How to Make Bread Crumbs

Yes, Folks, I’ve been busy in the ol’ kitchen again. Here’s how I make…


Last call if you’re interested in getting an original from the archives. I’m going to take care of it this week. I’ll do it again next year if there is any interest.

Lars A  asked me to post some of the very early strips. OK, Lars, here’s the first Sunday strip that appeared February 7, 1988. Sorry, I don’t have the color files for Sundays published before 1996.

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More Questions

OK, here we go. Most of these are from John L…

After cartooning/drawing for over 30 years, do you miss it now that you’ve declared official retirement? 

I sure do miss it. All those characters were as real to me as actual people. Or ducks. Or Zombies. They were like my best friends.

What are/were your favorite strips now, and as a kid?

As a kid I loved Pogo, Li’l Abner,  Dick Tracy and Orphan Annie. There were others as well. I remember Smokey Stover, Barney Google. Pogo was my favorite.

There seems to be two general camps on cartooning retirement, either keep drawing till you pass on, possibly passing the torch to a son or another artist trusted and mentored to keep it going, or just stop cold, and never go back to that strip and characters again.

That depends on the Syndicate, and whether they own the copyright. For example, Billy DeBeck died and King Features got Fred Lasswell, Billy’s assistant to carry on the strip. But they put him on salary rather than sharing revenues. He was bitter about that, and for good reason. Harold Grey was terminally ill, so he had Daddy Warbucks die in the strip. The syndicate cured him and the strip continued. It’s happened time and time again, but the strip afterwards, whether good or bad, was never the same as it was under the original cartoonist. I don’t think anyone could mimic my humor. It’s just different. Any number could draw the strip, even better than I. Take my one time assistant whom I’ve mentioned before – Jay Scruggs – I think his version of my strip was visually better than mine. But then, I didn’t start drawing until I was 35.

Do you continue to do anything artistic like drawing, sketching, or painting as a serious hobby?   Do you get to fish, or enjoy any other hobbies, such as collecting, or tinkering with anything?

I haven’t done much drawing. Moving back to Florida has occupied my time. That and putting together books. I grew up on the water, but I can’t catch a fish to save my life. But I’ve been very busy. I’m not at all bored.

I’ve always been told that when you follow your passion, you’ll never “work” a day in your life.   Did producing your daily strip ever seem or feel like a 9-5 job with the deadlines, etc?  Any “job” with art and humor combined does not seem to be equivalent to the “old salt-mine” type of employment, “working for the man” that most of us are entrenched in.

That’s one of my favorite quotes. And it’s true. The pressure was pretty heavy. The hardest part was thinking up gags. I dreaded it. Most of the time I could slip into my little world, and the jokes just seemed to pop up. But it wasn’t easy. It’s like slipping you brain into another gear. Once the writing was done, the drawing could sometimes be tedious, but I enjoyed it. Once I asked Bill Rechin how long it took him to draw a Crock strip. Don Wilder wrote the gags. It took Bill 15 minutes. On the average it would take me about an hour to write three daily gags and two and a half hours to draw them. Putting them on the computer and editing them took a lot of time as well. Like John L’s dad used to say “Even if you win the rat-race, you are still a rat…”

More tomorrow.


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Questions Answered

I’ve gotten email from various people asking me question about me and my cartooning. I thought I’d try to answer some of those questions here, because there may be others (God knows why) who might also be interested.


The first is “How did you start Ernie/Piranha Club” and how did you start cartooning?” When I was four years old I was reading the Sunday comics (I was a bit precocious), in particular, it was a Li’l Abner Sunday strip. It was about the Sadie Hawkins Day Race.  I thought to myself  ” Some man draws this. Wouldn’t it be the most fantastic thing if I could do that when I grow up”. Then I grew up. I couldn’t draw. But I was pretty smart, so I studied mathematics and physics. But I still loved comics. When I was thirty-five I started drawing comic book stories. The artwork was terrible. When I was 39 I quit my job and started sending cartoons to magazines. At first they were really bad. But I worked long and hard, and finally got pretty good at it. The second cartoon that I ever sold was to the New Yorker, which was the most prestigious of all magazines here in the States. Then Frau Grace got pregnant. Single panel freelancing is fun, but the pay isn’t that good, and the income isn’t steady. I needed a more secure source of income. My intention all along was to draw a newspaper comic strip. I had drawn a character based on myself when I first started drawing. His name was Dudley. Dudley underwent changes and finally became Ernie as I developed the strip. I had drawn a comic strip in the Florida State University student newspaper, The Flambeau. It was called Nuclear Funnies. (My last real job was for the Florida Energy Office. It was after the Arab Oil Embargo. I ran the program that developed the State of Florida Energy Efficient Building Code. One of my additional duties was to provide State input on the proposals on how to dispose of nuclear waste. I became convinced that nobody knew what they were doing. I was the only PhD physicist providing input. It’s what happens when you turn science over to laymen. I’m starting to get off track here.) One of the characters in Nuclear Funnies turned into Uncle Sid. Effie was somewhat based on my mother, at least in the way that Sid bummed meals off her. After my father died, my mother had a series of boyfriends, and all they wanted to do was come over to her house and eat dinner. I drew a bunch of strips featuring these thre characters and took them to New Yourk to King Features. The Editor at that time was a man named Bill Yates. Their last successful comic strip had been Hagar the Horrible in 1973. I dropped the strip off in 19865, so they were desperate for something successful. Bill Yates took the strips home with him. (Incidentally, newspaper syndicates look at about 600 comic strip submissions a year) In the middle of the night his wife, Skippy, got him out of bed. She was laughing at Effie. And that’s how Ernie got started.

I’ll answer more questions tomorrow. And if you have a question, shoot it to me.





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I Shouldn’t Be So Critical

I really shouldn’t make fun of Loinfruit’s culinary tastes. So he buys pork and beans by the gallons. What about me? The pot calling the kettle black. This is my present stockpile of anchovies:

Geeze, I could stockpile a nuclear era underground bunker with this collection. I’m always afraid I’ll run out.


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I Just Got a Haircut

Somebody asked me about a submarine in the baptismal pool a while ago. If it was you, I found it. shoot me an email.

Remember, if you’re interested in an original that’s now in the archives, email me soon.

I found a terrific barber. T.J. Finney, aka the Goldmouth Barber. That’s him with the big red beard and the tattoos:

The shop is called Made Men in Bradenton. They just moved to this location, so next time I get a haircut and the joint is all fixed up, I’ll take more shots. And I’ll try to get Mr. Finney to let me take a picture of his smile. Remember Jaws (Richard Kiel) from that James Bond movie? He had steel teeth. Big deal. My barber has GOLD teeth.

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Loinfruit and His Culinary Propensities

Recall my posts about Loinfruit’s five pound bags of instant grits. Here’s something he left at my house when he moved into his apartment last weekend:

Yes, it’s just under one gallon of Hanover Pork and Beans.

See that? It’s seven pounds and two ounces of Hanover Pork and Beans. And if you read that first picture, the label says “RICH IN FIBER”. We know what that means, don’t we folks? He’ll be back here this Saturday. That’s June 23. He’s going to have to do a heck of a lot of fast eating over the following seven days.

They ought to make pork and beans eating an Olympic event. I think Loinfruit is a throwback.

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Loinfruit Moved His Furniture

Out of my house. He got a job about 2 hours north of here.

That’s his new roommate, Arin, in the truck.

And among the stuff he moved was… Remember a couple of months ago when I tried to feed his 5 pound bag of instant grits to the birds?

Another 5 pound bag of instant grits. Evidently when he bought that first one 3 years ago, he also bought a second. He tried to hide it under the seat of my car.

I’m a little behind on my email. Sorry. Terrence S. asked for a Zerblat story. By the way, I have one that was never published. My little old lady censors wouldn’t let it pass. I will include it in a future book. Also, if you have suggestion about what years you would like to see published next, shoot me an email. This Zerblat story is from 2005.


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Last Week I Lied

Which is uncharacteristic of me. I said that just about my only toy when I was a boy was that submarine and the exploding battleship. That wasn’t quite true.

Please remember what I said recently about if you would like an original from the archives at Ohio State University.

This is from June of 2004:

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Why I Shop at Walmart

Remember Liver Spot Boy? He was a Walmart greeter. I knew him very well. But that’s not the reason I shop at Walmart. This is the reason I shop at Walmart:

Sometimes I buy the good stuff:

Sometimes I wear a disguise so nobody knows that I buy cheap wine:


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My Green Thumb

Check out my tomato plant. I drew an arrow to a tomato. It’s still green.

This is my other tomato:

Doing great! And my basil:

I grow this stuff so I can make bruschettas.

The publication date on the strip was June 21, 1991.

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