Speed Bumps and Silver Threads


Last month Dave Coverly celebrated 25 years of Speed Bump.

In 1996, he and his wife, Chris, moved their family to Ann Arbor…They bought a house on Ann Arbor’s west side with a third-floor finished attic that Coverly turned into a home studio.

For the past 23 years, Coverly has spent time in the studio also almost every day.

Mondays, he creates his Sunday cartoon. Tuesdays and Wednesdays — his longest and busiest days — he churns out the other six cartoons for the week. Thursday through Sunday, Coverly works on his other projects. In addition to Speed Bump, he writes and illustrates children’s books; assemblies various anthologies of this work; produces cartoons for greeting cards and other merchandise, and he does illustrations for Barkbox, a monthly subscription service providing dog products and services.



The formula is “putting two things together to make a new thing, and the humor comes from the surprise of that,” Coverly said.

Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, said Coverly, who has degrees in philosophy and creative writing. “Some people tell me, ‘I always read your cartoons but I don’t always get them.’

“Cartooning is 80 or 90 percent” thinking of the idea, Coverly added. “There’s a saying that a good drawing can’t save bad writing, but good writing can save a bad drawing.”


Writing down random thoughts. Pairing those thoughts together in unlikely combinations. Considering the potential of absurdist humor.

On a recent day, Coverly’s random thoughts included musing about the Hans Christian Andersen tale of the “Emperor’s New Clothes,” as well as his family’s health insurance premium.

With that, Coverly mentally flashed on the image of a naked king meeting with his insurance agent. “You’re not covered,” the agent intones.

Bingo! Another Speed Bump cartoon is born.

above: the May 24, 2019 Speed Bump panel


In time for Speed Bump’s silver anniversary, one publisher is about to release “25 Years of Speed Bump”; a second is publishing a collection of cat cartoons, “Cats Are People, Too,” and a French publisher is issuing a series of Speed Bump books for the European market.

As for non-Speed Bump books, the children’s book “How to Care for Your Pet T-Rex” was published this month. Coverly illustrated the story, which was written by Ken Baker.


Michigan Live profiles cartoonist Dave Coverly on the occasion of Speed Bump’s silver anniversary.