and Eberts reviewing children’s books in Sunday strips. I had originally made a deal with a customer to draw the strip but, after a few phone calls, that fell through. A subsequent deal with a co-worker to illustrate also bit the dust. Finally, I took a stab at it myself. I have the other samples somewhere and I’ll run them eventually, these are just a couple of the printed ones. I still find myself doodling Bess and friends on a regular basis all these years later.