Hilary Price isn’t new to the world of comics.
She’s been drawing her strip, “Rhymes With Orange” daily since 1995. Since then, she has won the appropriate awards (“Best Newspaper Panel” from the National Cartoonists Society twice), and she has all the attendant merchandise (T-shirts, greeting cards, clocks and coasters).
She is new, however, to the Star Tribune newspaper.
Starting today, “Rhymes With Orange” will be featured in the daily paper. Her punchline-driven panels (which she refers to as a “gag strip”) also will appear on Sundays.
We talked with Price, who lives in New England with a “big lump of love” dog, about why she doesn’t use the word “moron,” the humor of 8-year-olds and what she gets in exchange for a banana and yogurt.
Q: Welcome to the Star Tribune’s funny pages. What would you like to say to readers?
A: Noboby likes change. It’s disconcerting to open up your comics page and see something different. It takes awhile to make a new friend on the comics page.
Q: What does your strip offer readers?
A: Well, there’s something new every day. If you didn’t like the strip one day, you might like it the next. If you like oddity and word play, grab your paper and come and sit down with me. And bring your coffee.
Q: Can you make any other promises?
A: Nobody gets called a moron. I don’t like that kind of humor.
Q: What kind of humor do you have?
A: Even though I’ve reached the venerable age of 43, I have a much younger sense of humor.
Q: How young?
A: Let’s just say I get along really well with my 8-year-old nephew.
Q: While it looks like a multi-panel cartoon, you usually focus on a single punchline. How do you describe your comic?
A: My strip is a gag strip, rather than a narrative strip. My process is to think up a plot first, then audition characters. Most narrative cartoonists do it the other way around. They have characters that drive the plots.
Q: Do you have recognizable characters, like Jeffy or Ratbert or Luann?
A: Not really. There’s an “everyperson” who happens to look eerily like me, and I occasionally like to throw my brother in, but I hope people find themselves in the strip.
Q: So, what’s “Rhymes With Orange” about?
A: It’s a strip about dogs and cats, relationships, therapy, word play and absurdity.
Q: Where did the name come from?
A: When I was a kid, my aunt told me that no word rhymes with orange. I like to think my style of strip represents a voice that hasn’t been represented in the comics.
Q: How did you get started?
A: I always liked to doodle. I was an English major and I wanted to get paid to write, so I got a job — briefly — at an ad agency. I had to put together a portfolio of fake ads. It was the ones with comics that caught the editor’s eye. After that, I started drawing single panels. The editor of the books pages of the San Francisco Chronicle would slip them in now and then. Eventually, I went to the library and got a book about syndicating your own cartoon.
Q: Where do you get your inspiration?
A: I read a lot — the Boston Globe, the New Yorker, cereal boxes, whatever. I’m not looking for jokes so much as topics. I also get ideas from my life. I write them all down in my journal. I’m a writer who draws, rather than an artist who writes.
Q: Describe your process:
A: There’s a lot of writing and rewriting. When you’re drawing a strip, you want to get your idea across in the clearest, fastest way. It’s takes me about 4 hours of work to produce a strip that some will read in four seconds.
Q: Do you have an advisory board?
A: Sort of. Every Thursday, I sit down with an old colleague, who’s a graphic designer, and run the panels by her. I buy her breakfast. She does a lot of work for yogurt and a banana.
Q: When do you know you’ve got it right?
A: When someone e-mails and says, “You captured my life.”
Connie Nelson • 612-673-7087
Starting today in print, “Rhymes With Orange” will replace “Rip Haywire” on the daily comics pages. The new strip will also run on Sunday. If you’d like to comment on the change, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.