In The Comics
Off The Wall, Aug 13, 2010

Not long ago I was departing from a hardware store in Latrobe when a gentleman ten years my senior called out as I was leaving, “See you in the comics.” At first, I didn’t know how to take that and was somewhat surprised by his remark.

Then while walking to church one afternoon, I got an idea.

I have never considered myself a cartoon caricature, and I’m sure Stan (that is what I shall call him) never did either. So, in order to make this a real “Off the Wall” column, I thought I’d take a stab at it and see what I could make of it.

The first question that entered my mind is, if an artist were to draw Stan or me, what would we look like? Oh, I could probably recommend my pen pal to create my friend as a more well to do individual. I’ve never considered myself classy or will never climb the ladder to get to those heights, so I have to look at the overall picture realistically.

Since Stan and I are on two different levels, would he be looking down on me, I, looking up to him, or neither one of us finding ourselves in that type of position?

There was a time many years ago that comics often told stories, but that required four or five little boxes with characters in them, such as Blondie, Hercules, or Clark Kent, beginning with an idea and leading through a series of events. Seemed that when I was growing up, the first page people turned to in newspapers was the comic page. If I can remember correctly, I believe some comics were set up as serials.

Now, before I can place either of us in one of those boxes I spoke about, I have to draw some conclusion as to what title would be given to our series. After all, I can’t place Stan with anyone else, because I don’t want him to feel out of place not knowing any of the other characters. The great thing about this chap is that he is easy going, courteous, and friendly. He is very quiet spoken, and that speaks well of him. As a result, I have to conclude that he is a man of utmost maturity.

I think the thing that separates him from me is the fact that God gave me a gift for gab. I don’t think that is particularly a bad thing. I just have to learn when to talk and when to listen. I feel if I don’t initiate some kind of conversation, I may not hear something that may teach me something. Makes sense to me, anyway, even though some people may disagree.

First, what would we call this cartoon – “Two senior gentlemen,” or something better than that? Here’s one – “Moral to the Story.” I’ll explain why I decided this at the end of the column.

So the question still remains, how would we be drawn? Someone once told me if a subject required some thinking, “I should put it in my pipe and smoke it.” So mentally, I guess I have been contemplating how I want to be designed. I know one thing for sure – I hope who draws me (us), I want to make it perfectly clear, please don’t make me out to be a shady character.

If I may make a few suggestions – keep it simple. I think my most outstanding features are my potbelly, large glasses and minimal amount of hair. Oh, and may I add one more thing – clothes. I’m one of those people who loves to be fully clothed.

Now, as for Stan, this is how I would like him to be pictured, if I have any say in the matter. Mr. Artist, put a warm smile on this man’s face. This is a distinguishing quality to which I am accustomed. Physically, he is mesomorphically structured, not skinny or fat. And third, sketch wire rim glasses on his face. He seems to favor plain, light colored shirts and pants, don’t ask me why.

Here comes the fun part. What should we be saying to each other? Should we exchange little remarks about painting, since that is one subject Stan enjoys doing? Conversation in the comic strip – Box 1 – Me talking to Stan. “Hey Stan, did you hear about the fellow who was hired to paint the church steeple?” Of course the question was enveloped in a lined-in enclosure. Next box of Stan looking back at me. “No, Paul, don’t think I heard that one.” In cartoons not a whole lot of words can be used, so there must be a lot of paraphrasing. Third box – (Paul) “Painter thinned the paint to save money”. Fourth box – (Stan) “Really?” (Expression of disbelief). Fifth box – (Paul) “Rain came and washed paint away.” Moral of the Story – Painter told to “Go and thin no more.”

- Paul J. Volkmann
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