Friday was National Cartoonist’s Day, and I celebrated it by reading my two favorite cartoonists. The first, Gary Trudeau, has written Doonesbury since 1968. I started reading it in our local newspaper when I was in high school, collecting the paperback collections as they came out.
The characters and stories in the strips were funny, intelligent takes on people very much like people I knew. Crazy Zonker Harris reminded me of one of my brothers, and Americanism zealot B.D. reminded me of the other one. The strips spoofed college sports, the anti-war movement, women’s liberation … all the hot-button topics of my teenage years.
The series of strips about Phred, the Vietcong terrorist, and his struggles during the war was enlightened and delightful.
Bridgett Spicer is my other favorite cartoonist, and your own Auntie Bridgett. She started writing her first comic strip, Squid Row, in 2002. It ran for in the Monterey Herald newspaper from 2009 to 2014.
It told stories about people I knew, too. Starving artists and their search for art supplies and folks with irrational fears of garden gnomes… people everyone could relate to. Like Gary Trudeau, Bridgett shows her characters’ flaws as well as their strengths.
Squid Row wasn’t nearly as political as Doonesbury, but every now and then Bridgett felt the need to make a comment on world affairs. When there was a controversy about cartoonists drawing the prophet Mohammed, she made this strip about a cab driver.
In 2015, she closed out Squid Row and started Randie and Ryan, showing her two main characters’ adventures as newlyweds. And when we moved to Portland, so did Randie and Ryan! That strip ran for four years.
After a few months , she started other projects and let the cartooning slide for a while. Then, in 2021, her friend Jack Kent, who does the comic Sketchy People and was working for our local Willamette Weekly, offered her a spot on their comics page. Who could turn that down?
Auntie Beeswax is a slightly eccentric lady who lives in Portland. She is always upbeat as she cares for bees, cats, chickens, and her melancholy niece, Mallory.
I love seeing our everyday life in the comic strip. A well-done comic takes real life and lets you see it differently.
PS. You can find all Bridgett’s works, including paintings, collages, and lots of comics, at bridgettspicerart.com