Bob Penuelas - Comic Strip Creator / Wilbur Kookmeyer / Originals
A comic strip is a unique medium, caught somewhere between a written story and a visual piece of art. During the creation of a comic strip, the line between the written story and illustration becomes so blurred that it's almost impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins. I don't know what I love more, to create a story or to illustrate it. I guess I love both equally.
By arranging the characters in backgrounds that show perspective and depth, the world of make-believe almost becomes believable. With the use of multiple points of view and extra background details, I've always tried to give my readers something to look at, again and again.
The stories and themes that I portray are satirical commentaries on modern surf culture, where the styles and fads can change at break-neck speeds. The battle between the cool and the un-cool in hard-core surfing is revealed and flipped on its head. Set against the backdrop of perfect waves and smoggy skies, the scenes I depict are not tropical fantasies, they are blends of all the strange and conflicting forces that make up the authentic Southern California surf culture.
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Born and raised in San Diego, California, Bob Penuelas learned to draw at an early age from his father, a technical illustrator. He was heavily influenced by the satirical humor of MAD Magazine in his younger years. Later, in his early teens, Bob learned to surf and soon combined his art with his love for surfing. Rick Griffin, whose artwork regularly appeared in Surfer Magazine, influenced Bob during this time.
Penuelas began his career as a comic strip artist with the creation of the "Maynard and the Rat" strip for Surfer Magazine in 1980. Between 1980 and 1985, he produced 25 two-page episodes for Surfer.
In 1985, while working on a 'Maynard' strip, Bob introduced a dorky character named Wilbur into the strip. The laughable, beginner surfer struck a chord with the surfing public and gained a tremendous positive response from the readers. Wilbur had totally eclipsed the 'Maynard' strip by 1986, and the title was then changed to “Wilbur Kookmeyer.”
Over the years, “Wilbur Kookmeyer” has gained a strong underground following and has become the unofficial mascot for surfers the world over. In 2006, after 20 and 74 episodes, Penuelas decided that it was time for Wilbur to finally paddle into the sunset. Though the comic strip has been retired as a regular feature in Surfer Magazine, the name and legend of Wilbur Kookmeyer will live on among the pantheon of surf legends and heroes.
Bob goes surfing regularly and is still inspired by surfing to create new ideas, new characters and to expand his art into new avenues. "Art is a lot like surfing a wave, looking for that perfect feeling where you're in the zone and all maneuvers seem to come instinctively - not over thinking it, just letting it flow."
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