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"If I had my life to do over again I would spend way less time as a beginner."

A word from the author

Wilbur Kookmeyer is a “kook”, which in the surfing world is considered to be very “uncool”. The Wilbur character concept was originally developed in my mind as a sort of revenge on some of the pseudo-surfers that were starting to show up at the beach in the mid-eighties.

ealry wilbur 1986
Early Wilbur 1986

At that time the surf culture was in the process of being hi-jacked by a bunch of quick-buck con-men as they raped and pillaged it for their own profit. Beach culture was to be cynically analyzed, bought-out, reinterpreted, repackaged, mass produced and then presented to the world as the authentic “surfer look”.

The beach hierarchy of “coolness” based on respect being earned by one’s surfing ability was being thrown out the window. Coolness and respect could now be purchased off the rack at K-mart. A person didn’t even have to surf to be a surfer! It was now possible for someone to move to the beach from Ohio and within three days be considered a “surf dude” just by dressing the part and saying “gnarly” a lot. They showed up in droves, ripping off our image and overpowering us like a flood. The dam had burst and we were slowly drowning! It was then that I made it my duty, through humor, to do my part in stemming the tide of “kookism”. Thus, Wilbur Kookmeyer was born!

wilbur 2005
Wilbur 2005

After I created a few Wilbur Kookmeyer comic strips for Surfer Magazine, it finally dawned on me like a bolt of lightening. “Wow, we’re all kooks, every single last one of us!” Yeah, sure I hated the Arizonan poser in lime-green day-glo trunks and mirrored wrap around shades. But wasn’t it me who showed up at the beach back in the summer of ‘74 trying to fit in by sporting a puka shell necklace and black velvet sandals? Oh, the hypocrisy! Oh, the horror! We’re all kooks, or at least we’ve all been kooks at some time in our lives, (some longer than others), and no matter how cool we may appear to be there is still a little bit of Wilbur in all of us. The Wilbur Kookmeyer comic strip became not only a satire on “them” but it also became a satire on “us”.

What is cool?

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Wilbur 2013

Wilbur’s sole quest in life is to be known as a “cool” surfer. This brings us to the questions: What is cool? Who says what is cool? Is there an absolute criteria for what is cool? Is “today’s cool” cooler than “yesterday’s cool”? And what about “tomorrow’s cool”? I don’t try to answer these questions in my strip. I just ask the questions and try to show that the people who think they know the answers just might be the biggest kooks of them all. Today, as we look in the mirror and fall in love with our own coolness, little do we know that “tomorrow’s cool” is just waiting in the wings to mock us.

In a surf-culture where there is no shortage of egocentric posers and pretentious “trendoids”, Wilbur stands out as being so uncool that somehow he has become cool. Through Wilbur, my goal has been to somehow turn coolness upside down so we can learn to laugh at ourselves. So, as you enjoy my Wilbur Kookmeyer work, maybe you’ll recognize yourself and have a chuckle, or at least recognize your friends and have a laugh at their expense!

Sincerely,

bob sig

Bob Penuelas

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