The Tale of Phineas: Based on Real Events

After my recent announcement about moving from six strips a week to just three, I received a message here at this blog from someone who loved the strip. Interestingly, the series he brought up as his favorite was a series from three years ago that wasn’t even set in the classroom or at school. It was set on a street in early morning before the sun was up, and concerned Mr. Fitz meeting a young boy named Phineas.

That series was based on a real event in my life from four years ago, an that event showed up as a Facebook memory today. Since this series was one my own favorites, I thought I’d re-post it here as a graphic short story of sorts, along with my description of the event that inspired it.

It’s interesting to note that it took me over a year to actually write the event into comic strip form. I didn’t include everything, and I had to frame it so that it followed my own rule that everything in Mr. Fitz must somehow connect to learning, education, teaching, or literacy. Mr. Fitz’s thoughts near the end of the strip are (as is often the case) actually my thoughts.

I’m happy I got to meet “Phineas,” and I sometimes wonder what has happened with him. He’d be 8 now. I’ve had a few people ask me to bring Phineas back as a recurring character in the strip, and if I ever met the real Phineas again, I might. But for now I prefer to let the series be like the real event: a strange, magical little interlude that couldn’t be repeated.

Here is my original narrative Facebook post about the event, followed by the comic strips the event inspired…

Dropped Alex off at the high school this morning, turned the corner onto a side street to drive home, pick up Andrea, and go work, and saw a little boy wandering on the street in pre-dawn semi-dark. I turned around and went back to see if he was lost, and he informed me that he was “Far, far from home,” and that they’d been to Hawaii to get a dog. I stopped and got out to make sure he didn’t go out into the street again. He was in short and a T-shirt, but no shoes– just Angry Birds socks. He told me he was 4. I asked him how long he’d been out walking. He replied, “Um, about 5 years.” He informed me that he was going to Walmart to get Play-doh. I called 911 and told them I’d found a boy wandering. A woman who was driving by found out the street name for me, and then the boy and I waited outside my car for the police to come. I called Andrea and assured her I was okay and hadn’t been in an accident…

The boy told me he liked my Star Wars T-shirt and knew who Han and Chewie were. He told me his brother had told him not to leave the house. I asked him how old is brother was. “He’s one. He’s a baby. He’s fat.” He told me he wanted to get under “those rocks,” and pointed at the street. “Why?” I asked him. “Because I bet there’s Play-Doh down there. I wish this whole town was made of Play-Doh.” When the police officer arrived, he told him his name, flapped his wings, and said, “I’m a bird!” The officer took down some information and went about trying to find out where he lived, and I went on my way. I hope he got home okay.

It’s been an interesting couple of days. Maybe tomorrow I’ll rescue a kitten from a storm drain or something.