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Match to Flame 114

posted on January 21, 2020

I liken a lawsuit to the feeling you get during an extended renovation of your house, when, after a few irritating weeks, you eventually become inured to the idea of strangers walking through your house, wreaking havoc everywhere, and instead begin to regard them as odd members of your family who have moved in for an indeterminate period. You know, it’s funny I should bring that up because that’s exactly what we decided do in the summer of 1990. It was my wife Cathy’s idea to add a sunroom to the Cartoon Castle, which, in retrospect, was another one of her brilliant ideas, especially since it also led to a welcome expansion of my studio sanctum sanctorum. But, at the time, it added another layer of insanity to an insanely busy time. For example, in 1990, I along with the artists on Crankshaft and John Darling (incidentally, Gerry Shamray left Johnny D. around this time and was ably replaced by Bob Vojtko) created 946 comic strips. Now, I know all of you math majors out there are thinking that I just Barbied that figure and that the number; if you’re producing three comic strips a day for a year, it should be 1,095, and, of course, you would be right—except for the fact I ended John Darling in August of that year.

From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume Seven

Match to Flame 113

posted on January 6, 2020


Well, as is its wont, the future eventually showed up, and the point was starting to skewer me. So I instructed my new attorneys of the future to file a lawsuit on my behalf. And they did. And. . . . Nothing happened. Better said, nothing happened very quickly. Shakespeare once decried “the laws delays” as one of the banes of life and the cat knew whereovith he spokeith. The first thing that happens is that venues get challenged and switched, depositions are sent to be answered, document requests for everything including the shopping list on your refrigerator door are dispatched, and legal teams get challenged and replaced. What happens in between is that life just goes on as it always has as if none of this were taking place. Imagine that. And, while you’re imagining that, imagine that something else very interesting happens as well. With no end to the lawsuit in sight for the foreseeable future, a switch in your mind flips to off and the compulsion to have life all wrapped up and tied with a pretty bow just sort of disappears. Until things are eventually and finally resolved, you just stop caring. 

From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 7

Match to Flame 112

posted on November 20, 2019


And lo, there came a day when the prophecy of the attorney in the beginning times came to pass. 

It’s been said that the past is a knife (as an acolyte of Sigmund Freud, I’m all in on that one), and at the beginning of 1990 I was definitely feeling its point in my back. After three years of unsuccessfully trying to charm my syndicator into re?negotiating my contract, things were finally going to hit the windmill when I filed a lawsuit to see if I could extricate myself from it. I had known this day was coming from the time I had initially set pen to the misbegotten document. Although I briefly described that moment in the introduction to Volume 1 of this collection, I think it would behoove us to drill down a bit deeper into that story at this point.

As I stated in that inaugural intro, I took the contract to a local lawyer in Elyria where I was living at the time. He had complimented me on my reading of the contract and assured me that my interpretation of it was pretty much on the money. Nowhere to be found within its six pages were the blandishments I had received assuring me that I could exit the contract on the same terms as my syndicator should I one day choose to do so. Nor was there anything in there (and this was the part that really rankled) saying that the characters, who were drawn from my life experience and mine alone, belonged to me. Quite the opposite, in fact; there was no way out of the contract for me at all, and, even if I could somehow make that happen, my creations would stay behind to live on in the hands of others. The meeting was an exercise in the attorney stating the obvious, and me sitting there nodding my head. He characterized the document as a slave contract (ironically, in early conversations with my eventual litigating attorneys, the idea of citing the contract as a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment in one of my claims was briefly spitballed around the room but eventually dispatched, along with my suggestion that I plead insanity, to the abattoir of cute-but-not-necessarily-legally-sound ideas). The first time you hear the word “slave” dropped into a conversation concerning you, it tends to make your nether region draw up and pull the hatch shut behind it. I then received the best advice that I was probably going to get that day. I was told that if I wanted to play badly enough, that contract, as draconian as it was, was my ticket to the only game in town. So the decision was made to sign it (with everything gritted) and to kick my problems with the contract down the road to some future point.

From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 7

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