Besides writing the Garison Fitch books (which are experiencing their best sales month ever this March–thanks readers!!), I also draw the comic strip “Tuttle’s” and the on-line comic book “Burt & the I.L.S.”. In addition, I write a column for the High Plains Observer, an on-line newspaper that covers the Texas panhandle, as well as this blog and six columns a year for the Moore County News. Oh, and let’s not forget that I also write a sermon and a Sunday school lesson a week.
I bring this up to ask your pardon if they ever start to run together for you. They sure do for me!
The sermons are the easiest, because I don’t have to come up with the source material. I just have to stay true to it. Thankfully, it’s easy to read and incredibly relevant. Ditto for the Sunday school lessons.
The weekly columns for the Observer (to see them, go to www.highplainsobserver.com and click on “Tuttle’s” in the left-hand sidebar) are about “whatever I want to write about”. Mostly, they’re funny. Ideas I’ve had that I couldn’t reduce to a three panel comic strip. I’ve tried to write seriously for them a couple times, but can’t help being–if not funny–at least snide. The articles for the Moore County News are on behalf of the local ministerial association and are mostly Biblical, with a side helping of humor and as little snideness as I can muster.
“Tuttle’s” is strictly for fun. And each cartoon is a stand-alone joke, though I have given the characters some character over the years; meaning that Picadillo’s the intellectual, Penn’s the conspiracy theorist, Pete’s the dimmest bulb and Tuttle’s the straight man with a penchant for making money. The only continuity I worry about there is to keep everyone in character. Fortunately, I now have enough well-established characters that any time I have an idea, it’s pretty clear who should act it out.
And then there is “Burt & the I.L.S.” BILS (as I call it) is my homage to the old adventure strips like “Terry & the Pirates” or “Steve Canyon.” It was originally conceived as a daily strip, but no one was interested. Eventually, I was asked to turn it into the comic book form you can see (at www.destinyhelix.com) and it’s garnered a small following. The problem is that it may or may not involve time travel and continuity is one of the many things I like to skewer with it.
What makes this a problem is that BILS and Garison Fitch kind of come from the same corner of my brain. I tried very hard to make all the ends tie up neatly in Garison Fitch and all the elements come into play. That said, it’s still just an adventure story. A cliff-hanger matinee in novel form in some ways (especially “Saving Time: The Legend of Garison Fitch – Book 2″).
I always had an idea that there were a couple more Garison Fitch stories out there. I’ve been working on one of them for a long time, and it’s coming along very well (thank you). It’s part of the “All the Time in Our World” saga and fits right in. The other one (which doesn’t even have a title yet [I take that back, at this point it has several titles!]), though, is hard to get my brain around because it is–in some ways–”out there”. It will ultimately be as realistic (if that’s even the right word) as the previous Garison Fitch books, but right now I’m in such a deep hole while writing it that it’s hard not to take the easy way out and just take a Burt Cottage leap and leave logic behind.
I would just stop drawing Burt until this book is done, but a] I don’t know when that will be and 2] I’m anxious to find out how Burt will get out of his fix, too. Maybe I could treat him as seriously as … no. Bad idea.