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Match to Flame 8

posted on November 11, 2015

Kent Stater Cartoon

I continued working on my “serious” cartoons and never really attempted another humor cartoon until my junior year at Kent State University. Being a student at Kent State in the late sixties placed you at the epicenter of the enormous cultural upheaval that was taking place in the nation. For someone who was slowly making his way toward getting a shot at updating the somewhat moribund teen genre strip, it was the perfect environment in which to assimilate all that was happening. For another Kent State student, Chuck Ayers, the environment would lead to a career as a political cartoonist. (More about Chuck in a moment.) At some point my friend Dave Miles and I noticed that the student paper, the Daily Kent Stater, wasn’t running any cartoons and decided to rectify that. We worked up some cartoons that were typical of the kind you’d find in a college newspaper, with raw-looking art and fairly sophomoric ideas. We took them into the Stater, convinced the editors that they ought to be running some cartoons, and soon our cartoons were appearing a couple of times a week. Life was good. We had a nice run of a couple of months until a student named Chuck Ayers (I said we’d get back to him) showed up with his own cartoons. Chuck’s cartoons had a certain indefinable something about them that made ours pale by comparison, but let me take a shot at defining it anyway: They were a lot better. I took some cartoons into the Stater office one day, saw several of Chuck’s cartoons lying on a desk, and decided to retire. It wasn’t so much that the Stater let Dave and me go as that we never went back. (The world takes interesting turns, though, because eventually Chuck and I would get a chance to work together and to memorialize those Kent State days in a comic strip called Crankshaft. But that’s getting ahead of things a bit.) At the time, I simply refocused my attention back on trying to get a gig working on Batman or Spider-Man.

*From the introduction to The Complete Funky Winkerbean Vol. One