Many of you know that I struggled to land Blake in the college paper at Washington University. Primarily because I was a freshman (i.e...the upperclassmen blockade) and though I was told that my drawings were great, my comic was not "college-oriented." At first, the idea of compromising my characters and storyline for a college newspaper seemed absolutely out of the question. And it angered me to see the material that they were indeed publishing--pure college cop-outs, little creativity evident and gags that were so campus specific that they made me sick. Worst of all, what I believe are the most important parts of a successful strip--drawing and narrative ability--smothered the art form completely. For the past year now, after much introspection and thought, I've vowed to make it my goal to create a comic strip that is more than silly punch-lines, more reminiscent of my idol, Bill Watterson. And although I've grown very comfortable with the team of Blake and Dustin--sneaking in Becca once in awhile, I found that the only way that I'd ever make it in the college paper was to find a way to touch upon college issues with 9-year-old kids. Unfortunately, Blake and Dustin alone wouldn't cut it. I refused to change their personalities. But I thought, if that's the case, why not create new personalities or characters, that would act as 9-year-old parallels to the college world. And so the journey begins. How do I maintain the integrity, style, and innocence of my comic, while introducing new characters? Its not an easy task, but this summer I've decided to go at it full force.

These are my first 5 additions to the circle (not including Adam, who I actually consider more a solid "old-school" character, even if he was inspired by a college student). Some of them have tentative names as you can see, but these are just some preliminary sketches I've rounded up to post on-line, maybe to get some of your opinions. Spence is a character I've had sitting around for awhile too, but he'll be included in the new batch. The girl to the right still remains nameless, but she's been a character that I've been trying to perfect for a long time, a "match" for Blake. I'm still working on at least two more college guys--one who sleeps all the time, and a trio of snobs to pester the group. But I don't intend to create too large a cast, just a few accessories that will help me write to a "college-audience." And believe me, in no way will these characters threaten or change the humor of Blake and Dustin--they will remain the centerpiece of the strip. I just hope that by poking fun at the senselessness of college life with elementary kids, the paper will be more open-minded and at least give Blake and Dustin a shot at stardom. It will still be more about school and social life than the narrowed college experience. girl nerdgirl

Click on the images for a larger pencil sketch

marty spence vito
Marty Spence Vito

I plan on adding to this site a lot more over the summer, including character discriptions and names once I figure everything out. I'm also going to have to go into Student Life with some trial examples of actual comic strips, so be looking for those as well. Again, any feedback from you faithful readers would be greatly appreciated.