In Memorium: 1977-1980
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Between October of 1977 and February of 1980, I drew several hundred comic strips featuring a bumbling World War I flying ace. These were published in the pages of The Kamloops Daily News, a well run paper in my boyhood home town of Kamloops in south central British Columbia, Canada.
The protagonist was named Archibald Flak (from two wartime nicknames for antiaircraft fire). He and his mechanic and sometimes unwilling flight partner Gerhard survived by bumbling their way through the war. Ace was loosely modeled by a mixture of Hasek's Czech classic The Good Soldier Schweik and a Canadian novel series about a WWI pilot.
Many of the jokes came from a good friend of the family and veteran of WWII named F.H.A. Collins who was a avid storyteller and even more avid writer of letters to the editor. Collins was a well known and liked character in Kamloops and spent many of his days cutting trails in the Peterson Creek park and its dramatic valleys and canyons. Collins was a true blood Cockney from London and was a fount of stories and old jokes of the British Empire of the early part of this century.
I was in junior high school (10th grade) when I submitted my first strip to a local children's talent column. I was thrilled when it was published and it set me off on a brief career in cartooning. Ultimately I was to take over that colunm, host art shows in the town and even get paid for my strips, which by then had improved in technique and content. I wrote to and received encouraging letters from several cartoonists, including Johnny Hart of BC fame. I even dispatched a set of the strips off to a syndicate, which promptly asked looks promising, please send 200 more. This was 1980 and I was in the home stretch of finishing high school and working toward college and scholarships and had to decide between a career in cartooning and my academics.
Thus the last Ace was published on February 15, 1980. Farewell Archie, you will live and bumble onward into the future thanks to the miracle of the Web..
In this period I published two other comic series, one called Small Fry about local fly fishermen, and one about the Space Shuttle, due for launch in 1981. I did also get some gag comics published in Canadian national magazines and start a cartooning club for the obligatory yearbook duties. Other cartoonists of my age in Kamloops I would like to thank include Adrian Berry, now proprietor of Java Cycle in Kamloops, and Martin Rose, an instructor at the Emily Carr College of Design in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Click on them to see the full sized view
October 1, 1977 August 11, 1979
October 19, 1979 November 9, 1979
January 18, 1980
Farewell Ace! February 15, 1980
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