The Return

(R; Action/Social Satire) Estranged siblings reunite as adults. Their conflict is resolved with a telephone, but not the way you'd hope for.

Story Notes

I wrote and drew this story in 1988, as a satire of "The Family" ad campaign for New England Telephone Co. As a struggling comic book artist only two years out of art school, I felt these ads were boring, manipulative and needed to be satirized. I just finished "Encore" and "The Bleeding Mirror", and wanted to see if I could combine violence and comedy. The characters were strongly influenced by the late '80s rap scene.

The six-month campaign was a dramatic story about a family conflict, serialized into four episodes. The only indication of advertising was the New England Telephone jingle "We're the one for you, New England. New England Telephone" at the very end of every episode. Created by Boston's Cabot Advertising, the campaign was a smashing success. "... consumer awareness ... increased more than 58% since the campaign was launched."

The ads came from the Bell System divestiture of 1984. AT&T got caught running a monopoly and had to split their local operations into smaller, regional companies (also known as "Baby Bells"). Our Boston Massachusetts "Baby Bell" was the NYNEX Corporation, which served Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and most of New York State from 1984 through 1997. New England Telephone Co. was part of the NYNEX family.

Tools and Materials

  • 10" x 15" live area on 14" x 17" bristol paper
  • Higgins Black Magic india ink
  • Short-handle round #4 sable brush (art and lettering)
  • Ruling pen (borders)
  • Adobe Illustrator and Letter-O-Matic font
  • Adobe Photoshop (production, color, newsprint texture)

David Marshall, retro-posting from his Allston apartment in 1988 or so.

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