Every now and then I get visits from representatives for new services — the syndicating companies that supply newspapers with comics, advice columns or opinion page pundits.
Yes, this is where Peanuts comes from or Ask Amy or Walter Williams. They sell the Jumble, Hocus-Pocus and Sudoku, too.
The calls are generally sociable enough, but it’s a sales pitch. Usually there’s no high-pressure stuff going on. They know the deal these days. Few newspapers have big money to splash around. So they mostly show me their new items while evaluating what we publish now.
One rep, though, usually has a question about Rip Haywire, a comic syndicated by a rival service. He wonders if it’s a strip we could replace with one of his own. Some papers publish it, but not hundreds of them.
“Local artist,” I say, which usually ends the discussion. Even the syndication reps know there is no replacement for someone providing comics in our back yard.
Yes, Dan Thompson, the creative mind and artist behind Rip Haywire lives in Graham. Last year he published his first book of Rip panels. As a serial, it’s a strip that has a pretty good following. There are only a few serials left in syndication anymore, but Dan’s is one of the best.
And what I like about a local artist is what Dan did in today’s Haywire strip (March 4). He has Rip working out while wearing an Elon University T-shirt.
Gotta love it.
It’s not the first time Dan has used a local subject. A few years back he had Rip mention a “chelada” in a strip. It was just in passing, but it was taken from the headlines of the Times-News. The chelada is a drink combining beer and tomato juice. It was favored by a local politician who admitted to drinking one or two prior to driving to a session of the legislature. Alert readers of the Times-News are rewarded by such little asides.
Dan, who is originally from Massachusetts, finds himself very much at home in Alamance County.
“Great place to live. The paper ain’t too bad either,” he told me via Facebook.
Like I said, I love having a comic on our pages drawn by someone who actually lives here. Makes a difference.