The plot thickens…

I drew the story on notebook paper, page by page, day by day, usually at school but sometimes at home. It wound up being in four parts (each part with its own title page and credits), with each part stapled, and as each one was finished, it got passed around to our friends at school to read.

It was never really a conscious project. By that I mean, we never really got together with the express purpose of working on the story, and we certainly never thought, while it was being created, of what would happen to it afterward. We didn’t sit down with the idea of “let’s write a Tiny Toons script” (especially since it wasn’t actually a script), and we certainly didn’t start out with a notion of sending it anywhere. It was something to do. It was fun. We put things into it that were fun for us, little in-jokes our classmates would get — we had the boring history teacher narrating the History of Q-Tips, we had a fake credit of “Person Who Can’t Draw: Sarah Creef” (apparently to acknowledge that while I did most of the art and Amy did a couple drawings of Elmyra, Sarah’s contributions were story only), and another fake credit poking fun at our English teacher. One gag — the overflowing tub of bubbles — I even stole from a story my sister and then brother-in-law told from their honeymoon.

(This is probably a good place to remind my family to watch what stories you tell around me. Just saying.)

There were no thoughts, at that time, about the end product. It was all about making and sharing, and looking back on it, I love that innocence. That’s the kind of creativity Thirty-Eight spends a lot of time trying to recapture these days, of what it was like to do something without worrying about the fate of the end product. Really, there wasn’t a lot to do in our hometown back then, especially at that in-between age, so you had to be able to make your own fun or you usually wound up getting in a lot of trouble instead, just out of boredom.

So. All we needed now was an ending…

I was trying to finish Part Four (and hopefully end the story), but I couldn’t think of an ending. Finally I got kind of frustrated and decided to stop for a while.

Well, just then Amy called. She suggested an ending, and I used it. Her idea was to have Babs and Buster go on a cruise, get shipwrecked, and float (in a two-man life raft) back to Acme Acres.

I now know that the idea came to her in a dream. I asked why she had never told me that she dreamt the idea. She replied, “If I had, you wouldn’t have used it.”

Maybe she’s right.

The story was done, about 120 pages or so of three-ring notebook paper, four parts stapled and stacked. And it probably would have ended there, with a story stuck in a drawer someplace, a little creative relic of junior high, but people at school kept saying, “You should send that somewhere. You should send it to Steven Spielberg.”

I kind of laughed and replied, “Maybe I will, if I can find the address.”

 

Up next: Signed, sealed, delivered — again and again and again…

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Boredom + creativity + serendipity = ?

Anyway, I became hooked on the show. And then one day I told Amy and Sarah — that’s Amy Crosby and Sarah Creef — about it. Then, all of a sudden, all of us — Amy and Sarah and Heather and Amy P. — were watching the show. (Of course, now the whole school, almost, is watching it, but I’m still ahead of myself.)

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawing, and I barely remember a time when I wasn’t reading and making up stories to write and illustrate. Besides coming up with my own characters, I was always trying to draw the ones I loved from movies and TV: Brain from Inspector Gadget, My Little Pony characters, Thumper and Bambi, Roger Rabbit.

Now I had new characters to draw, and the first ones I chose were my favorites, Buster and Babs. As always, most of my drawings were on notebook paper with a #2 pencil — not because I didn’t have tons of sketch pads and things at home, but because it was easier to draw (read: get away with drawing during class) at school when you were using something you always had in your bookbag anyway.

This time it was at lunch, sitting at our table in the cafeteria.

I started drawing this picture of Babs and Buster. It was supposed to look like Babs was dancing, but by the time I was finished, Heather noted that it looked like Babs was dancing the hula, and so I jokingly added a grass skirt for Babs and a Hawaiian shirt for Buster. Then I added sunglasses and leis, as well as a beach towel and sand. Finally, I added a title to the picture: “Buster and Babs Go Hawaiian.”

Which wound up looking like this:

Yeah, I don't know what's going on with that blanket either.
Yeah, I don’t know what’s going on with that blanket either.

And where did I come up with that title? Well, I didn’t realize it at the time, but that went back to 1988 and one of my favorite characters then:

DSC00650Yep, “Garfield Goes Hawaiian,” the Garfield and Friends episode where Garfield contracts the Hawaiian Cat Flu. (My husband and I actually owned this original title card for a while but sold it on eBay a few years ago when we winnowed our animation art collection.)

Somehow or another, I got the idea to write a story about Babs and Buster taking a vacation to Hawaii. Very needless to say, everything would go wrong on their trip.

Hey, Thirteen — you’re going to need a lot more notebook paper.

Up next: So what do we do with this thing?

First Impressions

January 13, 1991

California, here we come!

Great. The very first page and already I’m ahead of myself. So give me a moment to explain.

So where do I start. At the beginning. Let me see here.

Okay, here’s the beginning:

Picture it. The Kate Collins School library. I was in 7th grade…

Thanks, Thirteen. I’ll take it from here.

(That “picture it” part? That’s a Golden Girls reference, in case you didn’t catch that. Sophia was awesome.)

First off, Thirty-Eight just wants to say that with a few bright exceptions here and there, seventh grade royally sucked. I mean, I doubt it’s a great time for most people — middle school/junior high is one of those horrendous transition periods of life, and nobody tells you that (especially if you’re a girl), hey, you know all those great friends you had in elementary school? Half of them are probably going to turn against you for no apparent reason, because you’re all trying to figure yourselves out in relation to everybody else in your social circle, and you’re going to spend way too much of your time trying to figure out what’s the mature cool thing to like and what’s the babyish kiddie thing to like that’s going to make you an outcast, and the rules are constantly changing and you can’t win, and it’s all sort of a massive waste of time anyway, and sometimes the best thing that happens is that you survive it, but nothing much is really going to make it better while it’s happening.

So. Yeah.

Looking back, I’m actually pretty grateful that I can say I had mostly one bad year in my school life. For some people, the bad years stretch on a lot longer and contain things infinitely worse than what I went through, so don’t get me wrong here — I’m not claiming any medals just for surviving basic adolescence. That’s just a setup to the fact that some of things I liked weren’t exactly considered trendy and cool.

Like cartoons.

Back to the school library. I ran into a friend there while I was looking for a magazine article for my research paper.

As I begin looking for a certain article, she says, “You mean you’re actually working on that?” She hands me a magazine. “Here,” she adds, “look at this.”

I look at what she is handing me. It’s an article about something called Tiny Toon Adventures. Intrigued, I read on.

The article was part of a insert celebrating Bugs Bunny’s 50th birthday. Years later I found a commemorative magazine that also included the same piece. Here it is from that source (click to enlarge).

zine0001zine0002zine0003

As I look back, I wonder what I saw in the show. Maybe it was because the characters were cute. Maybe it was because I’ve always loved cartoons — Looney Tunes especially. Maybe it was because I’m weird.

(I can’t decide, now, if I meant that last line in a joking, self-deprecating way, or if I was actually remembering that year and being sarcastic. I think it was the former, but either is entirely possible.)

Later on, I saw an ad in TV Guide for the show’s premiere, which the Internet helpfully tells me would have been September 14, 1990. I watched the first episode, I loved it, and I had no idea how much that show was going to influence the next few years of my life.

Yeah, eighth grade was going to be a whole lot better.

 

(Up next: A drawing on notebook paper provides the spark.)