National Lampoon was a big influence on me, and helped to warp my brain for better or worse. One of the more memorable features of that great magazine was the long-running Trots and Bonnie comic. It presented a somewhat naive thirteen year old girl named Bonnie, her adventurous friend Pepsi, and a wise-cracking dog called Trots. The beloved trio experienced and processed the world, via their unique perspectives, in the pages of the Lampoon for nearly twenty years.
A few weeks ago I contacted the creator of Trots and Bonnie, Shary Flenniken, and asked if she’d be interested in doing an email interview. She agreed, but warned that her answers might not come quickly. She was finishing some college classes, and was very busy. Excited that she’d actually said yes, I assured her there was no hurry. I sent her my list of questions, and told her to deal with them as time permitted. Heck, just exchanging emails with Shary was a rush. If she never got around to actually answering my questions, I’d still consider it a big positive.
But answer them she did. Not in the way I’d anticipated, however. Instead of typing it all out and hitting SEND, she sat down in front of a video camera and answered the questions aloud. Even better!
I’m excited to share those clips with you today, and want to thank Shary for being so cooperative and friendly. It’s great when someone you admire also turns out to be really cool. I’ve had other experiences where that wasn’t the case… Anyway, this is Shary Flenniken, in her own words:
Clip 1 Here, Shary talks about her father, who was a Rear Admiral in the Navy, and growing up in exotic locales surrounded by men and boys. She also explains the role her father played in her becoming a cartoonist, speaks about her days working on underground newspapers, and discusses the office environment at the National Lampoon. Near the end, she pays tribute to the late Doug Kenney.
Clip 2 Shary talks about Trots and Bonnie, how it was developed, and how it ended up in the pages of the National Lampoon.
Clip 3 Shary talks about a Trots and Bonnie collection that was released in France, and the possibility of an American version. I asked her if she still draws the characters, which she addresses, and also gives us a shocking update on Bonnie’s friend Pepsi.
Clip 4 Shary brings us up to date on her current projects, including a recently completed college degree in multi-media, her in-process novel, and her love of creating modern fairy tales. She closes with some advice for cartoonists, which seems simple but is probably ignored more often than not.
I hope you enjoyed the interview as much as I did. Shary says she is open to answering follow-up questions, as time permits. So, if you have something you’d like for her to address, please leave it in the comments section below. You can keep up with Shary Flenniken news at her website, and also check out the Slave To Her Pets page. Thanks again, Shary! And thanks to you guys, for reading (and watching).