The story behind Mal and Lard, Harborough's favourite ducks
(In case you ever wondered who they really are)
Mal and Lard were first published in the Harborough Mail on May 1st 2003. However the idea of Mal & Lard first came to me around Autumn 2001. At the time I had to cross a bridge over the River Welland every morning on the way to work. I would glance at this same area of water twice a day and notice the different things that occurred on just this small section of river.
There would be all sorts of wildlife in and around the river. Not just ducks but geese and other water birds, as well as squirrels running around the trees that overhang the river.
Almost every day something would be floating there. Whether it be a piece of litter or something more interesting, every day was different. Seeing all this interesting activity on such a small area got me thinking of the possible goings on elsewhere on the river, and the ducks who would swim up and down day after day who winessed it all.
The River Welland cuts virtually straight through the centre of Market Harborough. I wondered what these birds actually made of all the action going on around them. Whether they noticed and whether they cared. Whether they had an opinion and discussed it amongst themselves. That's when the initial spark of an idea came to me.
With a little set of notes scribbled in my pocket book I tried to advance the idea at my drawing board. I imagined the river having a definite hierarchy. The upper-class swans somewhere at the top and the eels somewhere down in the lower classes. The ducks I imagined would come somewhere in the middle. To me they were the most interesting characters and with this in mind I began to sketch my first cartoons.
Mal & Lard began life as Mal & Herb. My first idea was to link the names to Harborough (Harb=Herb). These names stayed for a while in my early sketches but never really felt right. A little later I decided to change the names to Mal & Lard. The new name was stronger and the name Lard seemed to fit the character more successfully.
The idea then advanced very slowly. With many other commitments in my life, I didn't give the idea a lot of my time. Much of the following twelve months I concentrated on other areas of my business, but the idea stayed as a sticky note on my drawing board.
I eventually developed the characters and shaped their personalities to how they are today. It was then that I approached the Harborough Mail with the idea. The potential for the cartoon strip was recognised and Mal & Lard were launched on May 1st 2003.