"The comic strip is about an elderly couple, their pets and their 30-something daughter and her son," said Brian Crane, "Pickles" author. "It focuses on the relationship between Earl and Opal and those life moments that make us laugh."
Crane grew up drawing in the San Francisco Bay area. He graduated from Brigham Young University in Utah with a degree in art. After several stints as a commercial artist and graphic designer for newspapers and advertising agencies over the span, Crane reached his 40s and started to think about his childhood dream: being a comic strip author.
"I thought about becoming a comic artist since I was young," said Crane. "But I pushed that idea away to pursue other things."
After making the decision to go back into sketching comics, Crane sketched out drafts and "Pickles" storyboards. He submitted his idea to several syndications but was rejected thrice before admitting defeat.
"I was ready to give up and throw in the boot but my wife believed in me and my work," said Crane. "She was the one who encouraged me to try one more time and submit my work into another syndicate. Well, I did and got picked up. My wife was right; she is almost always right."
"Pickles" got picked up by the Washington Posts Writers' Group in 1990 and now, the comic is published in over 800 newspapers around the world. Crane devotes his full time to the comic and characters' adventures as they live in the Rail City.
"Me and my wife moved to Sparks when I accepted a position at an ad agency in Reno," said Crane. "I only planned on living in Sparks for five years. But we love this place. Sparks is where we raised our children so we've been here for 30 years. It's home for us and it's a good home for Earl and Opal. "
Crane says the inspiration for "Pickles" comes from the experiences he has had with his own family. Married to his wife, Diana, for 41 years and raising seven children, the theme of family takes "Pickles" center stage. The comic reflects instances and conversations that Crane has had with friends and loved ones.
"I identify the most with Earl. I'm kind of turning into him," laughed Crane. "There are little kernels of truth in my work from my real life. I curbed a bit of the truth to make it a bit funnier."
In May, Crane was awarded with the Cartoonist of the Year award by the National Cartoonist Society. "Oh Sure, Blame it on the Dog" is his sixth anthology and he plans to continues releasing new "Pickles" comics.
"I picked out my best work for this book," said Crane. "Things that I thought were the funniest and thought people would enjoy. It's nice to have everything in a book for people to keep and hang on to. A lot of people read the comic in the newspaper but then it becomes lining in the bird cage."
Crane is one to share his knowledge to young authors and future comic drawers, inspiring others to reach for their dream. "My advice is not to get discouraged. All artists get rejected," said Crane. "You've got to go for the brass ring."
His peers in the comic world speak highly of him.
"We all have an Earl and Opal in our extended families," said Jean Schulz, widow of Charles Schulz, creator of "Peanuts" comics. "Brian brings out the humor of their relationship without resorting to the trite and obvious."
"Oh Sure, Blame it on the Dog" and Crane's other five "Pickles" books are sold across the Truckee Meadows and on Amazon.com. For more information about "Pickles," visit hwww.facebook.com/picklescomic.