Answer Man

Glenn McCoy puts minions to work on his Duplex

Q. I noted that your cartoonist, Glenn McCoy, had a series of strips in The Duplex a few years back that featured two of the Minions as yard workers. What connection does Glenn have with the Minions? Did he work on the movies with drawings or writing or did he just get permission to use them?

— Julia Welch

A. Glenn McCoy is the nicest guy you’d ever want to meet, but Illumination Entertainment has come to think of him as quite despicable — and they love him for it.

Five years ago, McCoy served as “an additional storyboard artist” for the production company’s wildly popular animated hit “Despicable Me,” which introduced the supervillain Gru and his Minions to theater audiences around the world.

“I’m just in it for the laughs,” he told us after attending the L.A. premiere with Julie Andrews and Steve Carrell, who did voiceovers.

And laugh they did when Gru in one scene felt something hard under him in bed.

“He pulls up the sheets and pulls out a Barbie doll head and starts screaming,” said McCoy, explaining one of his gags. “It’s supposed to be like the guy with the horse’s head in ‘Godfather.’”

That kind of offbeat humor gained him encore work for “Despicable Me 2” in 2013. But it earned him something more — a chance to use the Minions in his comic strip for a couple of weeks.

“Actually, they asked me to do that,” he told me last week. “They knew I did a comic strip, so they were looking for any kind of publicity or any way to promote the movie at all.”

So from June 24 to July 6, 2013, Duplex fans watched those alien imps doing everything from mowing a tree to setting off a nuclear bomb (there goes the neighborhood). You can relive all the gags at Search for The Duplex and the dates.

Today’s trivia

What St. Louis Cardinals pitcher fired a no-hitter the day after his Redbirds had been no-hit?

Answer to Wednesday’s trivia: After nearly ruining his health making his first fortune in the seamless hosiery business for women, Lamarcus Thompson came to Coney Island to build what is believed to be the nation’s first roller coaster, the Gravity Pleasure Switchback Railway. Ten riders at a time paid 5 cents each to climb a set of stairs and coast 600 feet at 6 mph in 1884. Then, they’d climb another set of stairs for the return trip. It doesn’t sound like much fun these days, but Thompson wound up building dozens more around the world and became a millionaire. He is often called the “Father of Gravity.”

Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or call 618-239-2465.