I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Brian Crane last Saturday, Brian is the cartoonist who does ‘Pickles’ which is syndicated in over 500 newspapers. And well it should be. It’s the most surprisingly funny and pure classic comic strip I’ve read in a very long time. I admit that I was only aware of ‘Pickles’ before last week, I had never studied or read it much. But after doing so, I’ll tell ya’ honestly- read ‘Pickles’. It’s a real treasure.
So I had set up a meeting with Brian on Saturday, after his talk at the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center. I was set to interview him for my podcast and was going to formulate my questions while I listened to his lecture and presentation.
I spent that morning with my son doing ‘Coastal Cleanup’, a state wide day of organized groups walking along the various shorelines of California cleaning up trash. Our area was the north shore of the Carquinez Strait in Benicia. After that, I got cleaned up and drove up to The Schulz Museum.
So I get there and Brian is signing books in the lobby. Wha-?
I saw Jessica, the woman who organizes these events, and asked, “Did he already do his presentation?”
“Yes”, she said almost desperately, “Where were you?”
“I thought the talk was at 3.”
“No, that was when I scheduled the interview, he spoke at 1:00.” She said. I heard the sound of crackers crumbling in my head. What a dope. I had read the email wrong and thought that it started at 3:00.
So I missed it.
But the interview was still on, and with 5 people left in the line it looked like Brian was almost finished signing. I had to hurry. I started scribbling questions as if I was on an IV drip of Red Bull and NOx, just writing as fast as I could, when Jeannie Schulz (Sparky’s widow) walked up and started suggesting that I walk over to the studio with Brian and his wife and she would meet us there. So we wandered over there when Brian was done.
Brian is a wonderfully cheerful and pleasant guy, carrying a balanced air of lightness and dignity with him that is infectious. Putting me right at ease, we chatted as we crossed the baseball field to the Schulz studio where I work. Jeannie arrived and showed them around the studio and I peeled off with Brian to finally do this great interview. We sat in the conference room, Sparky’s old art studio, and I pressed on the digital tape recorder’s play button. ‘FULL’ the display read. I went to a different channel, same thing. I erased everything on it but it still would not record. Again with the crumbling cracker sounds in my head, and this warm soup of failure was getting pretty thick at this point.
No interview today.
Brian was very good about it and promised that he would do a call-in interview very soon. So look for that. He is a very interesting guy and his strip is brilliant. It’s about an elderly couple, Earl and Opal Pickles and I realize that that situation may turn some people off. Particularly many of the people who follow my strip, the subject matter probably couldn’t be farther apart. But if you are fans of comics and like to over-analyze and dissect comics like many of my fans do, you really should read ‘Pickles’. It’s on GoComics, just like Mythtickle, so it’s easy to go back in the archive. What amazes me most about it is how after all of these years, each strip I read still contains a great surprise in the joke, punch-line, payoff, whatever you want to call it. The surprise is the little element in a comic strip that gives you the impulse to laugh. So with this subject matter you might assume that the strip would be tired or predictable. But it never is. It’s clear and so cleverly constructed that it’s always successful, he’s just one of those guys who makes it look so darn easy.
So forgive my typical ineptitude, and go check out a bunch of ‘Pickles’ and I’ll let you know when Brian’s interview is up.