R.F.D., by Mike Marland
R.F.D. is a fun and beautifully drawn strip by Mike Marland about farm life in a rural community. Here's a description of the strip, its history, and Mike's creative process, all in his own words.
"R.F.D. is a weekly comic strip about life on The Poole Farm in the rural community of Woodfield. The main characters are The Pool Family; Sim, his wife May and their daughter June. Secondary characters are Sim's bachelor Uncle Henry, his brother Tinker and May's best friend Millie.
"R.F.D. evolved from a series of one-panel gag cartoons I roughed out in a sketchbook when I was an 18-year-old really bad weekend cartoonist. Eventually I came up with some characters and rewrote the gags as strips. They say to write what you know, so having grown up around farms, I wrote about cows and tractors.
"R.F.D. first appeared in print in my local weekly paper (I was working for the printing company that owned the paper and had an 'in' with editor). Through serendipity and another kind editor the strip moved up to NH largest daily newspaper and began running 6 days a week. It ran for 8 years until it was picked up by King Features Syndicate who turned it back into a weekly. As of 2005 R.F.D. is in its 13th year with King.
"R.F.D. follows the seasons closely so the gags are written according to the seasonal rhythms of farm life. The gags are written months in advance of their run dates so I'm usually trying to write Christmas gags while sweating my brains out in August!
"I draw the strips in one or two month batches.
"Using a template that I've ruled, and a light table, I pencil in the borders and all the lettering first. I have drawn character sheets of everyone in the strip from which I've photocopied enlargements & reductions and I use these to rough out the strips in pencil.
"Next I ink the borders (fat Sharpie) & lettering (#8 Pigma Micron pen) then ink the drawings (#8 & #3 Pigma Micron, Extra-Fine Sharpie & Uniball Micro). The strips are drawn on medium-weight plate Bristol.
"I then photocopy the strips to fit my scanner, put them on the computer and add the title, my name and the copyright & www info. On the first of every month I email the next batch to the syndicate (a month in advance of their run dates).
"The I go write some more.
"Man, I can't believe they pay me to do this! (but I'm glad they do!).
"CAUTIONARY FUDICIARY NOTE
"Unless you hit the BIGtime, one cartooning gig is not enough to pay the bills. I also work as a freelance editorial cartoonist (6 per week for a daily, -which I self-syndicate to 7 other papers- & 1 per week for a weekly), write gags (and rough them out) for another King strip, Barney Google & Snuffy Smith (8 dailies per week & 2 Sundays) and take whatever other freelance jobs come through the door. Ah, variety - the spice of life!"
For a great biography on Mike Marland that he himself wrote specifically for this site, click here.
Check out some of Mike's work below, including an incredible original drawing he did for me and the site!
Example of R.F.D. daily by Michael Marland, November 19, 2001. Copyright King Features Syndicate, Inc.
An awesome Hawaii-themed original sketch of the R.F.D. crew by Mike Marland. "Pua" in Hawaiian means flower, and Mike beautifully spotted the cow with the Hawaii state flower, the hibiscus. Thanks, Mike!
Mike is also one of the current writers for the comic strip Barney Google and Snuffy Smith. Go and see the gallery page featuring more of Mike's work by clicking here.
Go and visit Mike Marland's website by clicking here.
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