30 December 2012

Mr. Squish goes to hell.

As I’ve said before, I am not Squish. And I don’t mean that in a Leonard Nimoy “I am not Spock” kind of way, in which he wrote a book about how he’s not Spock, then wrote another book about how he is Spock. Nimoy, like many actors, related to his character—and then again didn’t, and tried to juggle those emotions, and still isn’t sure where he stands. I don’t have that inner struggle about Leonard Squish: I invented him specifically for the purpose of mocking and making fun of him, because he most certainly is not me.

The Mr. Squish universe is also a Calvinist one. In it Leonard was predestined for wrath. After (spoiler alert!) I had him killed in the last strip, I naturally sent him to hell.

I had one final strip for the fall semester. As I mentioned previously, Wayne, the cartoonist who produced “Squidman” for the Hornet, and I had entered into a death pact: We were gonna kill our main characters off. His Teenage Martyr would finally succeed at one of his many threatened suicides, and I would have Leonard get murdered. But Wayne reneged.

I didn’t realize Wayne would renege when I drew this strip. I assumed the Teenage Martyr actually had hanged himself off the Guy West Bridge, and decided to depict his afterlife. And Leonard’s. Like so.

Mr. Squish, CSUS Hornet, December 1990.

I had to give my future Arts & Features Dept. assistant, Warren, credit for the idea of putting the two of them in hell together. It escalated from there into a full-on Squidman parody. So if these characters don’t look familiar at all, and look nothing like my drawing style, that’s ’cause I was mimicking Wayne’s. I stole his Eddie Ties character to play a devil. (Not the devil; just a devil. Wearing devilish footy pajamas.)

I sorta made myself insane trying to get the art to look exactly like Wayne’s. One of my pet peeves are those folks who are trying to parody other strips, yet don’t bother to get the art right. It looks much too much like their own stuff. A good parody will be so close, you’ll think at first the actual artist did it, and then realize it’s a parody. The guys at Mad Magazine were consistently good at this. That was the standard I set up for myself, so I spent a lot of time with the blue pencil and some of Wayne’s old strips, trying to draw the Teenage Martyr and Eddie till your average reader couldn’t figure at first glance it wasn’t Wayne who actually drew this strip. Since I drew with ballpoint and Wayne drew, I believe, with fountain pen, it was bound to be subtly different. But like I said, so long that people were fooled at first glance, I was fine. I finally got it to my satisfaction. And since people even accused me of tracing Wayne’s strips, I figure I must have nailed it.

You’d have to be a regular Squidman reader to get the references to the Cure CDs, to Fresno, or to the made-for-TV movie about a retarded kid. (Starring, of course, Lindsay Wagner.) But I’m sure spending eternity with one another would be both the Martyr and Leonard’s idea of a personal hell, so there y’are.

And that’s it for 1990. Just in time for the end of 2012.