HILARY PRICE vividly remembers her first encounter with Rina Piccolo’s work. It was two decades ago, and Price, then in her 20s, walked into a San Francisco bookstore and happened to discover Piccolo’s 1997 collection, “Rina’s Big Book of Sex Cartoons.” Price was struck by both the genuinely funny panels and the fact that this was another young, female gag cartoonist like herself.
Feeling a kinship with the thinking behind the ink, Price, creator of the King Features-syndicated strip “Rhymes With Orange,” was immediately rendered a fan.
Today, Price and Piccolo make the creative kinship official: Piccolo is now a permanent collaborator on “Rhymes With Orange.”
“I’ve been a fan of Hilary’s cartoons for several years, and often have ‘laughed out loud’ at her stuff,” Piccolo, creator of “Tina’s Groove” and original co-creator of King’s “Six Chix,” tells The Post’s Comic Riffs. “Being a gag cartoonist myself, it was a no-brainer to say yes to a collaboration.”
“I’ve always loved collaborating with smart, funny people, and now I get to everyday,” says Price, who last month was a finalist for the National Cartoonist Society’s Reuben Award for outstanding cartoonist of the year. “Rhymes With Orange,” which deftly blends loose line drawings and pithy whimsy, has received multiple Silver Reuben awards from the group.
More than a decade ago, Price and Piccolo finally met in person, at syndicate stable-mates at a Reuben Awards ceremony. In 2000, their syndicate had launched “Six Chix,” with Piccolo among the original women who shared the rotating cartooning duties, with her work appearing each Wednesday. Two years later, Piccolo launched her own character-driven strip, “Tina’s Groove,” through King.
In 2010, the same year that Piccolo launched her strip “Velia, Dear,” she also had a second notable stint as a guest cartoonist for “Rhymes With Orange.”
“About a dozen years into creating the strip, I needed a creative outlet from my creative outlet, and started co-writing a play with a friend called ‘Santacide,’ ” Price says. “I realized how much I enjoyed the collaborative process, and that planted a seed in my head.
“In addition to the guest spots, every so often Rina would offer up a batch of gags to ‘Rhymes With Orange,” Price says of her Canadian collaborator. “I thought: ‘Here is someone with a similar sensibility. I wonder if she’d ever like to work together?’ ”
Piccolo embraced the opportunity to do gag cartoons for “Rhyme.”
“The truth is, I love doing ‘Tina’s Groove,’ but single-panel work is what I’ve always wanted to do,” Piccolo says. “To add to that, I think Hilary and I share a similar sense of humor. While we have our own separate and unique voices, I think we’ve found a lot of shared sensibilities.”
Fortuitously, Price echoes that sentiment. .
“Having two people volley back and forth gives the work extra zip,” Price says. “My goal is to always offer the very best cartoons I can to my readers.”