this is a copy and paste version of the Sunday Sentinel story about the two new bob collections… i figured this would just be easier…
Cartoonist pens new books of ‘Bob the Squirrel’ collections
By Kim Farrell
Sunday Sentinel, November 30, 2008
Resident Sentinel cartoonist Frank Page, and his alter ego “Bob the Squirrel” have been bringing smiles to the faces of readers for more than six years now.
Whether it’s stealing Frank’s beloved Doritos and Diet Coke or dealing with his ever changing moods, Bob is at the same time the calming and chaotic influence in the cartoonist’s comic strip life and their daily ordeals offer both laughter and groans.
Fans can relive some of their favorite “Bob the Squirrel” situations from start to finish in two new compilation books now available. The 2007 collection book is called: “If mistakes are learning experiences, I should have my doctorate,” and the 2008 collection is titled: “They’re fun to watch, aren’t they?”
Printed by print-on-demand publisher lulu.com, Page explained that printing the books as they are sold allows him a lot of freedom when it comes to how many books he publishes and when. But it also means that promotion of the books is completely up to the cartoonist.
Page explained a bit about his new books. “There really isn’t a specific theme,” he said. “These are just collections of the daily “Bob the Squirrel” strips. ‘Mistakes’ is probably a bit more on the dark side because 2007 was a pretty rough year for me personally.” Many of the situations and events in the comic strip come directly from Page’s life experiences.
Both books can only be purchased through the website: http://www.bobthesquirrel.com Page said that he also has tentative plans to make them available through retail bookstores at the beginning of 2009. Each book is $9.95.
Although the comics that make up the books were already complete, creating the look and exact content of the volumes required nearly a month of Page’s creative effort. “A great deal of my time was spent deciding which strips I wanted to exclude,” Page said. “It’s very interesting to look back on a year’s worth of your work and wonder what you were thinking. There were a couple moments where I had to scratch my head in disbelief.
Rooted in Rome, the antics of Frank and Bob are now being followed by readers throughout the country through the comic strip’s Internet syndication. Bob the Squirrel is syndicated through Uclick, a division of Universal Press Syndicate, and can be found online at: www/gocomics.com/bobthesquirrel
“Syndication is, plain and simple, a grind,” Page said. “It takes a serious type of dedication and discipline to do a seven-day-a-week comic strip. I’ve structured my entire life around writing and drawing this strip. Every spare moment I have is usually spent doing some lettering or writing some dialog or just thinking about what do to for the next batch.”
It may be hard work, but it is work that Page loves, which is a good thing since drawing the comic strip is not yet paying the bills. “I’m not making enough to retire to the Caymans yet, but after six years of grinding I’m beginning to show a very small profit,” Page explained. “Profit is wonderful, but it’s not about that. If it was, I would have stopped drawing the strip in 2003. Any cartoonist who is in love with what he/she does will say the same thing.”
With his readership growing nationwide, Page said that feedback from new readers has been both extremely positive and some not so glowing. “I have readers who say that after their first cup of coffee they fire up the laptop and hit my site first,” he said. “They can’t start their day without getting a dose of Bob.” Many of his fans have even e-mailed squirrel stories to Page for future reference.
“My favorites are the e-mails from people who were just surfing, stumbled upon my site and liked what they saw,” he said.
Of course you can’t please everyone. “People have e-mailed me saying that I should just give it up, I’m not funny, never have been funny, my work is not professional caliber and they hate all the characters. Good or bad, I’ve invoked some sort of feeling and/or reaction in my reader…which is 60 percent of the battle.”
Using his own life experiences as the story line of the comic strip allows readers to become emotionally involved with Frank and Bob. “Obviously, I can’t use everything that happens to me minute to minute, day to day, but what you see is pretty much what I do. I like to think that the strip in some ways is my own personal photo album…not unlike the dusty albums of our grandparents…years from now I’ll be able to re-visit these panels and reminisce.” Of course in real photos of Frank, Bob is invisible.
After years of creating the comic strip, Page says that, like his life, it continues to change and grow. Obviously, characters have come and gone, situations and settings have been altered or completely eliminated. When Page moved into his first house recently, the characters of the comic strip found themselves moving too, when Page got a dog, Frank and Bob began to deal with the problems of being pet owners.
“I’ve done something that I thought I’d never do… add a dog to my comic strip,” Page said. “I guess I’ve just mellowed with age. I had no idea that my introduction of Lucy, my Jack Russell Terrier, would be as popular as it has been.”
Page said that even the method of drawing the comics has changed over time. “The writing and drawing process have become very streamlined and regimented, at first out of needing some organization; now, because of more demands on my time. It’s more out of needing to cut out all unnecessary distractions and getting the work done.”
The demands of Page’s time these days also includes working toward a master’s degree in fine arts. “I’ve always wanted to pursue more education post-undergrad but either I didn’t have the motivation, I didn’t have the portfolio or I just couldn’t. When the opportunity to apply last year presented itself I jumped on it,” Page said.
He is finishing up his first semester at the Vermont College of Fine Art through an online program. “At first, my concentration was going to be on painting,” Page explained. The cartoonist also recently completed a painting project that had him doing one painting a week for a year. However, once he began his graduate studies, it became clear that although he enjoyed painting there could only be one artistic passion in his life.
“I cannot avoid the fact that I am a cartoonist,” he said. “My love of the art of cartooning would never equal that of painting. If I want to be successful I need passion for my work. Luckily, the college is very flexible in allowing students to tailor their individual program. So, I guess you can say I’m pursuing my master’s in cartooning.”
Advanced degrees aside, Page said that drawing “Bob the Squirrel” will remain the main focus of his professional life, but he does have a couple other goals. “I think I would like to write about the history of cartooning (and) maybe teach a few college level courses on cartooning and its historical significance,” he explained.
For now, new books, new education and new readers are what keep this local cartoon celebrity focused and driven. And as he recently learned, his celebrity status is spreading.
“I got this e-mail a few weeks ago from a woman I went to high school with,” he explained. “She now lives in Colorado Springs, Colo. She was buying a Halloween costume for her dog Angus.
She gets up to check out and the Wal-Mart cashier asks, ‘What kind of dog do you have?’
She said Angus was a Jack Russell Terrier. He replies, ‘Oh, yeah I hear they’re little nightmares. There’s this comic strip where this guy has one and it’s wreaking havoc on the guy’s house.’ ‘Bob the Squirrel?’ she asks. The cashier gets all excited. ‘Yeah! Yeah! Do you read it?! I love it. Do those dogs really jump that high?’ She told him that she reads the strip because she knows me and yes, they do. The cashier gets all weird and narrows his eyes at her. ‘Oh yeah? Where are you from?’ She told him New York he got all giddy again. ‘Yeah, yeah, Frank is from New York!’ She finished the e-mail by saying her experience with my fandom was a little unsettling, (but) her experience made my day.”
Check out more “Bob the Squirrel” at: