Work In Progress: The Men Of SANDY & MANDY


SANDY & MANDY, the story I drew as an upcoming series for DARK HORSE PRESENTS, was designed specifically to pass The Bechdel Test, cartoonist and MacArthur Genius Grant recipient Alison Bechdel’s set of rules for determining if a story is sexist or not. To wit:

1. It has to have at least two women in it,
2. Who talk to each other,
3. About something other than a man.

Some people amend the rules to require that both women have names.

David Chelsea is watching:
American Horror Story: Season 1
starring Connie Britton

Bechdel formulated The Test to apply to movies, but I see no reason why it can’t work with comics- a story is a story. A list of films that fail The Test would incorporate most of the video shelf, but here are the top-grossing films of all time that pass it:

1 Titanic
2 The Exorcist
3 Jurassic Park
4 Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
5 Grease
6 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
7 Independence Day
8 Transformers: Dark of the Moon
9 Shrek 2
10 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

A quick tip of the hat to COWGIRLS AT WAR, a 1970s National Lampoon story combining dialogue which Michael O’Donoghue seemingly wrote to pass The Test decades before it was devised, with matchlessly titillating girlie art by Russ Heath. Who says guys can’t be nonsexist?:


There’s not a lot of plot to SANDY & MANDY, just two friends walking around a cityscape that looks much like Venice, window shopping, drinking wine, fishing for crabs, and talking mostly not about men. They do encounter a few men along the way. At one point Sandy has an appointment with a male escort:


I originally drew this story while on a trip to Europe, mostly during plane hops and while waiting for trains. I incorporated elements from books I was reading or had recently read. I took the prostitution theme and the conceit of never showing the escort’s face from Chester Brown’s memoir PAYING FOR IT.

I made a number of changes when I redrew this story for DARK HORSE PRESENTS. “Candy” changed her name to “Sandy”, and I moved the scene underwater, which entailed giving the escort a makeover. I took inspiration from this sequence in Winsor McCay’s LITTLE NEMO:

Frame from LITTLE NEMO
Frame from LITTLE NEMO by Winsor McCay


Mandy has her own encounter, a blind date which begins promisingly:


One of the books I was reading at the time was I THINK I LOVE YOU by Allison Pearson, a novel about a Welsh girl infatuated with David Cassidy. I therefore based the blind date’s appearance on Cassidy:

David Cassidy
David Cassidy

A psychedelic, Peter Max-inspired sequence gave me a chance to indulge my interest in kaleidoscope tiling:


The original story was fourteen pages long, and I added a few scenes to bring the length up to twenty-four pages. One was this encounter with a seemingly blind man, which I took pretty much verbatim from a review skit I wrote for The Storefront Theater in 1977:


I based the character’s appearance and body language on the original performer in the skit, veteran Portland actor Ross Kerr:

Ross Kerr
Ross Kerr

To keep the character’s appearance consistent from frame to frame, I virtually molded a head in the 3D application Sculptris, based on photo reference of Ross:

Head modeled in Sculptris
Head modeled in Sculptris

It’s a date! I just got word that SANDY & MANDY will begin serialization in Dark Horse Presents Vol. 3 #15, appearing in December, 2015.

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