The Turkey Trot

A BYU professor wins the prize for name confusion.

A Comic titled
Turkey Trot comic, part 2: Panel 1: This art is labeled “Aerial View.” It has a lot of black dots on a trail representing racers as seen from above. There is a large pack of runners all together and then one significantly behind the others. This one is labeled with an arrow that says, “me.” The text box reads: “The race finally started, and I did terribly. After the first half mile, even energetic walkers were passing me.” Panel 2: The art shows Kerry’s family waiting nervously at the finish line pointing and watching. A speech bubble coming from his wife reads, “No, that’s still not daddy . . . ” The text box says: “My kids had thought I was going to win the entire race. Each time another person crossed the finish line, my wife had to explain . . . ” Panel 3: This illustration is also in black and white. It shows the silhouette of Kerry devastated with his head in his hands at the finish line of the race. The text box reads: “I finally finished. Seventh out of seven in my division. Embarrassed, I avoided my family and headed straight for the locker room.” Panel 4: The art depicts one of the same women who was seated at the registration table making an announcement and holding up a turkey. The text box reads: “Meanwhile, following the awards ceremony, a student organizer cheerfully announced over the P.A. system:” Her speech bubble coming from this student says, “We have a few extra turkeys to give out. First of all, we thought there were only two female faculty members in the race, but it looks like a third one signed up in the wrong division. And she got THIRD PLACE! . . . Kerry Soper?” Panel 5: The art here shows a close-up of two pairs of hands as one passes a turkey to the receiver. The text box reads: “My wife paused for a moment, then stepped forward to accept the prize without explanation.” Panel 6: Kerry is hiding behind a pole as his three children excitedly run towards him. The text box says: “When I stepped outside a few minutes later, my kids were running toward me through the crowd, cheerfully yelling . . . ” A speech bubble coming from all three of the children reads, “Dad! You won a turkey!! They thought Kerry was a woman’s name!” Panel 7: A black-and-white freezer contains a turkey. The turkey is in color and emphasized. The text box states: “That stupid turkey sat in our freezer for six months before we ate it.” END.

Comics and the Classroom

Publishing a 2018 book-length study on Far Side cartoonist Gary Larson brought BYU humanities professor Kerry D. Soper full circle. The Far Side, after all, was what first inspired Soper to begin drawing cartoons as a grade-schooler. He developed his own strip in high school and received the 1990 Charles M. Schulz Award for the nation’s top college cartoonist while attending Utah State.

Although the slow erosion of the newspaper and comic-strip industry undercut his professional-cartooning dreams, Soper has managed to stay connected to comics through researching and teaching comedy, satire, and pop culture. And he squeezes in time for cartooning, landscape painting, and writing satire. “I start to feel a little antsy or depressed if I’m not actively working on paintings or humorous articles or cartoons,” he says.

See other comic stories at magazine.byu.edu/comicarticles

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