Here are all ten of my two-page comic strips starring MERVIN THE MAGNIFICENT.
The first nine are shown as they were printed in NICKELODEON MAGAZINE – a wonderful magazine for kids – between the years of 1993 and 1995. The tenth strip is shown the only way it exists - in the rough form I submitted it to the Nickelodeon editors. It was rejected and -- well -- that was the end of the strip.
I was really happy to be a part of that magazine for the time I was in it, doing occasional illustrations along with the Mervin comics, and sad when it came to an end. I felt I was just beginning to hit my stride with the strip when it ended. The reason it ended - what the editor at the time told me - was that a focus group made up of kids between the ages of 8 and 12 had been polled about comics in the magazine. And according to the results, the older (12 year olds) liked Mervin, but the others, not so much, I guess.
So -- they needed strips that would appeal more to those younger readers. The editor didn’t appear to be shutting the door completely, suggesting that I consider submitting ideas aimed at a younger audience. But – I had really grown fond of writing the (admittedly silly and corny) Mervin strips, so it was hard to see beyond the rejection.
At that time, it was one of the busier periods in my life and career and I already had plenty of other thing to work on and to keep me busy. If it had been during one of my “valleys” rather than one of my “peaks” I would have gladly submitted some new ideas. In fact, I think I always intended to. But time passed quickly, new editors took over at the magazine and it just never happened Looking back, although I would have loved to continue doing the strip for the rest of my life, I’m just grateful now that they let me do as many as I did.
Anyway, as I said, I was fond of this strip. It was intentionally silly and (as some of my cartoonist colleagues delighted in pointing out) old-fashioned. And I didn’t really do that thing that all the books about “how to write for children” tell you to do: I didn’t first think about the age of my audience. I didn’t do it for anybody but myself, really. I just wrote the kind of stories I would have liked when I was a kid. I hope at least a few kids out there enjoyed reading the Mervin strips as much as I enjoyed making them!
Thanks for looking (and for, hopefully, reading them!) I'll post some of the original artwork for these soon.