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Armstrong Is a Hit with Festival Crowd

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Armstrong Is a Hit with Festival Crowd

Article excerpt

SEVEN COMIC STRIP creators gave speeches at Ohio State University's Festival of Cartoon Art, and all were received warmly by the sell-out crowd.

But one cartoonist clearly elicited the most applause after finishing, even though he is not as famous as several o the other speakers. That artist was "Jump Start" creator Robb Armstrong of United Feature Syndicate.

Armstrong, who spoke Aug. 25, was both humorous and poignant as he discussed his comic and life.

Like many other cartoonists who create 365 comics a year, Armstrong often works close to deadline. He told the audience that he had just inked his latest batch of "Jump Start" strips that morning, and held up an envelope containing the finished product.

Then, in perhaps the most public delivery in the history of syndication, Armstrong announced with a smile that he would be handing the envelope to United managing editor of comic art Amy Lago -- who was sitting in the auditorium -- right after his speech.

Armstrong didn't have to worry about inking any "Jump Start" art when he once received a letter in the mail stating, "I don't know you. I don't know your cartoon. Can you draw the Little Mermaid?"

During his Ohio State appearance, Armstrong did sketch some non--"Jump Start" characters -- including Fred Flintstone and Charlie Brown -- that he loved as a kid.

He said "Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz (of United) had a "great imagination" when it came to such things as Snoopy's battles with the Red Baron. Armstrong noted that "`Calvin and Hobbes' didn't invent" fantasy scenarios of that nature.

Armstrong, referring to the reclusive nature of the "Calvin and Hobbes" creator, added, "I've never talked to Bill Watterson. In fact, no one has, ever talked to Bill Watterson!"

The speaker did talk to another Universal cartoonist, Canadian Lynn Johnston of "For Better or For Worse" fame, after mentioning that a Toronto paper had dropped "Jump Start'

"Lynn," he joked to the audience member, "talk some sense to them."

Actually, a lot more papers buy than drop "Jump Start," and Armstrong said Johnston has had something to do with that.

"Lynn was a big influence on me with the way she shows a positive family," stated the speaker, who was also influenced by Bil Keane's "Family Circus" of King Features Syndicate. …

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