By now, you all know what the big news is for me this month: Pete Abrams has given me the opportuntiy to take over the writing and drawing reins for Sluggy Freelance for the week of January 15th to January 21st. My story: a rather silly little tale I call "Kiki Shrugged". Hope you like it!
Pete first approached me with the idea of doing a Sluggy story for him as early as the Summer of '99, but I initially turned him down. Quite frankly, the idea of filling in for Pete, if only for a week, scared me. Those are some mighty big shoes to fill, and I didn't feel I was up to the task. So what made me change my mind, and go for it? A number of things, actually. For one thing, I had a lot of fun working with some of my fellow Plan Nine 'toonists on last year's "Sluggy Freelance Is Missing" story. This helped me to gain a bit more self-confidence, with regards to doing a Sluggy story. Mind you, it'd be impossible for anyone to replace Pete, and I certainly wouldn't try. I see this story as a week's worth of fan art, and hope my fellow Sluggites realize this.
Drawing a week's worth of Sluggy was a great artistic exercise for me. It was fun to enter another cartoonist's world, and play around with his characters for a while. Even if the story tanks, I'm still happy with it, for the most part. I'm happy with the way I drew Riff, but I must say, I'm lukewarm with regards to my versions of Torg and Zoe. They are surprisingly tough to draw. But I'm also pleased with the way I drew the animals, especially Kiki herself, who is far and away my favorite Sluggy character.
And just as Pete Abrams has given me this great opportunity to introduce myself to his readers, I myself hope to do the same thing with Bruno in the future, maybe once a year or so, as my way of "paying the loan forward". I really hope that several of the other big-name online cartoonists will consider doing the same thing that Pete has done for me: let a lesser-known cartoonist whose work they like take over their strip for a week or so, as a way of introducing them to a whole new audience.
As for the story itself, this was yet another opportunity to torment my good friend Mike (whose webpage can be viewed by clicking here), who happens to be a devotee of the late, great philosopher Ayn Rand, creator of the philosophy of Objectivism. The title "Kiki Shrugged" comes from the title of Ms. Rand's most famous work Atlas Shrugged. Just hope the lady is not spinning in her grave at the moment.
I know Mike will get a kick out of this story, as he has a pretty good sense of humor about these things. (Though I shudder to think of what sort of revenge he's cooking up at the moment...) Still, I am a little concerned that some of his fellow Objectivists may see the story as an attack on Ayn Rand and Objectivism. That is certainly not my intent here. For the record, I think Ayn Rand is pretty nifty (to use Pete's word), and some aspects of her philosophy have inspired me: the ideas of believing in yourself, the power of the individual to make a difference in the world, not compromising your ideals in the face of opposition, pursuing your dreams. But, um, well, for my money, her views can get a little extreme at times. Rather than building on these positives, she seemed to prefer to spend most of her time attacking those with whom she disagreed. As a result, I can't really say that Objectivism is my cup of tea. But hey, don't take my word for it. If you've never heard of Ayn Rand before, read her books and decide for yourself. At the very least, check out some of the websites devoted to her, such as AynRand.org, and The Daily Objectivist. If nothing else, they'll give you some background on my Sluggy story. :-)
My hope is that the mature Objectivist reader will not have a problem with the story, and will see that I'm just ribbing 'em. Hey, I'm a Christian (much to Christ's dismay, no doubt), and I still get a good laugh out of Monty Python's The Life of Brian. It's not a bad thing to take yourself seriously, but hey, you don't wanna overdo it, in my humble opinion. Especially if you're a cartoonist. It'd be bad for business.
Finally, thanks go out to Pete, for letting me take over the reins
of his strip for the week, as well as Terrence Marks (creator of the online
comic strips Unlike Minerva
and HCF) for coloring the Sunday
strip for me.