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About the Artist: Cartoon Manifesto

If you open your daily newspaper and take a look at the comics page, how many white, blonde-haired pre-teen boys do you find as the main characters? Syndicated comic strips being nothing short of cultural bastions (some even continue with or without their original artists and writers), this is not really a sign of today's cultural attitudes as much a fossilized indication of past societal views. Those artists are not to blame. They're just doing what they know best, and the audience is used to what they've always seen. So where are the strong female characters, doing things other than reacting to or coping with males and a male-dominated society? I think it was Bill Watterson of "Calvin and Hobbes" who remarked that someone should do something like his comic strip, but with female versions of his blonde-haired brat and anthropomorphic side-kick.

Hence Fray Ormandy and Waifer X. In their universe, there are almost no references to male characters or a patriarchal society; men are usually depicted (in the few instances where they do show up) as animate inanimate objects, or anthropomorphic animals or vegetables. Fray, and to some extent, Waifer X, get to do whatever the hell they want to do; their only limitations are their imaginations and initiatives.

Some people have remarked that they don't "get" my comic strip, least of all, anything resembling a punchline. I don't take this as an insult or even anything resembling a portent of dabbling in the wrong vocation; I'm not drawing Fray and Waifer X for anyone other than myself. In one aspect this is therapy; on the other hand isn't art really supposed to be a personal statement from the artist about his/her condition? If people get a smirk or two from my work, that's cool, if they are disturbed, that's okay, and if they just don't get it, that's even better.

I don't mean this to sound like a rant, or to come off high-handed or combative. Drawing Fray and Waifer X is fun for me, and reading about their trials and tribulations should be amusing for you as well. Let me know what you think if you have a problem understanding something; better yet, if Fray and Waifer X tweak your thought processes even just a little bit in your everday life as you wonder what the hell this is all supposed to be about, then you probably are "getting it."

Images, characters, and website copyright © 1999 Patrick M. Len