The History of Is This Tomorrow?
by Kelly Shane (in 2003)
Most pertinent information concerning the birth, life and death of the original incarnation of Is This Tomorrow? have been lost, along with quite a few brain cells, over the course of the last decade. We just can't remember the details too clearly. But I shall endeavor at some sort of stage setting, even if events and timeframes are jumbled about, perhaps erroneously or as convenient falsifications.
In 1991, Woody Compton, a talented artist and good friend, and I began creating comics for the Florida Flambeau, a student-run newspaper affiliated with Florida State University and Florida A&M in Tallahassee, FL. I was finishing up my English degree from FSU, doing a little writing for the Flambeau Arts section and working at an indie record store. Woody worked at a local news dealer/bookstore, after having spent a number of years at the best comic shop in town, where I first met him. More or less, I wrote the strips and he drew them, but how we developed the ideas and forms varied from comic to comic.
The title, Is This Tomorrow?, was taken from a comic book created in the 1940s by the Catholic Church concerning the dangers of communism. We found it to be a silly, yet evocative name. Considering this was just a couple of years after the Berlin Wall fell, we thought we might be on the cutting edge of Cold War nostalgia, though it hasn't happened yet.
I can't remember how the decision was made to do the strip or how we convinced the paper to take it, but somehow comics began appearing in the Flambeau on a regular basis, perhaps one every week. (Though things get a little foggy on this point.)
We always saw the strip as experimental in form. They were, in theory, to be entertaining and humorous, but Woody and I were fascinated as to how the comic format could be exploited in ways rarely seen in the medium, especially ways rarely seen in strips. We were both excited by comics' potential and unhappy with what was being done with them in the mainstream. Here was an opportunity to do something about it, at least on a small scale.
Is This Tomorrow? strips were filled with bad attitude and bad taste. What can I say? We were angry young men. As fans of William S. Burroughs, John Waters, S. Clay Wilson and the early Mothers of Invention, we probably thought these strips were relatively restrained. Underground comics, punk rock and Dada informed our outlook. Perhaps in our deluded youth, we thought we could shock the bourgeois into self-recognition.
But the subject matter managed to upset the Arts Editor, and the paper ran the strip less and less frequently. We worked on strips into 1992, but the Flambeau just wouldn't print them. We decided to turn in a comic that we knew they would never publish, the Downtown Sam strip. When Woody got the art back, there was a big NO! written on the page. And thus ended the original run of Is This Tomorrow?, cut down in its prime.
Soon after that, the paper made it a policy not to print locally produced comics.
Now it's 2003, and we're doing new funnies.
Here we present as many of the 1991-2 era strips as we've been able to dredge up the original art for.
By the way, if you have a copy of any of the strips from the 90s that are not included here, please contact us.