Jump Start (comic strip)
|Current status/schedule||Current daily strip|
|Syndicate(s)||United Feature Syndicate|
Jump Start is a daily comic strip drawn by cartoonist Robb Armstrong. It portrays the trials and tribulations of a young African American couple as they try to balance the demands of work and raising their young children. It is syndicated by United Feature Syndicate, and is set in the Philadelphia area where Armstrong grew up.
Armstrong attended Syracuse University, where in 1982 he created a popular comic strip in the student newspaper The Daily Orange. That strip was called Hector and its main characters were two young men and a glasses-wearing dog.
After having no success in attempting to syndicate Hector, Armstrong created Jump Start, which was designed to have a broader appeal than the earlier strip. Jump Start entered syndication in 1989.
Story and characters
Jump Start's main characters are Joe and Marcy Cobb, and their children Sunny, Jojo and twins Tommi and Teddy. Police officer Joe's uniform hat is drawn with a keystone badge emblem, as many police departments in Pennsylvania use that emblem due to Pennsylvania being known as the "Keystone State".
Robb Armstrong set out to portray young black couples from his own experience. In Marcy and Joe the reader sees an average middle class couple, busy with work and raising a family. Armstrong says, "The image of young blacks is so skewed, so false. I don't know anybody who's carjacking, playing basketball, rapping. Joe and Marcy and the characters I've developed are deep and based on real life."
The Cobb family
Joseph "Joe" Cobb Sr. is a father, loving husband and hard-working city police officer.
Marcy Cobb is a fun, young and caring mother, a loving wife and a busy and dedicated nurse.
Sunny Cobb is the upbeat, intelligent daughter of Joe and Marcy. She is addicted to macaroni and cheese. She is a good big sister to Jojo, but still knows how to use that older sibling power.
Joseph "Jojo" Cobb Jr. is a budding leader with an active imagination. Jojo makes it his business to cause the havoc expected of little brothers. He even considers his group of friends to be his "business partners" and acts as almost a CEO type figure among his friends. His recent pursuits include campaigning for class president and being in a band with his friends called "Benny and the Jets", which he quit to go solo.
Tommi and Teddy Cobb are fraternal twins and the newest addition to the Cobb family. Marcy was pregnant for part of the 2004 year and up until July 2005. While they can't speak yet, they are apparently able to communicate with one another telepathically. From what they say in their thoughts, they also appear to be extremely intelligent with great ambitions and plans for when they grow up. Teddy recently learned how to walk and is now in underwear, much to his dislike.
- Edmund Crunchy is Joe Cobb's partner at the police department; despite the disparity in their ages, he and Joe get along and hang out outside of work. Grumpy and grouchy, he is nevertheless a good man and a dedicated police officer. He likes to appear to be hard boiled, but actually has a few soft spots, especially for his dog. Reminiscent of Ed Asner. Crunchy was Frank Cobb's old police partner. He is married to Captain Yolanda Ruiz. His full name was revealed in the October 8, 2005 strip.
- Dot Cobb is Joe's mother. Despite living with a family of police officers, she is an extremely dangerous driver to the point where she can scare even the most fearless individuals. She even opened her own driving school once. Dot is a former English teacher, and is an extreme stickler when it comes to grammar, correcting anyone she meets who utters even a single grammatical error, much to their annoyance.
- Frank Cobb is Joe's father. An ex-police officer, he now spends his time knowing everything about the comic strip "Klondike Ike" (perhaps based on the old Ozark Ike strip). Frank Cobb emails the cartoonist when the strips are repeated. In a recent strip, Frank Cobb and President Barack Obama complain about another rerun.
- Maureen is Marcy's mother. A widow, she eventually marries Clarence's father. Clayton came into her life around the same time as Romaire, a person she dated many years ago who seemed to want to restart their relationship. This did not bother Clayton at all, and even encouraged them to spend time together before and after their marriage. Both sides have been supportive of the marriage. And her grandchildren accept their new step-uncles. Maureen's welcomed the birth also of her new step-granddaughter Olivet.
- Benny is one of Jojo's friends from school. He is mostly a follower to Jojo and is also a key member of their band. At one time Benny worked for and reported directly to Jojo, and was often seem perusing documents and putting in long hours "at the office."
- Ruth is Crunchy's "long-lost sister". It is unknown at this time if she will be a recurring character.
- Clarence Glover is a good friend of Joe's. He is an orthodontist and a very bulky man with eleven brothers. Since his father has recently married Marcy's mother it makes him and Marcy step-siblings.
- Charlene Glover is Clarence's Caucasian wife. The two have recently had their third child, a girl named Olivet.
- Olivet Maxine Glover is Clarence's and Charlene's youngest child. She was named after Charlene's late mother and ironically she was born on her grandmother's birthday. Like the twins, she can not speak, but her thoughts are often shown. Her parents notice one blessing from her birth is that both their families get along in her presence. While she has no idea her parents talk about her, she heard her mother talking about their lives change since her birth. When she hears her mother say she has to think about herself and not just Olivet, she agrees thinking "Whoever "Olivet" is, she's way too intrusive".
- C. J. Glover is Clarence & Charlene's teenage son. He has recently been addressing the onset of puberty in the strip's story line. In June 2009, he had asked his parents (as well as his uncles) about the "birds and the bees", and the strip also recently dealt with the huge appetite of a teenage boy.
- Clayton Glover is Clarence's father. A widower and a father of twelve, he amazes people that such a small, simple man was able to raise an entire pack of gigantic, successful men with little stress to show for it. He eventually starts dating and soon marries Marcy's mother. A retired minister and a very humble, modest man, he refuses any luxurious gifts offered to him by his successful sons. He resembles, in look and character, Tony Dungy.
- Romaire is a very wealthy man who used to date Maureen. He provided a little competition to Clayton for Maureen, but their relationship never really picked up. He is still friends with Maureen and Clayton.
- Doctor Appleby is a boy who goes to school with Sunny and Jojo. He dresses like a doctor and can often be found treating various cuts and scrapes the kids from their school are afflicted with. His given first name is "Doctor", and he has been known to mention that his parents expect him to be a doctor. Even though he is only a child, he is an expert at diagnosis and seems to have a good feel for dealing with the medical industry's facets other than treatment: i.e. health insurance, malpractice and medical ethics.
- Dexter is Sunny's best friend from school. At one point their relationship is portrayed as being puppy love, but later their friendship stayed on/off as Sunny became a big sister to her siblings.
- Captain Yolanda Ruiz is in charge of Joe's police precinct and this feisty woman recently married Crunchy.
- Ray Ramsey A former criminal gone straight, who is Captain Ruiz's biological brother. He has become close friends with Joe. He now goes by Delray and is engaged to Marcy's boss.
Clayton Glover's 12 Sons
- Bernard, a luxury car salesman. He got Dad the Mercedes-Benz which he never drives.
- Butch, whose real name is Thaddeus. He's a bodyguard, stuntman, and actor.
- Chuck, a pastor like his dad, runs Dad's church.
- Clarence, friend of Joe, and an orthodonist.
- Clayton, Jr., the oldest son, also an orthodonist.
- Marcus, the youngest son, an NFL football player, currently with the Los Angeles Chargers. He's built similar to Otis but not as tall.
- Moose, whose real name is Carl - a state trooper.
- Otis, the largest son (460 lbs, almost 8 feet tall), the kindergarten teacher. Olivet is most calm in her uncle's arms or in her case just being held up in his hand. He's grown very fond of his baby niece.
- Raymond, the weatherman (third letter in his job is "A" as in Raymond)
- Roland, the sportscaster (third letter in his job is "O" as in Roland)
- Raymond and Roland are twins
- Sam, the fireman.
- Vance, the dentist. Joe came to him after Teddy accidentally lost a tooth in a tug-a-war with Tammi.
- George and Stanley, Crunchy's "long-lost brothers"
- David Willey - American Physics populariser
Jump Start books
- Jump Start (1997) ISBN 0-8362-3661-0.
- Jump Start: A Love Story (1996) ISBN 0-06-095139-7. This collection includes original strips detailing how Joe and Marcy met.
Minor events and other memorable storylines
- The birth of Jojo
- The birth of Teddy and Tommi: This followed the thoughts of the twins while in the womb and the parents' struggle to name the twins. Tommi was very reluctant to leave the womb for the trials of the real world, and almost refused to be born.
- African History Month: Every February, the comic's theme is based on the characters talking about African History and usually focuses on research about a famous African individual.
- Joe's shooting: Maureen has a strange feeling, and begs Joe to wear his bulletproof vest, despite the sweltering heat, for fear that something bad is going to happen. He reluctantly agrees, and sure enough during a routine traffic stop, while Crunchy is looking away, one of the suspects pulls a gun and shoots Joe in the chest. Joe survives thanks to his vest.
- Frank's heart attack: Frank has a heart attack while on the roof of his house. He ends up in a coma and, having an out-of-body experience, sees his life flash before his eyes. It is revealed here that Frank's father served and was killed in World War II.
- Maureen and Clayton's relationship: Marcy and Clarence decide to set their parents up on a date, and eventually they fall in love. Their children try to help them along in their relationship, but they mostly reject their children's advice, especially Clayton, who prefers simple methods such as fishing and picnics. Soon, Maureen's ex Romaire comes into the picture, and they start seeing each other socially. Clarence is absolutely baffled why Clayton is doing nothing about the fact an extremely rich ex-boyfriend is threatening to come between him and Maureen, but it is such examples of Clayton's modesty and lack of jealousy that eventually win Maureen's heart.
- Joe's second shooting A homeless family, the Nelsons, approaches Joe and presents him with a medallion in gratitude for the Cobb family's efforts to feed the needy. On a subsequent stakeout, Joe is shot, but the bullet strikes the medallion and Joe's life is spared. Joe attempts to find the Nelsons to thank them, but no trace of the family can be found, prompting Joe to suspect that they may have been angels sent to protect him. In 2017 it was revealed that "the Nelsons" were actually Ray Ramsey and his mother Sara.
- The Birth of Olivet Maxine Glover
- Joe's Haircut Joe goes to the barbershop and asks for "the usual". however, he is given a wild hairstyle and was told that that was "usual" for the times. The rest of the week shows him slowly going home trying to figure out how to hide it from Marcy. He thinks about buying a wig, but decides not to after realizing he'd look like Wilt Chamberlain. He also finds out his zodiac sign is shaved into the back of his head. He finally decides to face the inevitable, and goes into his apartment where Marcy is waiting. They both scream when they see each other because she also has a bad haircut.
- Joe and Marcy go to Africa Joe and Marcy realize they saved $50 a week for two years and decide to go on vacation. (Upon telling Joe's father, he exclaims that it doesn't surprise him, because they've "been BORROWING $50 a week from him for two years!") They decide to go to Africa. Many crazy things happen, including one day Joe traded all of the clothes on his back except his underwear for souvenirs from one vendor.
- The Radio Contest Joe is enamoured by an SUV that he cannot afford. However, a local radio station, WGAG, is giving one away to the contestant who can name every song played over a period of a week. Joe basically went through the entire week with headsets permanently attached to him, listening to some of the worst music he's ever heard in his life (hence the call letters), even suffering through Milli Vanilli. He makes it, and is the only person to enter, so he wins by default. However, he has the truck repainted because it has the radio station's call letters emblazoned on it.
- Phillies Victory In the strip which appeared Sunday, November 30, 2008, Sunny asks Joe what he and Crunchy did the night that the Phillies won the 2008 World Series. Joe told Sunny that he and Crunchy were on duty and the entire department was on high alert. JoJo then asked, "But what did you and Crunchy do? " The last panel showed Joe and Crunchy joining in on the street celebration.
- Marcus' Trade On February 15, 2009, Marcus' brothers are helping him move into his new home in Philadelphia, when Marcus receives a phone call from his agent - who has traded him to the Chargers. Marcus, who had been playing for the Eagles, is unsure about making the trade (although he admits that his last game in San Diego was fun - he'd cracked a rib tackling LaDainian Tomlinson), but his father convinces him he has to go where his talent leads him. Marcus then wonders what he will do with the house he just bought, and eventually decides to turn it into a homeless shelter. Marcus currently wears jersey number 99 with the Chargers; he has also started doing commercials, although afterward all eleven of his brothers called him up to remind him of his total lack of acting talent.
In November 2014, 20th Century Fox and Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment announced a project to develop a live-action television series based on the comic strip, Robb Armstrong, Andrew Orenstein and Kaplan to co-write and be the executive producers of the series alongside with Armstrong’s producer Bridget McMeel of Amuse Entertainment.
- Comics.com page which shows actual comic from November 30, 2008 Archived December 4, 2008, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 2010-11-25
- Comics.com page showing actual comic from February 15, 2009 Archived February 19, 2009, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 2010-11-25
- Nellie Andreeva (2014-11-21). "'Jump Start' Comic Strip To Be Adapted As Family Comedy For Fox". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2015-11-21.
- Strickler, Dave. Syndicated Comic Strips and Artists, 1924-1995: The Complete Index. Cambria, CA: Comics Access, 1995. ISBN 0-9700077-0-1.