Sandra Bell-Lundy, Creator of Between Friends

8 August 2003

   Between Friends could not be more aptly named. With only a small number of words and a few good drawings, Sandra Bell-Lundy provides the most pleasant sensation to the reader of sitting right at the dining table sipping coffee with “the girls.” It is as if we could almost carry on the conversation “between friends,” with the lead characters of Susan, Maeve and Kim.

    A comic strip aimed mainly at women, Between Friends portrays the everyday life of modern women, married and single, and who may be moms, step-moms or adoptive parents. The characters are flawed and troubled, happy and outgoing, and a lot like the loyal readers that are attracted to the cartoon. Between Friends has directly hit the funny bone with women across Canada and the United States and leaving them laughing at the cartoon and themselves.

    In the few years that it has been syndicated, Sandra’s comic strip has received positive comments from readers who see themselves in her familiar sense of humour:

    "I continually look forward to seeing glimpses of my own life in your work.”

    "Wanted to let you know that my mother and I LOVE your strip in today's Los Angeles Daily News...we have made every one of those statements ourselves!"

bell-lundy

    "This is a big 'thank you' from every mother who ever had to go through a store with a crying child!!...I have gotten such a kick out of this week's strips." *(1)

    Sandra Bell-Lundy was born in St. Catherines, Ontario. Like so many other cartoonists, Sandra created her own comics as a child. One life-changing moment came when she was 13 years old. She sent in a cartoon to “The Cartoon Bug” for a critique of her work. She received a cheque for $10 – her first sale! Sandra still did not consider cartooning anything more than a hobby, but continued to draw the escapades of her friends. While studying French at Brock University, her comics received publication in the university paper and in a newsletter for women’s networking. Her work also appeared in newspaper advertisements.

    In her first attempts to gain syndication, Sandra created a strip using portrayals of herself and four friends. The comic appeared under self-syndication in southern Ontario papers. She submitted the strip to the big syndicates, only to receive rejections from every group. But, along with the rejection notices came suggestions and ideas from the editors on how to improve her strip. “One syndicate editor suggested I reduce the number of characters from five to three and ‘really develop these three women’.” *(2) Sandra used the advice to amalgamate the five characters into three well-developed personalities. Adding tidbits of actual frustrations, joys and laughter, the characters came to life. Between Friends had emerged.

    On the next submission attempt, Between Friends caught the interest of two syndicates. Sandra chose a development contract with King Features, signing in 1992. Between Friends took its place in the syndicate’s comics line-up in 1994 and now appears in more than 60 newspapers.

    Writing seems to be the priority for Sandra’s cartooning. She writes at least a week of strips, choosing which she likes best and then refines the order and wording. Strathmore Smooth Bristol is her choice for drawing surface, pencilling and then inking with a Speedball c-t nib, Rapidograph pens or a brush. “I love seeing the characters come to life in front of me. I enjoy doing the facial expressions the most,” Sandra notes on her cartoon website. She scans the comic strips into her computer and then uses Photoshop to do touch-ups and add colouring to the Sundays.

    Sandra makes her home in Welland, Ontario with her husband Tim and kids, Devin and Tara. As advice to aspiring cartoonists, Sandra said on Spoke Online that, “Cartoonists need to draw every day to hone their skills,” and that “You need to find a void on the comics page and fill that void with your own particular slant.” *(3)

    Taking her own advice to heart, Sandra Bell-Lundy has created a comic strip about contemporary women that fills an important space, where the daily lives of women and families are explored with laughter and compassion - and between friends.

Find a daily cuppa of Between Friends at the King Features site:
*(1) http://www.kingfeatures.com/features/comics/bfriends/about.htm

The home website of Sandra Bell-Lundy:
*(2)http://www.betweenfriendscartoons.com/

An informative article with advice from several cartoonists including Sandra:
*(3) http://www.conestogac.on.ca/

© Susanna McLeod 2003
TheCartoonists.ca  
   
(Originally published in The Cartoonists on suite101.com.)