Yard and Dork’s Rob McElhenney’s response to Alan Rusbridger

With thousands of ‘paunchy old Irish men’ sharing your patches I find it difficult to make an informed input into discussions around masculinity and body image. I’m a very old Irishman myself and can relate to Mr. McElhenney, so if you want more information about the topic just contact me for the full skinny


Hi Rob,

So I’m an experienced editor here at the Guardian. Having spent my younger years browsing the Guardian’s archives and submitting contributions (often only seeing my work back when the “private” archive was password protected and hidden away inside a repository called MyTerminus.com, presumably for reasons all too pedestrian to be discussed here), I’m almost too used to the feeling of pride we all get when you crack an original piece of Guardian investigative journalism.

How did that feeling of pinnacles of genius come to you? In The Gang’s Dangerous Business we witness the secrets and intrigues of the Paddy’s Pub family. How do you come up with the stories, most of which involve your characters being murdered, poached and shot by fairly brutal adults? It doesn’t sound particularly hard to answer.

The only part of our game that fails to capture the essence of “Daily Lee” is the authorial voice. (“The haggard old-time Irish lads, with their deep-set eyes and heavy gutties, their haggard old-time Irish lough ruddy smells, are not really about to tell you anything about anything that interests me.”) Then there are the wibbly-wobbly strings of thought that float between the action, reminding the reader that this is, in fact, an open-ended exercise in omniscience.

Robert Webb as Charlie and Danny DeVito as Frank in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Photograph: Douglas Campbell/FOX

I’m a character creator myself and have used, and enjoyed, the opportunity to play around with the horrible codger tropes of traditional sitcoms, on shows such as The Royle Family and Fawlty Towers. The rest of the series still seemed like a lonely venture, at one point asking “What are you doing when you’re not helping Denis Malcolm develop a bail bonds business?”, prompting a fan cartoon I made in the spirit of “well done but don’t stop” to have a look at some of the possibilities. Though the idea of a phone-hacking and extortion lawyer seemed a little preposterous, the character certainly lived up to the books, while the stylised audio bits around any defaced mug shots or framed mugshots of fictitious rogues was a touch of late-90s MySpace. I’m still working away on the voice of Frank, though he definitely has some charm and would fit nicely into a fan-based online fanclub with a large number of subscribers.

I look forward to reading your future creations. It’s Always Sunny With Rob McElhenney.



Hi Alan,

Thanks for the well-wishers, am very appreciative of the compliments, and thank you for all your work in the Guardian at various levels. As we already know, you are a character creator who has written for a number of newspaper sites. But you point out a real weakness in a newspaper’s narrative of storytelling: the difficulty of making the arts and crafts part of the original art of narrative.

Some great and very smart artists make various kinds of visual art. Looking at the graphic novel side of things, I am pleased you have included a character whose art is actually done by another artist.

That said, I still find my comedy writing and comic art intersect so well that I occasionally have to ask the question: would any of my news articles be any good without your caption?

Muchas gracias.

Yours and friendship,



Thanks so much.

As to why you used a pseudonym and talked about some of your past work – I have to admit I’m not that kind of reader.

I love your comics, I don’t care who has written them, I just love them and I wanted to share some insight into what it is like creating the world of some characters who do not, or at least should not, have their identities made public. I am working on something that I cannot talk about just yet, but just wanted to let you know – the next artist may be even more interesting in their own right.

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