Friday, August 13, 2010

Isaac & Ida, episode 2: Squirrels

That's right, folks, it's time for the next installment of Isaac & Ida, my short-lived comic strip in the newspaper of the University of Chicago, the Chicago Maroon, from way back in October of 2004. This week's strip discusses evolutionary theory in an extremely high-minded and intellectual way and also features a squirrel smoking a cigarette.

Only the second week and already it was going straight to hell.

Okay, no, not really. But while the first entry in the series still manages to make me laugh, even to this day, this one is...well, just not as funny by comparison.

The squirrels on any college campus are usually so tame and domesticated that you can do things like squirrel fishing with them, and U Chicago's fuzzy rodents were no different. More than once I saw squirrels on the window ledge of my dorm room, just hanging out, minding their own business. In the fashion of bored/tired cartoonists everywhere, I thought to myself, "Everyone loves cute animals—what if I made a cartoon with cute animals?"

Some notes, in chronological order order:

* I was going for 'cartoony' with Isaac's legs, but I think I got off the bus somewhere around 'disturbingly flexible'.

* "National Stalking Day" does make me giggle a little.

* There doesn't seem to be any ornamentation on that building whatsoever, except for those windows. This is actually pretty well in keeping with the brutalist stylings of most of U Chicago's more recent buildings.

* 'Bartlett cookies': Bartlett is one of the (two? three?) major dining halls on campus, and I believe the largest, or at least most-trafficked. During my first year there, the cookies of Bartlett were legendary, delectable sheets of pure sugar and chocolate that were (like all cookies) at their best when just out of the oven and piping hot. When my second year began, those cookies were suddenly gone, replaced by standardized, plastic-wrapped corporate blandness. This strip, which I'd done over the summer but was printed early on in my second year, was thus outdated before it even hit the stands.

* I'm quite proud of the timing of the last three panels. The squirrels, in the foreground, do a modified penultimate pause, while Isaac and Ida finish their conversation in the background and leave the last panel open for the punchline. I think it works quite well, structurally speaking.

* A six-letter word for 'deadbeat' was an actual crossword clue from, I believe, a previous issue of the Maroon.

One last note: when this strip first appeared, several good friends of mine began complimenting me on the realism of my squirrels. Since then, some of them have failed to shut up about how great my squirrels are. Seriously, people. It's not that big a deal.

Next time, on Isaac & Ida: an actual storyline!

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