Hilary B. Price, Creator of Rhymes With Orange

8 February 2002

Rhymes with orange

    Hilary B. Price didn't plan to be a cartoonist. She was not considered an artistic student in high school in Weston, Massachusetts. She was more interested in soccer and ceramics. Hilary couldn't draw, she says, but she could doodle. She entered Stanford University with the goal of being a teacher in mind.

Hilary's plans changed in university. She interned for two summers at a local Cape Cod paper, and the profession of writing appealed to her. She didn't want to be a journalist with pressures and demands, but somehow, to get paid for writing.

    Cartooning as a career crossed Hilary's mind, but only briefly. She drew cartoons for her friends while at Stanford, then during a year-long break from studies, she sent cartoons in to The New Yorker with high hopes. The New Yorker was not interested. She took her cartoons with her on a trip to Ireland and sold several comics to a political magazine there. The cheque boosted Hilary's motivation to continue. (Plus, it bought her a plane ticket from Ireland to Paris, France.)* (1)

    Upon completion of her education at Stanford University, Hilary turned to her goal of writing. She was hired as a freelance copywriter in San Francisco by ad advertising agency needing someone to fill in for a vacationing writer. She kept up her cartooning, and submitted her New Yorker-style comics to the San Francisco Chronicle. The editor liked her work. Hilary's cartoons were published in the Sunday opinion and book review section when space allowed. The cheques for $35 per cartoon once again validated Hilary's efforts and gave her the encouragement to submit her work to the Big Syndicates.

    Approximately six rejection letters from various syndicates did not stop the enthusiastic  cartoonist. The next response to arrive came in the form of a phone call from King Features Syndicate, requesting more samples of Hilary's work.

    Rhymes With Orange burst into syndication in June, 1995. Hilary was 25 years old. She was, and still is, the youngest cartoonist to achieve national syndication. Rhymes With Orange now appears daily in at least 80 newspapers. The cartoon has also made individual appearances in Glamour, Forbes, People Magazine and others.

    Inspiration for Hilary comes from many sources. As a child, she enjoyed the work of Sandra Boynton, author and greeting card artist. She was thrilled that a woman was creating such successful work; at that time most cartoonists were men. One of Hilary's goals is to inspire young women, to show that they, too, could be cartoonists, and that cartooning is not a male-only domain.

    Hilary's work takes on the flavour of her favourites: Shel Silverstein, Dr. Seuss and several cartoonists from The New Yorker. Rhymes With Orange is more than just an outlet for Hilary's funny bone. She tackles religious, (from her Jewish background), social and health issues, and gives new perspective on daily troubles. She tries to make a connection of familiarity with her readers. For example, she questions why don't those commuter cups fit the cup holders? Hilary's desire is, "to have people say, "Yes, that's true. That's happened to me,'" she says. "That's when I've had a successful strip."*(2)

    Rhymes With Orange is created in a building converted from an old toothbrush factory to office spaces for artists and small businesses in Massachusetts. (The aura of the building must scream out cartooning suggestions itself.) Hilary divides her comic strip into segments to focus on specific areas of humour. She uses her background in English to create wonderfully funny verses for her comic strip, such as "The Curmudgeon Poet (A Series)", that ran from January 14 - 19, 2002. Writing well is important to Hilary. "I have to be as clear as possible for people to get the joke quickly. That means writing well." *(1)

Rhymes with Orange 2

And what words Rhyme With Orange? None. It's one of a kind, just like the cartoon.
That's the way Hilary B. Price wants it.

Rhymes With Orange on King Features website:
http://www.kingfeatures.com/features/comics/orange/about.htm

The home page of Rhymes With Orange:
http://www.rhymeswithorange.com/

*(1) An interview with Hilary B. Price by the Stanford University Student Services:
http://www.stanford.edu/dept/CDC/students/archives/0001/08.html

*(2) An Article in The Connecticut Jewish Register:
http://www.jewishsf.com/bk000225/etrhymesworange.shtml

© Susanna McLeod 2002
TheCartoonists.ca  
       
(Originally published in The Cartoonists on suite101.com.)