Obscurity of the Day: When I Was Short

Here’s a delightful feature that somehow managed to avoid catching on. I guess in those days of Calvin & Hobbes it was pretty tough going for a competing kid strip. When I Was Short featured a kid named Mason with narration by him as an adult. The gags were delightful, and the art was outstanding.

Putting on my amateur editor cap, I’d say the feature didn’t make it because although it was very well written and drawn, the characters were all pretty generic. The kid was just a typical kid, the parents just typical parents. Readers might have enjoyed the strip, but there was really no big hook in which they could get fully invested.

The writer, Michael Fry, has been syndicated since the early 80s with a number of different strips and panels. Though a far better writer than artist, he’s had success in both jobs. Fry is now the writer of Over The Hedge, another successful venture that recently spawned a popular animated film. The superb art was by Guy Vasilovich, whose career has mostly been in the animation industry. You’ll find an extensive list of credits for him over on imdb.

When I Was Short started in December 1989 and ended on December 22 1991. The last few months of the strip were obviously done with the knowledge that the feature had been cancelled. In an apparent cost- or time-saving move the strip’s lettering was all typeset. First time I’ve seen that one…

3 comments on “Obscurity of the Day: When I Was Short

  1. Michael Fry tried to revive the strip as an animated series about a year or two ago. It was optioned by Fox Kids, but in the end, nothing came out of it.

    His other comic, Committed, did became an animated series, though, courtesy of Nelvana in Canada.

  2. Hello, Allan—-I had not seen the once-ubiquitous TUMBLEWEEDS in many years, when I came across it again. The distinctive, stylish lettering had vanished, replaced with soulless, look-of-death typeset. I assumed that these must old episodes, carelessly quickied out with new dialogue, the ignoble winding down of a now obscure strip, as the case with WHEN I WAS SHORT. I was surprised that it was actually the choice of the artist, T.K.Ryan, apparently irritated with people disappointed with his artistic short-cut. —–Cole Johnson.

  3. Hi Cole –
    You’re right, I forgot about Tumbleweeds. He switched over to typeset way back in the 90s. I never really understood why that strip had such a precipitous decline in popularity back in the mid-80s or so. Seems like one day he was in a ton of papers, the next day the strip was rarely seen.


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