Sam and Fuzzy Q & A: Only Carlyle Questions Edition
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"Is there a Carlyle family that's been working in Sam & Fuzzy? The first few comics with Carlyle definitely mentioned he was male, and based on this comic I'm assuming the current Carlyle is the latest generation?" -Saba
One of my favourite things to do in Sam and Fuzzy is take someone who has always been a relatively thin, undeveloped side character and actually dig into the depths of what makes them tick. It's a trick they pulled a lot in the early seasons of the Simpsons with previously "one note" characters like Krusty the Clown, and over the years I've often tried to do the same! (Lance and Rikk are popping into mind off the top of my head, but I'm sure there are other examples.)
When I decided to do a story like that about Conscience Cat, I realized pretty early on that the character he really needed to talk to -- that would really connect with his struggles -- was Carlyle. But I needed Carlyle to be a character that could actually open up and convey some emotion. I needed Carlyle to be on screen! How could I do that, when part of the appeal of Carlyle is that you never see Carlyle... that Carlyle could be anyone?
Well, the more I thought about it, the more I really wanted to write this story! So in the end, I decided that we'd meet a Carlyle... one possibility of what I think Carlyle could be. And afterwords, we'd learn that the Carlyles were a family, and that more than one generation of Carlyle had worked at X-Per-S taxi. (Sometimes simultaneously.) I decided that, while I'd write Kat Carlyle exactly like I'd write any Carlyle, I wouldn't confirm whether or not she was the one in any of the character's previous appearances. I have my own personal headcanon, but I'm keeping it to myself. I think if you scour every Carlyle comic for details about the charater's age and work history, there's plenty of fodder for theories and timelines, but also lots of room for interpretation. (This is one of those special sorts of mysteries that only works in a medium with no voice acting, which I love!) So ultimately, I leave it up to you to decide!
Anyhow, I hope you all enjoyed this story! It was maybe a bit of a narrative risk, but I think it was worth it, and I'm really happy with how it turned out. The Carlyle family dynamic let me show a more personal side of the character without dispelling too much of the Carlyle mystique. It also let me shine a little light onto what might make a character like Carlyle grow up to become, well... Carlyle. And last but not least, it let me end on a great joke.
"Has Carlyle ever been seen outside of his taxi? I don't know that I'd recognize him!
The Ninja Mafia has met Carlyle during their heists. Did Sam ever have to deal with him during his reign as emperor?" -Lemma
This question came in before Carlyle got out of the cab, but I thought it would be best to save it until the end of the story. The truth is, lots have people have seen Carlyle! Fuzzy, Ackerman, Lance, various Ninja Mafiosos. Just not Sam. Never Sam. Or at least, if he did, he didn't realize it was happening. Poor guy!
"You mentioned in a previous Q&A that you were hesitant to bring Carlyle back in the past, since Sam's arc was what originally tied him to the story, and after the end of Empire Sam no longer needed him. I agree with this, and as such I was a little nervous at the beginning of the current story. However, the way you took things feels, in my opinion, like a perfect compromise in terms of keeping the integrity of Sam's connection to Carlyle intact. Do you have any plans to bring Carlyle and Sam back together for real, or is this your goodbye to the character?" -Dawson
Haha! Well I guess I'd say the same thing now that I did way back then... that I reserve the right to bring the character back if I think of some particularly great or vital use for them! But as a general rule, I do feel like Carlyle is a character that is best used sparingly. And I think Carlyle said everything that needed to be said to Sam in particular in those original appearances. I'll leave it at that!