By Tom Ward
Attention all golfers and dog lovers!
I’ve got exciting news for you because my friend nationally syndicated cartoonist Kevin Fagan, creator of the wildly popular “Drabble” comic strip has given everyone a reason to rejoice and unite with his newest book Wally’s Wienerful World of Golf, which just became available to purchase at Amazon.com.
I was fortunate to get an advanced copy of the book from Kevin and it’s a hilarious look at the game of golf through the eyes of a dog.
This is no ordinary dog, either. This is Wally the Wiener Dog, star of the hugely successful “Drabble” comic strip. If you love golf and you love dogs and you love to laugh, then this book is for you.
Kevin’s strip, which runs in more than 200 newspapers worldwide, has been around since 1979 and showcases the crazy antics of Ralph Drabble and his family along with their lovable wiener dog named “Wally.” I recently spoke with Kevin, who told me that golf has been part of his strip from the beginning.
“I have golf in the strip more frequently because my boys play a lot and when I go with them I take my note pad as I always seem to get good ideas on the course, Kevin said. “I really do love doing golf stuff in the strip. I don’t play a lot of golf these days, and when I do it’s usually with my boys. I’m not very good so if I shoot in the low 90’s I’ve had a great day. I hit just enough good shots that want to play again.”
I asked Kevin what was the inspiration for his new book. He said, “Well, wiener dogs and golf are two of my favorite themes in my strip. I wanted to see if I could put them together because it’s not a combination that you would normally think would go together. How could I get little Wally on the golf course with Ralph? That’s what got me starting to think about it.
“This book was really fun to write and I really enjoyed it. Whenever I chip golf balls out in the backyard my dog Lucy is always out there and she goes nuts because she thinks I’m playing a game just for her. That kind of inspired me to get the ball rolling.
“It turns out that Wally has become such a popular character in the strip that I want to use him as much as I can,” Kevin continued. “Also, the golf theme is very popular based upon all the feedback I’ve received from fans around the globe. So I thought, ‘let’s see what happens when I put all of these things together.’ It’s a short little book with lots of fun and I hope when people read it they will get a smile on their face. My hope is that dog lovers will like it as well as golf lovers. ”
Getting the advice of the best
So just how did Kevin get started as a cartoonist? “When I started out I didn’t know Charles M. Schulz, but I was the biggest Peanuts fan,” he said. “When I was in college at Cal State University in Sacramento I was invited by the Sacramento Union to draw for them on a freelance basis ($5 per cartoon) and that’s when I decided to write to Mr. Schulz and I sent some samples of my work to him.
“I received a personal letter back from him in which he said that he hesitated to comment on my work because, ‘it’s not me that you have to impress it’s an editor somewhere.’ He enclosed a list of newspaper syndicates and their addresses and from that list I got the address from United Features, which just happened to be the biggest syndicate at the time.
“It turns out that they became the syndicate that signed me to my first contract at age 21. At the time I had no idea how difficult it was to land a deal with a big syndicate until after I signed my contract,” he said. “There are around 2,000 submissions a year by artists and maybe they might choose two. If anyone had ever told me that beforehand I wouldn’t have even bothered. I guess that goes to show you that ignorance is bliss. It wasn’t until another 10 to 15 years later that I had the opportunity to meet Charles Schulz and we became really good friends. Schulz was a genuinely nice man. What you saw is what you got with him.”
A fun and important job
Kevin said he never goes anywhere without a pen or pencil in his pocket. If something happens or he thinks of something, he’s got to write it down. He said his kids laugh at him because they tell him, “Forget about putting it down on paper. Just text it into your phone.” But he said he’s a dinosaur when it comes to technology.
“My studio is in my home and I like to get up in the morning and read the paper and do the crossword puzzle and that kind of gets me thinking a little bit,” Kevin said. “After I give up on the crossword puzzle because I can’t finish it I’ll start doodling and see if anything happens.
“Once I have the wording figured out for the strip I’ll take it to my drawing board and start penciling it in. I don’t have a specific time of day that I do things as I work off and on all day, however in many instances I’ll work late at night when everyone is asleep,” he said.
Kevin told me he doesn’t use any writers for his strip. He does all the writing and all the drawing, and his wife scans the work into the computer and sends it off to his syndicate. “Sometimes it’s very difficult to come up with ideas because you just don’t feel funny,” Kevin said. “I feel very lucky to have this job because it is an escape from a lot of things. I doesn’t take very long to read a comic strip, but those few seconds are a precious opportunity to give your readers a smile, a chuckle at least help make their day a little bit brighter.
“That’s a quite nice responsibility to have and one we as cartoonists shouldn’t take for granted. “
Check out Kevin at DrabbleComic@Facebook.com or his website at www.drabble.com and get your book today.
Tom Ward can be reached at www.teetimewithtom.com.