Hama & Pici and SundayHaHa

Readers of Book 4, The Tarpeian Rock will certainly remember Hama and Pici’s sidelong adventure in that book. I had a lot of fun drawing the pair and was sad they parted ways at the end of the story.

For awhile I began to contrive of ways to get them back together. After doing Hama the Pig’s Big Adventure I thought I could bring them together in storybook form, but I couldn’t find the time to write the next story. I also wanted to try something a little more immediate and closer to my roots as a cartoonist, so I began to develop a comic strip instead. This was around Halloween of last year which gave me a good jumping off point, so I did this strip…

After this I participated in the Schulz Centennial Celebration in which cartoonists did tribute strips to Charles Schulz to commemorate the 100th year of his birth (you can still see some of these when you search #Schulz100). Hama and Pici figured into that one too…

Then winter rolled around and I did this for our holiday card…

Since then, off and on, I’ve been drawing up simple, four-panel comics featuring Hama and Pici. These guys are fun to draw and I like the challenge of coming up with visual gags.

I’m doing these with a younger readership in mind, specifically an early reader who is just starting to read comics on their own but may not be ready for big graphic novels. This is partly inspired by reading Sunday Haha, a pandemic-born weekly newsletter created by cartoonists Jen de Oliveria and Mika Song. Sunday Haha features their own work alongside many other cartoonists creating comics expressly for this age group of kids and their parents. The newsletter is free, all you have to do is subscribe and it arrives every Sunday in your inbox with loads of fun comics.

I’ve enjoyed seeing how other cartoonists create comics for this age group. As I’ve developed Hama & Pici I’m trying to keep some of their approaches in mind: simple layouts, minimal words, bright colors, straightforward gags. Keeping it simple is key for an over-thinker like me and probably the most challenging part. The fact that Hama and Pici don’t speak is helpful because it forces the strip to have pantomime/visual gags. But pantomime is not as easy as it looks – I keep worrying I’m going to run out of gags at any time. I’m doing my best to keep it loose and playful, sketching up an idea and seeing where it takes me.

Patrons at the $5 level have been reading Hama & Pici while I’ve been creating them, so for those who want to see the strips early I encourage you to join. Otherwise subscribe to SundayHaha where the strip has been added to their weekly roster. I’ll be running those strips concurrently here on the website every Sunday.

I hope you enjoy the further adventures of Hama & Pici!