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News for 20090818.

And so a new story begins -- featuring Milton Frogman. But who is this Milton Frogman?

In 2007 Xerxes and I were in California at a hateful "Starbucks", with an hour or so to wait before we could meet our friend who lived in the area — to kill time we bought two spiral-bound notebooks at the Walgreens' across the street (for some reason the Bay Area is just a succession of chain stores). One spiral notebook had illustrations of gross "wacky packages" (SLOP Tarts! GUTTERade! PIG Newtons), the other had a Lisa Frank illustration of a girl and a poodle eating ice cream in front of a rainbow-drenched Eiffel Tower. We decided to draw the comic adventures of the people who would actively seek out notebooks like these: Milton Frogman, a gross sixth-grade megalomaniac, and Complicity, lost in "aesthetic" daydreams while attending the Hebrew summer camp Camp Tikva. Each of us had a "main" comic to work on (I had Milton Frogman and XV had Complicity), but we also worked using the others' characters.

Some examples:

Milton Frogman misunderstands social codes (by me)
Complicity attempts to teach a friend about nature (by me)
crossover (by XV, who writes a way better Milton Frogman than I do)

The point of this was, in part, to kill an hour that would otherwise be spent checking watches or something -- but also to get back the fun of doing comics in elementary and middle school, before it "mattered" in any way, when it was just about filling up notebooks with whatever you wanted, using whatever tools were at hand -- pencils, ballpoint pens, markers -- and making everything up as you went along. I think we each did about eight installments of each comic. It's a mode of working that I got to like a lot since it forces you to generate ideas and to milk existing ideas for whatever potential they have because each comic only takes maybe half an hour to do -- so you need to do lots of comics with the explicit goal of filling a notebook, rather than "telling a story" or "making money" or something like that. So a lot of dross gets produced, but also a lot of good, unexpected things.

The MWHF and Elvira were included as characters in the Milton Frogman strip because they are both easy to draw, and worked as good ready-made "adult" characters. At the time the MWHF was on a long hiatus following a series of bad jobs, a summer trip to Paris, and a move to New York plus more bad jobs. At some point in early 2008 I experimented with bringing the strip back, incorporating the whole Milton Frogman situation into things from the adult characters' point of view. There were two "lost episode" style comics made; here's one of them:

Elvira gives an "E" for effort

The other one included Complicity (drawn by XV) and Milton eating pizza while scheming about Elvira in some capacity; it was never finished, and eventually I decided to restart the strip in late 2008 by going back to actually finish the plot I had left dangling, rather than by introducing a whole new wacky cast of kids -- until now!

Also the girl sitting next to Milton Frogman is supposed to be Peppermint Patty, in her later years or something.

Another update tomorrow! Thank you for listening to me explain the history of Milton Frogman to you.


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