BACK TO THE WOODS
This was the last story I made, aimed for magazine publication. But fate made it so, that both the Scandinavian 'Woody Woodpecker' magazines as well as 'Critters' had folded. So there never was the use for it.
Admittedly I did publish a couple of more albums with the Gnuffs, before that opening also jammed due to the publisher declining on the number of titles continued to be printed. The general drop in sales was of course a side effect to readers turning their attention to digital media hurting everybody still trying to put stuff out on paper.
Those last stories I chose to get printed when there still was a chance, I reserved for stories that were not openly divided into chapters. Stories, where the intrigues were nicely built around an overlying theme that the readers knew about.
Back to the Woods is not like that. Though there is an overlying theme, the single chapters are made, so you don't need to know what has happened before, and you don't even feel there is a climax to be aimed for in the end.
The theme that still runs through the story is the vacation motive. It's open for a lot of sub-plots. I always had the thought, that it would be nice for the Gnuffs to return to where they came from. The big Woods.
I then added an intrigue about some silly porcelain plates to hang on the wall for decoration. I had that experience from my childhood, where my mother along with many other mid-aged women bought the yearly Christmas Plate in blue and white issued by the established producer in the field of porcelain.
Already back then I shook my head over this stupid mechanism. Those plates were heavily overpriced, and the motives were annoyingly romantic old-fashioned Christmas traditions. What a stupid display of bad taste. That experience stuck with me and demanded a comment someday. And now the time had come.
But there are more motives baked into the pie. First Gnuff had to have a solid reason to leave town, so I dreamt up a variation of the old Barks-vehicle where he made Donald an expert in different crafts. Together with Daan Jippes we even made one of those in 'A Clean Case of Competence'. This new venture of mine was also about cleaning, windows that is. Gnuff gets obsessed with cleaning glass, no matter the costs, and they are heavy.
On the way to the woods it felt natural that they had problems underway, with the route and the campsites. There is a persistent adversary, who keeps popping up, and in my mind I had a hillbilly character from one or more cartoons, I believe by Tex Avery, my favorite cartoon director.
The ultimate conflict involves the return of J. P. Phrogg, a character I feel especially attached to. Where he can earn an easy buck or more, he is sure to pop up, and when the reason is people's bad taste, they had it coming. The conclusion is surprising, I hope. It had to be something along the line of stupidity and megalomania, so I dreamt up an outcome of that nature…
And then this is the story, where Gnuff once more needs the use of his wings… twice, even…