Monday, July 17, 2017

(133) Who is this Murf? 6/6

And the Bigger Circle of our Village

I meant for this final strip of the series to encompass the many supporting characters who served as foils to our heroes. Two of them were never heard from again. Or at least not much.

Duchess originated in a different continuum in the "Sparkle Spinster" stories in Gay Comix. Eventually the continua merged and all three of the Spinsters became regulars at Murphy's Manor, with Duchess taking the lead. He was one of those characters that keeps insisting to the author that he has more to say.

But there were more supporting characters yet to come Such as Andrew, whom we haven't met yet.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

(132) Who is this Murf 5/6

Meet Meg O'Keefe

One thing I wanted Murphy's Manor NOT to be was a boys-only comic strip. The model I chose for a main female character was Mary Reiff, At the time the men's and women's gay communities  in Toledo were highly segregated, The men insisted their events and organizations were open to all, but weren't very welcoming or comfortable for women, And the women insisted on "their own space." Mary was one of the few who functioned in both worlds, and I admired her for it.

I recall she got flack from both sides of the gender divide for her efforts. Some men called her a "fag hag" and some women gave her flack for treating with men at all. I wish I'd done more with this predicament. It would've been a great source  of cartoon material.

You'll see over the next 1000 strips that I did make extensive use of Mayor Meg with Andrew Paszko, her aide. The pair of them, die-hard political junkies became favorite characters, and provided a reason to address political issues. 

We haven't met Andrew yet, have we?

(131) Who is this Murf? 4/6

Meet Jeff Sorensen

Jeff the Eternal Party Boy was constructed out of bits and pieces of lots of people I've known. The first name came from a young black man who only lived in Toledo a short time. The blond hair and Schleswig-Holstein surname are not bits of Kurt, but memories of a kid I liked in high school -- but he never knew it and yes, Don, laugh if you will. Many stories and punch lines involving Jeff were lifted from real life involving real party boys. There's never a shortage of them, and they're nice to look at.

(130) Who is this Murf? 3/6

Meet Sid Jacobs

If you wanted to write a biography of yourself in four comic strip panels,  what would you say? That's what I faced in this strip. 

Okay, Sid Jacobs is not Jan Suter, but I did find myself going back to the source material. Besides describing life as a  series of virginities to be lost, Jan loved nothing more than to spend the weekend in bed listening to the Ring Cycle -- which he described as a Wagner orgy. In the end I failed to paint a portrait of Jan Suter. The details are right but the flavor is missing. But that failure is what made up the personality of Sid Jacobs.

Which is okay--this is fiction. The slightly-off flavor you taste is a drizzle of Kurt  Erichsen.

(129) Who is this Murf 2/6

"Introducing Mark"

In this character strip Murphy introduces mark , his partner.  So the question is – does this strip really about the introducing my partner?

Mark met Mark in 1982, the year before I met John.  At that time Mark was modeled on what I called “my someone” whom I had never met. Members of TAPS may recall my writing about the theoretical “Love of my life” at the time and earlier.  Mark was younger than Murf, as I thought my “someone” would be—it turned out that John is actually older than I.  Which he has always delighted in reminding me of.

Since John and I met, Mark has become more John-like.  Like any fictional character, Mark is an amalgam of characteristics of various real people, and I’m not telling who.  In some ways, he is very much like John, and some of the strips that follow are virtually transcripts of anecdotes that happened in our life together—but I’m not telling which

Even a cartoonist gets a little privacy.

(128) Who is this Murf? 1/6

By the Way, Who Are All These Characters in your comic Strip?

I did not start the Murphy's Manor series with introductions of characters for a simple reason, I didn't have any characters.

When I drew those first 6 strips as a demo, I had exactly two characters in the strip: Murf and Jeff. And that was it. I knew I was going to add a supporting cast over time, but I hadn't yet thought out any others. 

By strip # 128, two and a half years into the run, at least  one editor wanted to pick up the strip but start with cartoons that introduced the characters. Hence the next series of six strips.

(127) Mayor Meg - Barack Obama's Hot Date with Mitt Romney

And so the story of "Meg for Mayor" draws to a close. But it doesn't really end yet; it picks up again and heads in a new direction as she dates her former opponent! 

It'd be good if it were a tradition for former political rivals to kiss and make (literally) up after the election. Think of all the fences that could mend. Think of what a gossip hotbox Washington would become. I mean even more so than it is already.

But getting back to the Obama x Romney idea. Who d'ya think would be the top? On a scale of 1-10, what would be the kink factor? Would they practice safe sex? And would you buy the porn video? C'mon peeps, whatcha think?

Above commentary written on February 2016. For it really doesn't matter whom you place upon the list; they'd none of them be missed, they'd none of them be missed.

Above commentary written in March, 1885.

(126) Meg for Mayor -- This is Politics - Who Needs Expertise?

It's unofficially official - Meg wins the Mayoral race for Black Swamp, Ohio!

The series of strips winds down to this conclusion -- but a new start in lifestyle and career for Meg. She likes the new paycheck, but is clueless what she'll have to do to earn it!

If anybody reading this has Ed Koch's current phone number, please let me know. Skype probably serves places we never dreamed of.

(125) Meg for Mayor -- but ... I **am** a Crackpot!

I guess we can see where this story line is headed now. In the end, Meg is an honest politician. She not only owns up to what she is, she feels pride in what she is.

If only Nixon had proclaimed, "Yes, I am a crook -- and you idiots voted for me anyhow!"

(124) Meg for Mayor - The Truth About Meg

The plot of the story line about Meg's campaign to become Mayor of Black Swamp Ohio—yes, there is a plot—comes to a head.

At the risk of introducing a spoiler, the conclusion could not be “the voters recognized Meg as the best candidate and elected her.” It just occurred to me now that Sid is using The Big Lie. A technique, Wikipedia informs me, that goes back to Hitler. It's probably closer to the mark to say that it predates Alcibiades by some centuries.

If you want to convince the electorate, tell them a colossal, impossible lie, then stick with that story and pound it home. That’s what Sid is doing. When the truth isn’t good enough, use the Big Lie.

In drawing this strip, I discovered that Sid looked surprisingly good in a coat and tie.

(123) Meg for Mayor - Candidate Meg Kisses Babies and Anything Else Expedient

Meg O’Keefe continues her relentless campaign to become the first lesbian mayor of Black Swamp, Ohio.  In this episode she begins to show herself as a true politician, willing to do whatever it takes to achieve her goal.  Straight politicians have to kiss babies and eat endless dinners of rubber chicken.  In the 1980s, it meant appearing in gay bars, the only openly gay social outlets that existed in most communities – and using cheap ploys like porn movies to get the attention of the gay voting public.

Boy, it sure is a good thing that porn has become practically extinct since then, right?

(122) Meg for Mayor - Mayor of the Met

There are a few people on my friends list who have sought elective office, so I shouldn't open my mouth too wide about running a campaign for local office. But Meg finds no shortage of people who know all the answers to getting you elected.

Remember Clem? The straight guy Jeff fell in love with? Yes this is my concept of a straight guy. I think this strip is the last we ever see of him.

Monday, July 3, 2017

(121) Murf's Literary Circle Jerk

Having Murf take the career path of Librarian occasionally gave me an opportunity to be unabashedly bookish.  In an entirely gay way, you understand. Sid, taking his lead from the very bookish Jan Suter, was a natural partner.