"So, Dude, Why Bother?"

(Note: I have been asked that question a grand total of no times whatsoever. And even if I had, I doubt that I could come up with a civil answer for it. Nonetheless, it *is* the title of this particular column. Unfortunately.)

    There exists in most of us, I am sure, an inexplicable desire to create. (I'm sure it stems back to the Garden of Eden, when Adam created the first lame excuse.) Whether it be a songwriter trying to come up with that surefire hit that won't be forgotten three minutes after you hear it, a film maker trying to be the next Spielberg (By the way, good luck!), or just a shifty accountant trying to do some innovative bookkeeping so the boss won't notice he's a few hundred thousand shy of a bankload, we have the need to create SOMETHING. Anything. I know I feel it as strongly as anybody.
   In my case, that creativity has taken many forms over several years (not all of them entirely successful, I might add). I've been, at one time or another, a songwriter (unpublished), musician (undiscovered), singer (ditto), actor (local theater), and humorist (sometimes intentional). (We SHAN'T discuss my abortive attempts to be an artist, thank you.) It is, in fact, only in the last five years, when I was introduced to the internet, that my (so- called) creativity found a place to fester and infect the world. You know, kind of like a Pauly Shore movie. (It occurs to me that I'd better find a different analogy. That Pauly Shore one's starting to make me nauseous.)
   First and foremost, of course, there were those TTA fanfics (20 at last count, including several collaborations). But writing fictional scenarios about some of my favorite cartoon characters wasn't enough for me, oh no; I had to try something else. Once I learned how to do basic HTML (nothing fancy, just the rudimentary stuff), I set up a website; in this case, for one of my favorite British pop bands, Sailor, simply because there were no other ones at the time. Anywhere. Well, word got around to other fans around the world, and next thing you know, I'm getting emails (and records, tapes, videos, and autographed CDs!) from places as far away as Denmark, Germany, Australia, Sweden, England (and even one or two from the U.S.)... in short, just about everywhere. Somehow, I'd struck a nerve.
   Of course, after that, I returned to Tiny Toons; this time, the original versions of "Furrball's Alley" and "Furrball's Gallery". Another website (this time for Jacob's Trouble); then came the creation of the unique group effort, The Acme Gazette. (Despite repeated efforts to get a second "issue" off the ground, it now appears there's only going to be the first one. Ah, well...) This came sometime after the whimsically titled "Oh, No! Not ANOTHER TTA Home Page!! (Yeah, it's another TTA home page...)", which rounded up TTA humor from all over the web and put it in its place. Literally). More websites, and still more directions for the creativity. Most often, they worked. Sometimes, they didn't. In each case, they came about because of that urge to create something that didn't exist previously, and share it with the world. If it were already out there, I wouldn't bother (unless of course, I thought I could do it better).
   So where has all this creativity gotten me five years later?
   As of this writing, I'm now 46, heading towards 47 and not getting any younger, I'm now the webmaster of the Official Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan Home Page, "Tennessee Birdwalk", and as I get progressively older (now THERE'S a mixed message!), I always keep returning to Acme Acres. I don't know why, exactly. After five years and twenty stories, which span the length of time from the original Toonsters' junior year (whenever THAT was) to right about now, and introduced several original characters into the TTAFF fold to boot - from RuBarb Purrenstein (who began as a bit player, and rapidly took on a life of her own) to that delightful little mink, Miranda - one would think that I don't have anything more to prove. (I know *I* certainly think that.) The recent collaborations with Jennifer Cleckley, resulting in "The Bloomin' Loonies" series, have taken my own characters in a direction I never would have dreamed of (a development I find exhilirating). And while I confess that it *is* kind of flattering to be held up as an example of "the best TTAFF writer out there" (or whatever), it is, ultimately, a mantle I'm not entirely comfortable with (if I ever was to begin with). Sure, my storytelling ability might have gotten a little better over time, but even I know I'm not going to be compared to James Fennimore Cooper or William Faulkner or Dave Barry any time soon. (Hey, I might be good, but I'm no dummy!) Anyway, that's not why I do it in the first place.
   It's because I still feel this need to create. It's a good feeling. And the good Lord willing, I'll be creating for a few more years, at least. After all, there's still dozens of stories of those denizens of Acme Acres left to tell.
   And I ain't done telling them yet.
   Heck, I've only just started...

(C)(P) Dec. 19, 2000 by Jerry D. Withers. All rights reserved.