One of my favorite parts of The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee is the stunned incomprehension on the faces of his contemporaries. They're not hostile to him; they just can't figure out what this kid is talking about, except that it isn't what they're used to.
And the realistic part -- and, in the creative arts, there's a realistic part to everything that works -- is that he's too young to notice that 80 percent of everything he does or says sails right over their heads.
Edison is genuinely oblivious to the fact that he's only a little kid, and it makes the strip work.
I like the idea of free lemonade with a "qualified consultation." God knows, as a business writer, I was invited to promote -- but not to come and cover -- a lot of Important Free Dinner Presentations on Retirement or Investing in Bonds or Whatever Balloon Juice They Were Selling This Time.
There's no such thing as a free lunch and there sure as hell is no such thing as a free dinner.
Although, back when I was selling TV advertising, my boss accepted a free portable TV in exchange for visiting a place where they were selling land, and he said it was the greatest thing he'd ever seen.
He and his wife got (trapped) in the car with the guy, touring this extended sand pit out in the foothills of Southern Colorado, and the guy would say, "I know a very nice lot, Lot #56. Let me give you a look at that one ..." and they'd start over there and a voice would come on the two-way radio saying "... and Lot #56 has just been sold!" So he'd say, "Oh, well, never mind. Let's look at Lot #132," but, sure enough, before they got over there ...
"I was getting so excited, I just wanted to yell 'I'll take it!'" he told me the next Monday. And he added that, for all he knew (or cared) it might have just been a tape recorder and not an actual radio in the car.
Of course, the lots whose affordable prices were in the sales flyer were ravines that Frank Lloyd Wright wouldn't have been able to perch a house on. But he wasn't planning to buy anything anyway.
Instead, he got a TV and an afternoon's entertainment for free. What a country!
And speaking of luring people in with the promise of something free and then turning them upside down and emptying their pockets, here's something completely different:
A woman who is asking you to pony up some money so she can offer other people something free.
And, not only is it an honest deal, but it's worth doing on a couple of different levels -- as a comics fan or as someone who wants to help the medium create a loyal audience.
Friend-of-the-Blog Anne Morse-Hambrock, colorist and wife to Edison Lee cartoonist John Hambrock, has just started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money so that the Kenosha Festival of Cartooning can continue to be a free three-day extravaganza.
This is the second year for the festival, which Anne began hatching at last year's Reubens, but, as she notes at the campaign site, times are tough and sponsors are hard to find. So you can be one and it won't cost you a whole lot.
And you can get some cool stuff as rewards.
Not a free black-and-white TV, but, f'rinstance, at the $50 level, you can get a free comic collection of your choice, signed by the artist -- Michael Jantze (The Norm), Norm Feuti (Retail, Gil), Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine), Greg Cravens (The Buckets), Dave Coverly (Speed Bump) or John Hambrock (Never heard of him).
And for only ten bucks, you can get a festival poster signed by one of them (or, I imagine, festival emcee Tom Racine).
And there are all sorts of other levels and other goodies, pretty much set up such that, if you just bought the stuff, it would cost you about that much anyway.
So you can have a pretty good experience without actually attending the festival.
On the other hand, if you drive an hour north of O'Hare International Airport this September, you can go to the festival and it won't cost you anything to get in. Assuming we all pitch in now.
Which I have.
We need more of these sorts of events, and "free" is a great ticket price.
Check it out: