I’ve been calling this old effort Ben and Nettie, but it really had no name at the time I was peddling it in 1984. It was only a vague concept, with a cast of several characters. The oafish fellow above, for example, was to be Mal, as in malfeasance, maladjusted, mal as in “bad.” Get it? Looking back, it’s pretty clumsy stuff. Subtlety was not a tool in my art box at the time. You might wonder how I attracted any attention at all.
The truth is, of the thousands of proposals for a new comic strip that arrive in syndicate mailboxes every year, most are awful. I mean, pathetic. Over the intervening years, when in the United Media offices in New York, I’ve spent hours rifling through these proposals myself, because it’s a subject that fascinates me. They keep them in a cardboard box, awaiting an initial perusal. Any promise at all shines like a diamond. That’s not to say a competent artist/writer will have an easy time selling a comic strip, but that person will attract notice. Most of the competition can be described, charitably, as delusional.