This cartoon explains the origin of the town's Japanese name (pronounced GOHZ-EYE-EE-MAHS) The inspiration for this cartoon came from Honda of America making the brilliant decision to start manufacturing their cars in the United States, eventually locating a plant in Marysville, Ohio, where production began in November 1982.
Subsequently, in 1984, I went to Japan for my day-job work for three weeks, during which time I was awakened every morning in my minuscule hotel room by a recording of oppressively cheerful bird song, followed by a soprano voice repeating, "Ohayo gozaimasu, ohayo gozaimasu! This is your morning wake up call." As a result, that phrase became permanently embedded in my head. So it was no surprise when I finally got serious about locating Tom and Harry somewhere, Gozaimasu, Ohio, was the only possibility.
"Okay," you say, "but why in southern Ohio?" Because every story in The Southern Ohio Bugle, the local newspaper that Harry reads religiously, is a sob story. (This is a family strip, so keep any other ideas to yourself.)
Then there's Cow Manor - would "Pig Manor" have made the pun more obvious? - the farm of African Americans Al and Ellie MacDonald - outside of Gozaimasu, perched on a high hill overlooking the lake and Pine Island. According to the yet unpublished portion of The First Adventure of Tom Duck and Harry, it was a stop on the underground railroad to freedom for escaped slaves prior to and during the Civil War.
Here's the alleged address of the farm:
123 Hard Scrabble Road
Gozaimasu, OH 45678
No, you can’t visit or even snail mail Cow Manor in Gozaimasu, Ohio, because neither you nor the US Post Office could find it (and especially not FedEx or UPS or their proposed merged corporation, FedUp). Nevertheless, by cosmic coincidence (really!!), there is a 123 Hardscrabble Road in West Portsmouth, southern Ohio, zip code 45663, which my wife and I once drove by to check out - My apologies to the residents if any fallout from Tom Duck and Harry ever descends on them - whereas zip code 45678 covers Scottown, Ohio, some 30 miles or so away, which we didn't visit. And there's a reservoir in the region roughly the shape of the one overlooked by Cow Manor, at least on the map, as we didn't drive there, either. (For the initiated, also by cosmic coincidence, there’s a Nauvoo United Methodist Church and formerly there was a Nauvoo Elementary School in West Portsmouth, both within two miles of 123 Hardscrabble Road.)
This cartoon, from Day 8 of "The First Adventure of Tom Duck & Harry" gives you a good look at downtown Gozaimasu, resting below the giant-Cenozoic-beaver dam, although you can't see the sign that says "Welcome" on both sides.
This was the first and, for a few years, only attempt to color the cartoons. Doing so immediately raised some problems:
This cartoon represents my playing around with the color palette in MS Paint. (Click here for another recolored TD&H cartoon.) It was a precursor to adding color to the cartoons from my book Too Far North, a Northern Cartoon Odyssey thirty-five years after its publication in 1987.
While all the preceding makes a good story, there are some early sketches and story boards about Gozaimasu that tell things a bit differently.
Click here to see seven pages, circa 2001, of local lore, most of which was not used but which contains some prototype animal drawings and contributes another unwelcome cache of bad puns.
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Tom Duck and Harry
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