Drabble turns 45!

Congratulations to creator Kevin Fagan on the 45th anniversary of Drabble. The strip made its debut on March 5, 1979. Check it out on GoComics. Kevin took some time to participate in a Q&A in honor of the anniversary. Get to know him a little better by reading the interview.

First a little background since no one at AMU was around when I started.

I drew cartoons for my college newspapers, first at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA, then at California State University, Sacramento. While at Sacramento, I wrote a letter to Charles M. Schulz asking how to become a professional cartoonist and enclosing samples of my work. He quickly sent a response, saying “It’s not me you have to impress, Kevin, it’s an editor somewhere.” He enclosed a list of newspaper syndicates with contact info and wished me luck. I sent samples of my single panel cartoons to all of them. United Feature Syndicate responded and asked if I could turn my single panel into a strip. I quickly sent them 30 strips, and hear nothing. I sent 30 more and heard nothing. Sent 30 more and got a phone call from UFS. The VP would be flying out to Sacramento with a contract. Meet him at the airport!

Exciting but scary. I was 21 years old and had no business experience.

Drabble made its debut in about 100 papers on March 5, 1979. I was 22, one of the youngest ever. Lee Salem told me that Garry Trudeau was a couple of months younger when Doonesbury started.

What do you think it is about Drabble that has made it so popular with readers – and editors – for so long?

I can’t say exactly why readers have enjoyed it for 45 years. I work hard to keep it fresh and funny, and try to avoid cynicism. Schulz later told me what he liked about Drabble was the “undercurrent of love.” The characters were all likeable, even the mean girlfriend and the creepy neighbor.

What has been your favorite part about creating this strip and these characters and for 45 years?

My favorite part of creating the strip are the 4 blank boxes, wondering what will be in them by the end of the day. I keep in mind that readers not only want to laugh, but they care about the characters. I try to keep the humor and storylines uplifting.

Do you have a favorite strip that you’ve created? If yes, what one?

My favorite strip? Hard to say, but this is one of them. My wife actually did this. I just wrote it down and drew it!

(Editor’s note: The favorite strip is the 2/10/13 Sunday)

If you launched Drabble today, what would you do differently?

What would I do differently if Drabble launched today? Nothing differently in the strip. I would try to be a little more outgoing with my syndicate. It would be helpful for both of us. Starting so young, I was a little too shy.

What is one thing readers don’t know about Drabble?

Little known facts about Drabble? Ron Howard tried to turn it into a live action comedy series in the early 80’s. NBC felt the timing wasn’t right for a family comedy. Peanuts animator Bill Melendez later tried to turn Drabble into an animated special or movie short. More bad timing. Jazz great David Benoit and I wrote a Drabble musical that was starting to garner interest right before Covid hit. Me and my timing. Maybe we can still make it happen. One more fun fact: the term “Mall Cop” was coined in the Drabble comic strip.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about Drabble?

The best compliment I’ve received about Drabble? Hard to say. Last month I went to an eye doctor. She asked if I was the cartoonist of Drabble. She told me that one of her favorite memories was reading the Sunday comics with her dad, and Drabble was their favorite.  I also got this recent comment from a reader: