One More Brand New (Last Fall) Comic Strip

Posted by on January 17th, 2011 at 10:47 AM

Brett Koth says he concocts his new (as of last fall) strip, Diamond Lil, from his log cabin on a pond in Virginia where he lives with his wife, Mona, his son Henry, his English bulldog, Bob, and around five dozen Canada geese, whose names he can’t remember. The geese don’t show up in the strip much; nor do any of the other pond personnel. It’s just as well: Lil Bilious, an old bat who specializes in nasty opinions, probably wouldn’t like them. Like many curmudgeonly old ladies in tennis shoes (or house slippers), she has been overtaken by modern times and doesn’t like much of what she sees.

The most intriguing thing about the comic strip is how static it is: Diamond Lil doesn’t move much, and most of the panels in the strip are replications of the first one.

This motionless serves to focus attention on the nastiness of Diamond Lil’s utterances, which is what the strip is all about. The lack of any sort of movement also emphasizes Lil’s age: as an old bat, she, like all of her vintage (ask me), doesn’t move around much. She sits and glares.

The reason the immobility is intriguing is because Koth’s background is in animation. He is a graduate of California Institute of the Arts with a BFA in character animation. He’s worked at several animation studies (Disney, Marvel, and Don Bluth) where he did character animation for video games, feature films, and tv shows. He’s also dabbled extensively in licensing.

But we see his work most often in Jim Davis’ comic strip, Garfield. Since 1986, Koth has collaborated with Davis in licensing for the Orange Cat—including “design and art for projects as diverse as a petting zoo, a planetarium show, and a Rose Parade float.” He also worked in Garfield tv specials.

And he meets regularly with Davis for marathon gag-writing sessions for the strip. While a lot of Garfield strips are nearly as motionless as Diamond Lil, some of them are right out of Tex Avery.

I can’t be sure, of course, but my guess is that strips like the foregoing and our next example are inventions of Koth’s animation sensibility.

As for character design, Diamond Lil is an exquisite example, even if she almost never moves. Much.

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