Feb. 13, 2017
By Pete Wallner, MLive
GRAND RAPIDS - To Rob O'Neil, the opportunity to create the origin of Griff, the mascot of the Grand Rapids Griffins, was more than just writing and art work.
It was an honor.
"When they said they liked the idea, I was like, 'You're kidding? I get to do Griff's origin story?'" O'Neil said. "From there, the basic idea almost wrote itself."
O'Neil spent nearly three months creating a storyline and 97 panels of art work that became a full-fledged 18-page comic book.
"All the Pretty Things" will be given out at the Griffins' matinee game 11 a.m. Wednesday against Manitoba. The crowd will be mostly kids, which is the whole idea.
The Grand Rapids resident, who undertook the project for off hours from his job with Live Nation Entertainment, is a hardcore Griffins fan. He has been coming to games for 20 of the franchise's 21 years, or right after he got out of the military.
The Griffins were interested in a comic book as a promotional tool, and O'Neil gave them more than they expected.
His idea was how Griff went from a mythological creature to a mascot. The adventure along the way involves the Calder Cup Trophy (the AHL's version of the Stanley Cup) and Griff's real role with the team.
It's very hockey-themed with some history lessons mixed in, including the construction of Van Andel Arena and the emergence of the hockey team in Grand Rapids.
He presented the story line first, then came up with the artwork.
"I wanted like a Scooby-Doo adventure," O'Neil said. "But I didn't want him (Griff) to have dialogue. That's because I didn't want kids coming up to Griff (the mascot) at games and go, 'Hey, how come you're not talking?' I wanted to make sure there was continuity."
It is not O'Neil's first contribution to the Griffins. He also created the design for the Jeff Hoggan superhero lunchbox give-away in January, 2015.
The comic book will also be given out to fans exiting Saturday's game and distributed through the Griffins Youth Foundation, kids club, hospital visits and community appearances.
In the top left corner of the comic book is a note of Issue #1. That's because O'Neil has already been commissioned by the Griffins for another edition next year.
And his mind is racing on the next topic.
"There's one natural in my mind," he said.
Zoinks! Stay tuned.