Return of the Squirrels
|For two years during the dawn of the 1970s I drew a daily cartoon panel about two squirrels for the Birmingham Post-Herald. The feature was named Tops & Button and so were the squirrels.
My drawing skills had a way to go back then and so did my coy-title-detector. These guys lived in a hollow tree, y'see, one above the other. An arborial duplex of sorts. The squirrel at the top of the tree was the one named Tops. The squirrel at the bottom of the tree was named what, Bottom? No, that would be too obvious. How about Button?
The thing is, there were plenty of duds during the run of that series, but I have no apologies. It was a learning time for me and I got better as I went along. And the thing I liked best about the feature was the way it played with words. Their sounds. Their vibes. Their small, intersyllabic surprises.
People who visited my web site during its earliest incarnations (1998 or so, I think) will remember that I resurrected some Tops & Button panels for whatever amusement they might provide, and examples from the series have occasionally surfaced in published interviews as examples, fortunate or otherwise, of my earliest efforts to break into cartooning. But for the most part the series has lingered only in the fading memories of Birminghamians unaware that a budding underground cartoonist was hiding behind some funny animals who had appeared out of nowhere in the columns of their morning paper.
|A couple of years ago I experimented with re-drawing some of the T&B episodes that continue to amuse me these three decades later. I renamed the title characters Squirly & Earl to reduce the coyness factor, and it's been fun to re-do the pictures because, well, I think I draw better now.
The new versions exist, so why not share them? So brace yourself for the occasional Squirly & Earl episode in these blog entries of mine.
The humor is soft definitely not guffaw material. But in this hectic, overheated world we live in today, it pays to slow down occasionally and smell the yard rodents.