‘Drabble’ has Saddleback roots

CARTOONIST (Sean Lara/Lariat)

Evelyn Caicedo

At some point or another, everyone has doodled. Whether it was in early grade school where that was all we were taught, or in high school where we chose to have the elective credits. But never do we think doodling as a career path. It just never crosses our mind as adults.

The exception would be for cartoonist Kevin Fagan, who made a career selling his famous comic strip pieces to newspapers internationally. And he got his start at Saddleback College, where he too began by doodling.

From 1974 to 1976, Fagan attended Saddleback with no ambition of the major he would be studying. However, he had been apart of the Lariat newspaper where he was drawing comedic cartoon pieces every two weeks when the paper was published.

Before being involved at Saddleback, he went to Mission Viejo High School where one day had a significant impact on the rest of his life.

He was in his media class when the teacher instructed his class to complete a project. The assignment was to create something media related and Fagan decided to draw a comic book. One of Fagan’s friends believed that he had great potential in drawing so he encouraged him to continue drawing for the Saddleback paper. “When we went to Saddleback, it turned out that his sister was one of the editors of [the Lariat] and that they were looking for a cartoonist,” Fagan said. “So he suggested I show samples of my work and I thought, ‘Oh they would never like this.'” After getting over the feeling of embarrassment, he showed his work to the newspaper’s editors and they liked it.

Drabble, the name of his comic strip, evolved at Saddleback by becoming the character he once was at college highlighting his personal experiences.

He saw himself as a nerdy college student so he decided to create a character that would mimic that, which he named Norman Drabble.

“I thought if I avoided politics and I did a funny cartoon on funny experiences that you have as a college student people could relate to it more,” Fagan said. “So that kind of set me apart from everyone else.”

The Lariat published his comic strip for the two years Fagan attended Saddleback.

As the comic strip developed, other characters came about in the story. Norman Drabble had a mother and father, Ralph and Honeybunch (the nickname Ralph calls her) Drabble, and a younger sister and brother, Patrick and Penny Drabble.

Fagan’s comic strip had become famous on campus, but it was time to move on. He transferred to Sacramento State University to major in history.

Once at Sacramento he drew for the State Hornet, CSUS’s paper, and became a continuously growing trend.

While at Sacramento the local newspaper in town, The Sacramento Union, called Fagan saying that they had seen his work in the paper and asked if they could run some of his drawings through a freelance basis.

“I really started thinking that I might have a career here,” Fagan said. So he wrote a letter to one of his greatest influences in the comic strip world, Charles M. Shultz, the creator of Peanuts.

Shultz had lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, only a couple hours north of Sacramento. Fagan had read all about Shultz saying that “he seemed like a really nice guy.”