And also because to match the genius of Knotts with the brilliance of this idea, we have to start with his signature portrayal. You know who I mean. After all, Knotts won 4 Emmys playing him!
Deputy Bernard Milton Fife. Or, occasionally, Barney P. Fife. Or even, in one memorable episode, Bernard Oliver Fife. Whatever his name, we can certainly call Barney Fife an incredible character, brilliantly played and certainly deserving of his own comic strip. That's why our lead feature is entitled "Andy and Barney," an 8- to 10-page strip, running bi-monthly. The main character is, of course, Knotts as Deputy Fife of Mayberry, North Carolina, with Andy Griffith's Sheriff Andy Taylor and the rest of the show's cast-- including Aunt Bee, Opie, Helen Crump, Floyd the barber, Otis the lovable alcoholic, Rafe Hollister, the Darlings and others in supporting roles.
As per the TV series The Andy Griffith Show, these stories revolve around Barney's overzealous attempts at enforcing the law, with Andy using his homespun wisdom and intelligence to restore order. In one script I've taken the liberty to prepare, Barney attempts to procure a stop light for Mayberry's main street, despite Andy's protests that not only isn't traffic heavy enough to warrant one, but also they don't even have an intersection. While trying to prove the necessity of his idea, Barney causes all sorts of traffic headaches, leading Andy to declare, "You beat everything, you know that?"
In another, Barney runs afoul of Ernest T. Bass and Andy is chosen by the town to referee a wrestling match between the two while also trying to prevent it from occurring in the first place!
The back-up stories would vary in length and in these, we'd showcase Knotts's other comedic characters-- Roy Fleming, the reluctant astronaut; Hollis Figg, the bumbling bookkeeper's assistant who constantly tangles with criminals; Dr. Jesse W. Hayward, the shakiest gun in the West; and Abner Audubon Peacock IV, the love god. If we can secure the rights, I'd love to also do some shorts featuring Tim Conway as Knotts's partner in crime, as it were.
On alternate months, when the lead doesn't run, the book would feature full-length adaptations of Don Knotts's many films, such as The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Incredible Mr. Limpet (I believe this was already adapted once and could simply be a reprint) and most especially-- the two Apple Dumpling Gang flicks (with Conway) and their 1981 classic, The Private Eyes. In fact, the latter might also become the lead after we've exhausted the rest of Knotts's filmography. The two characters, Inspector Winship and Dr. Tart, could easily sustain a variety of Les Aventures de Tintin-like stories, with occasional detours into horror around Halloween each year as they pursue the terrible Wookalar.
I recognize the licensing aspect of this series may be something of a deterrent to the more timid publishers. But a company with the derring-do to match my visionary creativity would jump at this idea, with me in charge-- editing and scripting-- and reap the vast profits. How about it, publishers? Any takers?