As a way of setting the tone for each issue, I wanted the opening splash page to resemble a 1930s movie poster. It sort of duplicates the function of the cover, but as itâs GisÃ¨le LagacÃ©âs take on it rather than that of the other cover artists, it promised to be different and unique enough to be worth doing. And what do you know, it came out great!
A little scene-setting here. A lesson I learned from studying the differences between Disneyâs animated shorts and Carl Barksâ Donald Duck stories, or Floyd Gottfredsonâs Mickey Mouse newspaper strips, is that weird randomness that you accept in a cartoon short usually needs a little more groundwork laid down beforehand if you want the audience to suspend their disbelief; âdream logicâ wonât quite cut it. So I felt we needed a fig leaf of explanation to cover the giant bugs that are on their way shortly, hence the supernaturally-enhanced Royal Jelly.
Bugs! Weâre establishing that the town is infested with them. The Fleischer cartoons seemed to take place in a kind of fallen world, and thereâs a bug-themed cartoon they did in 1936 called The Cobweb Hotel (which Iâm ashamed to say I didnât know about when I wrote this story; I only discovered it on YouTube a couple of weeks ago), so this seemed like a very Fleischer-esque place to go.
Sally Swingâs love life seemed overdue for some attention, and I liked the idea that she sings horribly – granted, that runs counter to the cartoon she originally appeared in, but maybe she gets some singing lessons after this story. And it gives us an excuse to get Betty on stage later, so thatâs all to the good.
Grampy the Inventor! Iâve always liked the idea of an inventor whoâs brilliant at what they do, but always seems to come up with the wrong thing at the wrong time â like if Galileo had invented Dolby Noise Reduction, or DaVinci had invented WiFi. So many comic possibilities there. Grampy here is as unworldly as ever, totally bamboozled by the baddies. Heâs not dumb, heâs just got his head in the cloudsâ¦
I thought we were overdue for a Mistaken Identity plotline (I think youâre allowed one per series). I love Bettyâs expressions on page 11 when sheâs trying to negotiate Zach Platterâs unwanted affections. GisÃ¨le on top form there!
The insect infestation gets out of hand – and the stakes are personal, as itâs Bettyâs home thatâs the epicenter of it all. Weâre building up to the big reveal on page 16 when Lenny Lizardlips shows up again, like the proverbial bad penny. If thatâs not a metaphor for a pest infestation I donât know what is.
The showdown – and Sally Swingâs ghastly voice turns out to be relevant to the plot, for it saves the day in the end.
After all that, I thought Sally deserved a break – so I had her awful singing be a new source of attraction to Zach Platter, and sent those crazy kids off into the sunset together. Bettyâs final point is from the heart – who knows whatâs going to attract another human being? Thereâs someone out there for everyoneâ¦