Kerry Soper's Turkey Trot Comic: Mistaken Identities on Thanksgiving
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The Turkey Trot

A BYU professor wins the prize for name confusion.

A Comic titled "The Turkey Trot" by Kerry Soper. Panel 1: Kerry, a middle-aged man is drawn breaking into a sweat as he reflects: “My first name--Kerry has given me a lot of grief over the years.” Behind him there are speech bubbles coming from people asking things such as: “Isn’t that a girl’s name?” Panel 2: Kerry sits in front of a computer screen, still breaking a sweat. And in the text box he continues to reflect over his name: “When I first got hired at BYU, I was often mistaken for a female in correspondence, and the women’s studies program kept inviting me to get more involved.” Panel 3: There are 2 different images here. Image A is a picture of two hippie parents and their baby son. The mom throws up a peace sign. Image B shows an average suburban-looking family of two parents and their baby boy. The baby boy is holding a picture of actor Cary Grant. The text box reads: “My mom used to claim that my name was a result of the progressive, gender-neutral baby naming of the mid-1960s (A.). Now she admits that it came from her secret crush on the movie star Cary Grant (B.)." Panel 4: A finger points to an orange flyer that reads “5K WIN A TURKEY”. The text box reads, “One day in 2002 I was walking across campus and noticed a sign for a 5K “Turkey Trot” race. Feeling poor that year, one detail stood out: a free turkey would be awarded to the top three finishers in each division.” Panel 5: The image shows a series of what presumably would be the silhouettes of BYU professors walking in front Y mountain. Most are overweight, or walking with some sort of impairment or difficulty. The text box reads: “I decided to sign up, thinking that I had a good shot of getting a turkey in the male faculty division. This confidence was based on my limited observation of faculty fitness levels in my department.” Panel 6: A family is shown sitting around the dinner table eating. Kerry is talking to his 3 children who have confused and amused looks on their faces while his wife is off to the side looking exasperated. A speech bubble coming from Kerry says, “I’ll prolly win a turkey . . . ” The text box reads: “I was so confident that I made the stupid mistake of predicting my impending success to my children at the dinner table that night.” Panel 7: Kerry is shown the day of the race in a running tank top with the number 5 on his chest. His shoulders are slumped, and he is breaking a sweat once again as fall leaves fall behind him. The outline of his family waves to him from the sidelines. The text box reads: “The day of the race arrived, and with the pressure of my wife and kids on the scene to watch me win the prize, I was experiencing some unexpected anxiety.” Panel 8: Kerry stands in front of the registration table, where 3 students are checking people in. He is relaxed, holds some sort of cup and is singing. The text box reads: “But with five minutes to go, there were just three of us signed up for the male faculty division. Even if I did poorly, I reassured myself, the turkey was in the bag!" Panel 9: This art is in black and white. It depicts 4 men in good shape, stretching, flexing, and wearing t-shirts that say things such as “Boston” and “P.E.”. The text box reads: “Then at the last minute, four more male faculty showed up. I knew I was in trouble when I saw that one of them was wearing a Boston Marathon t-shirt and another was doing a stretch where one of his feet was somehow behind his head.”
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.

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