Comics have a way of uniting us all. I’ve never felt more united with humanity than those sunny afternoons I spent huddled in the corner of the local comic shop, alone with my thoughts, feelings, and irrational fears of social interaction. Sports? They were for those kids outside, who weren’t afraid to take their shirts off when they got in the pool.
Yes, me and everyone else were quite close, and a lot of that universal embrace of humanity via avoiding it completely was due to a passion for paneled storytelling.
Of course, the world is in a constant state of change, and in recent years, we’ve seen the world of comics and the world of sports meld together to create an unimaginable hybrid, created to once again bring people together by keeping them shoved in the corners of comic book shops that smell weird, where it’s safe.
Enter David Jablow, artist and Phillies fan, even though his family wouldn’t allow it. The Phillies part, not the art part. And it was more like they didn’t actively influence his Phillies fandon, rather than attempt to deny it.
But thanks to the twin passions of David and co-creator Jon Goff, David has composed Dugout Phunnies, a comic book about the mostly unbaseball-related adventures of your favorite team. And here he is, to answer my intense, probing questions, much like Bill Baer was forced to on these very pages.
Some might say the world of comic books and the world of sports are often populated by two seemingly disparate demographics. Who are you writing these comics for?
I see Dugout Phunnies as a comic for Phils fans rather than a Phillies comic for comic fans. I guess those who would be interetesting in reading it would have to be a Phils fan who’s also willing to read a comic. It’s really for all phils fans regardless of their age or when they became fans. There are a few references to some former and retired phils from years back that the younger readers might miss. Nothing that dates back to the Whiz Kids era, though. It’s for anyone who knows the Phils.
From what comics do you draw your inspiration?
I think of the stories in DP as being in the same tradition as Mad Magazine. Taking something that a lot of people take serioiusly and then spoofing it and turning it on it’s ear. As for the actual look of the comic it definitely has an indie/zine style. We printed these up ourselves. The interior pages are black & white. Totally DIY.
What has your personal Phillies fandom been like? Did it start early? Later? Influenced by family or independently?
My fandom started at an early age. I was born and raised in Philly so it never really occured to me to route for any other team. My folks aren’t from the area so I wouldn’t say it was influenced by family. The Phillies have always been the team of my home city.
And on the other side… your art experience. Did you go to art school? Or are you simply a naturally gifted artist who channeled that gift into a Phillies comic?
I did go to art school. I’ve been interested in comic art/cartooning all of my life. This my first real attempt to make something of my own. Jon and I had been talking for a while about colaborating on a comic. We both were Phills fans so it seemed like a natural subject to work with, a common interest.
The Phillies of the current era have been assigned characterization on the internet in many forms. From blogs such as Zoo with Roy and The Fightins, these players have become more than just the athletes on our favorite team, they’re characters in a slowly unfolding saga. Do you tap into the already established (fictional) personas of the players when writing them, or do you have your own methods of generating their characters?
Both. Some of these characters write themselves. Charlie is a colloquialism-spouting, slow moving southerner and Shane is Shane (see issue #2). Others we used our artistic licences on for comedic effect. Charlie is the most fun to draw. His posture plays into his cartoon character look.
The idea of a comic about the Phillies is original, but I am often in circles where the idea is not as far-fetched as it may seem to someone outside of baseball (and/or comics). What was the final aspect of this that made you pull the trigger and finally turn the project into reality?
It’s really not that far-fetched of a concept to those of us who are versed in The Fightins and Zoo with Roy. There’s plenty of Phils-based humor out there but it’s mosty on the internet. I like creating comics so it seemed like a suitable format for us to get in on the action.
And Jon and I had been talking about collaborating on a comic prior to Dugout Phunnies. The Phillies (and humor) are a commmon interest of ours so it seemed like a natural choice.