Genesis of a Comic Strip Idea
Dogs are a lifestyle choice. You arrange your personal living space to accommodate them. We have a large fenced yard, dog run through the garage, beds, and comfy places in every room so they can hang out with us wherever we happen to be. Extra messes occur. You deal with them. Even when they involve bringing perfectly happy still-living wildlife indoors.
What can I say? Our dogs have big hearts and want to share their lifestyle with the less fortunate animals in the back yard. Our greyhound once gently carried a baby rabbit in his mouth up to his bed. I think he wanted a pet of his own. It explains why he didn’t make it in the racing world.
We somehow ended up with three canine companions. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Our big mistake was not realizing that the “mess factor” didn’t grow in a linear fashion, it multiplied itself several times over. It isn’t too bad inside the house, but the potty yard needs extra cleaning. Lots and lots of extra cleaning.
We’ve made arrangements to make the chore as easy as possible. Scoop poop into shovel, toss poop over fence into forest. We built the fence pretty far back from the property line for just this purpose. Otherwise we could only do it at night when the neighbor couldn’t see, and odds are good we’d end up with a bigger, stinkier mess than when we started.
The dogs, by the way, are fascinated with the process. They want to play fetch *so* bad.
People ask me, “Where do you get your ideas?” and I reply, “I’m easily bored and my inner eight-year-old forces me to make the drudgery more fun.” Thus, when scooping dog droppings recently, I thought about the task from the other side of the fence. For example, what do the rabbits think when they are being bombarded by stinky predator bombs?
Just like that, a comic strip idea was born.
I write my original scripts in Scrivener, which will one day get a review here. The short version: When three can legally marry next year, Scrivener will be joining our marriage. Shhh! Codex doesn’t know; won’t she be surprised!
I’m including the script as best I can in WordPress, which hates all things written, drawn, or pasted. This is the “rough draft”, I haven’t gone through the extra passes it usually takes me to get the wording/humor/storyline development just right. That’s because this script was (cough) rejected.
Drawing: Q, with shovel, on grass, lumpy things all over
Dialog: “More dogs mean more cleanup. Scoop poop; chuck poop.”
Drawing: Q, shovel in air, lumps flying through air over fence
Dialog: “Over the fence it goes. I wonder what the rabbits in the forest think?”
Drawing: Scalzi, holding coffee cup, looking up
Dialog: “Huh. Strange stinky lumps falling from the sky?”
Drawing: Scalzi, mad, clay-like swirly lump on head, ‘splash’ coming from cup
Dialog: “Wait a minute! What is this sh-”
The script was rejected because Codex does not channel her inner eight-year-old; she channels her inner-Mom instead. Yeah, Moms ruin everything. I should really be running this on Mother’s Day, but making Scalzi the back-end of my jokes a second time this week is his punishment for sabotaging yesterday’s comic.
Apparently scatological humor will trigger some of our more refined readers. Sigh. Codex is probably right. Still, just because an idea gets categorized as “inappropriate” doesn’t mean it stays “inappropriate”. I’ve worked around this “good taste” restriction before. Those of you who have been reading for a while can probably even guess which comics those are.
I asked for a rough visual layout of what she could give me based on the central idea: throwing meadow muffins at Scalzi.
No context. Not very funny. No pithy social commentary. Can’t use it. A good idea born from the bowels of my imagination, yet still flushed away to a Thursday column. Tuesday and Thursday content is mine and mine alone, and if they stink then I have to suffer the complaints. Codex can walk away smelling like Clive Christian ‘No. 1’.
So now you’ve gotten a glimpse at some of our process and what things look like “in the raw” before you get the final product on your screens. More importantly, you can be first in a new social media trend: #WhatCanWeThrowAtScalzi. Be sure and tweet something before all the funny ones are taken!