The Man from UNCle

Excerpt from the forward to UNC•ology, The Man from UNCle 1984-1988:

Though I never missed a deadline in four years of drawing this strip, it took me nearly ten years to pull a compilation together. A lot has happened since graduation. In no particular order, I moved to Chicago, fell in love, got married, learned how to make beer, learned how to play the guitar, moved to Raleigh, forgot how to play the guitar, had twin boys and made a couple attempts at syndication with variations on The Man from UNCle.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I don’t feel that much older. I’m not in denial or anything—I generally act my age. I don’t come in at 3am and sleep ‘til noon anymore. I’m more susceptible to hangovers and I would actually think twice about having a TimeOut chicken and cheese biscuit these days.

But if were going to get any more mature, I’d have done it by now. So I’m proud to say that part of me has always remained in college. And you know what? That’s okay. There’s a certain youthful exuberance and free-spiritedness that we tend to let atrophy once we graduate. I’ve been in enough conference rooms to see the tragic results of this first-hand: Boring People.

Adulthood. Don’t let it happen to you.

When I started the strip freshman year, it was a way for me to involve myself in campus life, albeit anonymously. I was an out-of-stater, I didn’t know anyone, so I thought, what have I got to lose? Just my ego, it turned out. My very first strip, a naïve observation of the student population from a male point of view, generated a deluge of hate mail reminiscent of the final courtroom scene in Miracle on 34th Street. This was all before “sexual harassment” and when PC just mean “personal computer.” As I re-read those letters today,
I sincerely hope their authors managed to find the lives they were so desperately lacking at the time.

I persisted, and managed to build a fairly loyal, if silent, contingent of fans around campus. No one ever wrote to compliment a strip, of course, and when I went into a self-imposed exile to await the election of a more liberal DTH editor, you didn’t see anyone in the Pit brandishing signs that read, “Where’s our UNCle?”

Still, I saw a lot of strips cut out and taped up on dorm room doors or bulletin boards. On other occasions when my “secret identity” was revealed at a party or something, it made for nice conversation, especially when someone would cite a favorite strip of theirs. That meant more to me than anything. In fact, my wife used to have a yellowed, dog-eared old strip of mine taped up on her door in Cobb before we even met. Big points there.

I should not that I did not start the strip as a way to get chicks.

So here they all are in one glorious volume, along with some bonus strips of the Gang from UNCle’s stabs at syndication. Taken as a whole, this pretty much serves as a journal of my time in Chapel Hill. A journal filled with four years of my anxiety, loneliness, heartbreak, depravity, rejection, pain, yearning and joy. All here in black and white for you to laugh at.

I can’t believe I’m letting you read it.