Monty with his roommate, Mr. Pi. Artist: Jim Meddick.

MONTY

Medium: Newspaper comics
Distributed by: United Feature Syndicate
First Appeared: 1993
Creator: Jim Meddick
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Monty Montahue did Nancy, Snuffy Smith and Steve Roper one better. All of them started out as …

continued below

… comic strip supporting characters and wound up eclipsing the stars, but in Monty's case, the star didn't just headline a comic strip — Robotman (no relation) anchored an entire cross-media merchandising operation.

Compared to Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Pony or even Bozo the Clown, the Robotman franchise of the mid-1980s wasn't a very mighty one. But it was a licensing empire of sorts, and the comic strip, by Jim Meddick, was the strongest part of it. But as Robotman's importance in the world of merchandising faded, Meddick felt diminishing need to stick with the program. Supporting characters of his own invention assumed greater importance, and eventually, Monty (introduced Jan. 20, 1993) became the star of the strip. The title Robotman became Robotman & Monty, and as of March 26, 2001, simply Monty.

Monty entered the cast when Robotman needed a roommate. His characterization was rather fluid at first — in fact, a few weeks after introducing him, Meddick revealed he was a space alien, part of a vast mission on our planet devoted to weakening Earthlings by borrowing things from neighbors and never returning them. That characterization was shuffled aside early on, and hasn't been alluded to in years. Nowadays, Monty is as human as Crankshaft, Ernie or Cathy (which, admittedly, does leave a certain amount of leeway).

Monty's big schtick is that he's a nerd — kind of like Dilbert, but without the corporate environment. Smart enough to make a living as an inventor, but socially hopeless. His best friend, Moondog (so called because he once mooned a dog), was his college roommate, and hasn't made much personal progress since frat days. His cat, Fleshy, isn't as flamboyant as Garfield or even Heathcliff — in fact, the cat's big schtick is that he's an inert lump.

Monty's current roommate (Robotman took off in 2001 to find true love on the planet Diskelion) is a more openly acknowledged space alien named Mr. Pi. (It's the custom on his planet to name people after numbers, and in his case, an irrational one seemed appropriate.) The cast is rounded out with a parrot named Pilsener and a crazy ex-girlfriend named Loco Ohno.

— DDM

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Text ©2004-05 Donald D. Markstein. Art © United Feature Syndicate.