Sweet Nothing

June 19, 1986


As the above 1986 comic indicates, I was making trouble from Year One. Rob, a poster, asked a couple of questions last week that I indicated I’d answer. First, I’m sorry to have been away so long, especially in the midst of the 35-year-anniversary thing I’ve been ballyhooing so prominently. Of all times, a major household disruption and some untimely browser updates have left my creative infrastructure in a shambles. At the moment, I am making do. When I say “making do,” think “Apollo 13.” Now, Rob asked: “1) Where did the names Arlo and Janis come from? 2) Can we please have more Gene, Marylou and Meg? They’d make a great spin-off strip.” Today, I’m going to take the easy one, the first one. Many long-time readers know this story, but I am blessed with a significant number of newer readers. When I was in college, I did a comic strip for the weekly student newspaper. It was about a hapless hippie (Yes, that term was alive and well back then.) named “Arlo.” Indirectly, the character was named for Arlo Guthrie. I say “indirectly,” because I had a buddy named Pat whom we had nicknamed “Arlo,” because he had a shocking mane of long curly hair, much like the singer. Basically, I just wanted to annoy him. Years later, when I was developing the comic strip Arlo & Janis, I resurrected the name “Arlo” for my male lead, because I think it has a certain comic quality. “What name,” I thought, “would pair well with “Arlo?” It didn’t take long to come up with “Janis.” That’s about all there is to it. I’ll get to Question No. 2 in the next post.