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Pennridge South Junior High School

Students could choose from a wide variety of clubs to join each semester. In the eighth grade, I picked the School Newspaper Club. South's mascot was a ram, so someone cleverly came up with the name "Rampage".

The club was pretty fun, and I stayed in it for the full year. I didn't do much writing, though; just illustrations for the most part. I still have all four issues from the 1991-1992 school year, so I thought I'd share my drawings from 13 years ago. A lot of them seem pretty bad in retrospect, but I'll try to refrain from using too much self-deprecation and instead discuss the process and stories behind the artwork.

First Issue

Top stories: The football team finished their season 7-0, meet the Student Council, Halloween, magazine drive, and a student won the Philadelphia Junior PGA Golf Tournament.

This is the title graphic I drew for this issue. The ram bears such a slim resemblance to the real thing that it borders on abstract. Wait, I said I'd avoid self-deprecation, didn't I?

Just a simple image introducing the Students of the Month. I didn't get any of these awards that year. :(

A silly pun highlighting the other clubs students could join. The club scene is pretty cluttered, but I can still make out a few of them: Photography, Cheerleading, Painting, Yearbook, Woodshop, Hockey, Soccer, Track, Lacrosse, Computer, Ping-Pong, Color Guard, Hunting and Fishing, Board Games, Theater, and some others that are too small or vague to identify.

Finally, an actual maze on! This one is obviously based on Snoopy.

There's an unfortunate story behind this one. When the newspaper went to the presses, there was some dirt or something on the copy machine. The result was a smudge right in the middle of a key path that effectively made the maze impossible to solve.

This reproduction has been digitally touched up and double checked to ensure it can be completed. Try it!

For a larger, printable version, click here.

The Midnight Hour was some sort of Halloween party. The drawing contains such spooky icons as a spider, moon, scythe, candle, jack-o'-lantern, broomstick, leaf, candy, clock striking midnight, and treat-or-treat bag.

Second Issue

Top stories: Winner of the Geography Bee School Championship, musicians chosen for the Bucks County District Chrous, three girls sang at the White House, and a seventh-grader placed in local championship diving meets. Oh, and I scored third in my class on a math competition exam. :)

The Super Nintendo came out in 1991, so I was playing a lot of Super Mario World at the time. That's where the idea for this comic came from.

Fans of the game will recognize the Forest of Illusion and Ludwig's Castle, as well as the Butter and Cheese Bridges.

This drawing of Bowser was originally created on an Apple IIe computer using a program called Dazzle Draw. I converted it to black and white for the newspaper.

I also made the rest of the Koopa Kids from Super Mario World, but the disk with those drawings is long gone.

Although I didn't realize it at the time, Dazzle Draw was teaching me the basics of creating pixel art. It's one of the major reasons why Mazeguy Smilies exists today.

Third Issue

Top stories: Science Expo and Spelling Bee winners, Valentine's Day, Easter, and some photos of the Upper Gym that would be closed in favor of a newer one that had just been completed.

The first version of this title contained a garbage can with wavy lines coming out of it. The teacher mistakingly thought I was suggesting that the Rampage stinks. I changed it to this.

Two lame egg puns.

As a side note, the reason why a lot of these drawings look so grainy is because I used pencil, which doesn't create the smooth lines that ink does.

I thought it would be interesting to compare two similar drawings from 1992 and 2004. It would show differences in tools, style, technique, and also something I couldn't use back then: digital editing software.

On the left is the original bunny, complete with a twisted left wrist. On the right is another one drawn 12 years later.

A second maze, this time with an Easter theme.

A friend at the time said he didn't like it as much as the Snoopy maze I did before. To which I replied, "Me neither, that's why I didn't sign my sign on it."

It's a spiffy St. Patrick's Day image of a leprechaun sliding down a rainbow into a pot o' gold.

So, how many words can you make using the letters in "leprechaun"? Give it a try, enter the contest!

(Contest expires March 17, 1992)

Fourth Issue

Top stories: Spring Fling, retirements, student competing in Junior Olympic Regionals over summer, College Bowl winners.

I just had this one drawing in the last Ram Page. Ren and Stimpy were popular in 1992. Coincidentally, it's the same year they stopped being popular.

It's a Wrap

So that was my experience working for a newspaper. I can't say I learned much about journalism, but judging by the performances of some reporters, anchors, and squabble show hosts today, a lot of people didn't.