Is “60 the new 40?” Or is 60 The New 60? A pair of famed former admen turned comics in Westchester have their own take on the matter.
Tarrytown resident Andy Landorf, and Bronxville resident John Colquhoun, who ran marketing campaigns for companies such as Little Caesers, American Express and Herbal Essences have traded tv spots for comic strips, as they begin to embrace life after turning 60 in a comedic way.
The two Westchester natives have started The New 60, a series of satirical, four-panel comics - based loosely on they and their friends’ lives and experiences turning 60 - following decades working in the advertising world.
“I went to dinner with another couple, all in their 60s, and nobody could see the menu. We all started breaking out the flashlights on our phones, and that inspired a comic,” Landorf mused. “The discipline of doing a four-panel comic strip is similar to doing a commercial, where you have 30 seconds to tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end. You have to get there quickly, so those skills have helped us doing the comic.”
Landorf, 65, and Colquhoun, 60, have known one another for decades, crossing paths while working on a variety of ads, before finally coming together at the same agency, The Kaplan Thaler Group, toward the conclusion of their full-time careers. Both still do some freelance work on the side, though The New 60 is their current focus.
“We’ve always admired each other’s work, and Andy asked if I would be interested in a comic about people in the 60s, and what it’s like to be that way today, because being in your 60s now isn’t the same as being in your 60s in other generations,” Colquhoun said. “We got together, had some different thoughts on directions and developed some characters and backstories to help us with the storylines. We then took some things that were inspired by real-life events and tried to make them a little funnier.”
While Colquhoun has taken on the task of illustrating, both men shared credit for the ideas and rapid rise of The New 60.
“One of us will throw out an idea, and the other will either spark to it, dismiss it, or see a different direction,” Landorf added. “I think John has a very good sense of the flow and things that are drawn, because I’m used to film, and sometimes I think of something that may be pretty funny, but it’s not the same thing to illustrate. That’s the learning curve.”
The comic centers on a core group of characters and their beloved diner, which serves as a character in its own right, and acts as the setting for many of the strips. The two said that they mix in a combination of their lives and experiences, as well as those of their friends and family.
“Neither one of us has grandchildren yet, but we thought that would be one fun thing to play with, what it’s like to be a grandparent or great-grandparent at this age,” Colquhoun said. “We haven’t been on a date in 30 years, but we have friends who do, so we talk to them and try to draw what it would be like to date after turning 60.”
Each of the Westchester natives agreed that the biggest difference going from the ad world to the world of writing comics was that they could use their own ideas and didn’t have to cater to any particular brand. They also found that the transition was easier than that of going from full-time advertisers to retirement.
“The transition for me (into comics) was not as profound for me as it was to stop getting on the train every morning and going to work and conference calls at night,” Landorf said. “The transformation is so liberating to not have clients to have to get their message across five times in a 30-second commercial.”
The New 60 - which releases new strips on Tuesdays and Fridays online and on social media - has hit some hurdles targeting an older demographic with a digital product, but they said they have received “a lot of good feedback.”
“We got into this not knowing if anyone would respond, but we’ve seen steady growth. The biggest hurdle is getting them to share the comics,” Landorf said with a laugh. “That’s a hurdle. But it also gave us ideas for a story, people trying to use social media and such after 60.”
Colquhoun said that he and his partner started the comic, in part, because they wound up “ending their careers before they may have been ready because the industry was changing, and we knew we weren’t the only ones dealing with this.”
“We’re certainly not going to retire anytime soon, and we were looking for our next career or adventure,” he said. “It’s a new world you’re dealing with, all kinds of new things that parents at 60 didn’t have to do (in previous generations.) Every generation deal with new things, but this one, in particular, is different. “
The name of The New 60 didn’t come to the two men easily, but ultimately, they realized the right name for the strip was staring them in the face.
“We really thought about the title, and went back and forth a lot. People say ’60 is the new 40,’ and you hear that so often, and it’s not true,” Landorf said. “It’s like nothing else before it, because of the rapid pace of change now. You can’t really compare it to what it was like before.”
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