Match to Flame – 39

Mar 8, 2017

It disappeared sometime in 1978. “It” was the note that Flash Fairfield, the manager of the comics art department at the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) syndicate, had sent to me. In it, he had briefly outlined some of the points about comic strip characters and their care and feeding that he and I had discussed when we first met. [*The scintillating details of which appear in Volume 1 of The Complete Funky Winkerbean.] It was a generous act on Flash’s part because it arrived after NEA had turned down my strip and I had signed with a rival syndicate, Publishers-Hall. One of the things that Flash reminded me of in his note was that comic strips work best when there are only two or three major characters whose personalities are clearly defined and constantly reinforced. Peanuts, of course, was his gold standard. Made all the sense in the world. I had kept the note taped to my drawing board for several years, and it had survived a couple of apartment moves and was still in place when my wife Cathy and I moved into our new house (a.k.a. the Cartoon Castle). It was always there as a constant reminder of Flash’s sound and considered advice. And then one day it wasn’t, and after that, as my piano teacher Mrs. Bemis used to say when trying to describe my playing, everything just went all higgledy piggledy.

From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume Three

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