Before Perk@Work, there was Pubbies. It was a simple comic about two dogs in a pub, more on that later.
Here’s the story. Way back in 1997, I began created a simple comic about two dogs sitting in a pub discussing life, love, and other randomness. I called it “Pubbies.” Many of the strips were produced on random pieces of paper and napkins.
As you can see, they were scribbled out. I remember thinking that these were my rough drafts and that one day I would refine them into actual comic strip format. At that time, however, I didn’t know what “actual comic strip format” entailed and I was too lazy to try to figure out. So I just kept doodling strips like this. Every so often, the writing was good, most times just bad; a first run at a gag without any editing.
One dog was named “Chupie” and the other “Hippo.” Hippo, the little, fat one to your right, was the precursor to Perk while Chupie the precursor to Cal. I go into detail about their history and growth on each of their character pages.
For the most part, Hippo was a lovesick and clueless idiot. Chupie was an apathetic jerk. The two of them were losers who were stuck in an endless loop of nonsense.
In 1999, I entered Pubbies into a contest in the college newspaper. The winning strip would be featured every week in their paper. I worked really hard (for a lazy person) to get the the following strips completed, even utilized a friend to help with the lettering. These are those strips:
I lost. No paper for me.
I can’t blame the editorial staff for deciding to not publish Pubbies, it wasn’t their decision. The contest was on a vote basis – people could vote online for their favorite. Ultimately, the loss is on me and the weakness of the strip. That said, I think it was for the better.
I thought “Pubbies” was an incredibly clever name. Pub + Puppies! Unfortunately, many people read it as “Pube-eez” and asked me why in the world I would call it that! The name had to go.
Once the name was changed, it occurred to me that having two dogs at a bar was not quite healthy. I mean, they sat around and drank beer all day. In “Cheers,” at least action started after the business day had ended. In my comic, however, the dogs were day-drinking. I didn’t like that.
Around 2002, I shortened Hippo’s name to “Po” and developed some other characters and came up with a different direction for the comic. It was going to be called “One Lump or Two” and the interactions would take place in a cafe over coffee. I fell in love with the concept and drew the characters and even came up with some promotional items, but never created any comics under that name. Something just wasn’t right.
The name “Po” seemed off to me and, in hindsight, I’m glad I changed it. Just a few short years later, “Kung Fu Panda” was released and my chubby protagonist would be in the shadow of another chubby protagonist. Of course, my comic hasn’t a lick of notoriety so no one would have thought anything of it anyways. Regardless, it was averted early on.
Since the characters were going to be in a cafe, I thought the name “Perk” would be more fitting. With that name, I thought it would be more fun to have Perk going to the cafe on his coffee breaks. It was around 2003 when the name “Perk at Work” was used for the title (recently changed to “Perk@Work”)
Here are the characters from that early Perk@Work, comic:
I don’t know why I had so many characters. I guess I was just having fun with character development and social dynamics. It would be fun to post all those old, original, animal Perk@Work comics. I envision myself locked away for a week in a lakeside cabin just posting old stuff. That sounds nice.
Back to our story.
I still liked the name “One Lump or Two” so I created a little newsletter using that name with Perk@Work, as a featured comic. Here’s what it looked like:
In those days, I sent it out as an PDF in email. Later, the thing turned into a zine and I sent it out in the mail. It was expensive to produce and distribute and I didn’t make any money from it. I never said I was a good businessman.
I revisited the Pubbies concept with Bark & Grill, a comic I created just for fun and sent out for syndication.
As you can see, it’s the same format: two dogs sitting up at a bar. The difference is that each comic used different “characters” (I place that in quotations since they weren’t characters, per se, but random dogs, cats, squirrels, etc.). In addition to the random critters, there was a random theme each strip. A lot of randomness, too much perhaps. I was rejected (once again). Still, I had a blast with it and maybe I’ll revisit from time to time. Who knows?
I had considered posting those old Pubbies comics online but they were so crude in both content and presentation. In fact, this post was originally meant as a public declaration of retirement of the Pubbies comic. However, when I read the original post to my wife and showed her those old comics, she laughed and said she liked them more than any of my other stuff. She urged me not to retire them.
Seeing how much my wife liked Pubbies, I decided to revisit them. Why not create a syndication packet with these two dogs? I recycled a few old comics, wrote a bunch of new ones, and got to work.
Pubbies was recreated as “Two Dogs in a Pub.” As of the time of this posting, I have completed and sent out the syndication packet. I will post all of the comics from the packet starting August 9, 2021.