The Story of Burt Cottage, Part 4--Who is Burt Cottage?

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Some of you may have been reading these recent blog-like articles and wondering who Burt Cottage is and what all this is about. The first, and easiest, answer to that question is to send you over to www.destinyhelix.com where you can read the ongoing comic book saga of Burt Cottage.
[Note: These blogs that have recently appeared on tuttles.net are in reference to that story specifically.]

Still, who is this guy?

Way back when (1984), I was on the soccer team at Dallas Christian College. We won our division (finishing first in a three-team league!) and got to go to a soccer tournament in Taccoa, Georgia, that was being held at Taccoa Falls College. TFC—or whatever it’s official name is—has a beautiful campus and they put us up in a guest house called (drum roll, please) “Burt Cottage.”

Three of us (myself, Doug Partin and Michael Frisbie—all of whom are ministers now) sat around thinking of our favorite “Far Side” cartoons and coming up with our own ideas. Soon, we (and when I say “we”, I mean “Michael”) were drawing them out on notebook paper. The other members of the soccer team were laughing because they were funny and there wasn’t anything else to do at TFC on a fall night.

When we got back to Dallas, I was the only one interested in continuing to draw Burt. I was even less of an artist then than I am now(!), but the cartoons made it into the last school annual (I don’t think that was my fault) and when I graduated, I kept drawing. Burt evolved from a single-panel rip-off of “The Far Side” to a multi-panel strip that only sorta ripped off other strips. As time went on, Burt held many jobs, but his most consistent job was second baseman for the Candle Sticks of Candle, AZ.

In 1992, Burt started appearing bi-weekly in “The Copperas Cove Leader-Press” of Copperas Cove, TX. Sometime in the late 1990s (i.e. “The Era of the Worst President in the History of the U.S.”) I started fooling around with drawing Burt in a nostalgic adventure strip a la “Terry & the Pirates” (hence the ampersand in BILS). I called it “Burt & the I.L.S.” and, even then, didn’t tell anyone what “I.L.S.” stood for. It ran on-line for 90 strips but I was never able to get any newspapers to run it, so I eventually stopped drawing it. [Trivia: there were actually 92 strips but even I don’t know what happened to episodes 91 & 92 though I still remember the jokes and will probably use them again.]

Almost interesting note: when I first started drawing BILS (Burt & the I.L.S., in case you haven’t figured that out), I kept Burt in his original strip (known as “Cottage & CO” by then) and moved his girlfried—Charlene (after Matlock’s first daughter as I had long had a crush on Linda Purl)—to BILS and renamed her Raylynn. As such, I started drawing a new girlfriend for Burt in “C&C” and named her Cassie (after one of the heroic Christian girls who lost their life at Columbine). Raylynn, as she is drawn now, has Cassie’s face and the old Raylynn’s hair (Charlene’s hair was very early 90s).

Then, last spring when I was out of work and had some time on my hands, I drew a couple pages of BILS as you see them now, though I had no idea what to do with them. After showing them to Ian—one of the Poobah’s at Destiny Helix—he asked if I could draw BILS on a weekly basis. After a while, I said yes. Drawing these pages is very different from drawing strips—something I’ll write about in a later blog. And, of course, I still draw 5 “Tuttle’s” a week as well as a sermon, several lessons, etc.