“Sweet ‘Pickles’” Ensign, Apr. 1996, 68
Brian Crane first got the idea for “Pickles,” his nationally syndicated comic strip about the elderly, while he was living in Idaho Falls, Idaho, during the early 1980s. “We lived in an old neighborhood near the temple with all these old people around us,” he says. “They were so neat. We just loved them.” Further motivation came because he noticed that, in general, “newspapers aren’t interested in the elderly, even though they make up the bulk of the readership.”
Brother Crane began drawing “Pickles” in 1987 but was rejected by three syndicates. The comic strip finally appeared for the first time in twenty-four newspapers on April Fool’s Day in 1990. Featuring characters named Earl and Opal Pickles, their grown-up daughter Sylvia, and Muffin the cat, “Pickles” is now carried by some 150 newspapers through the Washington Post Syndicate.
“I make sure to never show the characters drinking a cup of coffee or smoking cigarettes or doing anything I don’t think a Church member would do,” Brother Crane says. “I’ve never been happier in my life.”
The Cranes live with five of their seven children in Sparks, Nevada, a bedroom community of Reno. Their oldest son is on a mission, and a daughter attends Ricks College. Brother Crane served a mission to Uruguay and subsequently earned an art degree from Brigham Young University. He currently teaches seminary in the Sparks Second Ward, Sparks Nevada Stake.