Rick Dodge is not a schlub. He is not an average guy, he doesn’t do what average guys do, he is not the average height, not the average build, he does not possess an average intelligence, he is no schlub.

Which means he is ‘supposed’ to be unlikeable in the parlance of the times. That nobody can read a comic, watch a movie, read a book, take in a play, and sympathize with the protagonist unless that protagonist is like the audience. And apparently we believe the audience are all schlubs. Watch as the schlub doesn’t get the girl, glory as he fails to advance in his job, relate to his struggles with the stupid jock bullies that surround him. There’s a mean-spiritedness in that, not only that writers apparently look down upon their audiences, but that they also tend to revel in the failure of the schlub. The laughter is often at the schlubs’ own failings and that means the audience laughs AT the protagonist/schlub who is meant to be the stand in for the audience. The audience laughs at itself but in laughing thinks itself superior to the object of their disdain; the schlub. Who is them.

I am not comfortable writing that kind of character. I don’t like that kind of character in general (Jon Arbuckle as an example, I’ve never disliked Jon Arbuckle but I never cared for or about him and can’t imagine trying to write for that character) and I don’t like what that character has to say about where our society has come to rest. The idea that we as a society, as a culture, hate those who are ‘better’ than us and cannot identify with that kind of protagonist. If that’s true it says we are all small and we want those that are bigger dragged down to our level. Don’t succeed. Don’t strive. Don’t grow. Be average and we’ll love you for it.

There is another problem with schlubs; when they do finally get the girl she is never a schlub. She is gorgeous. She is tolerant. She takes his sarcastic attitude with a smile on her face. She doesn’t care that he’s short, ugly, overweight and balding. As long as he’s a ‘nice guy’ she seems happy with the schlub.

I think that’s offensive as well; women aren’t supposed to want good looking men? Tall men? Fit men? As if writers are saying that women SHOULDN’T want these things because that would make the women shallow. Somehow evil. Somehow accepting of stupidity. Because tall, good looking jocks can’t also be intelligent. Or caring. Or a nice guy. They have to be jerks. Most of the jocks I know are really good guys. Some are jackasses. Most of the geeks I know are really good guys. Some are jackasses. In this scenario the women are just objects, being told what to like and dislike by the writer, from the writer’s own narrow viewpoint. Which is, since the schlub is often a stand-in for the writer, that women should love them because they’re nice guys. Of course in order to make that point you kind of have to ignore that writing a story to lecture someone else on who they should and should not feel desire for is not really very nice.

That isn’t to say Rick Dodge has no faults, the whole strip is essentially about his many faults, but it is to say I didn’t want to give him the obvious faults. He is not a schlub.

This is an explanation of why he is no schlub. Not an apology.

Easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission?

No permission necessary and nothing to apologize for.

If people don’t like Rick because they don’t like the way he acts? Great, they’re supposed to disapprove because he can be a jackass. If people don’t like Rick because of the way he looks? Nothing I’m willing to do to mitigate that ‘problem’.

Part of the reason Rick Dodge is in good shape is because I noticed a tendency when drawing Mrs. Dodge. She started as a slightly rotund woman but under my pen seemed to lose weight rapidly until she became reasonably trim and attractive. I left her that way because I liked her better that way, but it left me with a problem: If all of my female characters were attractive (or at least as attractive as I could make them look) then I felt I had to reciprocate with Rick Dodge and increase his attractiveness quotient. I think it’s called fan service when male artists produce cheesecake for male readers and I figured I might as well do some fan service for the women who might read the strip.

Though I must say I was a bit surprised at how often Rick’s had his shirt off so far. He must be a closet Captain Kirk fan.