July 23rd, 2002

Drezzer cool

In Praise of The Class Menagerie

As you may or may not know, Vince Suzukawa's superlative strip, The Class Menagerie, is officially coming to an end sometime by the end of this year.

I communicate with Vince on a fairly regular basis and have known about this development for some time, but I have been waiting until he made the news public before I commented on it. Now that he's made the big announcement, I'd like to say a word or two. (Or two hundred. I'm a bit of a windbag.)

The Class Menagerie was one of my early inspirations for The Suburban Jungle, and continues to be a strip that I look to daily (at least every M - Th) for ideas, amusement, and an example to emulate. Vince is a superlative artist, a dedicated craftsman, and -- despite his protestations about the difficulty he has with it -- no slouch as a writer, either. It's very rare to find so many skills wrapped up in a single slightly-high-strung but nevertheless very cool guy.

I first got the chance to interact with Vince in any big way on the "Hotseat" message board, which at the time was a semi-private list where online cartoonists could critique or be critiqued by their peers, and I was lucky enough recently to get a chance for a TCM/SJ crossover, where I could put my
own stamp, however minor, on the TCM world.

I'll leave it to readers to speculate on where the TCM influences are in SJ; I will go so far as to say that one major SJ character was initially conceived by taking a character from TCM and changing just a few select traits to make the character my own.

Vince and I have spoken a few times about echoes of TCM appearing in SJ ... Comfort does go to DeMontFort, after all, and Dover teaches night classes there. While I'm sure it will hardly be a satisfactory replacement for his many fans, I'd like to think that any occasional forays I may do into TCM territory will be seen as affectionate tribute to a terrific artist -- and not just me shamelessly pirating from people with more talent. :)

*raises a glass in toast* So here's congratulations to TCM, an impressive and worthy achievement, and best of luck to Vince on his new projects, whatever they may be. Keep up the good work, my friend! You rule. :)

-The Gneech