Artie Stick in "Leafy Wanders in Space" (1981)

Artie Stick: Detail of a painting published on back cover of Comics Journal #62, 1981

This is NOT Bart Simpson.

While studying art in college in 1972, Artie Romero created the unique cartoon character Artie Stick. Mr. Stick's head is a broken piece of wood. His wife is a mayonnaise jar.

Stick appeared in Muskrat Flyer (1974), The Everyman Flyer (1974-75), Realm #6, 7 and 8 (1975-2016), Scrabbits Reno Comics (1976), Scrabbis Treno (1977), Everyman Comics (1977), Platinum Toad (1978), Hobo Stories (1979), Artie Stick in Stick City, 1983Stick City (1983), Arnsrarngen Comix #0 (1991), Nutso Toons #2 (2016) and other wild and wooly Everyman Studios publications.

In 1981 Romero, William Kirk Kennedy (1953-2010) and Everyman Studios formed a joint venture (hee hee!) called Oxo Films. The only film Oxo ever released was "King's Elevator" (1982), a 5-minute animated rock video for the band Once, AKA Gibraltar. But the Oxo crew had big plans, and their biggest was a proposed short, "Leafy Wanders in Space," which was to showcase the characters Leafy Wanders, Platinum Toad and Artie Stick.

Although nothing was ever animated, character sheets were drawn up, a storyboard was completed, Romero appeared on local TV news promoting the project, and in 1981, the concept piece shown above was painted by William Kirk Kennedy (1953-2010), Darrel Anderson, John Peterson and Romero. It was published as the front cover of the entertainment section Weekend in the Colorado Springs Gazette, and as a back cover on The Comics Journal issue number 62, March 1981. Also in the latter, "The Colorado Cartoonists and the Disney Dream" starting on page 81, TCJ animation columnist Jim Korkis interviewed Romero and Kennedy, and some black & white production drawings were included.

After "The Simpsons" first appeared on "The Tracey Ullman Show" in 1987, and especially after they got their own show, strange things started to happen. Upon seeing Artie Stick for the first time, people would often say things like, "Wow, he looks just like Bart Simpson!" Naturally, Romero was annoyed by these comments, since Artie Stick was created at least a decade before Bart, published extensively and copyrighted. Romero doesn't suspect Matt Groening of trying to copy his character; in fact, there are many obvious differences between Bart Simpson and Artie Stick. Cartooning is a language, with new expressions developed every day. Cartoonists have always followed other artists, learned from each other, and historically they've been very open about their influences. It's all good! Just don't say, "Oh, I see you like to copy Bart Simpson" to Romero unless you would like an ear full.

In 2018, Artie Stick will finally appear on nationwide TV and Roku TV thanks to Sprockets & Splices executive producer Joel Stephens. Mr. Stick and The Splice Girls will host a special episode of the show consisting exclusively of ARG! animations.

Finally, Romero would be flattered if his work contributed in some small way to The Simpsons. But since confusion over "who copied who" continues to this day, it must be stated once and for all that Artie Stick came first. As keepers of the Everyman Studios/Oxo Films legacy, we at ARG! welcome your comments.

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This page updated 10/15/2017