It was ten years ago today, the very first Umbert cartoon appeared in print in the pages of the National Catholic Register. Then editor Tom Hoopes had called me a few weeks earlier in response to my intitial presentation package sent to 150 Catholic newspapers around the country. He was the first to respond and said he had to have the Umbert strip for his new "Culture of Life" page in the Register.Talk about perfect timing. The Register and about a dozen other papers signed on as charter subscribers to the new self-syndicated strip. Others turned Umbert down politely, including one editor who said it was a "one-joke idea" which could not be sustained over the long run. A couple of thousand strips later, I think I have blown that argument out of the water. While it would seem that a strip about a baby in the womb would be very limited, Umbert has proved to be a very fruitful source of story ideas and new characters. Elwood, Vita, Fredo, Cousin Eb, Angel, and B.L. ZeeBub are just some of the dozens of characters which have been added to the strip since its inception...or should I say CONception? Umbert has spoofed everything from politics and Hollywood to the environmental movement, Broadway, and Ben & Jerry's.
Still and all, Umbert hasn't enjoyed mainstream popularity due to its strong pro-life message, but I have refused to water it down to make it more palatable to the general public and will continue to do so. In ten years, this little guy has really grown on me, so I will endeavor to keep him alive and kicking for another ten years, God willing. If Umbert is not a regular feature in your diocesan newspaper, or church bulletin, please contact your editor or pastor and suggest they adopt Umbert for their publication. Information is available at Umbert's "womb-site" www.umberttheunborn.com or have them contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for ten years of loyal readership and support!