Friday, January 28, 2022
Obscurity of the Day: Feet of Clay
Chris Harding came down with a bad case of the cartooning bug at the University of Arizona, where he was working on a degree in engineering. He began submitting cartoons to the Daily Wildcat, and eventually found that he was much more interested in that than his courses. He switched to an art major and after a few other series he created the strip Feet of Clay for the student newspaper. Feet of Clay takes place in a science lab and stars scientist Dr. Peterson and his monkey lab assistant, Abbott, along with secondary characters like Herriman the robot.
Nearing graduation, he sent the strip around to syndicates, and got a development contract from Universal Press Syndicate. He also got a job offer from Hallmark Cards that was too good to pass up, so he accepted both gigs.
The daily and Sunday Feet of Clay debuted in a very small list of client papers on August 28 1997*. Only months into the strip Harding realized that his occasionally dark humor was not considered fit for newspapers, taking some of the shine off syndication for him. He had to water down his material for the audience, a fact that evidently didn't come up during the development period. There was also the small matter of working incredibly hard to keep up with both the strip and his day job.
Barely six months into the run of Feet of Clay, Harding decided that he had to choose between Hallmark and syndication. His decision, made easier by the lack of money coming from Feet of Clay, was to dump the strip. The final episode would run on March 7 1998*.
Harding has since made a name for himself in the animation world, and with an online comic strip called We The Robots.
* Source: Detroit News (but they only ran the comic on Saturdays and Sundays, so they did not actually start it until the end of the first week cited).