CHATHAM – The Cape Cod Chronicle gained its first comic strip in 1977 when local author/illustrator Rosemary de Ganahl published The Gullibles, a single-panel cartoon following a group of seagulls than ran for nearly 25 years.
In the late '80s, Chronicle editor Tim Wood wrote a strip called “Woodchucks” illustrated by then-production manager Chuck Stanko that ran for a short time, but after the Gullibles ended in 2001, it was 12 years before comics returned to The Chronicle. Wood was the revivalist, partnering with artist George McCartney to create the strip Fin and Flip on the Cape.
“Fin and Flip” followed the titular characters who fall in love – the only problem is, one of them is a shark and one of them is a seal. The strip, following their wacky adventures throughout the town of Chatham (on both land and sea) ran for two years before McCartney decided to move on to other projects.
A year or so later, a new weekly cartoon appeared. “Shark Cove,” which debuted June 15, 2017, is illustrated by Harwich artist and architect Richard Tichnor, and written by Wood and Tichnor. A collection of the strip's first year, which pokes fun at politics, current events and more with detailed artwork, widely-understood pop culture references and more, has been published.
“I wanted it to be a sort of twisted take on everything,” says Tichnor, who was recruited by Wood after being approached to try to find a new artist to take over Fin and Flip. Tichnor convinced him to take it in a different direction.
“It was originally just about sharks and seals, but after a whale washed up on the beach I realized that we could make it about all the animals in the ocean, while still relating to Cape Cod,” he said.
Whenever there's a spot of local or national news, Shark Cove usually has a joke about it the next week. “Most of the ideas published every week are Richard's,” said Wood, “but sometimes I come up with an idea and he refines it, sometimes it's [the other way around]. Sometimes a gag strikes us as funny, and so we publish it.”
Tichnor claims that “the local ideas usually come from Tim, and I don't usually understand them. So we figure out a way to make it applicable to people like me, who wouldn't understand the local news.”
The Shark Cove collection came out about two weeks ago. Tichnor says that “about 10 comics in, I thought it'd be interesting to put it into a small book for people, especially locals, to look back on the strips and remember what was going on in town then.”
Copies of the book are available in different stores around the Cape, Harwich and Orleans, including Sativa in Harwich, Ducks in the Window, Yankee Ingenuity, Yellow Umbrella and Where the Sidewalk Ends in Chatham, and the Earth House in Orleans. Copies are also available at The Cape Cod Chronicle office.
A book signing will take place at Yankee Ingenuity on Monday, July 16, during the Mondays on Main event, which begins at 5:30 p.m.
However, just because there's a compilation out doesn't mean that weekly production will cease – new Shark Coves will be present every week in The Chronicle.
“What's great about it is that there's an endless amount of characters,” says Tichnor, “and it makes it easier because there are so many options.”
“It's just a fun thing,” says Wood, “having a local-oriented strip in the newspaper is just a great way to connect with the community.”