Beech Town is a light-hearted look at life in an almost-fictional resort town somewhere on the Atlantic Coast of Florida, East of Orlando, south of Daytona Beach, a scallop's throw from the Kennedy Space Center...but otherwise, it is a totally made up place.
The strip is named for our antagonist, SONNY BEECH. Sonny is the progeny of one of the largest land developer's in Sandbar County. Eschewing what he perceives to be the tainted riches of his trust fund, Sonny lives the less-than-modest life of a surfer. When the sun goes down he trades his board shorts for bow tie, waiting on touristas at the local Crab Palace. His beautiful surf-chick girlfriend has her eyes on movie-stardom to take her out of this one seashorse town, and keeps a constant watch for celebrities enjoying the local scene. They share a weathered surf shack holding its own among his dad's hi-rise condo projects, which seem to have taken over every other tract along the dunes.
A few other "regulars" make the scene, including Sunspot the dog (Ugh...remember, this was my first mainstream comic. Garfield was just becoming hot. Sunspot reminds me of the Simpson's Poochie...just take a dog and put a hat and sunglasses on him, and viola!, you've got a new character. He wasn't even clever!). Buzz something-or-other also appears regularly. Buzz is a retired astronaut living in Beech Town while he researches his autobiography and writes pulp science-fiction.
Otto and his wife are the inevitable tourist stooges. I don't think I ever came up with a name for her...he just calls her "Dear." For the obligatory anthropomorphic hijinks, brief appearances are made by Hugh Manatee and an unnamed talking seagull.
So close...The Story of Beech Town
I created Beech Town back in 1982-83, while living in Cocoa Beach, Florida. It was my first "formal" package of cartoons developed for hopeful syndication. I knew the subject matter was pretty niche-marketed, but I had a strategy...make it so local that the area's predominant daily newspaper couldn't resist it, while also making it light and fun enough to be universal. That way, it could evolve should the local paper decide to syndicate it. I didn't think this was such a longshot, as that local daily was Gannett's "Today." It was kind of a proving groving ground for the daily color graphics and illustrations and news-bits that would eventually become the signatures of USA Today. One of the best places to show off daily color was in the comics section, and they had used other local talent with success before.
It appeared as if they were going to go for it. It had taken forever, but everything I read said several weeks was the norm, so I waited. Finally, and I don't recall exactly how the contact was made, the bottom line was that they said they wanted to talk to me about the strip. But during the wait, my new bride would get a great job offer in Connecticut, at a salary unheard of in Florida at the time. We were moving to New England. I told Today about this new development, insisting that I could keep the strip alive even from 1300 miles away. No dice. I knew they were right. Still, it sucked.
Beech Town is the product of a bygone era, where cartoonists used paper, and pens didn't require batteries. They are 99 44/100% pure -- absolutely no pixels were used in the creation of these comics (expept to scan them...that's the other 56/100's). All the lettering, shading, boxes...all of it...was done with my trusty Rapid-O-Graphs. The grays come from ben-day film.
As previously stated, this strip was drawn with a syndication package in mind. As such, I have a pretty good stock of strips on reserve; I have 21 daily strips, 8 single panels and 3 1/2 Sunday's completed, so bookmark this page and check 'em out! Ill post new old ones as the mood strikes.!
ENJOY! - Rob McGrath
Tip o' the lid to Wayne Coombs for the "Beech Town tumbleweed" joke used in the first comic strip!
Site design Copyright 2002-2003 Rob McGrath/RMcG. All artwork on this site Copyright Rob McGrath unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.
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