Evans, Greg 1947-
EVANS, Greg 1947-
PERSONAL: Born November 13, 1947, in Los Angeles, CA; son of Herman (an electrical inspector) and Virginia (a homemaker; maiden name, Horner) Evans; married Betty Ransom (a teacher and city council member), December, 1970; children: Gary, Karen.Education: California State University—Northridge, B.A., 1970. Hobbies and other interests: Movies, plays, writing music, golf.
ADDRESSES: Office—c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, NY 19916.
CAREER: High school art teacher in California and Australia, 1970-74; radio and television station promotion manager in Colorado Springs, CO, 1975-80; author of comic strip "Luann," 1985—. Participated in Cartoonists for Literacy campaign, 2001.
MEMBER: National Cartoonists Society.
AWARDS, HONORS: Reuben Award nomination, National Cartoonists Society, 1995 and 2002, both for "Luann."
Meet Luann, Berkeley (New York, NY), 1986.
Why Me?, Berkeley (New York, NY), 1986.
Is It Friday Yet?, Berkeley (New York, NY), 1987.
Who Invented Brothers Anyway?, Tor (New York, NY), 1989.
School and Other Problems, Tor (New York, NY), 1989.
Homework Is Ruining My Life, Tor (New York, NY), 1989.
So Many Malls, So Little Money, Tor (New York, NY), 1990.
Pizza Isn't Everything but It Comes Close, Tor (New York, NY), 1991.
Dear Diary: The Following Is Top Secret, Tor (New York, NY), 1991.
Will We Be Tested on This?, Tor (New York, NY), 1992.
There's Nothing Worse Than First Period P.E., Tor (New York, NY), 1992.
If Confusion Were a Class I'd Get an A, Tor (New York, NY), 1992.
School's OK If You Can Stand the Food, Tor (New York, NY), 1992.
I'm Not Always Confused, I Just Look That Way, Tor (New York, NY), 1993.
My Bedroom and Other Environmental Hazards, Tor (New York, NY), 1993.
Sometimes You Just Have to Make Your Own Rules, Rutledge Hill Press (Nashville, TN), 1998.
Luann, Rutledge Hill Press (Nashville, TN), 1998.
Passion! Betrayal! Outrage! Revenge!, Rutledge Hill Press (Nashville, TN), 1999.
ADAPTATIONS: The musical play Luann was adapted from Evans's comic strip by Eleanor Harder and published by Pioneer Drama Service (Denver, CO), 1985.
SIDELIGHTS: Cartoonist Greg Evans is the creative talent behind the popular comic strip "Luann," featuring the trials and traumas of an American high school student. "Simplistically drawn, Luann remains a sympathetic record of the changing lifestyles of contemporary youth," maintained essayist Dennis Wepman in One Hundred Years of American Newspaper Comics. "Teenagers of both sexes find in the strip much that is familiar and the reassurance that they are not alone."
Evans describes himself as quite similar to the title character of his comic strip, "Luann." "She's not exceptional in any way; she's just an average kid and I was very average all through school," Evans once commented to interviewer Deborah A. Stanley. A typical teen, Luann agonizes over her appearance, spends countless hours at the mall, fights with her older brother, and loves high school heartthrob Aaron Hill from afar. School is a source of endless frustration, but Luann takes solace in friends Delta and Bernice, guidance counselor Ms. Phelps, and Puddles, her dog, to help her keep things in perspective. Of course, there is also Luann's classmate Tiffany, her snobby teen rival and source of much tension.
Born in Los Angeles, California, in 1947, Evans was a doodler since childhood and eventually studied art while a student at California State University—Northridge during the late 1960s. He began his career as an art teacher working with teens in both the United States and Australia. Other creative jobs included work as a graphic artist and promotions manager for a Colorado television station and creating a promotional robot character for use at fairs and trade shows. Although he worked at developing saleable cartoon strips for years, nothing he submitted for publication ever caught the interest of editors; nothing until "Luann," that is.
Evans began to draw the "Luann" strip in 1985, after experimenting with several other comic-book characters. As he recorded on the United Media Web site, "I began developing comic strip ideas when I was in college. Over the years, I submitted a dozen or so strips, all rejected (for good reason: they were lousy). Finally, I came up with Luann and it was accepted." The character of Luann DeGroot began with Evans's observations of his daughter. As he shared in his interview with Stanley, "I was playing around with the idea of a strip about a saucy little five-year-old, because you know how little girls are at that age—they like to put on lipstick and Mom's big high-heeled shoes and clop around the house. As I was working around those lines, I began to realize that five was so young—you don't really have any life experiences—so I kept aging the character. Finally I said, 'Oh, I'll make her a teenager because I can remember being a teenager, and I'll have something to draw upon from my school teaching experiences.'"
The "Luann" strip has evolved over the years since its debut in 1985. "Part of that was intentional and part of it just happens over the years," Evans remarked to CA. Some changes were the result of the artist's growing skill; others came from boredom or frustration with the material. "You'll suddenly say, 'I don't like the way I'm doing this. I'm going to figure out a better way,'" Evans explained. Luann's personality is one of several things that have changed. "In the beginning Luann was a little more cartoony and simpler, a caricature of a teenager," Evans recalled, noting that by the early 1990 she was a "much more authentic" thirteen-year-old. Timely topics introduced in the strip include drug abuse, the onset of menstruation, birth control, and teen drinking; Luann has also changed her hairstyle and had her ears pierced. In 1999, Luann aged three years, moving from junior high to high school. "I wanted her to have more adventures," Evans told interviewer Laura Groch in Editor and Publisher, although hastening to add that his popular character would never leave her teens. "She'll be getting her own car, so that opens up a whole can of worms."
A nationally syndicated cartoonist, Evans and fellow members of the National Cartoonists Society get together once a year to recognize the best among them with the Reuben Awards. "It's kind of like our version of the Academy Awards," Evans revealed. "The ballots go out to cartoonists around the world and we vote to nominate in various categories such as greeting card cartooning, animation, and comic strips. Then we all get together somewhere in the country and have a three-day bash and have the award ceremony. That's the place where most of the cartoonists see one another, which is nice because it's a very solitary profession. It's really good to get together with your peers and talk shop and just see everyone." In both 1995 and 2002, Evans was pulled from the crowd at the Reuben Awards reception as one of only four finalist for the as-yet-illusive honor.
While fellow artists provide a nudge to Evans's creativity, much of his inspiration has come from his children, who while growing into their teen years provided him with ready-made story lines acted out each day in his home. Before and since the home-grown teen was available, Evans relied on his and his wife's experiences as teachers. To continue to fuel "Luann," he remains a keen teen-watcher, and spends a lot of time observing teens at shopping malls and other popular hangouts. He summed up the guiding philosophy of "Luann" for interviewer Kenneth R. Shepherd, "It's tough being a teenager, but you will survive. Billions of people have survived it. Just try to have a sense of humor. And don't let anyone tell you these are the best years of your life."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Evans, Greg, in an interview with Deborah A. Stanley, Something about the Author, Volume 73, 1992, pp. 53-56.
Evans, Greg, in an interview with Kenneth R. Shepherd, Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Volume 23, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1998.
One Hundred Years of American Newspaper Comics, edited by Maurice Horn, Random House (New York, NY), 1996.
Editor and Publisher, October 16, 1999, David Astor, "Luann Ages Three Years in Twenty-four Hours," p. 42; March 27, 2000, Laura Groch, "Small Number of Comic Strips Have Plenty of New Wrinkles," p. 33.
Voice of Youth Advocates, August, 1997, p. 159.
United Media,http://www.unitedmedia.com/comics/ (April 5, 2003), "About the Artist: Greg Evans."*