Foreword to the Introduction to the Introduction
"Never in the history of mankind have so many owed so much to one little comic strip..."
So said Winston Churchill in 1945 upon receiving the first copy of "Hippie and the Black Guy", and his words ring as true today as they did five minutes ago when we made them up.
The book you are now thumbing through is the most complete record we have of the original exploits of this iconoclastic duo. It would be stretching the truth to say that it represents a complete chronicle, since some of the strips have been altered somewhat to correct spelling errors or punchlines that have since been found libelous by a court of law. Sadly, a number of strips have been accidentally purged between their original creation on the computers of The Daily Mississippian and their subsequent transport to the computers at our houses. But, hey, you think that never happened to Charles Schulz?
Discretion may be the better part of valor, but laziness has always been the better part (some would say the only part) of the "Hippie and the Black Guy" creative process, and so, without further ado, here's a reprint of the three-part introduction from the first "Hippie and the Black Guy" collection from 1994.
THE STORY SO FAR... Ever since we started "Hippie and the Black Guy", the three of us, David, Jesse and Lain, have continually promised people that we'd explain how we came up with such an off-the-wall concept for a comic strip in the collected editions, which we never expected to do. However, since you're here and you were dumb enough to give us your money to read this we guess we'll tell you.
The whole comic strip is due to a rent-a-cop at the Oxford Mall.
If not for an unknown security guard at the Oxford Mall, a wonderful and wacky year of insulting and offending people here at the University of Mississippi would never have happened.
To understand what happened, travel back with us in the space-time continuum to the days of Tears for the Damned. David, Jesse, and a friend of ours named Shannon (we mention her only because we fear for our lives) were out the mall at the arcade taking a well-earned rest by playing air hockey and Mortal Kombat. Shannon left after having her butt spanked in air hockey and was about to pollute her lungs and slowly kill her fellow mall patrons with one of her nasty little cigarettes.
I (Jesse), however, being the courageous and environmentally-conscious person that I am, decided the best way to annoy her even more than normal was to follow her into the mall and blow her match out every time she tried her stinky little cigarette. David, seeing how much fun I was having annoying Shannon, decided to join in the fun.
Somehow, Shannon didn't think it was funny. In fact, she, with her customary loud mouth, began to shout "Leave me alone!" repeatedly every time we would blow her matches out.
Picture this scene. A white southern belle sitting on a mall bench, with a long-haired hippie-type bending over her on one side and a 6'2" 220-lbs. black guy bending over her on the other side and her shouting "Leave me alone!" over and over and over.
Yeah, that's what the security guard thought, too.
Slowly, he began to ease down the mall. Closer and closer he crept, poised for action, but unsure of whether he should shoot now or ask questions first. Inch by inch, he approached, pretending to be looking at this or that in stores, but staring at his intended perps out of the corner of his eyes. AND THEN...........
We got up and left.
You see, David and I had seen him as well, trying to sneak up on us and realized how it looked, so we got Shannon by the arm and got out of there.
All the way to the car, David and I laughed and laughed about the old white southern security guard, who just knew, for the first time in his life, he was actually going to bag one of those damn hippies and a black guy in the mall breakin' the law and assaultin' one of those flowers of southern womanhood.
And it just took off from there.
-JESSE "THE J" HOLLAND
Taken with our own brilliance, Jesse and I immediately began making plans for what we were going to do with our creation. The possibilities were endless...."Hippie and the Black Guy: The Comic Book," "Hippie and the Black Guy: The Novel," or possibly even "Hippie and the Black Guy: The Motion Picture" (Hey, Spielberg, if you're reading, we're still open to the idea...).
And then one blustery winder day in the middle of January, we were talking, only half-seriously, about possible comic strips to fill an empty space on the Mississippian's comic page (a space which, ironically, was later filled by someone else, forcing the paper's editor [Jesse] to pull up yet another syndicated strip) when Jesse suggested the idea of "Hippie and the Black Guy: The Comic Strip."
"Hmmmmmm," I said, dashingly. "It just might work."
Since neither Jesse or I had any artistic talent, we decided we should call in a true cartoonist. Since none seemed to be available, we called for the aid of Lain Hughes, best known for his work on "Pumpkin Shirt" under the name Victor Lazlo, on "L Street" under the name Mycroft Lazlo, and fortunately completely unknown for some stuff he did in high school.
Together, the three of us, completely undaunted by the tremendousness of the task before us, began work on the project, using the secret code-name "HATBG" or "hatbag" (check the initials) to fool any people to whom we had not already bragged of the idea.
We lacked only a few things (a plot, art, a definitive spelling of the word "hippy," that sort of thing). After Jesse and I vetoed the idea of a superhero strip when we were unable to come up with and superpowers, Lain suggested our current morally responsible motif, 'cause, hey, that's the kind of morally responsible guy he is.
The computer-generated style was chosen to hide the fact that none of us can draw (be sure to look out for Lain's upcoming "Pumpkin Shirt" collection).
And thus, on January 20, a special preview of the strip ran in the Mississippian's Preview section.
And history was made...
-DAVID "THE D" HITT
You should, of course, realize that everything you have just read is a series of lies. "Hippie and the Black Guy" was not, in fact, invented by a precocious band of student journalists with nothing better to do. And it certainly did not derive its title from any sort of incident at the Oxford Mall. The sad fact, gentle reader, is that neither David nor Jesse have ever left the confines of Farley Hall, certainly not in the company of a lovely flower such as Shannon.
The actual truth stretches back the 1970s. I was always a perceptive lad, and at the tender age of seven I started to notice the way in which people tended to stereotype others. My naturally egalitarian sensibilities shaken, I began to ask myself, "My can I, a mere seven-year-old, do to combat these offensive attitudes?" I was then, as I am now, rather fond of posing questions to myself (Why? Do I just enjoy it? Is there some deeper reason?), and I quickly came up with an answer for this particular poser. I would battle the forces of prejudice with a humorous cartoon creation.
Thus was born a strip. For the first year, while I was still drawing it with crayon and selling it on the playgrounds of Jackson, it was called "Guy With Stringy Hair and the Man Who Is Black." It was not until the age of eight that I simplified the name to...
I'm sorry. Jesse and David have just informed me in a rather blunt manner that while there are two of them in the room, there is only one of me, and have suggested, via a series of rough pushing matches, that perhaps I should alter my story. And so, just as Galileo was forced to recant by a tyrannical Rome, so I will now continue with the "official, approved" version of the strip's origin....
I was reluctant to take on another cartooning assignment, since mail from my readership repeatedly assured me that I had not yet mastered the skill of producing one daily strip. However, I was keen to work with David and Jesse, and I was at the time under the mistaken assumption that I would be paid for my efforts. Early ideas about the continuing adventures of "Hippy and the Black Guy" in Starfleet died a quick death under the watchful eye of the Daily Mississippian legal department, and it was decided to make a strip in which every character was a stereotype. This important decision made, we set out to resolve a far more contentious disagreement...the spelling of the word "hippy." This battle raged for days and almost tore our fledgling partnership asunder, but finally (and, as I was soon to learn, not for the last time) the threat of physical force allowed Jesse and David to have their way. The "-ie" spelling was adopted, and the rest fell into place.
How our lives have changed in the days since then. How, instead of ignoring us, people routinely stop to harangue us in the street. Being the moral compass of a school isn't easy, and on many occasions David, Jesse and I have had to console ourselves with the knowledge that this is the same sort of harassment and intimidation that Cathy Guisewite faced when she introduced her landmark "which shoes?" storyline in "Cathy." And so we toil on, hapless servants to the moral imperative that forces us to seek the humor in everyday life. We hope you enjoy this collection. If you don't you know where to find us.
-LAIN "THE L" HUGHES
Epilogue to the Introduction
This book covers the just-over-a-year of "Hippie and the Black Guy." The "JDL" team has more or less split up since that time, at least geographically. We still communicate regularly and are (albeit slowly) still producing more "Hippie and the Black Guy "strips. You can find these strips on the World Wide Web at http://www2.netdoor.com/~lainh/hatbag.html. Let us know if you'd like to join our unthinking army of the night and aid in our quest for a world in which the lives of all persons everywhere are shaped according to our unyielding will. You can also reach us online at the following addresses:
JESSE HOLLAND: firstname.lastname@example.org
DAVID HITT: email@example.com
LAIN HUGHES: firstname.lastname@example.org