“I want the strip to reflect Syracuse,” Roker said 33 years ago. “You know, a good time.” With
that, Roker married “Doonesbury”-style drollness to the Salt City
scene, as his central characters Gregory Salt (a visual alter ego for
the artist) and his Caucasian roommate McFarland W. Pepper lobbed
then-timely shots at various targets. They included area politicians
(apparently, the statute of limitations will never run out concerning
Roy Bernardi jokes), multimillion-dollar edifices (such as the
brand-new Civic Center), the deteriorating downtown picture (a
background image in one panel depicts the Flah’s department store with
a closed sign on its doors) and even local television programs (a spoof
of rival weatherguy Bud Hedinger, who hosted Channel 3’s Bowling for Dollars).
Beyond the sometimes spicy seasoning of “Salt and Pepper,” however, Roker’s New Times’
stint was short and sweet. Roker drew just 10 strips before pulling the
plug on his characters, as he pulled up his Syracuse stakes at year’s
end to head for major-market status at a TV station in Washington; D.C.
This retrospective of strips from joker Roker’s New Times
career provides a glimpse of the observational humor that would
eventually propel this wisenheimer weatherman to early-morning stardom.