NEWSLETTER > ARCHIVE > October, 2000

October, 2000

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BIG PICTURE QUOTE OF THE MONTH:
"Never look at the trombones.
It only encourages them."

- Richard Strauss

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Thanks this month to Hilary Price (you have helped me SO much, you'll never know and I just plain can't repay you), Jeff Campbell, for your good work (ALL of your work), Mark Fischer (he's the man), EVERYone helping me at Palmer and Dodge, the folks at UClick (we're looking forward to it), Mike Peters, Cathy Guisewite, Patrick McDonnell, and all the stoopid guys in the stoopid band.

Thanks also to all of the newspapers and web sites that have made the space for my dopey comic strip. You've got vision, baby.

Very special thoughts, prayers and meditations go out to the following people this month and they all know why for their very own reasons- The Wittstrucks, The Beckers, the family of Doug Mitchell, Lorraine in San Jose, and the family of Tim Rosenthal.

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Hey Everyone,
Greetings from The Big Picture!

First, thanks to all of you who have visited PlanetLennie.com and have taken the time to sign up for what has affectionately become known as "The Big Picture Army". For those of you that are getting this and you DIDN'T sign up, this certainly is your lucky day, isn't it?? In any case, thanks for all the positive feedback both for the strip and the web site.

I want to open with a few thank-a-yews then I'll get to the business-

Big thanks to my webmaster, Lee Totten. Lee is an excellent musician/ songwriter who you will be hearing from once any one of us figures out how to rise above the slime and poopie of the show biz/ record company antics that are the world's second oldest profession. Lee seems to be cutting through the crap quickly and rising from the ashes. Lee's musical endeavors can be found and enjoyed at www.LeeTotten.com. He's a talented dood with a lot to offer both in his music and his prose (he writes columns for various publications). We became friends after many an encounter including his performing as an opening act for Clutch Grabwell several times. He asked me to play on his latest c.d. as a guest and we've been friends since.

Lee called me one day as a friend and a fan with the mission that he "wanted me to have a cool website". Mission (almost) accomplished. We're about 70% there (available, however, while under this construction) and have only to finish a couple of things on The Big Picture section and then start posting the surrealism segment of the site. Many of you have asked about my fine art and I'm anxious to have you see it, hopefully soon, at, yes, PlanetLennie.com....

Thank you, Lee, for all the great work.

I also want to thank all the people at Universal Press Syndicate and Andrews McMeel Publishing. This kudos is far beyond any kiss-ass acknowledgment I could be drumming up. I don't do the "kiss-ass acknowledgment thing" as some of you reading this know all too well. This is unique and here goes-

Special thanks go to Universal Press Syndicate Vee Pee, Lee Salem, who is clearly the main man with the vision of giving some of the world's best comic strips their start. He and the people at Universal and A/M are responsible for bringing to light some of the world's greatest comic strips such as Calvin and Hobbes, The Duplex, Garfield, The Far Side, Foxtrot, Doonesbury, Non Sequitur, Cathy, The Boondocks and many many more. And...er...me and Fuzzbucket. Ginger and I are in awesome company. May we continue to pinch ourselves.

Then there's Andrews/McMeel. Andrews McMeel publishes comic strip book collections of so many greats including Rhymes With Orange, Dilbert, Mutts, Baby Blues, lots of the strips mentioned in the last paragraph, and many many more.

And, er, mine.

These are companies not afraid of taking a chance on the "riskier", "edgier", more progressive comic strips and that attitude and vision has obviously served them well. If you take a look at most of what they represent, you can see that they ALWAYS had the balls to venture into the daring (they've been way ahead of their time for years in so many endeavors) whether it was the politics of Trudeau, the independence and liberation of Guisewite 20 years ago or the funk and edge of Larson and the progressiveness of McGruder and Johnston.

The Big Picture is the first mainstream syndicated comic strip of its kind especially because of it's purely autobiographical content. It is often a hard sell to many newspapers and web sites ("Let's see...an autobiographical comic strip featuring a bald, skinny, vegetarian, middle aged, divorced, artist, musician, cat owning cartoonist. hmmm. Is this April Fools Day?") that only see the comics as something that should be as thought provoking and "un-intrusive" as white toast and butter in the morning. UPS and A/M had the vision to run with this and I am eternally grateful. In my pursuit of syndication, I dreamed of being with this bunch of misfits and here we are. I know this sounds like an Oscar acceptance speech ("I'd like to thank God and the little people for making this all possible.") but you get the idea. I can't say enough about them so I won't say anymore.

Okay, one more. Thanks also to my editor at UPS, Lisa Tarry. Lots of people think editors check your spelling and grammar only (god bless you, Lisa, with MY grammar) and that's the Editor Gig.

She DOES check my spelling and tolerates my grammar and excessive! use! of! exclamation! points !!!! But she also holds my cyber hand (I'm in Bawston, she's in K.C.), gets after the sales staff when sales get a little slower than we want, warns me (but never threatens me) when my stuff might be a little TOO, um,"off beat" for a family noose-paper (like, I wish I could use the word "sucks" more often, y'know? I mean, I understand why I can't [I think] but sheesh, I hear it around me all day, EVERY day....but I do understand that the comics page is the last bastion of purity...), and allows my temperamental, baby-like, Artsy Fartsy, moody and dark HISSY FITS when things don't quite go my way. She also makes the proper reparations to the strip visually and textually (is that a word? It should be) to be adjusted by the fine folks that it gets passed on to in the publishing/ syndication process. I asked for a female editor cuz I get along better with females but realize now how stoopid that was. I could have just asked for an AWESOME editor and had the same result. "Female" or "male" got nuthin' to do with it. Anyway, she knows what I'm sayin' so, thanks, Lisa.

Okay, to the meat:

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WEST COAST BOOK SIGNINGS

Many of you have asked if the California book signings are happening or not. The answer, I am SO HAPPY to report, is yes, yes, yes. I'll be in California for two book signings of the books I am most proud of (got a bunch of others but we don't mention those without the aid of sedatives)- "The Big Picture, A Comic Strip Collection" published by A/M Publishing and "Why God Makes Bald Guys" published by CCC Publications.

The first signing will be at the Barnes and Noble in Aliso Viejo in Orange County (thanks, Nanette) on Saturday, Dec, 2nd at 4 p.m.

[If the band gets hooked up in L.A., Good Lord willing (see below), I'll stop up there that night to kick some trombone/Clutch Grabwell butt.]

Then I'll head north to The Pruneyard B&N in Campbell, CA. (thanks Amanda) the following day, Dec. 3 at 4 p.m.

There are so many people I've connected with out there with the miracles of cyber space, I absolutely can't wait to meet everyone. The California fans have been SO supportive.

And besides, let's face it- wouldn't a couple of nice Cartoon Boy creations make perfect stocking stuffers or pooper scoopers for Santa's reindeer?? I'm looking forward to a great time (and no snow...).

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CLUTCH ON THE WEST COAST:

Clutch Grabwell (that is, fortunately, Jeff) is trying (so far successfully) to hook up a showcase gig in L.A. that Saturday (either The Vipor Room or The Whisky) with the help of the people at RedButton.com. It would be the same type of thing we did at CBGBs in New York City last year . A "showcase" meaning open to the public AND a way for the record companies that have shown interest in us to come and see us do our Clutch Grabwell thing. We've got them committed and now it's just a matter of coordination so I'll keep you posted (You can also get updates on our website at grabwell.com). That would be a ball and we're all really excited at that possibility.

Speaking of the band, we're starting to perform again after the last 4 weekends off. It's the first time since high school (back in 1897) that I've had more than 2 weekends off in a row from playing and I (and the rest of the band, as a matter of fact) am DYING to make Clutch music again with those idiots. I schlepped (how do you spell "schlepped"?) around a few Boston gigs here and there during the break (with different bands) but there's NOTHING like the Clutch experience so we're all raring to go. John's surgery was smooth and trouble free. It may be a couple of weeks before he's back to his usual insanities and heavy lifting but we are ready and pumped for this weekend. Check grabwell.com for the dates. All I can say is having a "normal" weekend at home is just plain not "normal" to me. Time to get back to the smoke, beer, Clutch madness and 2 a.m. last calls.

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SUNDAY STRIPS?!

Many of you have asked about my Sunday strips. I do create Sunday strips and they are running in lots 'o newspapers. If it's not in yours (or the dailies, for that matter), it just takes e-mails and/or phone calls to the newspaper in question (ask for the features editor). Simply demand, beg, or bribe them to carry the Sunday or daily version of The Big Picture distributed by Universal Press. In fact, many markets have PURCHASED The Big Picture but have a "wait and see" attitude about whether to run it or not. They might take awhile to get back to you (they think they're very busy) but you will see results if you persist. And the more friends and family involved in that persistence, the merrier and speedier the result. Both The Orange County Register and The San Jose Mercury News tried to drop The Big Pic awhile back (either Sundays or dailies) and the fans made THE difference in getting it back on the page. Very cool.

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WHAT'S UP WITH DAWN?!

Many MANY of you ask about the on-going relationship between Dawn and I ("if you don't marry that woman soon, I'M going to!!" "What is your STORY?! Are you GAY??!!"" "Who is that hot girlfriend of yours and how can i meet her?" "How can you be with other women when you already have Dawn as a girlfriend? Does she know?"). If you think back to the unfolding of our relationship (I think the strips at UExpress.com might be archived going back that far but I'm not sure) you'll remember that she announced her, um, "intentions" with me (good ones at that, I might add) and mine to her. Dawn and I are best of friends and no (this is especially for Dawn-fan "Michelle" from Ontario), I AM NOT "CHEATING" ON DAWN!! Dawn and I share all of our experiences in honesty and ta-ROOTH like two best-of-friends do. She's my bud. 'k then? 'k then.

The unfolding of our relationship is coming to you in November and December so stay tooned. Some HUGE stuff is happening as i speak/ write and I'll include it (of course, as I do EVERYthing) in the strip (insert dramatic silent film suspense music here)....

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E-MAIL MONDAYS

As for "E-Mail Mondays". I get lots of questions asking whether they are real or not. Absolutely,100%. Every one of 'em.

It works like this- When I get an e-mail that I think I can use, I file it for when I sit down to create the week's strips (The Big Picture, like most comic strips, is created at least 4 weeks in advance of when it gets to your paper or web site). Sorting through them, I'll come across one that I think I can do something with and then proceed to include that in the week that I'm working on. I really don't get all that much negative mail about the strip (thanks for the concern though!). It's just that it's fun for me (and kind of the ultimate revenge) to exploit the hate mail I DO get. I'm thinking about only using the negative mail every other week from now on, though. It seems to upset some nice people ('specially my younger readers and they're real important to me) that I get hate mail.

As for the faces used in the E-mail mondays, I draw the real faces when a photo is sent ('bout 70% of the time). Otherwise I make 'em up.

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IN CONCLUSION

The next newsletter will be the first week of November. 'Till then, thank you all for your support and the daily read. I've made so many good friends because of this stoopid comic strip of mine. Thank you all. It's really inspiring.

I must go. It's been a whole 2 hours since my last coffee, Ginger is whining like a Princess cuz she hasn't been admired, cherished and adored in the last 30 minutes, and I've used up enough of your emotional, physical, and e-mail storage space for one month.

Oh, and I must also go and ponder my 2004 presidential candidacy- "JUST COMICS ON EVERY PAGE".

Luv 'n Peace. Keep reading the good ones...


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