Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Honey of a Character! (or, "Ambushed!")

This (true) story originally appeared on the Simpson/Lynch Studios blog, but has since been deleted from there. Anyone who reads that blog as well as this one has probably seen it. If you've already seen it... oh, well. But I'm betting you probably haven't.

* * * * *

The team of Simpson and Lynch was formed in the early 1980s. In relatively short order, we had several concepts upon which we wanted to collaborate. Some of these got completed, and offered to publishers, comic strip syndicates, etc.

The very first comic S'n'L offered was -- I'm quoting from my own article about Mark Slamm, the Humiliator, on the Simpson/Lynch Studios blog, here! -- "a comic strip called Hawklad (which was later published as a comic book called The Bird). We received seven rejections from seven newspaper syndicates. Two of those seven said that they liked our stuff, but wanted to see something other than a funny superhero. So Skip and I decided we'd try to give them what they wanted. The second comic strip concept from Simpson/Lynch Studios was a sitcom of sorts called Life with Skip... A prominent member of Life with Skip's supporting cast was Skip's next-door neighbor and de facto best friend, author Mike Serf."

And there's one more thing worth mentioning. Author Mike Serf had a wife. Oh, yes, we can't forget her!

(Okay, everybody, get those Tarantino Pulp Fiction "honey-bunny" comparisons out of your systems. Our character, which pre-dated Pulp Fiction by more than ten years, was a woman whose name was either "Honey" or "Bunny." One has absolutely nothing to do with the other. Besides... sappy, cutesy, goo-goo terms of endearment like "honey-bun," "honey-bunch," and the like have been around a lonnng time.)

If Life with Skip had sold, I doubt we'd have utilized Honey-or-Bunny all that often. She was pretty much a one-joke character. Maybe whenever she appeared, the other characters could have called her both Honey and Bunny interchangeably... and we could have ignored the confusion except whenever someone wrote in to say, "Okay, now which is it? Honey, or Bunny?!?" To which we'd have replied, "Uhhh... Yes."

One of the aforementioned syndicate editors who rejected Hawklad actually liked the idea of a funny superhero. In fact, he actually suggested that he'd have been more interested if Hawklad had been even more outrageous, and as a comparison, he cited DC's Ambush Bug character, who was then undergoing his first burst of popularity. (I was familiar with the Bug, being a comic book geek follower; Skip was not.)

Now, I'm not sure if Skip suggested something along the line of "If you want Ambush Bug, why don't you contact his owners?" or not, but whether Skip did, or the syndicate editor thought to do so all on his own...

(Okay, my conjecture starts here!)

I'm guessing that the editor contacted either DC Comics (Ambush Bug's legal owner), or the Bug's writer (Robert Loren Fleming), or the character's artist (Keith Giffen), or both of the latter.

I'm guessing that the editor asked if anyone was interested in doing Ambush Bug as a daily comic strip.

I'm guessing that the offer was never acted upon, either because DC wouldn't allow it, or Fleming & Giffen didn't want to "dilute" the character with over-exposure, or... hell, I can come up with about half a dozen reasons.

But I'm also guessing that at some point, the editor talked with Fleming and/or Giffen about how he got the idea to contact them in the first place. And I'm guessing that he mentioned Hawklad, and some other Simpson/Lynch ideas... like "Honey-or-Bunny" from Life with Skip.

And I'm pretty darned sure that the conversation I'm imagining resulted in this little gem, which finally saw the light of day in 1986's Son of Ambush Bug mini-series:

I -- seriously -- don't want to accuse Fleming and/or Giffen of anything above and beyond "vaguely remembering" the ditzy blonde character from earlier -- i.e., two to four years earlier -- conversations about their own Ambush Bug character, but... Total coincidence?

I think not.

Draw your own conclusions, folks.

Thanks for your time.


  1. Thanks for the story David. I am so glad you save everything! I really do enjoy the work you and Skip collaborate on. I am glad you found some success and hope that in the future you may publish beyond the blog. I look at it this way, it doesn't matter how many rejections you get, it's the one yes that matters. Disregarding comment on SnL about Miz Paula Deen...you do have some redeeming qualities (for a Yankee).

  2. While I appreciate the re-posting of "Simpson/Lynch: The Early Days," I can't help but make the observation that while Sandy and I are slaving over hot new stories for "Spy Guys," you're lying under an umbrella on some tropical beach sipping Mai-Tais, being waited on by beautiful Polynesian women, and basically posting reruns. Is this what Executive Producers do???

  3. @Sandy: "I look at it this way, it doesn't matter how many rejections you get, it's the one yes that matters."

    That's what I was telling Sofia Vergara just the other night... or was it the other morning?

    And who are you calling a Yankee? I'm a Red Sox fan; we hate the Yankees, too! ;-)

    @Skip: "[Y]ou're lying under an umbrella on some tropical beach sipping Mai-Tais, being waited on by beautiful Polynesian women, and basically posting reruns. Is this what Executive Producers do???"

    Uhhh, pretty much. You got a problem with that, Sparky? [to waitress] Peel me another grape, please, LaTonga?

  4. I seem to recall having read this before. But like a cow chewing the cud, it is even more flavorsome after regurgitation.

  5. I'm going to have to read more of your collaborations so I feel in on the jokes.

  6. Mr. Fox ~ living the good life on vacation, huh? Well, the bloggers guys are in on it, too...my verification word here is caviar! :)


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