Twenty-five years ago, in a small farming town in Carroll County, Ohio, a young Duane Abel looked at a piece of clothes dryer lint and thought, what if it came to life? ? In 2021, this piece of dryer plush will find a new home at the Fairfax Times, but the man behind the comic also had his own journey.
From the age of ten, Abel became interested in creating his own cartoons and learned everything there was to know about the profession.
“I started writing letters to all the newspaper cartoonists in the United States asking for wisdom and advice,” he says.
His fundamental cartooning education came from learning the “big guys”, as well as copying cartoons onto cereal boxes and comic books, waiting for his major inspiration to strike. And when he was fifteen, it did.
“When I was younger, my parents set up my studio in the basement, with a drawing board that I still use today, so I was surrounded by laundry baskets, washing machines… and dryer lint. Then one day, while scribbling, I thought to myself, “What if dryer lint came to life, what would they look like? ZED was born.”
From there, he pitched it to the local newspaper and started posting new installments every week. After graduating from high school, he was offered a book deal for ZED, even though the company was soon to close.
Since then, ZED has appeared in weekly newspapers nationwide and Abel has been able to travel to over 1,000 schools to present a motivational assembly.
Artistically, Abel is influenced by Charles Schultz, Jim Davis, Brane Crane, Tom Wilson and “a million others!” As a member of the National Cartoonist Society, Abel had the opportunity to connect with the biggest names in cartooning, earning recognition and praise from his heroes.
“ZED is a cartoon hug according to PICKLES cartoonist Brian Crane. Oops did I name drop? Jim Davis (GARFIELD) called ZED “a great comic with a ton of heart”. Oops, I did it again. Marcus Hamilton (DENNIS the MENACE) said “ZED is a warm and inviting comic,” said Abel.
In addition to drawing ZED for the past 25 years, Abel has also written a children’s book called BOWLERS, which will be released in June. He hopes to continue drawing ZED for another eighty-five years, in a plan he calls “THRIVE THRU 85!”