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Comics: Meet the Artist
With Jerry Scott
Cartoonist -- "Baby Blues," "Zits"

Hosted by Suzanne Tobin
Washington Post Comics Editor

Friday, June 21, 2002; 1 p.m. EDT

Welcome to the Washington Post Style section comics discussion, hosted by Comics page editor Suzanne Tobin. This week, Tobin hosts "Zits" and "Baby Blues" cartoonist Jerry Scott.

Join Tobin and Scott online Friday, June 21 at 1 p.m. EDT to discuss "Zits," "Baby Blues" and the art of cartooning.

Submit questions either before or during the discussion.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.

washingtonpost.com: Please stand by, this discussion should begin shortly.

washingtonpost.com: The discussion will start momentarily. Sorry for the delay.

washingtonpost.com: Welcome, comics fans to "Comics: Meet the Artist" with Jerry Scott, co-creator of "Zits" and "Baby Blues." Jerry is joining us from his studio in Malibu, Calif. Welcome, Jerry, and thanks for joining us Live Online.

Jerry Scott: Nice to be here.

Washington, D.C.: Does "Zits" have a collectable comic book?

Jerry Scott: Yes, we have collection books. Andrews McMeel have published seven books so far, and No. 8 is due out this fall. You could find them on Amazon.com or in major book stores. Thanks for asking!

Silver Spring, Md.: In Zits, Gingivitis' lead singer is named Nigel Molesworth. did that name come out of total coincidence, subconscious memory, or are you also a fan of old obscure works of Ronald Searle? (How to Be Topp, featuring Nigel Molesworth, one of the most hilarious works about schoolboys ever)

Big fan of Borgman, Scott, and Searle

Jerry Scott: Jim Borgman came up with that name. He is a big fan of Ronald Searle's. It also sounds like a British rock musician to me.

Accokeek, Md.: Do you furnish the "lyrics" for both strips? They both are my favorite comic strips.

Jerry Scott: Lyrics is an interesting word. If you mean do I write the dialogue and think of the ideas, yes, that is my main function for both strips. I write the parodies that we occasionally do in both strips, like "Dad to the Bone," which we recently in "Baby Blues," sung to the tune of "Bad to the Bone." My co-creators, Rick Kirkman for "Baby Blues" and Jim Borgman for "Zits" also help out with these lyrics; they fix my lousy rhymes.

Washington, D.C.: OK. WHY is she pregnant AGAIN?

Jerry Scott: Why not?

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Jerry, I love your work and the excellent illustration's from Jim.
My question would be: When you are writing a script/story line for "Zits", do you give Jim visual hints as to how you see the strip or does Jim take the story and go from there?

The imagination used in depicting certain situations in the strip is amazing.

Jerry Scott: Yes, in "Zits" I do pencil-rough sketches of the strips when I write them and fax those sketches to Jim. Jim then does his own versions and faxes them back to me and then we discuss them before he does the finished art work. With "Baby Blues" I just imagine the action in my head, and give Rick what amounts to a script.

Arlington, Va.: How do you create such great stories about pregnant women?

Jerry Scott: I lived with one and I'm a good listener.

Pennsylvania: I presume you are only a few short years away from high school. Do you find your characters reflect how you found life when you were that age, and how much contact do you have with people who currently are that age? Where do you find your inspiration for your great comic strips?

Jerry Scott: Boy, you sure got a lot of questions in. From the top,
maybe mentally and emotionally I'm only a few short years away from high school, but physically it's been a bit longer than that.
Jeremy is the kid that I wish I had been when I was in high school. He's a little more competent and confident in who he is than I was.
My children haven't reached adolescence yet, so I rely on my memories for that.
The inspiration is usually born out of deadline panic, pure and simple.

Chicago, Ill.: Greetings,
Love both comics. Which family will have a storyline about grandparents first?

Also, are the two families related to each other in some way that I have previously missed?

Jerry Scott: "Baby Blues" has had stories about the kids' grandparents in the past, and I expect they will make another appearance soon, since Wanda is having another baby.
No, the families in "Zits" and "Baby Blues" are completely unrelated, as are the sides of my brain that produced them.

Washington, D.C.: I read both comic strips regularly, but "Baby Blues" does nothing to make me want to have children.

I hope that wasn't your intent!

Jerry Scott: We've been told that "Baby Blues" in the best form of birth control since The Pill.

Potomac, Md.: I'm not the only one to notice this, but do you think you could draw the father's nose in "Baby Blues" at a normal size? It doesn't come across as funny, but just oversized and weird. I mean, his nose is almost as big as his head, and it detracts from the otherwise excellent comic strip. Just make his nose smaller! Thanks.

Jerry Scott: You'll have to take that up with Rick Kirkman when he's on the discussion. I write Darryl's nose a lot smaller than Rick draws it.

Alexandria, Va.: Regarding "Baby Blues," can you talk a little about the furor over the breastfeeding strip when Hammie was a baby?

Jerry Scott: It actually was when Zoe was first born. I wrote the strip just to make Rick laugh. It was one where Wanda, off-camera, squirts breast milk into Darryl's coffee. That got some attention, but we never really expected it to be published. But our editor happened to be on vacation when we sent it in, and it just sort of got past the censors. It turned out to be one of the most requested reprints we've ever had, and it's still one of my favorites.

Gaithersburg, Md.: "Zits" is terrific. By the way, you'll be paying me royalties just as soon as I find out where you got the documentary footage of my son, who's 15 and tall and blond and plays guitar lying upside down in a chair.

Jerry Scott: OOPS! We'll be pulling the surveillance cameras out of your house this weekend!

Arlington, Va.: As a teenager, I have never read a comic that reminds me so much of myself as zits. even the smallest details of a teenage life are captured by your strips. how do you understand teenagers so well? do you have some of your own?

Jerry Scott: Maybe it's my arrested development. Seriously, Jim and I have a great affection for this period of life--and a respect for the teenage journey--that I hope comes through in the strip. We spend a lot of time reminiscing and many of the characters are compilations of people we knew in high school, like Rich and Amy, for example.

Reston, Va.: I'm a fan of both strips. I've noticed that "Baby Blues" has been made into cartoon on the cartoon network on Sunday night. So far they have only aired a few episodes. Are you planning of making more episodes?

Jerry Scott: Rick and I did a prime time animated show for the WB network a few years back. They aired nine of the 26 episodes we produced before they canceled it. The Cartoon Network is now running that first season worldwide. There are no plans for making any new episodes.

Sydney, Australia: What is your working day like? Do you devote X amount of time to each strip, or do you at some point discuss ideas with Jim? Is there at least a set minimum you you wish to produce each day, aside from your syndicate's deadline?

Jerry Scott: It's like a day at the factory, only the factory has really comfortable chairs. I work from 8 to 5, 5 days a week. I like to devote a few days in a row to each strip as I'm writing because it takes a while for the character voices to come in clear. But that's not always possible, because of deadlines. Jim and I talk for at least an hour every day, where we discuss everything from politics to shoe polish. A lot of ideas come out of those discussions.

Parma, Ohio: Is this weeks edition of "Zits" with the joke Web site due to any particular site? A bunch of us from Joke-a-Day (Ray Owen's) BB wanted to know.


Jerry Scott: No, this isn't about any particular Web site. It's just an observation I have about the culture of Internet surfers, of which I'm one. With the "Baby Blues" Web site, people are outraged when it's not updated on a regular basis. (I should point out that Rick does all the work on the Web site.) The Internet has created this whole culture of surfers, who just expect content for nothing. Jeremy--and myself, to be honest--is a member of this insatiable, demanding, whining group that wants something new every day. We don't have any appreciation for how much work a Web site takes.

Chantilly, Va.: Mr. Scott,

Looooooooooooooove both cartoons. They're two of the first three I read daily. I especially liked the Katie Couric panels, and the www.stupidcarburetorisstuck.com panel. Do you have a Web site with some of your favorite panels on it?

Jerry Scott: You actually read three comics a day?
We have no plans for a "Zits" Web site, but "Zits" is available on major newspapers' Web sites, like washingtonpost.com, and also from our syndicate, www.kingfeatures.com.

Mishawaka, Ind.: I want to thank you for writing funny strips that really mean something to me and my family. My husband and I feel just like the couple in "Baby Blues" (how nice to see a cartoon where the mom nurses, too, for a change) and my in-laws are in the "Zits" frame of mind. Keep on writing!

Jerry Scott: Mishawaka! I grew up right near you in South Bend. Thanks for the kind words.

Should be Working: I've never had kids, and don't know any teenagers, but your strips certainly hit the spot. They are some of the best comics I've read. Thanks for your great work!

"Rose is Rose" another strip about kids that I used to see in New England -- I can do without.

Jerry Scott: Dear "Should Be Working,"
I should be too.

But you must be a former kid and teenager, and maybe that's why it seem so familiar to you.

Washington, D.C.: Why Katie Couric? I mean, I agree completely! Wowza! But why Jeremy's obsession, and is he going to go to NYC to stand outside the studio pressing his nose against the window?

Jerry Scott: Katie Couric is just America's sweetheart. Who doesn't love her? Jeremy's no exception.

washingtonpost.com: Okay, we're almost out of time, but I would be negligent if I didn't congratulate you, Jerry, on winning the National Cartoonists' Society's Reuben Award for the Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year. I've heard it's the cartoonist's equivalent on an Oscar.

Jerry Scott: Actually, it's much much cooler than an Oscar. Picture a 18-inch tall sculpture comprised of four little naked guys perched like acrobats on top of each other in a tower. And the guy on top has an ink bottle balanced on his butt! It was designed by Rube Goldberg, who's the award's namesake. I mean the Oscar's only got one naked guy, we've got four!

Silver Spring, Md.: I love both of your strips -- maybe because I have both a teenager and a five-and-a-half year old. A question -- on "Baby Blues," have you chosen the sex and name of the new baby? And on "Zits," why do you not use the older brother more?

Jerry Scott: The baby is still "in cartoon utero." And I've never really learned to read an ultrasound, so we'll just have to wait and see on that.
As for Chad, the older brother in "Zits," he's at Notre Dame University and he's just not always as funny as I wish he would be. His original purpose in the strip was to serve as a contrast to Jeremy--sort of the perfect older brother--but perfect people are boring, don't you think?

Jerry Scott: Listen, Suzanne, I have 12 more strips to write today, so I'm going to have to get going. Thanks to everyone for their questions and their time. If your question didn't get answered, feel free to e-mail us through the www.kingfeatures.com Web site. And for you aspiring cartoonists, or anyone else who wants to see my picture the Reuben statue, it's at www.reuben.org.

washingtonpost.com: Thanks, Jerry, you've been great! I just want to put in a plug so our readers know that the results of the comics survey that we began on April 28, are going to be published in the Sunday comics of July 7. So keep an eye out for that too! We'll be back on July 12th with another one of these wonderful creative cartoonists as our guest, so please tune in then! Have a great 4th of July everybody!

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