I read over on Mark Evanier‘s excellent blog that the short lived Bob Newhart sitcom series Bob is about to become available on DVD. It’s billed as “The Complete Series”, which is a bit of a joke as it only lasted 33 episodes, or about a season and a half. I remember the show very distinctly because it was, in a way, a moment of TV fame for the little group of theme park caricaturists I was a part of.
We went with it, anyway.
Set in present day (at the time 1992), the show’s premise was that star Bob Newhart’s character was a cartoonist and the creator of a 1950’s comic book superhero called “Mad-Dog”. The Wertham congressional sub-committee hearings had resulted his character being axed, and Bob quit comics and became a greeting card artist. 40 years later the rights to Mad-Dog are bought by another company, and Bob agrees to come on board to help revive his character despite their wanting Mad-Dog to become a violent vigilante. The studio Bob goes to work in is located in Chicago…. bear with me here, I am getting to the point.
Like all Newhart series, Bob is an island of common sense and normalcy in the midst of a group of nutcases and oddballs. The staff of this comic book company was no exception. It was peopled with all sorts of kooks. One of them was this druggy, spaced-out inker named Carl. Carl and Bob had this exchange in the pilot episode (I’m paraphrasing, it’s been 20 years since I saw this episode):
- Bob: “Besides inking, what other kinds of artwork do you do?”
- Carl: “I worked as a caricature artist at Six Flags.”
- Bob: “Was that interesting?”
- Carl: “It was brutal, man. Really cutthroat. You had to have a gimmick to make your work stand out.”
- Bob: “What was your gimmick?”
- Carl: “I drew caricatures with leaches on the faces.”
- Bob: “….. Leaches?”
- Carl: “Yeah. You know, Burt Reynolds… with leaches. Victoria Principal… with leaches.”
- Bob: “…”
No doubt after 20 years that actual exchange is very different on the upcoming DVD, but that was the gist.
Now, this took place in Chicago. The Six Flags he must have been talking about was Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, IL, a northern suburb of Chicago. I worked as a caricaturist at that Six Flags from 1985-1989 for Fasen Arts, who still had the concession there in 1992. Ergo, Carl was one of us!
I never drew anyone with leaches, but I was known to work in a clown smoking a cigarette in the background when the opportunity arose.
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