Raymond the Cat
Due to popular demand the 'Raymond The Cat' cartoons are forever archived in the NNJR site.
"Raymond the Cat" was the brainchild of one of NNJR's own members, Joe DeLuca. Raymond's antics and situations were entirely the product of Joe's fertile imagination. He alone drew all the Raymond cartoons.
Joe was taken from us along with Linda Gronlund on September 11th 2001. We miss them both dearly. Raymond misses them as well.
Joe DeLuca's Personal History
Joe was involved in autosports of some kind all his adult life. He started running amateur, and then pro, rallies from 1967 through 1979. He then joined SCCA in 1979 in order to race Showroom Stock which was incredibly cheaper and safer than pro rallies. Joe did indeed race Showroom Stock and Improved Touring from 1980 through 1995, winning the NARRC Improved Touring Championship in 1986.
Joe was Regional Executive for NNJR from 1988 to 1989. Joe loved his Morgan and was always puttering around keeping the 1962 Morgan alive.
The Return of Raymond the Cat . . .
Return?!! Heck! Where did he go? For that matter, where did he come from?
These are the questions that plague SCCA readers. The time has come for some answers. The "Raymond the Cat" cartoon went bye-bye in 1995 due to corporate downsizing that left his creator overworked and under-motivated to find anything particularly funny in life. Oh, well. You may very well have been in such a situation yourself and, if so, you'll understand.
What is much more interesting, though, is how "Raymond" came to be.
Back in the early 80's NNJR's SOLO program was beginning to pick up a fresh popularity under the leadership of PAUL ROLLINSON. Paul was cheerful and industrious (he built the first NNJR SOLO equipment trailer from scratch - sawing a tire in half during the process) and he had a fanatical following of autocrossing regulars. We were keen to take advantage to the fast-growing interest in SOLO because up until then NNJR was primarily a RACING region. Actually, NNJR started out primarily as a RALLY region, but that's another story.
I had always wanted to be a comic stripper and had done occasional cartoons, but they were always "one-shot" affairs and did not feature a recurring character. By an incredible coincidence Paul and Kim Rollinson had just acquired an adorable orange tiger-stripe kitten which they named "PYLON." Now, here was a golden opportunity to promote the SOLO program with a comic mascot that was impossible to resist . . . "PYLON the SOLO CAT!" I could envision a cartoon with Pylon dodging speeding MG's on the SOLO field, after all, if you think about it, a sitting orange cat kind of looks like a highway cone.
Alas, Pylon was dispatched to kitty heaven, ironically by a passing motorist, after a very short life. I hadn't even gotten my comic act together yet. Dang! Along with the bad news Kim also informed me that the family had already acquired a replacement (cats are cheap) because little Kori was heartsick. RAYMOND was the new addition. Ray was a full-grown grey and white cat. He was not especially handsome and had a scowly face. In fact, he was kind of sluggish and lazy (I once observed him as he tried to catch a young flightless bird with no success).
Sheesh! What can you do except work with what you've got and Raymond was it. The first efforts were a little weird because I was trotting out all sorts of cartoon "techniques" that I always wanted to do and included a lot of obscure humor referencing old movies or classic literature. The punch-line was sometimes secondary. In short, a lot of readers "didn't get it" unless they were aficionados of grade "B" science fiction films or "Classics Illustrated." "The Adventures of Raymond the Cat" evolved over time, as did Raymond himself. How many of you can remember when Raymond walked on all fours (Snoopy started out the same way)? Raymond ultimately rose up on his hind legs and acquired a nice windbreaker jacket. His personality evolved into the stoic "hard-luck" character that he is today (a sort of furry Ziggy). It is a rare occasion when you'll see Raymond get the better of anyone or anything.
After a couple of years on the SOLO circuit, Raymond "ran away from home" to become a flagger at the SCCA races (note to new members: it is not necessary to leave home to become a flagger). It came as no surprise to anyone when he finally gave in to his desires and acquired a race car. A region contest was held to select what kind of car he would drive. The solitary response put our hero behind the wheel of a Sunbeam Tiger. This was good because I had owned several Sunbeams and they were easy to draw. Also, as a racer myself I had a rich compost of humor to delve into to nourish the strip for another few years.
At this point I decided to make the old mouser more generic for wider appeal. I had hopes that someday he might appear on lunch boxes and other lucrative aftermarket items, after all, Snoopy made out pretty well. Maybe someday (I still have a few T-shirts left, mostly size "small".) The "Adventures of Raymond the Cat" strip became a single panel cartoon focused on cats and old cars. That seemed generic enough for my tastes. Readers of consummate good taste will recognize Ray's car as a 1962 Morgan 4/4. I'll have you know that a one-panel toon is a lot harder to do than a comic strip. The strip has several panels to exploit a topic and can offer the give-and-take of conversation. A single panel has to distill the humor into one totally coordinated shot.
Raymond never made it to syndication, but he did appear in the San Francisco Regions' WHEEL and Cal Club Regions' newspaper. Since permission to reprint "Raymond" was (and still is) openly granted, he was frequently seen in Philly, New York and other regional newsletters as well. He seemed to thrive best as a local hero.
Is Raymond autobiographical?
Public Use Policy
The web browsing public is welcome to download and reproduce the cartoons for personal use only. If you want to sell "Raymond" T-shirts please make a donation to the September 11th Fund of your choice.
Last updated: Wednesday March 30, 2011 19:20:21