It’s not unusual for web-comics to have guest artists drop in. Sometimes its just a method of cross-promotion. Other times it’s a fill-in to allow the comic artist to take a vacation or deal with a health or family crisis. But the nature of Minions at Work really doesn’t lend itself to that. (Though, if anyone wanted to try rendering Minions in other media, like conventional cartooning or CGI rendering, I’d love to see it!) But there has been one, very interesting, exception, and here’s the story:

One of the biggest events of the year for collectors and customizers of GI Joes and other 1/6th action figure is Joelanta, usually held around this time of year in Atlanta, Georgia. In fact, now that the official GI Joe collector’s club seems like it may be on the wane, Joelanta IS the premier event for 1/6th collectors. In 2006, a fellow collector and Minions at Work uber-fan, Tom Brooks, pretty accurately intuited my formula for creating Minions at Work characters, and unknown to me, kitbashed a couple of his own! Then he took them to Joelanta! Then he shot a bunch of great improvised pictures with them and sent them to me!

Oh, I think they'll let you in...

Tom was ahead of the curve in putting word balloons on Minions at Work!

Well, I couldn’t resist coming up with captions and turning them into cartoons. I think there are six all-told, and I’ll be running them through the next week, in honor of the 2015 Joelanta, happening this weekend. Joelanta has evolved some, and though it still focuses on 1/6th figures, it’s branching out into a more general and all-welcoming toy show. If you’re in the Atlanta area, there’s still time to plan a drop in. If not, start thinking about next spring. (I know I am!)

This particular cartoons seems like a logical place to start, since it’s at the ticket desk. Though I don’t have independent confirmation of it, pretty sure the smiling ogre in the background is my long-time on-line-buddy (and now real life, after we finally got a chance to meet face-to-face in Panama City, Florida a year or two back), Buddy Finethy. Buddy is one of the evil-overlords behind Joelanta. He’s also a fantastic artist, and the head art/design/creative guru behind the fantastic Mellow Mushroom pizza chain. He and his crews are the folks who decorates and themes the heck out of their fantastic restaurants and helps make them the fantastic places that they are!

Anyway, back to Tom and his minions.  After Joelanta, and again, much to my surprise, Tom sent me his Minions! But because of the single-panel format, I rarely had occasions to use them, and I think I may have parted one or both out to create other characters. I’m feeling pretty bad about that right now, but I’m pretty sure they can be recreated, and I plan to do so, and to assign them their very own Minions number designations.

Hmmm. In fact, why wait? Since they seem like analogs to Minions No. 1 and Number 2, let’s call them No. 11 and Number 12! Maybe they’re stunt doubles for 1 and 2, or decoys! The story ideas are starting to form already. Yes! I must make them return! Thanks again, Tom! And thanks to Buddy and the whole crew behind Joelanta.

By the way, I could have been at Joelanta this weekend, but I’m going to be here in rainy, wind-blasted Oregon instead — by my own, sad, choice. Tomorrow, the full story of that, and another great Joelanta cartoon. (And trust me, they ramp up to awesome, but we’ll talk about that, and make some more thanks, when the time comes.)