Spotlight: American Mythology’s Pink Panther

Pink Panther #1 cover by Bill Galvan

Pink Panther #1 cover by Bill Galvan


That fanciful feline, the Pink Panther, is set to return in a new series from American Mythology! Writers Mark Arnold (Think Pink: The DePatie-Freleng Story, Created and Produced by Total Television Productions) and S.A. Check (sci-fi and fantasy novelist) and artists Bill Galvan (Archie, The Simpsons) and Adrian Ropp (Archie, Chim Chum) share their thoughts on this upcoming series with Westfield’s Roger Ash.

Westfield: The Pink Panther only spoke on a couple of occasions in the cartoons. Is that something you’re sticking with? If so, what are the challenges/rewards of doing a silent story?

S.A. Check: For me, the Pink Panther is the animated equivalent of such classic comedians as Charlie Chaplin or even the more contemporary Mr. Bean. We’re using situations and actions/reactions to draw emotion from the reader without the benefit of dialogue from the main character. That’s the challenge, allowing the scene to shape around him using visual cues, narration, and dialogue from the other characters. The reward is giving the reader access into the character and truly allowing them to slip into, almost becoming, Pink for the duration of the story. When you hit it right, the reward is the emotion/empathy the reader is left feeling for him.

Bill Galvan: I prefer the stories where the Panther doesn’t speak, it’s closer to what I grew up watching in the cartoons and the movies. It is more challenging, but that just pushes the creators to come up with something that’s different from anything out there right now.

Adrian Ropp: I think there’s something special about those original Pink Panther cartoons. There’s a universal appeal that’s hard to duplicate when it’s done right. On my stories, I’m trying to keep Pink silent while allowing the other characters to speak when it makes sense. It is a challenge… You really have to use the visuals to communicate what Pink is thinking. It can get away from you quickly if you don’t plan it very visually. However, when it’s done right it becomes a universally appealing story.

Mark Arnold: For my Pink Panther stories, we are sticking with a silent Panther as that is the version fans enjoy most. Other characters in the stories will speak on rare occasions such as the Little Man. The Pink Panther may have words or pictures in his thoughts, kind of like Snoopy in “Peanuts”. The challenges of doing a basically silent story is conveying what you mean to an artist, so you have to be very descriptive of how you see it unfolding to get the actions across and also to make it funny.

Pink Panther story by S.A. Check, art by Kris Carter

Pink Panther story by S.A. Check, art by Kris Carter

 

Pink Panther story by S.A. Check, art by Kris Carter

Pink Panther story by S.A. Check, art by Kris Carter


Westfield: For you, what’s the essence of the Pink Panther?

Ropp: For me, it’s very equally divided between two silent film actors, Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. Much like Chaplin, Pink Panther often begins a tale as the underdog, the tramp who we’re all rooting for. But as many of the stories unfold they become more physical and crazy. Finding a balance between these two inspirations can be quite satisfying.

Check: Pink is truly an everyman character. He crosses all borders and is loved by boys, girls, young and old alike. He’s not a super sleuth, pro athlete, mega-rich star, or kid genius. He’s a regular six foot tall walking panther dealing with situations that are taken from everyday life, and he does the best he can to get through them. Sometimes he comes out on top, other times, not so much, but he always comes back for more. It’s a universal message of fighting the good fight and never letting life get you down.

Galvan: Adrian stole my thunder! I like to think of him as a Charlie Chaplin type character too, that causes mischief and some mayhem for the Inspector and the “Little Man”. He is also able to break the fourth wall to get an advantage or make the story funnier. There is no limit to what you can do with the Panther, since he can just jump off the page!

Pink Panther #1 Classic Pink cover by Adrian Ropp

Pink Panther #1 Classic Pink cover by Adrian Ropp


Westfield: Did you watch any of the classic cartoons as research for the comics?

Ropp: I’ve owned the complete boxed set for years, and I revisited some of my favorite episodes to get a refresher. I always enjoyed the cartoons growing up, so it didn’t take long to get me back in the swing of things. I almost felt guilty saying it was research.

Arnold: I watched the cartoons in recent years for my book Think Pink: The DePatie-Freleng Story, so the cartoons are pretty fresh in my mind. Ideas have come rather easily, because I know what has and hasn’t been done before in the classic cartoons. There are thousands of things Pink can get into trouble with and we love seeing where he takes a story.

Check: Pink Panther is one of those characters that you grow up alongside of. I’ve read some of the classic comics, which will be celebrated along with the new material in American Mythology’s new comics, as well as some of the cartoons. When I was given the opportunity to contribute to the book, I did delve back into some of the classics to refresh my grasp of the characters. It’s a bit intimidating because you want to do the character justice but what a jolt for a writer to be able to contribute to the Pink Panther’s dynamic history.

Galvan: Yes, before I received my first assignment I started watching the cartoons and the movie intros to refresh my memory of what the Panther was all about. It brought back a lot of great memories of going to see the movies when I was younger.

The Pink Panther #1 Pink Pals cover by S.L. Gallant

The Pink Panther #1 Pink Pals cover by S.L. Gallant


Westfield: Aside from the Pink Panther, there are stories featuring The Ant & The Aardvark, The Inspector, and others in the comic. Of the non-Panther characters are there any you particularly enjoy working on?

Check: While I’ve read some of the fantastic stories from the other contributors involving a variety of Pink’s friends, I’ve stayed focused on Pink with my stories. I’ve always seen the Aardvark as the “Wile E. Coyote” of the Pinkiverse and would like to write a few stories focused on him and The Ant. I think there’s also a story there with Misterjaw and an extreme fishing reality show gone wrong that needs told as well.

Arnold: I haven’t written any yet for any of the other characters except The Pink Panther, but I will take up the challenge soon to write an Inspector or an Ant & Aardvark.

Ropp: Ant & the Aardvark are two of my favorite characters. There’s a special dynamic between them, and I absolutely love their designs. I really enjoy creating stories for them.

Pink Panther #1 retro incentive cover

Pink Panther #1 retro incentive cover


Westfield: With the shorter story and the mix of characters, this sounds like the old Saturday morning show in comic form. Is that what you’re going for?

Check: American Mythology is all about staying true to the form of the licenses they bring back to fans. I would imagine that many of the book’s contributors grew up with the wonder of Saturday morning cartoons, so it’s only natural that the book mimics that in some form. I don’t think we’re trying to tell a grand epic saga with Pink Panther. It’s more like snapshots of the character to hopefully bring a smile back to existing fans and introduce some new ones to a classic cartoon icon.

Ropp: I certainly think so. I get nostalgic every time I work on something for the series.

Galvan: Yes, I feel that the series is more of an anthology with stand-alone stories for the most part, with each creator bringing something to the characters that is unique. It’s a lot of fun to see how everyone interprets the Pink Panther and what the character means to them.

Arnold: Since the characters originally appeared theatrically, I’m thinking more that way. In any case, I want to be as true as I can to the source material.

Pink Panther story by Adrian Ropp, art by Bill Galvan & Bob Smith

Pink Panther story by Adrian Ropp, art by Bill Galvan & Bob Smith

 

Pink Panther story by Adrian Ropp, art by Bill Galvan & Bob Smith

Pink Panther story by Adrian Ropp, art by Bill Galvan & Bob Smith


Westfield: Any closing comments?

Ropp: I think people will find this comic is a labor of love. It’s a perfect way to introduce a new generation to learn about Pink Panther and pals. Anyone who grew up reading old Whitman or Dell Comics will feel a real sense of glee when they pick this up.

Check: Working with American Mythology on this project has been a great experience. They are as passionate and excited about showcasing an iconic character with Pink Panther and all his pals as everyone who contributed to the book. Personally, to be able to hang my hat with such an incredible collection of other writers and artists is truly an honor. I think we all have many more Pink tales left to tell and judging from the awesome fan reactions so far, I’m guessing we’ll have the chance to tell them.

Arnold: I’m really excited to have this opportunity to write for such famous cartoon characters as this as well as for American Mythology’s Three Stooges series and I hope both series are a great success.

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Pink Panther #1

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