October 13 - "Forbidden" WOMP Character of The Day - Butch! By now, you may even see a pattern to some of these "forbidden" comics characters. Most, like Butch (a generic, over-sized, buzz-cut school bully), were created when I was about twelve or thirteen. These were my first stabs at creating characters from scratch. Older characters, like Monkey, were imaginings based on something else that came first. Butch and gang represent my first thoughts that I might really, really create my own comics some day. I didn't know anything about conceiving a character (and still don't, really), so the sky was the limit. All I had to do was overcome the feeling that anything that I did wasn't as "real" as what others did. For some reason, it seemed like other peoples' characters sprang to life fully formed, while mine seemed just empty, somehow. Somehow, I found a way to just jump over this psychological hurdle, but with help from another kind of "something else that came first." I have since learned a little about how to create enough space in a character's story to allow myself to grow with him or her, but, at the time, I settled on re-imagining established character stereotypes with a "John Mundt" twist. Butch, for example, was not much more than a copy of a stock player from any number of nationally published comics, just drawn and written by me. Other than the poor quality of my artwork, the biggest difference, then, between Butch and any other previous thug or henchman was my burgeoning sense of humor. When I look at my childhood comics today, I can see that I really wanted to tell funny stories more than straight adventure stories. Butch, Old Man Meriwether, Erlingston, and even Jimmy Carter were always props in elaborate comical situations, with action-filled plots and exaggerated acting that mirror short movies from the Silent Film Era. The problem was, and is, that these characters didn't survive the transition to "Sound." Once I started getting a better idea of how character creation worked, Butch and his ilk followed Kalla Pasha and Ben Turpin into the fading, flickering past.
October 14 - "Forbidden" WOMP Character of The Day - Mr. Squish! This one is a little different. Mr. Squish was my earliest attempt at gonzo cartooning. It would work like this; in the pages of a publicly used book, like school dictionary or church hymnal, I would place the cut-out image of a tiny, obviously squished, man. Tee hee! Oh, imagine the look on someone's face when he or she opened the encyclopedia and a flattened little man, with crushed glasses and a shocked, vacant expression, would fall out! Ha Ha! Ha. Hmm. OK, so this was just so stupid. I don't remember anymore whether I really thought that such a thing would, even momentarily, shock anyone, or just thought that someone would get a kick out of the idea, but, either way, it was stupid. And did I really think, in a community as small as mine, that such an act would be anonymous? Who else would have placed Mr. Squish in those books? The Cartoon Fairy? Well, this was about as close to graffiti as I ever came, so I suppose that it was overlooked as a harmless prank...if not that I had merely forgotten to remove my hand-drawn bookmark after reading a book. Sigh.