THIS JUST IN: 'Zits' Creators Will Let Their Teen Boy Age
As the big-footed teenager Jeremy Duncan might say: "Sweet!" As in Sixteen.
Tomorrow, King Features will officially announce that Jeremy -- who's been 15 years old since the popular strip "ZITS" launched in 1997 -- will be allowed, at last, to turn 16.
Driving! Car dates! The freedom to careen far away from parents Walt and Connie Duncan! Think back to when you were 16 -- or for some of you, forward to when you'll be 16 -- and just imagine the possibilities. Jeremy's lifestyle -- sometimes as immobile as that Volkswagen van he and Hector have up on blocks -- can soon hit the open road.
"I do look forward to some new scenery within the strip -- I imagine the van will become more of a character and there will likely be more parentless adventures," the Pulitzer-winning cartoonist Jim Borgman tells Comic Riffs. "After freezing Jeremy at 15 for over a decade, it just felt like time to cut the kid a break and move on to a different set of challenges and frustrations."
Jerry Scott, Borgman's co-creator on the strip -- which is syndicated to more than 1,500 newspapers -- tells Comic Riffs that he relishes the creative terrain that letting Jeremy turn 16 can bring.
"I think it's going to give us new writing opportunities," Scott says. For years, "We felt  was the maximum frustration age. You think you can run the world and you can't even drive a car. ... Driving a car is going to rachet up the tension between his parents and him. There's the newfound freedom -- there will be more strips that don't involve his parents. That's going to create a whole new challenge that's kind of exciting -- we're going to get inside his head a little more."
Scott and Borgman weren't the only ones ready to see Jeremy get behind the wheel. Scott recounts a recent incident in which a "Zits" reader came up to Borgman at an Ohio cartoon museum event and said: "You got to let the kid drive!"
So when will Jeremy's exact birthday be? Scott went back over the upcoming strips to figure it out. "It'll be Aug. 14," Scott says. "That's the day Jeremy will show up at the DMV."
Jeremy's look has changed over the years, perhaps most notably his hairstyle. So will Jeremy's appearance change now that he's of driving age?
"I don't see dramatic visual changes immediately ahead," Borgman says. "Truth is, Jeremy has already 'aged' within 15, gradually developing an older, shaggier, slouchier look over the years we've been drawing him. Chronologically he's now 16, but I think his look now covers most of teenagerhood."
LATER THIS WEEK: Read the full interview with "Zits" co-creator JERRY SCOTT.
THE RELATED READ:
THE 'RIFFS INTERVIEW: "Zits" co-creator JIM BORGMAN takes the buyout.
JERRY SCOTT on how he handles "PG-rated" words on the family funnypages.
ADDENDUM: I also asked Jerry Scott: Does Chad the Long-Lost Elder Brother get to age, too? His reply: "I don't know *what* age he is now." He added about Chad (who's allegedly four years older than Jeremy): "When we launched the strip, he seemed like a good idea at the time." (Thanks for the comment, "Mrhode.")
| August 2, 2009; 8:00 PM ET
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