unfinished business

Cubicle Count was something I’d all but completely forgotten, but now that I’ve revisited them I’m feeling irrationally proud of the strip. It’s certainly not an issue of thinking the drawings are good or that the strips are funny or clever, it’s more just the satisfaction of having stuck with a project like this for a while.

Before I close the book on the original (!) Cubicle Count run, I should throw the few unfinished strips I found onto the pile.

None of these strips have dates, but I can tell from what’s going on in them roughly when I drew them.

“Dazed and unenthused”

This first one dates to October 1991. I can tell this for the following reasons: the protagonists (Joe Riley, Kathryn Kerby, and Beth Ahrens—sorry Beth, your only CC appearance got left on the drafting table) are from the department I would eventually transfer to, Special Analysis (I know, I know). This was before Joe (“Riley-tron!”) was temporarily transferred to EID and before Kathryn and Beth left the company. Also, this was supposed to be a Halloween-y strip. The idea (which I am surprised I remember) was supposed to be along the lines of Dawn of the Dead, with the EID staff (here represented by me and Celia) in the zombie role and Joe, Kathryn, and Beth the outside observers lamenting our sad plight.

Though I remember the concept, I DON’T have any idea how I intended to wrap up this strip…which is probably why I never finished it. I also have no idea what dialogue I had in mind for the characters, though Joe (panel 2) and Kathryn (panel 3) are obviously speaking. Without remembering what I had in mind, I can say almost for certain that the panel 4 drawing would have had Beth delivering a punch line. Beth from that era seldom failed to get the last word (a trait she shares with Beth from this era).

Drawing-wise I’m pleased with how everyone translated into their cartoon alter egos (though Beth in panel 3 has that slouchy, short-armed posture that I dislike in a lot of my drawings). There’s no way anyone but me would know this, but Beth in panel 1 is reaching to open the door to the fourth floor.

“Fly (off the handle) boy”

This next one was from around December 1991. I was starting to hang with Tracey more, so we had a little bit of a workplace pal routine starting to take shape.

I’ll be damned if I can remember the story behind the “no baby” callout in panel 1. If I remember correctly (no sure thing), Tracey was pregnant with her first son at this time. As I understand the biology of it, pregnancy is kind of the opposite of “no baby.”

As with the previous unfinished comic, I have no idea where I was going with this one.

“Them’s the breaks”

This one dates to June-July 1992, and it answers the question of why there was a several-month gap in the strip: I broke my left wrist and arm playing softball that year, so I couldn’t draw. The proof is right here: my one attempt to draw the strip right-handed.

Kind of a gimmicky, stupid idea, but I was probably dying to draw at this point, so I’ll cut myself some slack here.

“Squirting the law”

And, finally, the one storyline I really wish I HAD finished. This was to be a multistrip wrap-up to the Cubicle Count run. I had gotten my transfer to Special Analysis (“yayyyy!”), and the plan was to leave EID in a blaze of glory by using a squirt gun full of Wite-Out to deliver Tracey, Celia, and my other EID friends from the nefarious grip of…I don’t know. Paul was hardly a villain, so I don’t think I’d have Wite-Outed him. Perhaps I would have drawn Bernadette Freedman (the EID department head) or Joel Hammond (arrogant perpetually self-satisfied EID section chief). Well, we’ll never know now.

It amuses me to see how little I’ve changed. Tracey’s panel 1 dialogue is unfinished, and I just KNOW it’s because I wasn’t sure how “Wite-Out” was spelled. I’m OCD enough that I would HAVE to get that right. But at least I’d finally learned to leave toom for the strip’s title: see how Tracey’s talk bubble politely leaves space at the top of the panel.


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