In the 1990s, I was drawing a weekly editorial cartoon for a twice weekly newspaper in South Carolina and selling a few additional spots to other papers and magazines. Several dozen were brought together in 1994 by a small press in Simpsonville, SC, and published in a spiffy paperback called Underbrush. I always liked that title because it reflected the kudzu-covered, rural area I lived in, and also described my growing expertise at traditional ink cartooning with a Winsor and Newton brush. Twenty years later, some of the gags still work, some are dated enough to fall flat, and others simply remind me of life in those days.
I remember creating this one in 1991 as a quick sketch after I’d already finished my work for the week. It was little more than a reminder to do a more fully worked out piece. Eventually it got lost in the pile and rediscovered when the editor of Underbrush was sorting through my flat files. I signed it, and he used it as is.
The spot reminds me of the many miles Gina and I covered by two-lane blacktop in those days, drinking whatever coffee we happened across. Starbucks and its competitors had yet to move out to the roadways and the fast food chains were still competing over hamburgers, not lattes. At that time, the only credit card we owned was an Amoco gas card, so we drank a lot of coffee in Styrofoam cups from those stations. We used to fill our thermos at Perkins restaurants because they were open all night.
The cartoon comes from the concept, new to me then, that specific coffee beans offered specific flavors. If French roast Columbian or Costa Rican beans had such rich, complex layers… what had we been drinking on the highway?