On this webpage I am posting the complete run of the original Murphy’s Manor comic strips from 1981 to 2008. The new strips, for the time being, are available in my book. In the table of links below, you can do view the complete run of cartoons for each year. There also some special collections that I organized based on subject matter; these include cartoons earlier from the series, and do not contain anything that wasn’t in the annual collection.
|Murphy's Manor: A Year of Cartoons at a time|
|GLiB Talk -- LGBT/GLBT political cartoons 2000-2006|
|Murphy's Manor: The Human Rights Ordinance|
|Murphy's Manor: The Church of Spiritual Machismo|
|Murphy's Manor: Wedding Bells|
|Murphy's Manor: Garbage Can Movies|
|Murphy's Manor: Jerry Falwell Thaxton|
|Murphy's Manor: St. Bruce the Pitiable|
Murphy’s Manor is my comic strip, published in syndication to local lesbian newspapers from 1981 to 2008. It got started when a friend brought me a gay bar guide that he had picked up in Detroit. The publisher was looking for the cartoons to offer to syndication two papers around the country. Nothing ever came of this offer, except that I drew six sample comic strips. Within a few months it became clear that the bar guide’s syndicate had come to naught, but I realized that I could do it myself. So I did.
I researched gay newspapers, built a mailing list of potential customers, and sent out the free samples. The response was good, and I was off and running. Subscribing newspapers came and went over time, so it was necessary to do periodic mailings to entice new subscribers. All in all, around 70 newspapers carried the comic strip at one time or another — unfortunately not all at the same time. By 2008 I found that I didn’t have the energy for the ongoing sales that was required. Also, the market was drying up, with many newspapers discontinuing their print version in favor of the web. By 2008 I had completed 1183 comic strips for syndication.
From 1987 to 1990 I drew a companion comic strip called Murphy’s Library. Murphy was after all a librarian, and an avid reader. The first 12 in the series were published in Lambda Rising Book Report — a national gay literary magazine published by Lambda Rising Bookstore of Washington DC. The final four were published along with the original series in Meatmen. In 2019 I completed 22 new strips for inclusion in Murphy’s Manor — the 30 Year Wedding, bringing the total to 1205 strips.
Subscribers to Murphy’s Manor fell into two camps: there were the bar guides that advertised the local gay bars and baths, and usually had personal ads; and there were the more journalistically ambitious newspapers, that carried gay news stories, and included reporting. Both types of papers were usually distributed for free, with copies available on top of the cigarette machine by the door of every gay bar. Some Murphy’s Manor strips dealt with politics in gay issues, and were best suited to be in the newspapers. Others dealt with relationships, cruising, and sex, and fit in better to the bar guides. Papers were published at varying frequencies, needing 12, 24, 26, or 52 strips a year. Distribution of the comic strip quickly got complicated!
Murphy’s Manor has been included in various books and anthologies of LGBT cartoons. Most of these include one or several comic strips. The main reprint repository was the Meatmen book series. Fourteen of the Meatmen books featured Murphy’s Manor strips, all earlier strips before number 500. About 200 strips ran in Meatmen. Murphy’s Manor is also making an appearance in La Revue des Bandes Dessinées LGBT -- in French, and in color.
On this webpage I am posting the complete run of the original Murphy’s Manor comic strips from 1981 to 2008. The new strips, for the time being, are available in my book. In the table of links above, you can do you the complete run of cartoons for each year. There also some special collections that I organized based on subject matter; these include cartoons earlier from the series, and do not contain anything that wasn’t in the annual collection.
The New-Old Murf
With the new series of Murphy’s Manor strips starting with 1184, one thing will be immediately obvious: the characters have aged. Especially Mark and Murf. They’re the focus characters, and it puts me in a position of writing about today through the eyes of a sexagenarian – rather than being stuck in the 1980s or trying to write about today through the eyes of a 20-year-old. The world and the LGBT community has changed, and I’ll do better to recognize it. Jeff, however, doesn’t age – in fact he’s a little younger than when we last met him. There’s a certain comic-strip logic to it, but Jeff takes it in stride, and in the meantime Mark and Murf have some eye-candy hanging around the house.
What about the future, if you’d like to see more Murphy’s Manor comic strips, I would love to hear from you. I’m willing to continue with the series if I have readers. (Okay, buying my book would help!)