Brian Crane

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Brian Crane, Mormon Cartoonist

Brian Crane is the creator and cartoonist of the "Pickles" syndicated comic strip. Crane is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, casually called the Mormon Church. Born in Twin Falls, Idaho, Crane grew up in California. He enrolled as an art major at Ricks College and entered a contest to create the school mascot, a Viking character, for the symbol of the honor society. When he won, he saw his artwork in print for the first time. After serving a full-time mission, he graduated with a fine arts degree from Brigham Young University in 1973. For the next 17 years he worked as an illustrator, designer and art director in advertising and publishing, but yearned to develop his own comic strip. While creating greeting cards for a company he worked for, Crane decided he had a talent for funny ideas. “I had never thought of myself as a writer,” Crane says, “but I actually enjoyed doing that as much or more than the artwork.”[1] At age 40, he realized if he didn't try then, he might never do it. He began to learn the process of getting syndicated by reading the autobiography of Mort Walker, known for the strip "Beetle Bailey."

He created "Pickles" in 1990, but was rejected by three syndicates. With the encouragement of his wife, Diana, he submitted it to the Washington Post’s Writers Group and it was accepted. "Pickles" became one of the Post's favorite strips. Now "Pickles" appears in 800 newspapers worldwide. Though most readers are in the United States and Canada, "Pickles" has appeared or does appear in South Korea, Australia, India, Aruba, England, Singapore and the Middle East.

Crane did eventually quit his day job, as he became able to make a living from "Pickles," but doing a daily strip is not exactly a picnic. There's a constant pressure of deadlines, a constant need to keep things fresh. "In this business, you're only as funny as yesterday's strip," he said. [2] As one of about 150 newspaper comic strip artists in the country, Crane is part of an elite fraternity, upholding a tradition that stretches back more than a hundred years. [3]

"Pickles" has evolved into five "Pickles" books. Legendary Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz provided the foreword for the first one, which read in part: “I think it would be very comforting to have Earl and Opal for neighbors.” Schulz also correctly predicted the comic strip’s longevity. Crane won the 2001 National Cartoonist Society Newspaper Comic Strip Award.

Crane and his wife have seven children and seven grandchildren and live in Nevada. Read more...


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