Louie and Bruce Singles, 1982, Part 1 [comic strips]

Leroy is Louie’s brother. Louie has a pointed head and Leroy’s is flat. I referred to him as a carrot top—not because his hair was red (which it wasn’t), but because the three hairs that grow from the center of his head reminded me of three stems of a carrot after the leaves have been chopped off.

I drew Leroy’s first comic strip (above) in December of 1981, but didn’t reveal it until a month later in January of 1982. I drew a weekly run of single strips that year, many of them since lost.

The character with Leroy in the above strip is Mike. I didn’t feature him often, though he and Leroy were best friends. Like the rest of the characters, Mike was single. His favorite music was hard rock and his favorite band was AC-DC. His sister, Gloria, became Frank’s girlfriend that year. She was a softer, saner side of the guys and was never fazed by their crazy world.

When Leroy wore hats, readers confused him with Louie because their lower faces looked the same. But Leroy had the magic touch—an idea I stole from Doonesbury, the college years.

I think Leroy’s flat head may have come from Bull, the grumpy, cigar-smoking truck driver, pounding on it. This was a running gag that often ended with Leroy’s head squashed inside his shirt.

I’ll finish up Louie and Bruce with more strips from 1982 in my next post. Until then, peace and love.

Louie’s Cat Acts Up [comic strip]

In January of 1982, I drew an anthropomorphic character for the Louie and Bruce comic strip: Louie’s cat.

I didn’t have a name for the stray alley cat Louie took in, so he was called “Louie’s cat.” Names that I kicked around were Barfield (a play on Garfield), Rowdy Dangerfield (because he thought he was a comedian), Ace (because KISS was his favorite rock band), and Newb, short for Newbesiah. None of the names stuck, though I referred to him in my sketchbooks as Barfield.

He was Louie’s Pinocchio. And like Pinocchio, Louie’s cat had a childlike curiosity and naiveté that got him into trouble.

I introduced another character in January of 1982: Louie’s brother Leroy. He was featured in my shorter strips (which I will present in my next post).

Debarking Up the Wrong Tree [comic strip]

It’s December 1981 and the sawmill I work at is shutting down for the winter. Life for Louie and Bruce and the gang goes on, though this is the last full-feature strip of them at the mill until 1983.

No one does a better pratfall than Louie. But falling into a debarking machine isn’t my idea of a fun ride.

I hope this comic strip manages a chuckle from my readers. But I understand if the story goes over the heads of everyone unfamiliar with the workings of sawmills.

Until my next post, peace and love everybody. And Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow to my American readers.

Frank’s Lunch Break [comic strip]

Welcome to another Louie and Bruce comic strip feature from 1981, never published at this website until now. The top 3 throwaway panels (see my last post about that) introduce and set up the problem, which carries through the strip to the end: Frank forgot his lunch.

I was influenced by cartoonist Garry Trudeau’s early Doonesbury comic strip (the college years) before his strip became political and painfully dull to read. In those early Doonesbury strips, someone turning into an instant werewolf would have happened. Those unexpected plot twists are what attracted me to the Doonesbury characters. I love that kind of humor and I understand its limitations and why Trudeau left it. I simply didn’t enjoy the political soap opera path he took.

Anyway, an unusual feature I made to my strip was extending my characters beyond their panels. I used this in an earlier strip when I shortened the dialogue from the wordy “I’ll use my handkerchief to clean off the dirt” and didn’t want to redraw the dialogue balloon. I didn’t like that the panel cut off the characters’ feet, so I extended them beyond the panel.

An interesting side note: I based these characters on people I knew and worked with at a sawmill during 1981. Someone there actually ate bacon, onion and cranberry sauce sandwiches. (He also drank them down with Stroh’s beer, but only after work.) I changed the order of the sandwich’s ingredients to fit the dialogue balloon. To date, I’ve never committed myself to try one of those sandwiches. By the way, it was best to place the cranberry sauce between thick walls of bacon and onion to prevent the bread from becoming soggy. I suggested using Canadian bacon and was told that Canadian bacon is really ham. You don’t mess with proven recipes.

Another sandwich side note is about Louie’s homemade peanut butter. One of my fellow sawmill employees used to bring homemade peanut butter in Mason jars that he gave away. The peanut butter was delicious but gritty instead of smooth and creamy. An older employee got some of the grits caught under the plate of his dentures, so he swished some root beer in his mouth to rid the annoying grits. “It was like an explosion in there,” he told me. From that, an idea for a Louie and Bruce comic strip was born. The rest is history.