Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pheaturing Jerry Scott

Hello, welcome to a Sunday entry of the Phile, I am your host, Jason Peverett, the world's oldest teenager now that Dick Clark has died. With Dick Clark dead, we can no longer ring in the New year. Well played Mayans. Well played.  So, did you survive the Storm of the Century. We went out for dinner last night just before the storm came. I took this great fantastic photo before the storm got here in Clermont. Check it out, kids.

Congratulations are in order for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who just got engaged. You know what, I knew there was something going on between those two.  At the St. Louis Zoo, Newt Gingrich got too close to one of the animals and was bit on the hand by a penguin. If you're named after a lizard, you have to assume birds are going to try to eat you.  President Obama, in his memoir, talked about his childhood in Indonesia living with his stepfather. He said when he was 8 years old, his stepfather introduced him to a number of unusual meats, including dog. Our president ate dog. Not only that, according to the book, he also ate snake. And his mother was looking for tiger. He was eating through Noah's Ark. But the dog thing... maybe that is where the floppy ears come from. This is not something that someone dug up on him. This was in a book the president wrote himself. How did we miss this? If Ryan Seacrest wrote a book and said he ate dog, we would know about it. Would you eat dog? I would try it. Why not?  Reporters are in Colombia digging up anything on the Secret Service prostitution scandal. There was a dispute in the hotel. The escort said they made an agreement the night before to pay her $800, which is a lot for an escort. For that, you could get a Ford Escort. After they promised $800, they only gave her $30. That's what you call a trade deficit. The escort claims the agents said they did not remember agreeing to pay $800 because they were drunk the night before and she refused to leave the room until she got paid. Eventually they settled for $225. These are the guys we should put in charge of negotiating our foreign debt. Eleven Secret Service agents are being investigated. So far one has been fired, one resigned, one retired, and the rest are thinking about leaving just because the party is over.  Listen, everybody likes to make friends… and nobody more so than the Secret Service when they’re in a country that has legalized prostitution! 
I think the lesson from all this is simple: be careful who you poke.

Well, in Orlando the Zimmerman bail hearings took place and Phile reader Aaron Carlson sent me this picture of what he saw on TV.

Way to go graphic artist, way to go. Well, today is Earth Day. I wonder if the next planet we destroy will get its own holiday. Today Disney released their new annual Earth Day film, and this years one is called Chimpanzee. I didn't want to see it until I saw this screen shot. Now I wanna see it.

And now for some very sad news...

Levon Helm
May 26, 1940 - Apr 19, 2012
His two big hit albums were Electric Dirt and Dirt Farmer. 'Nuff said.

Okay, so, apparently I have and other blogs and TV chat shows have been giving Mitt Romney a hard time. And some people want to set the record straight on Mitt. When I say some people I mean mostly one man. So, I thought I would invite him to the Phile to say what he wants to say... man, this is a long winded intro to introduce a brand new Phile character. Lets get on with it. Please welcome to the Phile...

Thank you, Jason. In July 1996, the 14-year-old daughter of Robert Gay, a partner at Bain Capital, had disappeared. She had attended a rave party in New York City and gotten high on ecstasy. Three days later, her distraught father had no idea where she was. Romney took immediate action. He closed down the entire firm and asked all 30 partners and employees to fly to New York to help find Gay’s daughter. Romney set up a command center at the LaGuardia Marriott and hired a private detective firm to assist with the search. He established a toll-free number for tips, coordinating the effort with the NYPD, and went through his Rolodex and called everyone Bain did business with in New York, and asked them to help find his friend’s missing daughter. Romney’s accountants at Price Waterhouse Cooper put up posters on street poles, while cashiers at a pharmacy owned by Bain put fliers in the bag of every shopper. Romney and the other Bain employees scoured every part of New York and talked with everyone they could... prostitutes, drug addicts... anyone. That day, their hunt made the evening news, which featured photos of the girl and the Bain employees searching for her. As a result, a teenage boy phoned in, asked if there was a reward, and then hung up abruptly. The NYPD traced the call to a home in New Jersey, where they found the girl in the basement, shivering and experiencing withdrawal symptoms from a massive ecstasy dose. Doctors later said the girl might not have survived another day. Romney’s former partner credits Mitt Romney with saving his daughter’s life, saying, “It was the most amazing thing, and I’ll never forget this to the day I die.” So, here’s my epiphany: Mitt Romney simply can’t help himself. He sees a problem, and his mind immediately sets to work solving it, sometimes consciously, and sometimes not-so-consciously. He doesn’t do it for self-aggrandizement, or for personal gain. He does it because that’s just how he’s wired. Many people are unaware of the fact that when Romney was asked by his old employer, Bill Bain, to come back to Bain & Company as CEO to rescue the firm from bankruptcy, Romney left Bain Capital to work at Bain & Company for an annual salary of one dollar. When Romney went to the rescue of the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, he accepted no salary for three years, and wouldn’t use an expense account. He also accepted no salary as Governor of Massachusetts. Character counts! In terms of integrity, Romney is 100 times better than Obama and his Chicago Regime. Any American that says they will not vote for Romney isn’t thinking straight. If "Silent America" doesn't vote in 2012 – Obama wins. That would NOT be good for America. America has been seriously damaged since Obama took over in Jan. 2009! The Chicago “Radicals” have done must damage from Foreign Affairs to Energy non-management! We cannot all work for or depend on government or we will quickly become another Greece. Wake up your family, your neighbors, your friends, your church, your work-place, and your social contacts! If the America we all know and love isn't voted FOR in 2012, it may well disappear. Multiculturalists, Progressives and Liberals are destroying America with little to no opposition. Apathy could quickly destroy the greatest Country planet Earth has ever known! That's all.

Ummm... thank you, Mike Rotch: Republican Extraordinaire. What a name. Also he could of came up with a better sign to hold. Alright, there's a new Jim Henson graphic novel out and I thought I would invite my good friend Jim Mello, who knows everything about comics, to the Phile to give a review. So, please welcome Jim again in a pheature we call...

Jim Henson's "A Tale of Sand", adapted from the original screenplay by Ramon Perez. Boys and girls,  there comes a time when you view something that supersedes entertainment, supersedes story, supersedes character, and elevates itself into some quasi-Buddhist zen type place where quality and sheer talent sing through the cosmos and tap dance in the halls of glory. That may sound like hyperbole, but then again, you probably haven't picked up "Tale of Sand", recently, huh? In the beginning, before Henson said, "Let there be Muppets", he was a struggling artist and screenwriter experimenting with his own new brand of creation. "Tale of Sand' is not something that should you'd expect from the creator who coined the phrase "Woka woka". It opens in the desert, as a man stumbles into a town finding a veritable ticker tape parade in front of him. He's hoisted on their shoulders, as they smile and sing. A band plays. A woman tears him away from the crowd to dance. The Sheriff takes him aside, hands him a map, and says two things: "Trust the map." and then "Don't trust the map." Oh, and then a third thing: "You'll have a ten minute head start." So, the man starts running. And then someone starts chasing him. If you think that was confusing... It was. The book is a surrealistic chase story, the likes that would have Dali trying to melt as many clocks as possible to keep up. It's themes and ideas are covered in the sand of the nonsensical. Oh, and Ramon Perez? I don't care if you've never read a non-superhero comic in your life, and you hate all good art. You will love this. Each page is so well crafted, using a myriad of tricks and techniques to get the story across. He's also lucky, because this story is a fever dream of imagination and his playground was as big as a metaphorical universe. Every single page is beautiful. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. You've heard the phrase 'We stand on the shoulders of giants', right? Well, between Henson, and Perez, it's giants standing on top of giants. I consider myself lucky for having a chance to look at these pages. The writing itself is straight from the original screenplay, but the lettering was actually based of Jim Henson's own handwriting which I thought was just another touch that put this book above and beyond. That all said I don't think this book is for everyone. It lacks a cognitive story, and it's main character never says more than a few words. It's just a piece of fine art, and sequential storytelling. Even if you hate The Muppets, you'll find something to love in the art. If I could, I'd lend it to each and every one of you.

Alright, today's guest is someone who I wanted on the Phile for a long time. He is an American cartoonist, and co-creator of "Baby Blues" and co-creator of "Zits". His book "Zombie Parents and Other Hopes for a More Perfect World: Zits Sketchbook No. 15" is the 18th book to be pheatured in the Peverett Phile Book Club. Please welcome to the Phile... Jerry Scott.

Me: Hello, Jerry, welcome to the Phile. Congrats, your new book "Zombie Parents and Other Hopes For A More Perfect World" is part of the Peverett Phile Book Club. Anyway, how are you?

Jerry: Great, thanks.

Me: Okay, let me ask you this right way, recently there was a Foghat reference in "Zits", Jerry. My dad was Lonesome Dave from Foghat, and I was excited about the reference. Then when I read it, and posted it on the Phile. I saw that you were kinda making fun of Foghat. Here is the strip in case no one remembers it.

Me: What the hell? Please tell me you're a Foghat fan really. Are you a Foghat fan?

Jerry: I graduated from high school in 1973, so yeah. Foghat was a part of my musical education, for sure. I can't say that I ever owned an album, though. We had a hi-fi stereo in the living room filled with my folk's albums of (ugh) their music, so I didn't buy many records. I lived in a very small town in Arizona and relied on a tinny, weak radio signal from an Oklahoma City superstation that could be picked up on top of a few hills after 10 p.m. for my music. And one of my buddies had a crummy 8-track player in his car, so we listened to the parts of songs that still worked on his tapes. "Slow ride... take it ea... 'Cause I'm a fool for the cit... she make love like a wildca..." You know what I'm talking about if you ever rode in my buddy's car.

Me: I thought it was funny, even though some people I know, but won't mention, didn't. Anyway, that strip was printed originally a few years ago, am I right?

Jerry: Yes, it was from a few years ago. The strip has reruns whenever we take a week or two off for vacation.

Me: Anyway, Jerry, I have to say, I am a big fan, and this is a great thrill for me to have you here. "Zits" is my all time favorite comic strip ever. You are the writer, right, and Jim Borgman is the artist. You are also an artist as well, right?

Jerry: Yup. We're both writers and both artists.

Me:  How did you meet Jim originally and how did you two decide that Jim would be the artist behind "Zits"?

Jerry:  We knew each other casually when serving together on the National Cartoonists Society's Board of Directors, but we really didn't get to know each other until an airplane we were on blew a tire before takeoff. It took a couple of hours for the pilot to find the spare, I guess, so Jim and I sat and talked. Years later, when I asked Jim for advice about the look of the strip (I was originally going to write and draw it myself), he drew a sketch of a teenager, and that was it. Jim is a Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist, if everybody didn't already know that.

Me: Did you both come up with the look for Jeremy, his parents and everybody?

Jerry: Sort of, but Jim did most of the steering.

Me: Where did the character's come from, people you know? Were you like Jeremy when you were a kid?

Jerry: Yes, and yes... or at least I like to think I was like Jeremy. All of the characters are amalgams of people we know, or wish we knew.

Me:  I have to ask, where did the name "Zits" come from, Jerry.

Jerry:  Our editor, the late, great Jay Kennedy had Jim and me on the phone several months before the strip was to launch. We had a working title for the strip... we called it "Working Title". Jay says, "We need a title that will be short, punchy, and says teenager." So I fire back, "Why don't we just call it "Zits?" Laughter all around (nervous laughter from Jay). "Yeah, but we can't call it Zits", says Jay. "It's rude, abrupt and sort of offensive." Jim and I knew we had our title.

Me: Charles Schulz once said that "Zits" is the worst name for a comic strip since "Peanuts". What did you think when you first heard that quote?

Jerry: Huge honor to be criticized by Schulz. He was a friend. Jim had gone to visit him and Schulz had seen the strip. He wasn't afraid to tell people what he thought of their work, especially cartoonists. I think it's a wonderful quote.

Me: Most comic strip characters don't age at all. Those "Peanut" kids never aged, and neither did those kids in "Family Circus". Jeremy had aged though, right? He started off as a 15 year old and is now 16 year old. That's not a whole lot of 'growing up' since '97 when "Zits" first came out, but he did get older. Anyway, what I am trying to ask is Jeremy gonna get older?

Jerry: Don't know. Probably not. We've nudged him forward so that we could open up his world with a driver's license, but that's about as far as the poor kid is likely to age.

Me: I have lots of international readers... okay, not lots, but some. Is "Zits" published overseas as well? What do they call it elsewhere? "Pimples?" LOL. "Acne"?

Jerry: The strip runs in around 45 countries and 12 or 14 languages. It's called "Jeremi", "Jere", "Acne"... mostly Zits, though.

Me: Okay, for the few readers that dunno what "Zits" is about, can you explain it briefly?

Jerry: Here's what the web site ( says: Sixteen-year-old Jeremy Duncan is a high school freshman and an aspiring musician. He daydreams about the day when his band, Goat Cheese Pizza, records their first monster hit single and they all pile into his van for their cross-country, sold-out concert tour. Between naps, study hall and band practice, Jeremy still manages to find time to be the star of the hugely popular comic strip, "Zits". Jeremy is a good kid. He is intelligent and kind, yet he still has the attitude that one would expect from a teenager. His unpredictable mood swings and monosyllabic answers to his parents’ mild-mannered questions often leave them baffled and bemused. Created in 1997 by Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Jim Borgman and Reuben Award-winning cartoonist/writer Jerry Scott, "Zits" appears in more 1,600 newspapers worldwide in 45 countries and is translated into 15 different languages. The comic has an estimated daily readership of more than 200 million readers. "Zits" is the only strip in comics history to achieve that milestone in the short span of nine years. The creators, who are parents themselves, have a keen insight into the many physical and emotional changes that teens go through during adolescence, and they have the gift of addressing these common dilemmas with compassion and humor.

Me: Nice explanation, Jerry. Do you ever see "Zits" as a cartoon, or film? I definitely can see it as a film, Jerry. Has there been any talk of that?

Jerry: We've been approached for a film and television show. Neither has worked out for one reason or another. 

Me: What about "Zits" merch? I wanna a "Zits" XXL large t-shirt. I'll send you a Foghat t-shirt for a "Zits" shirt. Whatcha think?

Jerry: Check out the web site. There's a small store there. And yeah, I'll make that trade.

Me: Okay, as I said, you write "Zits" but you are also an artist. When did you first start to draw, Jerry?

Jerry: Like most cartoonists, I started really early decorating text books and notebook covers in elementary school.

Me: You used to draw the "Nancy" strip, right? When did you start to do that? Was that your first professional art job? I think I have a drawing of Nancy here.

Jerry: It wasn't my first professional art job. I worked as an advertising artist. I did the Nancy strip from 1983 - 1995. 

Me: Apart from working on comic strips, what other kinda of work did you do?

Jerry: Commercial art mostly.

Me: Jerry, where are you from, and where do you live now?

Jerry: Born in South Bend, Indiana, moved to Lake Havasu City, Arizona when I was 13. I'm not on the central coast of California near the town of San Luis Obispo.

Me: The "Zits" cast live in Ohio, right? How did you pick Ohio to be the place they live?

Jerry: Jim lives there, and the scenery is native to his soul. It was an easy choice, given that we both are from the midwest.

Me: Okay, apart from "Zits" you also work on a strip called "Baby Blues". That strip I am not aware of, Jerry. Do you still work on that one?

Jerry: Yes. Rick Kirkman and I have worked together on Baby Blues for 22 years. It's syndicated in over 1200 newspapers worldwide in 24 countries and 14 languages. Where have you been, Jason?

Me: I dunno. It's not in the Orlando Sentinel I know that. So, who draws that strip?

Jerry: Rick.

Me: What do you like better, drawing or writing?

Jerry: I have the best of both worlds. Writing is often fun for me, and I draw the rough sketches for Zits. I'm a painter, also.

Me: You must be into different comic strips as well. Who are your favorite strips, and who are your influences?

Jerry: Charles Schulz ("Peanuts"), Bill Watterson ("Calvin & Hobbes"), Lynn Johnston ("For Better or for Worse"), Jim Borgman (editorial cartooning, "Zits" and plain old good conversation), John Irving (so many great novels), Lucian Freud (painter), Ed Mell (painter), The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Carole King and lots more. And Foghat, of course.

Me: Okay, let's talk about the new book. That's the 15th sketchbook, right? The new one has 'zombie' in the titles, and zombie are a big thing right now. Who came up with the book's name?

Jerry: Probably me. Jim and I spent a week in upstate New York a couple of years ago and watched a couple of zombie movies with his daughter. She explained the cultural significance of zombies to us, and it seemed like a funny idea. We did a couple of weeks worth of strips with Jeremy's parents as zombies, and liked them so well that we titled the book after the series.

Me: How far back do the strips go that are in the book?

Jerry: The strips in this book go from late December of '09 thru early September of '10.

Me: When you write the strip do you think then what Sketchbook the strips will be in?

Jerry: The Sketchbooks have historically been chronological collections, so. no. They just end up in whatever book they end up in by date.

Me: Is there anything in the book we haven't seen before?

Jerry: Not if you read the funnies every day.

Me: How many strips do you write a day, Jerry? How far ahead are you?

Jerry: As many as I can, which is anywhere from 0 to 6 or 7 when I'm hot. We work about 8 weeks ahead of publication.

Me: How is the comic created? Do you just write the dialogue and Jon draws what he wants around it? Or are you very descriptive?

Jerry: I give Jim pretty tight sketches of what I'm thinking. Then he does his own version. Sometimes they look just like mine, but often they're way better. The beauty of this partnership is that the product is greater than the sum of its parts.

Me: Jerry, thanks so much for being here on the Phile, sir. It was a huge pleasure and I hope this was fun. I am a huge fan like I said, so this was a big deal for me to have you here. I wanna see more Foghat references by the way. Tell Jim I would love to interview him on the Phile and pheature his artwork and please, please come back when sketchbook 16 comes out. All the best, and don't pull a Bill Watterson and end "Zits". Not for awhile anyway. Take care.

Jerry: Thanks, Jason. My pleasure. I'll be looking for that t-shirt in the mail.

Well, that about does it for another entry. Blogger once again changed how you update the entries once again giving me another excuse to ask myself why do I bother? I bother because I get to interview cool people like Jerry Scott and all the others I interview. Anyway, thanks to my guests Jim Mello, check out his Facebook page Comics Will Make You Stronger or visit him at Coliseum of Comics in Orlando, and of course Jerry Scott. I have to work tomorrow so there's not gonna be a Monday entry this week but on Wednesday the Phile will be back with singer Pete RG. Then Sunday it's Alumni Chris Nelson and on Monday singer Lila Rose. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

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