Rick Stromoski, Creator of Soup to Nutz

April 29, 2005

    It’s no wonder that Soup to Nutz is famed for hilarious family dynamics and right-on-the-button fun. As the seventh youngster in a family of 12 kids, creator Rick Stromoski’s childhood must have been a cartoonist’s dream of laughter and scuffles. He has honed his self-taught cartooning and humourous illustration skills into a thriving career - and into the seat of the President of the National Cartoonists Society.

   On December 25, 1958 in Edison, New Jersey, Rick Stromoski was born into a large Catholic family, probably with a pencil in his hand. Drawing “from the moment he could pick up a pencil,” Rick  taught himself the art of cartooning. *(1)

   Inspired by his childhood experiences with all those siblings (and by his later experiences as a father), Rick created cartoons and illustrations that tickled the funny bones of editors in all kinds of print media. His appealing, down -home sense of humour appears in an abundant number of publications: books and children’s magazines, prominent magazines such as Good Housekeeping and The Saturday Evening Post (plus dozens more), greeting cards for companies such as Recycled Paper Greetings, Paper Moon and others, plus merchandise such as calendars, t-shirts and giftware. His work has also appeared in advertising and on television. Rick is one prolific artist.

   In 2000, the accomplished cartoonist debuted Soup to Nutz, a comic strip about the modern ironies of the Nutz family life. A bargain-hunting Mom, a grumpy Dad, siblings fighting over everything and a dog who will roll in anything aromatic fill out the cast of characters. Discernable as Rick’s own style, the characters’ faces are wide, with beady eyes and stubs for noses. They’re not beautiful but the faces definitely spark a smile. The wry comic message is delivered with a clear chuckle in the allotted four short panels. For example, the April 25th strip on comics.com starts with a cracked automobile windshield with a small, round hole. The second panel shows a broken window, the third, a broken pitcher with water gushing out as a woman seated in a chair watches. The fourth panel features the two Nutz boys, one holding a tennis racket, the other holding a bag of marbles, saying, “You know, these marbles go a mile when you hit ‘em with a tennis racket… I wonder where they eventually end up?” *(2) It is great, classic fun.

    Soup to Nutz celebrated its fifth anniversary of publication on March 27th, 2005. Under the United Media Syndicate, the strip tickles readers in over 600 newspapers and growing. Soup to Nutz: The first Course is the first Soup to Nutz comic strip compilation, published by Andrews McMeel, September 2003.

   Rick Stromoski has earned several awards for his many creative endeavours. He won four Louie Awards for his exceptionally popular greeting card designs. (The Louie Awards are given annually by the Greeting Card Association to “recognize the best designs in the industry”.) Rick also received the National Cartoonists Society’s Reuben in 1995 and 1998 for the Greeting Card Division. Nominated 12 times by the NCS for his illustration work, he was honoured with the Division Award for Gag Cartoons in 1999. (In a separate area of his life, Rick won the Bronze Award in 2003 for his Reisling wine in the WineMaker International Amateur Wine Competition. He is certainly a man of variety.) *(2)

Soup to Nutz

   Even with such burgeoning talent and skill, things don’t always go as planned for the cartooning professional. Rick and his good friend, cartoonist Steve McGarry - creator of Badlands and countless other cartoons - launched “Mullets” on November 24, 2003. It is a comic strip about “a pair of total idiots” whose defining style is, of course, mullet haircuts. Sadly, “Mullets” just hasn’t taken off and it suffered cancellation on January 15, 2005.

   But, let’s get back to the good stuff. Rick Stromoski was recently elected President of the National Cartoonists Society. He will assume the two-year-term position from Steve McGarry at the annual Reuben Weekend on May 27 to 29, 2005, this year in Scottsdale, Arizona. *(3) Rick was already familiar with the NCS structure; Elected in 1997 to the NCS Board, Rick served as First Vice President and Membership Chairman. *(2)

   The Stromoski family of Rick, wife Danna, daughter Molly, one dog and two cats make their home in Suffield, Connecticut. Congratulations, new Mr. NCS President, and Happy Anniversary on serving up five years of delicious Soup to Nutz!

   Visit the daily Soup to Nutz:
http://www.comics.com/comics/soup2nutz/

   More about Rick Stromoski:

*(1) http://www.unitedfeatures.com/ufsapp/viewFeature.do?id=108

*(2) http://www.comics.com/comics/soup2nutz/html/about_author.html

   Rick Stromoski named NCS President:
*(3) http://www.editorandpublisher.com/

   Have a look at the "Mullets" comic strip:
    http://www.stevemcgarry.com/mullets/

© Susanna McLeod 2005
TheCartoonists.ca  
     
(Originally published in The Cartoonists on suite101.com.)