Laugh Finder

My Magic Marionette is in the shop, so I took my Laugh Finder to my current hot coffeeshop for a sketchbook session this morning.

I came upon this idea of Jeremy asking Dad if he could taste his beer. We’ve avoided the topic of teenage drinking so far in Zits, except for a pretty good series a few years ago about a wild party at Piece’s house when his parents left town. If you can find the right way to sneak up on a ticklish subject (like texting while driving earlier this spring), an otherwise heavy topic like this can be a lot of fun.

Let’s see if we’re able to pull something off this time…


My wife noted (with a certain pointedness) that we didn’t do a strip themed to Mother’s Day this year. Don’t look for one on Father’s Day either, I’ll tell you right now. We sort of skated past those holidays this year in the commotion of assembling our upcoming Sunday Brunch book. Our little brains only have so much room.

Maybe she’s right, though. In a strip like Zits we can choose to ignore Thanksgiving or the Fourth of July, but Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are right down the middle of our plate. Maybe we look clueless when Hi is taking Lois to brunch. On the other hand, those holiday strip ideas can get hackneyed and I’ve sometimes wondered if readers appreciate a departure from the expected theme. He told his wife, to no avail.

When Jerry and I work on the strip we seldom think about the publication date beyond a vague sense of the flow of the year. Jeremy gets out of school sometime in the late spring and starts back to school in the late summer. We acknowledge Christmas because it’s too big to ignore, and often nod to Halloween because it’s on a teenager’s radar screen, but other holidays pass without mention. I could tell you it’s because of our international clients (Zits runs in 45 different countries), but really it’s just because holiday strips mostly suck.

Sunday Funnies Memories

If you’ve been paying close attention you’ll remember that our fall 2011 Zits collection will be a hardcover gathering of our favorite Sunday strips called Zits Sunday Brunch, a title which, if taken literally, makes some people throw up in their mouths. Well, that ship has sailed, friends, and we’ve moved on to amping up what you’ll find between the covers.

Jerry wrote an essay for the book called What Makes a Sunday a Sunday? and I wrote a piece on title panels which appears elsewhere on this blog. We collaborated on a longer piece about our process of creating a Zits Sunday strip, and then each wrote about our earliest memories of reading the Sunday funnies when we were kids.

Those pieces prompted us to ask some cartoonist friends about their own memories of reading the Sunday funnies and, as the snowball grew, we suddenly found ourselves with a generous pile of priceless vivid memories from the top people in our profession. With the addition of these memories, the book has become a lovesong to the tradition of reading the Sunday funnies “on real newspaper, as God intended,” in Richard Thompson’s words. Here’s one memory. Can’t wait to share them all.

Bloom County opened up the world to me. At a

time when my most pressing concern was whether

Gilligan would ever get off that island, suddenly I had to

know who Caspar Weinberger and Nancy Reagan were.

Calvin & Hobbes taught me to appreciate truth in art,

even if there was no traditional punchline. Dillon,

which starred the children of a divorced single mom,

showed me that every type of family was worth talking

about on the comics page.

My dad wasn’t around and my mom seemed to always

be out working. I was a latchkey kid. I read the comics

page of the LA Herald Examiner, and later the LA Daily

News, because when I read them, I felt like I wasn’t

alone. I would race to pick up the paper on our front

lawn, fold up the comics section, put it in my pocket, and

head straight to the room I shared with my big brother.

I’d climb under the covers with a flashlight and explore

what seemed like endless pages of four-panel worlds. All

the strips seemed like windows into alternate

realities populated by people who I knew so

intimately that I could literally read their minds.”

– Darrin Bell, Creator of Candorville