Regarding the controversy in the newspaper cartoons, the political cartoons had nothing on a new addition to the comics page.
At best, and with luck and time, a new comic could eventually win the affection of readers who reluctantly accept the deviation from the old comic book status quo. At worst, it could spur enough villagers and howling dogs through their veins to turn any average American street corner into a Frankenstein movie.
Well, dear readers, dear readers, very smart and incredibly beautiful, I would like to humbly introduce “Shrimp & Grits”, a brand new nationally released comic (drawn by yours really) which officially launches this week. And if we can all agree to leaving the tiki torches and forks in the garage for a minute, I think you’ll like the character cast once you get to know them.
There’s 7-year-old Shrimp Dubose, whose pursuit of spiritual enlightenment through fishing is forever interrupted by the madness of modern internet life. Like a tangled monofilament ball, Shrimp sees the intrusion of technology into nature as the tragic downfall of humanity and more generally, the most boring aspect of day-to-day survival.
And the most common agent of this annoyance is her reluctantly adopted pet, a Facebook addicted alligator named Grits. Whether it’s flirting with online dating or a website project to sell toilet paper online before the next pandemic, Grits is proof that even the swamp is not immune to invisible tentacles of trending tweets, viral videos and internet advertising.
Along the way, you will meet the whole Dubose family (Florida cousins of the famous North Carolina Duboses who were immortalized in the panels of my uncle Doug Marlette’s classic Southern comic, Kudzu).
There’s Captain Hugo Dubose: a tender-hearted shrimp captain and oyster pub owner who raises a girl who would rather gut a fish than take a ballet class.
There’s Shrimp’s older brother Crawford “Crawfish” Dubose: A 20-year-old who struggles to meet the new obligations of becoming a baby daddy and come to terms with the fact that being “awake” takes on a whole new meaning with a 3 a.m. diaper changes.
Shrimp’s mom, Molly, died of cancer when she was younger, but she makes regular appearances in the gang by means of a darling letterbox she wrote to her little girl as a source reliable mind, wisdom and male management instructions. to help navigate Shrimp through the murky waters of growth.
Shrimp’s indomitable grandmother is here to help you too. “Big Mama” Dubose is a politician-loathing constitutional scholar who can cook, hunt and swear better than anyone in town. And we can’t forget the award-winning hens of Big Mama, Dolly, Patsy and Loretta; three fabulous outdoor women with a taste for red wine and George Clooney.
It all takes place in the fictional town of Pensaloco – an old-fashioned Florida fishing village wedged somewhere between old Panhandle pines and South Beach’s dazzling bikinis.
For better or for worse, Florida is world famous. Whether it’s through tourism or humiliating headlines, the Sunshine State never fails to provide entertainment for the rest of the country, and I hope this 100% Florida-grown comic book will be no exception.
As a dude who grew up doodling in this state, there are bits and pieces from many parts of Florida that have crept into the comics. I still draw the slender brontosaurus-necked palm trees that I remember from childhood, growing my heads above the brush along the Saint John River on undeveloped ranch land in central Florida. The fictional Gulf Coast backdrop is covered by the kind of moss-soaked trees that shade much of Gainesville, and Big Mama’s porch looks like something straight out of Micanopy, Milton, or Cedar Key, or n any number of magical destinations in our state that still exist. as vestiges of authentic old Florida.
And the people of Pensacola will recognize the dollar bills and the moose head hanging on the wall of “Molly’s Oyster Pub” as images inspired by our famous steak saloon, McGuire’s. (McGuire first appeared in Jeff MacNelly’s legendary strip “Shoe” after the legendary cartoonist visited Pensacola and took part in the pub’s three advertised hobbies: “Feast, Soak, and Debauchery. & Grits.)
But whether you’re in Pensacola or Portland; In Florida or Finland, we hope “Shrimp and Grits” will be just a little humor and home cooking for high speed times. I know we’re all blasting the Wi-Fi in our brainstems 24/7, but the comics are a cool break from it all. Even if only for a minute, they give the mind a chance to wander calmly and the eye a chance to focus and pause one frame at a time.
Besides, who doesn’t want to see a comic book about a talking alligator obsessed with becoming a Kardashian?
And as a bonus, both for readers and for the designer, there is no policy! (For the most part anyway, Big Mama has been known to swear at a liberal, or two.)
As important as it is to draw pictures that illustrate how absurd and fraudulent politicians are, there is much more to life than politics and much more interesting subjects than Matt Gaetz.
Shrimp & Grits will be a walk through all of the other things in life, and frankly, it’s a lot more fun for the guy drawing the pictures, too.
Shrimp & Grits is syndicated by Creators.com and will officially launch Monday here at the Pensacola News Journal, Northwest Florida Daily News, and Panama City News Herald. If you don’t see it in your local newspaper, pull out your tiki torch and raise hell! Or you can just search “Shrimp and Grits Comic” on Facebook and Instagram to follow what Shrimp would describe as your “stupid smartphone”.
In other words, don’t feed the alligator. But don’t hesitate to the friend on Facebook! On behalf of all the characters, welcome to Shrimp & Grits and we hope you enjoy the visit!