THE single most commonly asked question I get about Ginger Meggs is: Who writes the gags/stories? The short answer is, I do.
The slightly longer answer is; Producing a daily comic strip (in my experience), is separated into three parts: 60% is writing, 20% is drawing (the fun bit), 20% is business and syndication.
The writing is the most time-consuming and difficult part of it. That’s not to say that getting syndicated isn’t difficult (heck, it’s near impossible these days!) but as far as time goes, you spend more time and mental energy coming up with new material day after day than anything else. It’s like a stand-up comedian not being able to get up on stage and do the same routine as he did yesterday. Every day.
It used to irk me that people would assume I just “drew” Ginger Meggs, but then I realised it was because often a comic strip cartoonist is referred to as “the artist for…” which of course would lead one to assume you just draw the strip, and someone else writes it. That setup is not uncommon (ie. Zits, Baby Blues, Wizard of Id) but it’s not how the majority of comic strip cartoonists do it.
I like the challenge, and I take a lot of inspiration from guys like Gary Clark, Jerry Scott, Paul Gilligan, Sean Leahy and Tony Lopes. These people just know how to write consistently good material, and they work hard at it.
I suppose it’s like anything- the more you do it, the better you get. I’m still a novice, but my background in writing editorial cartoons and stand-up comedy gave me a good grounding for writing a daily strip. It’s been a very steep learning curve, and I’m enjoying the experience. I hope to be doing it for a long time to come!
The first writer for Ginger Meggs was his creator, James C Bancks in 1921. He was followed by Ron Vivian in 1953, Lloyd Piper in 1973 and then my predecessor, James Kemsley in 1983. A full run-down of the Ginger Meggs history is available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ginger_Meggs