I had lunch seventh hour my freshman year. We only had eight periods of school. The lunch lines would close down halfway through, so woe if you were ever late. We sat at long tables that folded up and big plastic chairs. There was no assigned seating, of course, but somehow every one eventually found a place to sit and generally stayed there for the rest of the year. I sat at the end of a lunch table by the salad line. It was maybe two tables over from the hallway exit. At the beginning of the year, I sat with two guys named Ed and one named Eric.
We had photo IDs at our high school. There was a big Polaroid camera in the office they used to take your picture and then crop it to fit in the ID. This process wasn’t exactly instantaneous, so IDs were handed out over the first couple of weeks of school. One of the Eds got his ID first and had to show it off to everyone, introducing himself as “Ed Leslie from Police Squad” and holding out his ID like a badge. From that, I got the idea to draw him and the other guys from the lunch group in a comic strip. I called it “Drugbusters”. Ghostbusters had come out the spring before and everyone knew about “Just Say No” (we thought it was kind of lame; even those of us who didn’t actually take drugs).
The sum total of the plot of Drugbusters is as follows. The Drugbusters are made up of four freshmen who have dedicated their lives to ridding the school of the scourge of drugs. They see four seniors smoking dope in the back of the cafeteria. One by one, they attempt to arrest the seniors. The seniors are much larger than our heroes; all you ever see are their legs and clenched fists. After everyone has been beat up a few times, the Drugbusters get crafty. They start using technology to help them in their quest, which ends up not being any more successful. Every strip tends to end the same way: with a “POW!” and the Drugbuster laying feet up in the air.
The comic ended up running through my entire freshman year. The Drugbusters expanded to include my friends Dave and Tony and Ed’s friend Bill. We also had Ralph the Wonder Mutt who reminded me a lot of my first dog Tramp (one of the dumbest dogs ever to grace the planet). In the end, the Drugbusters did get the seniors in a showdown that would have made Victor Hugo cry with envy… assuming he could read English and had still been alive in 1985. However, the victory is bittersweet and the ending caught everyone by surprise.
Unfortunately, by the end of the year, the Drugbusters on paper didn’t accurately reflect the friendships at the lunch table. Ed Leslie was the first to leave. I still saw him in my Spanish class, but he didn’t really want to be a part of the comic. I “killed” his character off, but then brought him back at the end of the year in a long soap opera worthy plot line. The other Ed also left our merry band of eaters. He and Eric got into a fight and while I was able to negotiate a treaty of sorts, it was never the same. Ed eventually sat with another crowd. It was down to Eric and me, though Tony did come down and eat with us every so often.