In February of 1994 I was approached with a project called “Final Exit for Barney” (which was a sequel to a book called “Final Exit for Cats” by another illustrator), and it was a horrible experience. I thought it was embarrassing and not at all funny, and so of course, when they approached me with yet another book in the fall of the year, I jumped up and said “Please, sir, may I have another?” A glutton for punishment I suppose. More than likely, a struggling illustrator who wasn’t all that picky about what sort of work put groceries on the table.
Like the previous book, this wasn’t so much funny, as a laundry list of 1994 hot button topics sure to be dated long before the book hit the shelves, and stereotypes of lawyers as greedy lowlifes obsessed with material possessions. Again, I had nothing to do with the writing, but was given a list of 84 or so ‘scenarios’ to draw. I decided to do this one in a slightly different cartoon style than the previous book (and of the two, I liked how this one looked a lot better, but that’s not saying much).
Here’s a sampling of the interior “humor”.
As usual with projects of this sort, none of the artwork was returned, and I only can share these with you now, because I recently picked up a used copy on eBay for a few bucks.
It was one of those projects that I was initially excited about (a cartoon humor book, making fun of everyone’s least favorite purple dinosaur – what could go wrong?), but no more than two or three drawings into the project I realized what a horrible ordeal this was going to be. This was a sequel of sorts to a book entitled “Last Exit For Cats” (if you remember, at the time, there was a brief surge of ‘humor in poor taste’, with dead baby jokes, and Garbage Pail Kids and who know what all else).
Let me make it perfectly clear, I had no hand in writing any of this. I was given a list of ‘situations’ that would mean a grisly end to our main character, and was asked to illustrate them in cartoon form. Most of the jokes weren’t even slightly funny or imaginative, but were an endless grocery list of 1994 hot button topics that would prove to be old news long before the book even were to reach the shelves. I’m not going to spare you from sharing all 86 pages of this unfunny collection, but I’ll post a few just to give you an idea of the level of art involved.
As usual with projects of this sort, I never received the artwork back from the publisher, and I’m only able to share these with you now, because I recently picked up a copy of the book for a few bucks on eBay, and have taken photos of a few of the pages.
Despite not enjoying the project, I didn’t learn my lesson, and ended up signing on for another book later that same year. I wasn’t extremely picky with clients back in the first decade, just happy to be working.
Interesting story, sometime in the mid to late 90s, while on an AOL chatroom, I got to talking to a young lady who had actually purchased this book, and thought it was absolutely hilarious. Shows what I know…