Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

'Pickles' cartoonist Brian Crane uses Facebook for inspiration

Most of us use Facebook to blab to friends or to see what our friends are blabbing about.

Brian Crane uses it to eavesdrop on those conversations to get ideas for his Pickles comic strip.

He doesn't have a staff of ghost writers like James Patterson or even a staff of researchers like Elmore Leonard. It's just him — and Opal and Earl.

Crane, 63, has been a one-man writer and illustrator of the strip since 1990. That's 22 years; multiply it by 365 days a year and you get 8,030 comic strips. That's a lot of ideas to generate.

Enter social networking.

He has learned to be careful about relating his friends' life stories in the strip, especially when those stories are about animals — dead animals, to be specific — because that's the source of the few complaints he gets.

For instance, when a neighbor's cat died and the neighbor was saving up to get it stuffed and mounted, Earl suggested to Opal that they do the same for their cat, Muffin.

Not funny, his readers told him.

Another time, he did a series of strips based on one of his own Facebook-worthy dilemmas: whether to get new carpet now or after the incontinent dog dies. When Earl and Opal had the same discussion about their dog, Roscoe, Crane got angry letters.

Not funny, his readers told him.

So, he tends to stick to less controversial topics — like trying to keep from going bald and plucking unwanted chin hair.

We got to read what Opal and Earl have to say about their secret to everlasting love; what does their creator think keeps them together?

"They are cantankerous and crabby to each other but underneath it all, they really do have an enduring love."

Not unlike Crane and his wife of 40 years, Diana. "We met at college in 1970; married in 1972 and raised seven children," he said.

"I wouldn't be doing Pickles today if it weren't for her," he added. "After my first three rejections from the syndicates, I was ready to give up on the idea of doing a comic strip. But she insisted I try one more time, and, of course, that was the lucky charm.

"I have learned over the years that she is almost always right about everything, but I still insist on making my own bonehead mistakes from time to time."

Brian Crane lives in Sparks, Nev., outside Reno.

'Pickles' cartoonist Brian Crane uses Facebook for inspiration 02/21/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 21, 2012 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Citizens fill a Pinellas County School Board meeting in 2016.
  2. Trump continues tweet rant against 'beleaguered' Sessions

    National

    President Donald Trump has spoken with advisers about firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, officials say, and launched a fresh Twitter tirade Tuesday against the man who was the first U.S. senator to …

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks in Philadelphia on July 21, 2017. President Donald Trump took a new swipe at on Monday, July 24, 2017, referring to him in a tweet as "beleaguered" and wondering why Sessions isn't digging into Hillary Clinton's alleged contacts with Russia. [Associated Press]
  3. Michael Kors takes over shoemaker Jimmy Choo

    Retail

    LONDON — American fashion brand Michael Kors has bought luxury shoemaker Jimmy Choo in a deal worth $1.35 billion (896 million pounds).

    Hopeful shoppers wait in line at Michael Kors before doors opened at the Tampa Premium Outlets grand opening day in Lutz, Fla. on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015.
  4. Rays morning after: The bats have disappeared

    Blogs

     

    Center fielder Mallex Smith reacts after striking out swinging in the seventh inning.
  5. Charges dropped against man accused of targeting Clearwater cop

    News

    CLEARWATER — All charges have been dropped against a man accused of using a Clearwater police sergeant's personal information to open credit cards and a bank account under his name.

    Daniel Holuba was accused of targeting a Clearwater police officer.