So you had spent the intervening months planning the characters and the gags in your mind?
No. Not really. I didn’t have anything specific in mind at that point. And then it hit me! Turds are easy to draw! And what’s funnier than a talking turd? Did you ever try to draw a hundred and eighty-two strips in three days? I had to come up with something I could deliver on deadline. Turds fit the bill.
What about some of the other elements of the strip. For example, how did you decide to present the strip in a circular panel? Is it because life is an endless, eternal circle? Or does it represent a kind of metaphysical "circus ring"?
"Circus ring". Hmm. That’s pretty good. I never thought of that.
I had about eighty or ninety rough strips drawn already and hadn’t inked a damn thing yet. I went ahead and used the circular panel so I wouldn’t have to ink all the way into the corners. Saves loads of time.
Let’s talk a little about the writing side of things. How do you keep coming up with material on a regular basis?
Chester Drawers (creator of Perry and the Pilots and Capt. Queerduck) once told me that if you can come up with only six gags that you can go with that for the rest of your career. Six gags! As long as you change the wording slightly or vary the situation a little you can reuse the same gags over and over again. I went through a run in ‘78 and ‘79 where I used the same gag every day for almost seventeen months! Eventually the syndicate threatened to sue me so I went back to the original six gags. It was a good run, though! (laughs).
Six gags works out to one gag per day except for Sunday. What did you do for the Sunday strips?
Oh, Sundays are easy. I just do something sappy and sentimental for those strips. You don’t even need a gag. You just want the grandmothers read it and say "Awwww…!"