April 17, 2013 • Illustration

Paul: A comic strip drawn while I learned how to draw comic strips


(The complete archive can be found here.)

After a string of rejections from every major syndicate in the world, I decided to aim a little lower and try to get a comic strip in the DePaul University student newspaper. It worked. The end. But wait, there’s more!

I figured that I needed to butter the editors up as much as possible, since I had no real experience getting published before.

So for my first trick, I based the character on a typical college student, since I figured that that was a better fit for a college paper than, say, a strip about a guy who, I dunno, notarizes documents for the city’s parks department. That’s a cool idea too, of course, but I put that in the “maybe” pile in case the student paper rejected me and I need to try the village newsletter route.

For my second trick, I relied, for what I’m proud to say is the only time ever in the history of this strip, on an overt pun. You see, I went to DePAUL University and the guys name is PAUL and isn’t that brilliant. The original name of the strip was “Paul’s Dorm” (as you can see in the original sketch) and it was gonna be about dorm life specifically. I eventually shortened it to just “Paul,” since my opinion of dorm life at DePaul was anything but humorous by my sophomore year.

I submitted six strips to kick things off, and the entertainment editor accepted them. He was a sophomore as well, so it’s not like I was some big shot or something for convincing another sophomore to publish my strip, especially after I lied in my query letter about how much I enjoy reading The DePaulia. I hadn’t actually read the DePaulia yet.

School went so well that year that I quit in the middle of the third trimester, literally in the middle of an art history class, after I broke a pencil. It was my only pencil, see, so naturally I was left with no choice but to quit school. I eventually enrolled into Columbia College, and, after flirting with a strip about the college’s athletic program (it doesn’t have an athletic program, hence the non-stop laughs) I resurrected “Paul” to kick off the second semester. It was a huge smash. Probably.

Anyway, like a neighborhood cat, the strip followed me wherever I went for 11 years — a couple years at Columbia, a couple years at Tribune Media Services, and a handful more at McClatchy-Tribune once it bought the campus wire service. I eventually stopped in 2008 after the market crashed and demand for sub-prime comic strips went into the toilet. (I actually just ran out of time to devote to it.)

The entire archive is here, and you’re free to peruse it as you please if you liked the three samples above. If you didn’t like them, you’re still welcome to peruse it ironically. Just know that the first four or so years aren’t really that good, but I’m a completionist so I left them intact.