Q: What is “ZED”?
A: ZED is a laundry dweller that began his life within the secret underground tunnels that connect
to all washers and dryers. He had the fortunate experience to make a wrong turn one faitfull morning, leading him into the
lives and hearts of his adopted family.
Q: How did you get started drawing cartoons?
A: I began to draw cartoons at a very early age. When I found out that there were people
who make their living drawing cartoons all day I knew that was how I wanted to spend the rest of my life.
Q: How long have you been drawing
began in the pages of my community’s weekly newspaper in the fall of 1995, when I was fifteen. We have been thru a great
deal and are now celebrating our fifteenth anniversary.
Q: How many papers publish ZED?
A: ZED appears in a dozen weekly newspapers throughout Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana
and Idaho. Just a tad under my goal of 2,000!
Q: Who are your artistic influences?
A: I must say that I have respect for each and every cartoonist that has come before
me. My personal favorites include Charles M. Schulz (Peanuts), Mort Walker (Beetle Bailey), Jim Davis (Garfield), Bil Keane
(Family Circus), Tom Wilson (Ziggy), and Brian Crane (Pickles).
Q: Have you always wanted to be a cartoonist?
A: YES! I have never wanted to be anything else!
To be able to escape into my studio and create a comic strip that will make someone’s day a little brighter is the coolest
job in the world!
How can I get you to come and speak at my school?
A: Simply have your principal/teacher email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. It is that easy!
Q: What does the future hold for ZED?
A: Many more years of laughs and hugs! ZED will make
it to the big screen, small screen, Broadway, and a fast food toy!
Duane Abel, ZED, and Lost Socks!
by JENNIFER CONTINO
(originally printed on October 5, 2005 at www.comicon.com THE PULSE)
Creator Duane Abel said his goal for the escapades of the escaped laundry dweller Zed is
to give readers "a hug every time they visit." His family friendly comic strip has garnered praise from his peers
and others in the comics community who enjoy seeing the small, pink, bubbly personality perform. Zed is a
nod to comics of times past and Abel hopes this is just the beginning of the great things to come.
For those who haven't had the chance to see any of Zed, Abel gave us the dish
on what sets this family friendly fluffy protagonist apart from some of the other comic strips out there. "Zed
is about a 'laundry dweller' that escapes the world of tunnels that run below all washing machines and laundry dryers,"
he said. "One day a loving family brought home a new washing machine and Zed popped up ... never to return below. He
now rents their mailbox as his apartment and pursues his dream of becoming a lounge singer by performing on top of his mailbox
every evening. But the comic strip is about the journey of Zed and his relationship with his new family. Zed is the hero.
Small, pink, round, and cute. There is not a mean bone in his body. He is like a baby, only he sings on top of mailboxes.
Zed is different from anything that you would find on the comic book shelf because it is 100% family friendly.
It is presented in the style of a classic comic strip that is not trying to push the boundaries or be topical.
said, "His new family consists of a Mom and Dad, as well as two twin boys. Clyde is the older brother by four minutes
and lives life with a bucket on his head. When asked if he has had a bucket on his head his whole life Clyde responds with,
'Well no, when I was younger it was a Dixie cup!' Clyde is a little or aggressive and cynical with Zed, and has the makings
of shrewd cookie. Brian is trustworthy and best friends till the end with Zed. Brian is how I would like to be all the time
but Clyde seems to take control a lot as well."
next door to Zed, are Floyd and Earl, two retired vaudevillians. They never made it to the big time and long for the applause
of an audience. Plus they allow me to do some old time shtick that I love! A favorite with children is the local sports mascot,
Mascot. He is a great silent character in the tradition of the Little King and a delight
to work with."
Abel said, "Zed is family friendly and is approached as a classic comic
strip with a gag a day format. Although Zed goes beyond a gag a day to giving each reader a hug every time
they visit. When people read Zed, they smile and feel good; the same way I feel when I create the strip.
The humor for Zed is in the same style as Rose is Rose, Ziggy, and The Family Circus.
If Zed were to have a cousin to the comic's page, it would
be the Jeep from the classic Popeye strip. Both are whimsical and mystical at the same time. I write every
word and draw every panel. The best comic strips come from a soul creator with his own unique vision. That is why [Charles]
Schulz and [Bill] Watterson are perfection of the craft."
Abel, like a lot of people involved in creative endeavors, said what intrigued him the most about
making his own comics was the idea of "living on forever." He said, "To wax poetically, it is my quest for
immortality, a way to share with the world that not only did I exist, but I made the world a better place if only for a moment.
It is as simple as bees buzzing or birds chirping, artists need to create to survive. Zed is my baby. I love
him and could not think of a better life than to chronicle his adventures. Besides my son, Zed will be my gift to the world."
Zed's creator sent dozens of letters to his favorite cartoonists when he was younger and was thrilled
when he received a letter in return. "I would pour over every word when they responded," he said. "Not only
did I read books that taught the craft of cartooning, I read biographies of the great cartoonists of the past, anything that
could offer me knowledge in my chosen art form. When I was thirteen I began to submit gag cartoons to smaller magazines and
supermarket tabloids and every now and then would find my cartoon placed between stories about Bigfoot or
aliens at McDonald's."
"Then when I was fifteen I submitted Zed to
my hometown newspaper and they agreed to publish it on a weekly basis," he continued. "Within three months I had
also received syndication contracts with three smaller newspaper syndicates. All of them are now defunct. I chose Future
Features Syndicate because they had the nicest stationary and I claimed the title of The World's Youngest
Syndicated Cartoonists!Unfortunately, FFS was not able to place Zed into the world
of newsprint. But I still continued with the strip in my weekly newspaper for three years until I was offered a book deal
with Plan 9 Publishing! They loved Zed and wanted to publish a comic strip collection! At
the time I had just begun college, accepting a full scholarship to major in theatre knowing that I would never be an actor,
but it provided a wonderful way to experience many different creative aspects. Zed was published in the spring
of 2000 when I was twenty and I waited for the world to rush out and embrace my creation."
Abel said, "It
was a modest success and I was finishing the second book when I came to realization that I could be doing better, I was not
fulfilled .... something was missing. Zed was not appearing in a newspaper at this point and I felt that
was his rightful place. So I said goodbye to Plan 9 to take control of my creative destiny, even if it meant
backtracking a bit."
"I began to self syndicate Zed to a handful of small newspapers
and in the winter of 2005 formed Corkey Comics, whose sole purpose was to publish and market the comic strip
in book form," he continued. "Corkey Comics is an artist owned publishing company. Corkey is a
pet name that I have for my wife Coral, so when I came upon the need for a name, it was an easy choice. The target audience
is anyone that is able to remember the thrill that come with the arrival of the Sunday Funnies! Young and old alike, children
of all ages gravitate to Zed. What can I say young kids and their grandparents love me. If I could get more grandparents into
comic book stores and show them that there are cartoonists out there keeping their memory of classic comic strips alive, I
would be a happy camper. The comic strip is still a pure art form; you just have to know where to look (Ahem..Zed anyone?)."
Abel said, "My influences include Percy Crosby, Ernie Bushmiller, Charles M. Schulz, Tom Wilson, Mort
Walker, Dick Browne, Pat Brady, Brian Crane, Patrick McDonnell. My art is a hybrid combination of Schulz and Walker
and I feel that I gleam my writing style from Tom Wilson, Pat Brady, and Bil Keane."
"Some creators look at the form of a comic strip as constricting, much like a prison would be," he continued.
"I look upon it as a hug. I give readers a hug every time they read Zed. Growing up reading comic strips
I don't know how to communicate an idea unless it is within three panels. Comic strip art is the perfect marriage of word
Abel said working on this series is very rewarding. He said he's satisfying his inner child
and realizing his dreams can come true. He said he loves hearing people laugh at his creations, signing autographs for fans,
and inspiring his son. "I love showing my son that you should never give up on your dreams," Abel
said. "That goes for all kids. And if you do not have someone to cheer you on, give me a call! I was lucky to have wonderful
parents that stood by me in my desire for my dreams. I continue to remain lucky by having an incredible wife that accepts
the fact that my mistress is the craft of cartooning. I want to be syndicated. I want to make a living drawing a comic strip.
But I also want to be a good dad and a great husband. And as long as I am those two things everything else will fall into
place because I do not believe in giving up. If I could not create, I would cease to be me."
Abel said he's
always loved to draw and said that spark came from some of his earliest days. "The story begins with a two year old holding
a piece of paper before his father and asking for a drawing of his favorite comic strip character," Abel said. "My
father, having no artistic talent, was not up to the challenge and instead put a two year old to the task of doing it himself.
Apparently I responded to challenges the same way then that I do now. The attitude of 'I'll show you' came over me and the
next few hours were spent with me sitting in a very large recliner perfecting a drawing my beloved comic strip hero. I find
it amazing that a moment my parents might not remember could have such a profound effect on my life and create a passion for
the craft of cartooning. Drawing cartoons was always very important to me. My mother use to keep a brand new sketchbook in
the trunk of her car to use as leverage for me to be on my best behavior."
"I can remember when a distant
relative heard about my talent and sent me a few hundred reams of computer paper," he continued. "For a five year
old to come to the realization that he could draw forever, well ... it was a magical feeling that I hope every child can experience
in their own way. The fickle finger of fate works in mysterious ways. For me, fate pointed, the thunder roared, and a tremendous
baritone voice exclaimed, 'He shall be a cartoonist.'"
Abel's working on expanding Zed beyond
the sequential art form. He said his upcoming projects include Zed stuffed toys and t-shirts. Abel said, "All on a small
scale of course. Zed consumes all of my creative fire and getting him into newspapers, comic book stores,
gift shops, and the hearts of readers is a full time job!