I will never look at Snoopy the same way again. Or Calvin and Hobbes, or even Garfield. They have all been ruined for me. Not ruined, but rather changed. Disfigured, you could say.
During my stint at film school, a screenwriting teacher told us that once you step behind the curtain and know the structure behind the movies, that you never see them the same way again, and you know what? Itâ€™s true. (That and the fact that most movies operate on something that you could barely call reality these days.) And with comic strips itâ€™s the same thing, once you put pen to paper and have your own characters, you canâ€™t help but second guess all of your favorite creators, as if you have reinvented the wheel:
â€œWhy is Snoopy hugging Woodstock in the last panel? He should have thrown him into his water dish!â€
â€œWhy canâ€™t Calvinâ€™s parents have names? Why doesnâ€™t he have a last name? From now on, in my head theyâ€™ll be Dolores and Heathrow Buckhout.â€
â€œWhy is Garfield…just…there? Why is there still a Garfield, anyway? Why donâ€™t they put that swell comic about the girl and the sheep in my newspaper?â€ (Hey, a guy can dream.)
Itâ€™s a bit different with superhero comics, since no fan is a real fan if he (or she) isnâ€™t second guessing and complaining about every single creative decision. (Organic webshooters? Are these people stupid?) But once you have your own comic strip, a lot of the enjoyment is gone, even the enjoyment of bad; instead of going: â€œthatâ€™s coolâ€ and â€œthat sucksâ€, your author mind goes â€œI would have done that differentlyâ€ and â€œHoly Mother of Walt Disney, WHY DIDNâ€™T I THINK OF THAT?â€
Luckily, even as an author you can sometimes look at something completely from the reader perspective while barely thinking about how you would do it differently, and why this comic is so good it depresses you to the point you never want to upgrade your photoshop because whatâ€™s the point, really? I have a few, Pogo is one, Mafalda is another, and The Perry Bible Fellowship too. (Those white blobish characters are creepishly real.) What are yours?