Yes, I know about the song from Avenue Q.

§ April 12th, 2021 § Filed under comic strips § 4 Comments

So a long time ago, your pal Mike was a student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he eventually graduated with a B.A. in English, thus essentially ensuring his eventual fate as a comic book store owner.

Now UCSB was gifted with a fine (and free — it was for college students, after all) daily newspaper, the Daily Nexus, which I would habitually grab out of one of the many on-campus racks when I arrived for the day. It was always informative and interesting and…well, fun.

One of the fun bits about it that appealed to me were, of course, the comic strips. Both the standard nationally-syndicated strips (like Bloom County, Doonsebury, and (as part of ad campaigns by local eateries) Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side), as well as homegrown material.

A strip I regularly followed was Fresh-Man, for which I was lucky enough to pick up a collection from the school bookstore at the time. I wrote about that collection a decade back.

Fresh-Man ran in the Nexus during, appropriately enough, my freshman year. And there was another strip original to the paper that I followed and enjoyed that same year, but, lacking a reprint book that I’ve had for decades like the Fresh-Man one, I could not for the life of me recall the name. Even more aggravating was that a character or two from this strip have cameos in a Fresh-Man strip in that collection, but no indication of the name of the comic from which they were visiting.

A number of years ago it dawned on me that perhaps I could delve into the online archives of the Daily Nexus, which they must surely have, and I could finally resolve this admittedly minor issue in short order. At the time this first occurred to me, however, the archives that did exist only extended back, I don’t know, a decade or maybe two, and not nearly far enough to cover the middish-late-ish 1980s that I required.

Then a few weeks ago, I decided to check again, and lo, full archives for the Nexus (and its preceding publications) are now available for virtual perusal in PDF format, dating back to 1923! HOKEY SMOKES. And it’s text-searchable, even! (Yes, I looked up my own name…only hit was a police officer by the same name quoted in an article. I didn’t make much of an impression while I attended, I’m afraid.)

Anyway, FOUND THE STRIP:


Yes, it’s a little Bloom County/Doonesbury-esque in presentation, as were, um, many amateur strips that ran in, I’m sure, every college paper. But the personalities and situations that occupied this strip entertained me, dealing with college life and commenting on real world happenings, some light political satire, and so on. It was fun, and I’m glad to revisit it again. Maybe some of the gags, um, haven’t aged well (Jessica Hahn, anyone?) and perhaps aren’t the most politically correct from a modern perspective, but whaddaya want from a decades-old college strip? That’s, like, par for the course. (By the way, that’s the titular Miller who’s in bed in the first panel.)

I didn’t mention the cartoonist’s name in the text of this post because I didn’t want it Google-able, in case that would cause a problem for him (and I’m about 99% positive I did find him online). I failed to do the same for the artist of the Fresh-man strip way back when in my post about that, but I think the only result was that his wife found my post and commented on it. Anyway, don’t bother the fella on my behalf if you track him down…it’s enough that I can go through the Nexus archives and enjoy his strips again after all these years.

After Miller’s Tale and Fresh-Man left the pages of the Nexus, other strips came along to fill the void. I’m sure I enjoyed them well enough, and I poked my digital nose into some later editions of the paper to sample some. Nothing sticks out as being quite as memorable as these two strips, however…most are fine, a couple look like they’re gag strips but [JOKE NOT AVAILABLE], and none of them stuck in my brain for decades.

In addition to feeding my comics nostalgia, I also want to dig through the archives trying to find names of various local bands of the time and seeing if I can find any of their recordings now. If you follow my Twitter, you know, I’ve been digitizing some of the music I purchased during my college days from the music stores near the school, including nigh-forgotten bands like “Alice Fell” — the one reference for which I found online was someone who was a huge fan of theirs, and in fact one of their roommates, who claimed they never actually recorded anything! I emailed the fella and sent him a photo of my Alice Fell cassette (with the hand-painted J-card!) but never heard back.

Also looking up articles about my girlfriend and her twin sister from their time on the UCSB women’s volleyball team…least ’til my girlfriend transferred to Pepperdine to play for their team. …Hmm, wonder if Pepperdine has extensive archives for their school paper? That’s all I need, another rabbit hole to fall into.

Okay, one more thing…while poking through the various Nexii, I found this notice the paper had put in place of that day’s Bloom County:


Anyway, thought that was amusing.

4 Responses to “Yes, I know about the song from Avenue Q.”

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    I assume that the song you mean is “The Internet is for Porn,” but I must note that “I Wish I Could Go Back to College” works just as well for this post.

  • Dave Carter says:

    I was fortunate to be attending the University of Michigan when Judd Winick was doing his “Nuts & Bolts” strip for the Michigan Daily. Even back then super early in his career he was working at a level high above the typical college paper cartoon and you just knew he’d end up going places (though I don’t think anyone’s guess would have been “a reality show on MTV”!)

    There was a super-low print run collection released way back in 1992: https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/nuts-bolts-michigan-anthology-judd-1881907533 with an introduction by Brad Meltzer. (Fun fact: the publisher of the collection, Thursday’s at Dave’s Productions, was named after the local comic shop, Dave’s Comics, where new comics day was Thursday.)

  • ExistentialMan says:

    Not to dampen the fond memories of UM alum Dave, I was even more fortunate to attend Ohio State University in the early-to-mid-80’s when Jeff Smith’s “Thorn” strip appeared in The Lantern. Several years later he made a few small changes here and there and renamed it “Bone”

  • @misterjayem says:

    I was the only one drawing anything for our college newspaper — and I’m 100% certain that no one has any fond memories of them.

    — MrJM

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