While all the hubbub and chatter is all about digital comics, regular comic strips are still being introduced in newspapers nationwide. (Of course, these newspapers and syndicates also offer their strips online, but in the cutthroat world of comic strips, any new strip is cause for celebration, especially one that’s not aimed at a specific demographic.)
This week, Norm Feuti, creator of “Retail” (imagine if Dilbert worked in a department store instead of an office) launched his second strip, Gil, about an 8-year-old boy who lives with his divorced mother, and occasionally interacts with his part-time father.
Gil started as a webcomic in November 2008, after syndicates passed on the initial strips. It ran for a year, and Feuti then resubmitted the best strips to editors. King Features (which syndicates Retail) offered a development contract. Feuti spent 2011 developing the strip, the first of which is seen above! (That strip is refrigerator-worthy!)
Here’s the PR from King Features:
From the creator of RETAIL comes GIL, a new comic strip by cartoonist Norm Feuti starring an optimistic 8-year-old boy who lives with his single mother. His parents divorced when he was a baby, and his mother supports them with income from her factory job. His father is a ne’er-do-well underachiever, who isn’t ready for full-time fatherhood and only sees Gil on alternate weekends.
With the support of his mother and the companionship of his sweet friend and confidante, Shandra, Gil is able to navigate through life with a remarkable sense of wonder, optimism and innocence.
GIL is a realistic and funny look at life through the eyes of a young boy growing up under circumstances that are familiar to millions of American families. And cartoonist Norm Feuti expertly crafts Gil’s world in a way that gives us all a good chuckle.
For anyone inclined to root for the underdog, GIL reminds comics readers that a little love can go a long way in shaping the life of a young child.
I first discovered his work while working at Barnes & Noble. One day, sometime in my seventh year at the store (yeah, you can imagine my war stories… a drive by shooting, live owls in the store, an Anthrax scare, and various celebrities), I noticed a title in the Humor section: Pretending You Care: The Retail Employee Handbook. The title immediately connected to my darker sense of humor, and I immediately starting flipping through it, wondering what sort of humor book it might be. To my surprise, it was a guidebook for those misguided souls who are contemplating a career in the retail trade. Illustrated with some 200 comic strips from Retail, it is The Dilbert Principle for the retail economy. Of course, I bought it instantly. The next day, during the morning briefing, I recommended the title to all of my fellow employees.
As I read the book, I realized that this was actually non-fiction. Norm Feuti had worked a variety of retail jobs and positions, some fifteen, including “men’s footwear, fine jewelry, toys, arts and crafts supplies, giftware, clothing and countless other items”, according to the author’s biography. He covers every aspect of retail, giving numerous examples from his strip and his experience.
Below are some samples from Retail. For those who lived to tell the tales, think of it as “retail therapy”. The entire run from 2006 to the present can be read at http://www.retailcomic.com/. (Click to enlarge.)