Some Backstory

Back in 1976 I was busy being an underground comix creator at home when time permitted. Meanwhile, though, I held down a day job doing production work for an advertising agency in Birmingham. The agency was then called Luckie & Forney Advertising; it has since become simply Luckie & Company.

My duties mostly revolved around doing "paste-up" work — a craft that has mostly become obsolete since the digital era arrived. Once in a while, though, I got to do some drawing.

Most often I drew things that folks at home would never see (like the storyboard for a prospective film commercial that I'm at work on in the photograph below). But once in a while I was assigned to do illustrations for publication in newspapers or magazines.

And then there were the occasional special assignments that were actually up my comics-creating alley, like "Mr. Tipp and Talky Avoid Non-Completions." I'm not sure where this two-pager ultimately appeared, but it was obviously done for South Central Bell, one of the agency's most prominent clients at the time. Style-wise Mr. Tipp was akin to Big Marvy, a character I played with a bit as I prepared to leave Barefootz behind.

I like to think I could draw it much better now than I could then, but that's true of anything I was coming up with in the 1970s. "Mr. Tipp" was nevertheless important to me at the time because it was my first opportunity to draw a comic strip in colored media (as opposed to drawing strips in black-and-white with color being added subsequently using Zipatone overlays, as was the case with a few Barefootz strips that ran in Snarf and Comix Book). This made it an exciting learning experience for me, whatever its shortcomings may be from today's perspective.

The color in this instance was executed with design markers — not the best medium for subtlety of hues, I quickly learned — and as you can see it ended up being uncomfortably garish as a result. But you have to start learning somewhere, and in those days nobody had inkjet printers at home that you could use to practice with.

By way of compensation, this project gave me a chance to draw a talking telephone. And as anyone knows who's paid attention to my cartoons over the years, anthropomorphizing inanimate objects is one of my favorite guilty pleasures.

So that's the story. If you'd like to see how my very first "painted" comic strip turned out, just click the picture of "Talky" below.