Sep 17, 2011 4:39 PM by Ariel Wesler

Co-creator of "Zits" and "Baby Blues" will speak tonight at local literary festival

The Central Coast Book and Author Festival is returning this weekend for its 12th straight year. The event celebrates the literary arts. This year, Jerry Scott, co-creator of the comic strip "Baby Blues" and "Zits", will kick off the free festival tonight at 7:30 at the San Luis Obispo Library.

The award-winning comic strip writer and artist lives in Arroyo Grande.

"I have closets full of these sketchbooks," Scott said.

The 56-year-old says he was born to write comic strips.

"I always liked to draw pictures and make people laugh."

Early on, he worked as a graphic designer before co-creating "Baby Blues" in 1990 with his business partner Rick Kirkman, who had just become a father.

"His life was chaos and he was a mess," Scott said. "I would see him at work and it struck me as funny."

He launched the popular comic strip "Zits" in 1997 at the suggestion of a neighbor.

"He had a teenage boy, a 15-year-old boy at the time that was just making his life difficult, and it just struck a cord with me," Scott said.

He partnered with Jim Borgman who does the illustrations. Scott says it's those little moments in life he finds the most fascinating and the funniest.

"I'll sit with my sketch book and some of the best ideas are floating around downtown," he said. "When somebody says something funny, you stop, back up three spaces, and that becomes a strip."

Scott can whip up his sketches in minutes, but finding his ideas can take a bit longer.

"Anywhere from half-a-second to 8 hours."

But he's clearly doing something right.

"I use one of these highly technical tools," Scott said, using some cardboard to trace the borders of the comic strip.

In 2001, he joined the list of greats by receiving the Reuben Award, a once-in a lifetime, top honor from the National Cartoonists Society.

"You see these names, like Charles Schulz, Hank Ketcham and Jim Davis, and me," Scott laughed.

He says he's only the 3rd person to have both his comic strips syndicated simultaneously in more than 1,000 newspapers around the world, including the Tribune.

"Baby Blues and "Zits" appear in 14 languages and two dozen countries. As scott flipped through the pages of some of his favorite work, he clearly remembers his work.

"I think if you give me the first panel or two, I know what the punchline is."

If you can handle creativity under pressure, Scott say comic strips are a great to way to make a living and connect with readers.

"I offer a laugh everyday. It doesn't always work for everybody, but if it doesn't, there's a new one tomorrow."

The Central Coast Book and Author Festival is not only fun... but it's free.

It takes place this Sunday, from 10 to 4 p.m. at Mission Plaza in San Luis Obispo. A pancake "book-feast" will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. that morning. It's $3 for adults and free for kids.

For more information, click here.


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