Do you think we southerners are touchy? I want to thank my regional fellows for their support (I’m looking at you, Cindy Bear!), but there’s not really anything to support. Arlo and Janis are not meant to be southern. They’re not meant to be midwestern or northeastern. They are meant to be universal. (Cartoonist’s note: I’ve found it interesting that I have received more book orders from Massachusetts than from any other state, by a comfortable margin. Yep!)
Having said that, let me tell you about my early days at United Media. There were other southern cartoonists in the UM stable when I began, but not many. The editors were paranoid about anything slipping into the strip that would identify the characters as southerners. I could draw a foot of snow on the ground, ignoring the fact half the country never sees that kind of event, but the mention of eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day would precipitate a full-blown conference of editors and handlers. Eventually, my cohorts in New York relaxed and decided I was socially presentable and, I think, came to regard me as a slightly above-average specimen of humanity. I always regarded this as funny, but, come to think of it, maybe that’s why we’re touchy.