Lunar Jim

It all started with a doodle . . .

I spent the first two years after University exploring all kinds of creative avenues, all the while hoping that one of them would provide me with my big break.

I wrote:

  1. comedy sketches and formats for TV;
  2. a full-length action movie script (for which I even managed to get a Hollywood agent!);
  3. humorous copy for greetings cards; and
  4. quite a few cartoon strip ideas.

All the time I was writing, my mind would sometimes wander off into scribbling a doodle or two.  These ‘in the zone’ moments often proved to be fertile ground for inspiration.

One such moment occurred in the spring of 1994, when I drew a man on the moon watching his moon buggy being driven off by a couple of little green men who were blowing raspberries at him.  I wondered what that little spaceman might be thinking in that moment, and came up with the caption: “Oh no… Joyriders!”.  This got me thinking further about what this little guy and his (robot) dog could be doing on the moon… But looking at him, I knew his name immediately: ‘Lunar Jim’.

From there, I quickly produced enough materials to start marketing ‘Lunar Jim’ as a comic strip.  My first call was to the Strips Editor of the Daily Mail (we didn’t have email back then!)  It never occurred to me that he might want me to pitch over the phone, so I hadn’t prepared anything clever and snappy.  Instead, when he asked “What’s it about, then?” I was completely caught off guard and blurted out: “It’s about a man who walks about on the moon all day doing nothing in particular.”  An awful silence followed before I suddenly heard the editor chuckle and reply: “I like it! Send it in!”  

As it happens, the Daily Mail deal never came through, but soon after, deep joy was restored to my world when ‘Lunar Jim’ got his first public outing in the Young Telegraph, the then kids supplement of the Saturday Telegraph.

Yep, I didn’t think it could get any better that this . . .

Alexander Bar

It was Saturday the 21st of October 1996 when ‘Lunar Jim’ had his own, very discrete world premier in the kids’ pullout section of the Telegraph on Saturdays, called The Young Telegraph.  I can still remember the anticipation I felt when I went to the local supermarket to buy the newspaper that day.  There was no red carpet; no paparazzi or adoring fans; but I knew it was the beginning of something special…

You’ll notice that the strips and single panel version of ‘Lunar Jim’ in this section are all signed ‘Sacha’. That was my cartoonist’s name at the time and also happens to be my middle name – which is the equivalent of ‘Alexander’ in Russian.

So yes, I have the same name twice, only in two different languages.

Published - Young Telegraph - 1995

Alexander Bar