• Steve and Melissa Burnett

The Willing Suspension of Disbelief"


Good Monday morning. I hope everybody had a great Christmas. We had a good one, maybe I should say we tried to have a good one, considering it was a 45 minute zoom meeting. I am both amazed and disgusted how 2020 has changed everything. We sat watching our family on the computer opening presents. As much as we injected our enthusiasm and celebrated the season it was just not even close to being enough. So right after the Christmas ham we undecorated and put the 2020 Christmas zoom away, and pray that we will not have to do anymore zoom Christmases.

This cartoon is from 2016 when I was trying to establish my hot-rod cartoon "NitroRat". I have always loved drawing cars and hot-rods. My brother was a hot-rod enthusiast and became an expert mechanic. Even as a young kid he was building push hot-rods. He would take the tires off dad's lawn mower and rig up an axel to hold them in place as he attached them to the plywood frame of the push-hot-rod. I do not remember how it came to be, but my youngest sister became our test driver for the push-hot-rods. Then one day she was ejected from the experimental push-rod when we were doing a test run on how it fast we could make corners on the dirt lot beside our house. She was not a happy camper and was rather scrapped up. So after a few tears while we tried to comfort her and dusted her off we convinced her not to go tell mom about the accident. Back to the drawing board for my brother, so he designed a seat belt to hold her in. After we finally talked her into trying again and convinced her it was now a perfectly safe vehicle we were back on the test track. With the dirt flying as we started going faster in the now safe push-rod, we finally rolled it with her strapped in it. Unfortunately he had not designed a roll cage for the push-rod. Sis was more than a little scrapped up while she was not seriously hurt, but then again our definition of serious included stitches if I remember correctly, she did go in crying to the authorities (mom and dad). You would think that would be the end of her being our test driver. Not the case, she did make one return to my brother's experimental test vehicles. She became our test pilot for a human sling shot made out of bicycle innertubes (true stories). Let me just say that was the end of her being our test pilot/driver, and yes she did survive. The more amazing thing is we did survive too after the authorities got us (mom and dad). My brother went to become a master mechanic for Ford then opened his own shop. He raced a 1969 Boss 302 with an 11:16 rear end in it. The "Nitro" in NitroRat is named after my dad. All the kids in the local street rod scene knew him as Nitro. The mechanic in my cartoons is also named Nitro.

Back to the cartoon. In Santa's NitroRat Custom, since I was trying to establish a hot-rod cartoon I figured it would be more attractive to put him in a custom car rather than his sleigh. And of course I love drawing cars (from reading HotRod Cartoons Magazine as a kid). So I used an old Buick and put a jet turbine in it. It has always bothered me that Santa always just had the one large gift bag and done all the work himself. While I do understand it is magic, I am more of a realist. For me to be committed to the magic or as they say in the writing world, "the willing suspension of disbelief", I need to see/read/illustrate more realistic props before I can entirely buy into the magic. In my mind if just makes sense for Santa to have another way to store and transport the presents he is delivering to the entire world. In my cartoon I envisioned Santa in his jet powered NitroRat Custom Buick to be able to latch onto a large dirigible which would have much more room for presents. As Santa's Jet Buick streaks through the sky the helpers, which had to be Rat Finks (the hot rod legend) on hover boards, and of course the airship pilot had to be Rudolf. After Santa jets around the dirigible and the Rat Finks deliver the gifts to one continent he can then jettison the airship and fly to another continent. That is my story of Santa in my NitroRat cartoon. Maybe I need to make that into a Christmas story book? I would really enjoy that. The NitroRat cartoons maybe making a come back I will keep you posted as events develop. As usually any comment and suggestions are welcome.

May everybody have a Happy New Year and may all your zoom parties keep the drunks at home on New Years Eve. Amen.

Steve, sunmesastudios@gmail.com

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