Drawing on experience
‘Yeggs’ cartoonist looks to the past, and to the local community for inspiration
By Brett Auten
A lifelong love of animation and storytelling has parlayed into a weekly enterprise.
John Hanna is the creator of “Yeggs,” a comic series that runs in the Community News that focuses on Robert and Bill, two rabbits who have opened their own egg franchise. Hanna entertains readers with the day-to-day lives of the duo and what makes “Yeggs” unique is that Robert and Bill are two Easter rabbits.
“They only do their thing once a year, but what do they do the rest of the year?” Hanna said. “It answers the question, ‘How does the Easter Bunny deliver all of those eggs in one night?’ It’s easy. There’s more than one. They have franchises everywhere, and these guys work in the St. Louis/St. Charles area. There are also other holiday mascots that pop up from time-to-time.”
Hanna has spent most of his life in the St. Charles area. He consumed as many newspaper comics and television cartoons as he could as a youngster and his father was an illustrator for McDonnell Douglas for 30 years and encouraged his son’s drawing. Like many up-and-coming cartoonists, Charles Schultz of “Peanuts” fame was an early influence.
“I’ve always been fascinated from an early age with comics,” Hanna said. “I absorbed all of the Charles Schultz that I could get. Later on, I started reading lots of other comics and one of my favorites, and a lot of other people’s favorites was ‘Calvin and Hobbes.’ And as I grew up I discovered other artists, not just commercial artists, but underground artists that I got ideas from and that I started to develop and to draw stuff and I kind of went from there.”
In 2014, Hanna became involved with the Community News after his sister Catherine, who worked for the paper at the time, suggested that he take a crack at creating a cartoon that ran on a regular basis. Hanna got some ideas together, and for the first two years, he produced a monthly cartoon that touched on a variety of seasonal-and-community-related topics. As time went on, and Hanna became stuck for ideas, he approached Community News editor Mathew DeKinder about upping the output to a cartoon every week based around two rabbits who had already made semi-regular appearances. DeKinder approved, and “Yeggs” was born.
“I don’t know of any other regular comic strips that feature characters living in the St. Louis/St. Charles area,” said DeKinder. “John’s good-natured sense of humor and relatable characters makes ‘Yeggs’ a popular feature in the paper.”
Hanna’s involvement with the Community News is his first excursion into the commercial landscape.
“There is always that chance that this will lead to something, which would be nice,” he said.
Hanna, who served two years in the military and is a Desert Storm veteran, maps out the story arc for “Yeggs” months in advance. He hand-draws and colors each comic, usually with colored pencils and black ink pens. Most of the comics are funny and lighthearted with an occasional more contemplative storyline thrown into the mix.
“Sometimes I start at the punchline and work backward, or I have a start and an end, and then it is, ‘how do I get these to meet in the middle and be coherent?’” he said. “I hope I’m getting better. I don’t think I will be going 50 years at this – or even ten years – but I have an idea of what I want to do, and I will see where I can go with it.”
You can view some of Hanna’s work at caysdaze.com, and every week in the Community News. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.
CUTLINE: Photo by Brett Auten John Hanna, the creator of “Yeggs,” works in his studio.