Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Alligata Gangstas

Pencil rough for p. 56, where we meet Shorty Pants.

Sometimes things just seem to arrive as a gift from heaven.

I knew from the first that sooner or later Otto and Crackers would tangle with some alligator types living in the sewers of New York City. And that they would be bad. (I mean, really, has there ever been a good alligator character? They look bad, they smile bad, they act bad. They are the ultimate bad %&* character!)
However whether this would simply be a back alley encounter, switchblades drawn and tensions high or something more significant, I wasn’t sure. But as the story evolved, scene-by-scene, it soon became clear that our heroes’ encounter with the Alligeri Boys would be the main thrust of the story. So bit by bit they started to take form — Big Al, the diminutive (of course) classic Sinatra loving, zoot suit wearing gangster. Cajun Joe, retired Alligator Wrestling Federation champion, tough and wiry but with a heart of gold. And then there was the third Alligeri Boy.
I knew he was going to be a gangsta rapper, or at least wanna-be rapper, one who Cajun Joe outs right away as just a “suburban gator”. Like the weekend punks I used to run into at Lee’s Palace in Toronto, dressed to kill but always back home to mamma before the last subway. But he needed a name, this suburban gator, and being a big lad my partner Esperança and I, with a nod to Tarantino, knocked around the idea of calling him Shorty. But we already had the little Big Al, so the name still needed to go somewhere else.
Being of a generation that fails to find wearing basketball shorts three sizes too big and hanging around your knees can be anything but funny, when Esperançca suggested Shorty Pants I just about busted a gut and still do every time I draw him.
So now he had a name but how to draw him? I freely admit my knowledge of rap culture is next to nil. So I went to one of my nephews, an expert on all things, and he filled me in on the lingo, what’s cool, what’s not, etc.. And then he suggested I hang a big clock around his neck, like Flavor Fav of Public Enemy fame.
Now I’m old enough to have another iconic clock ticking in my brain and this one is related to the crocodile (close enough!) in Walt Disney’s Peter Pan, and I’m thinking, “That’s it! An over-sized alarm clock slung on a gold chain around Shorty Pants' neck!”  And so it was, like manna from heaven.

Tic-toc-tic-toc …

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