The First Cartoon Series, 1975.
Few cartoonists have a record
of their very first serious work. Fortunately, Wes Oleszewski has
his first attempt at a cartoon series, and thought that some folks
may find it fun to see how the whole thing got started.
“Forage to the Bottom of the
Sea” was Wes’ first attempt at writing a serious cartoon strip. The
idea came to him while he was supposed to be paying attention in his
11th grade electronics class, and that evening he went home and started
to draw a spoof of the 1960s television series “Voyage to the Bottom
of the Sea”. The cartoon has its roots in a friendly competition of
rocket building between Wes, who called his fictitious company “Cruman
Aircraft” after the famed manufacturer “Grumman”, and his childhood
best buddies Jim Brink and Ken Wolff, who were calling them selves
“North American Rocksick” and “McDonald Dogless” respectively.
Featured in the “Forage” cartoon
is a small submarine with a crew of ants that travels to Wes’ old
neighborhood and engages in mayhem with his old buddies Jim and Ken.
Both of these friends of the cartoonist appear in the strip as humans
and as ants. The author claims that the strip was meant strictly to
entertain his buddies and that he had no other publication in mind.
The strip was completed in early 1975 and then stashed away for many
years. It later ended up in a scrapbook in which all of the author’s
early works were pasted and thus was saved from being simply lost.
There are a number of interesting
characteristics in this first strip that can be seen in Wes’ work
today, and many characteristics that do not carry forward. The most
outstanding joke is the attacking terd. It seems that no matter where
Wes’ ants go on their adventures, deep into the sea or far out into
space, they get attacked by a terd. The reasoning for this is that
the author simply finds the concept to be “funny as hell”. One concept
that does not carry forward is that Wes’ early ants walked on all
six legs, like real ants. In later works, his ants stand upright like
humans. The “Forage...” strips as they appear on this web site have
been “cleaned” due to their poor appearance. Originally, these strips
were drawn in pencil and are now in very poor condition when scanned
into the computer. The author worked for a full week to painstakingly
enhance and preserve each individual frame. It was his intention to
make the strips readable while preserving as much of the original
image as possible.
The little submarine, which
in “Forage to the Bottom of the Sea Part II” would be named the “Leavyou”,
went through a number of adventures in the late 1970s including “Forage...
Part II” and “Forage... Part III”, “Gums” and “Moldy Dick”.
Currently, the author is working on an all new, modern version of
“Forage to the Bottom of the Sea” which will make its first appearance
on this web site, and he assures the readers that there will be an
attacking terd, in fact there may be a lot of terd attacks.
Story continues in the Ant