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The Japanese Beetle! #01: In The Beginning

Story Guide

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Japanese Beetle Classics

The Japanese Beetle! didn't just spring full-blown onto the internet in 1998. Oh, no. He'd been living in my sketchbook since high school. Eventually he even wound up appearing in Carnegie Mellon University's student newspaper, The Tartan, from 1994-1997. And he's floated around in a variety of media since then. For your viewing pleasure, we present one of these old gems every week on Sunday.

Here's a quick story guide:

Part One: The very first Beetle strips I did, way back in the dark days of 1994. The only really noticeable thing is my complete and utter lack of talent, but a determined man never lets that get in his way.

Part Two: I don't know why I decided to turn the Flying Squirrel into the Japanese Beetle's sidekick, but it worked pretty well. They still have an adversarial relationship, but it's more of a Bruce Willis/Cybill Shepherd adversarial relationship. Uh, without the "will they/won't they" crap. Thank god.

Part Three: The Japanese Beetle starts to teach the Flying Squirrel the fine points of superheroing. That, and supervillains raid the fridge. I still can't believe there are people out there who considered this the finest Japanese Beetle story I ever did.

The Japanese Beetle Forever!: Okay, so this is a pretty obvious parody of Batman Forever, which was still in theaters when I started work on this. The damn thing practically wrote itself, and I had plenty of time to hack out episodes in Don Simpson's comic drawing class at CCAC. Also notable for the first appearances of the Questionnaire and Multifacet.

The Japanese Beetle Rides Again: Picking right up where the last story left off, this was my belated attempt to inject something resembling "relationship humor" into the strip. Alas, my crazy brain wouldn't let get away with anything that normal. Hence, the aliens.

The Death of the Japanese Beetle: I don't know what prompted me to parody The Death of Superman three years after the fact, but needless to say, I did. Pretty fun, I totally ran out of ideas at the end, necessitating the cop-out ending.

The Last Temptation of the Japanese Beetle: The last Japanese Beetle strip I did for The Tartan, and not a very long one. Alas, I was worried about trivial things like "graduating" and "paying the rent" which left very little time for "cartooning" and lots of time for "sarcastic apostrophes."

Convention Sample #1: A six-page story I hacked out as a convention sample in just under 16 hours, which still amazes me even today. I inked this baby with an amazing little tool I can only think of as "der Übermarker" -- and of course, I've never seen another one like it to this day. A pity, because it's the best marker I've ever seen.

Convention Sample #2: An aborted one-page convention sample featuring the return of the Questionnaire.

Convention Sample #3: Another truncated convention sample with the Japanese Beetle and the Cartoonist arguing about the fate of the comic industry. I was into didactic rants about the industry at the time - but alas, could never bring myself to finish them, more's the pity.

Japanese Beetle Minicomics: Some really crude minicomics I slapped together in the summer of 1995 in a misguided attempt to reach a wider audience. You may notice that the art looks really scratchy -- that's because it's drawn at actual size. Kids, never, ever draw at actual size if you can avoid it. Especially minicomics.

Multiple Personality Disorder: A short story parodying the "Identity Crisis" story that ran through the Spider-Man titles in early 1998, this is the last Japanese Beetle story I did before launching this strip. Thrill as the Japanese Beetle assumes the identities of the heroic Honeybee, the rebellious Rebound, the indomitable Inkspill and the amazing AOL!

Pin-Ups: Some pin-ups I drew for random occasions.

The Teriffic Tetrad in "How Sweet It Is": A parody of those Hostess Fruit Pie ads that used to run in comics when I was a kid. Fresh when new, a lot less so now. Much like Hostess Fruit Pies themselves.

Behold - The Living Waffle!: He's a waffle the size of a galaxy. 'Nuff said.

How To Make Art Comics (and not have people laugh at you): The very first minicomic I ever did. Made entirely out of recycle art from my sketchbooks.

A very special thanks to those whose newspaper collections allowed me to fill in some of the gaps in these stories, especially my good friends Todd Gleason and Bayani Caes. Thanks, guys.

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Published online by World Famous Comics. The Japanese Beetle and all related characters are copyright ©1998 - 2000 by Dave "The Knave" White and Chris White; ©2001 - 2022 by Dave "The Knave" White. All rights reserved. Any passing resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead or otherwise, is purely coincidental except when it isn't. Really, we swear. Please don't sue us.
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