the inevitable atticus & glen

When I went to college, I knew I wanted to draw a comic strip for the school paper. My sophmore year, I figured out what that strip would be: Atticus and Glen, the story of a tentative freshman (Glen) and the wise old squirrel who lived on campus his whole life (Atticus).

Although the set-up owed a lot to Calvin and Hobbes, the topics I covered were very much Oberlin. Co-ops, bicycles, vegetarianism, the ubiquitous English major, and of course race, gender, and class politics. My senior year, knowing I would leave Atticus and Glen in Oberlin, I wanted to make one big story before I ended the strip. The result was a seventeen page comic book I wrote and drew during winter term called The Inevitable Atticus & Glen. In another nod to Calvin and Hobbes, I gave the title a totally misleading prefix. There was nothing inevitable about the book; I willed this into exitance just like the rest of the strip.

The Inevitable Atticus & Glen was my first foray into self-publishing. The other cartoonist on campus, Alec Longstreth, was a huge self-publishing fan and would go on to make the long-running Phase 7 comic series. I was a bit more reluctant. I would be more than happy to do all the creative work and let some big publisher take on the unenviable task of producing, marketing, and selling. In the small world of Oberlin, and in the slightly bigger but still small world of non-superhero comics, there aren’t many publishers willing to do this. Self-publishing for me, then, was inevitable.

I took my pages to the college print shop, knowing nothing about putting a book together. They took my original art, photocopied it, and produced 100 booklets. The cost was low enough that I didn’t bother charging for the books. With the help of my friend Charlotte, we distributed the books across campus. I included a note imploring people to share; I wanted everyone to at least have a chance to read my masterpiece.

Now, for the first time, I’m making The Inevitable Atticus & Glen available to the world. You can read it below, or for the price of one dollar, you can have a PDF. Purists take note: I cleaned up the art a bit to make it more legible and less embarrassing. I have not added Jar Jar Binks, nor have I made Han shoot second.

autobiography Blog comic The Family Monster

globulus in falling rock

Today marks a special day, not just for Falling Rock but for my cartooning career.  While drawing Atticus & Glen for my college paper, I created what has become one of my favorite characters of all time.  His name was Professor Globulus.

Globulus looked like Jabba the Hutt.  He was a combination of all the worst characteristics of college professors, including the (to my knowledge) totally fictitious trait of eating students.

I liked him so much, I brought him back frequently during Atticus & Glen’s four year run.  He even became the villain of my 17-page Atticus & Glen comic book, published at the end of my senior year.

When I ended Atticus & Glen I figured I’d leave all those characters in Ohio.  Dee followed me west, however, and became the starring character in The Family Monster.  Since it was a comic strip about monsters, I couldn’t well leave Globulus out.  He made two appearances, one as a bureaucrat…

And the second as a lowly ranger for an interestingly-named park.

When I began Falling Rock, I knew Globulus would show up eventually, but I couldn’t throw him in unceremoniously.  No, a character of his sliminess needed a good reason to reappear in my work.  It took almost six years, but I found the perfect place for Globulus: Park Superintendent.

Over the next week, you’ll see Globulus in his most recent incarnation.  He’s still troubling Dee.  I doubt he’ll ever really leave her alone.

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falling rock SEASON SIX

Hello dear readers and welcome to Welcome to Falling Rock National Park‘s record-breaking sixth season.  Although it is still too early for me to have won any awards this year, I expect Season Six to be off the charts in terms of awardablility.


Why am I excited to be back with Falling Rock?  I’ve never drawn a comic strip for this long before.  The Family Monster, my post-college “experimental” strip, ran for four years.  When the idea for Falling Rock came along, I was interested in doing what I charmingly refer to as a “commercial strip.”  This is as close as I can get, apparently, to the mainstream.


I’m also excited for you all to see my brushwork.  Over the summer, I finished my graphic novella Tomb of the Zombies, which I inked with a (very tiny) sable hair brush.  After learning that master cartoonist Farel Dalrymple uses a larger Raphael brand sable brush, I rushed out to the internet and procured one for myself.  The number 4 size brush is now my inking tool of choice.  The details are still drawn with the PITT pens I’ve used before.  I first tried a brush when I was drawing a comic for my high school paper.  Back then I needed a tool that gave me more control.  I wasn’t adept enough to jump in with the brush.  Now, 15-odd years later, I’ve returned to my cartooning roots.  And hey, anything* that gets me closer to Bill Watterson is a good thing.


What can we expect for the coming season?  More robots, more Lincoln references, more harebrained schemes.  Additionally, Dee is beginning to question her place at the park as she gets older.  Will she be a park ranger her whole life?  How has she avoided getting transferred for so long?  These are issues I’m hoping to deal with this year.


Thanks for your patience over the long summer, and welcome back! *except murder


hey 1400 newspapers who won’t run Cathy anymore

Just because you won’t have Cathy to kick around anymore doesn’t mean you have go without strong female characters in a comic strip.  You know what comic prominently features no less than THREE female characters?  Welcome to Falling Rock National Park!  Dee, the junior Park Ranger from Tucson, Arizona is sometimes described* as the “heart” of the strip.  She loves her job.

Not only is she adept and intelligent, she’s pretty good-looking.

Ranger Dee is, however, far from the only female in this desert park.  She is pictured above sitting next to Melissa the mountain lion.  Melissa, being a cat, is ferocious, but she also makes beautiful large-scale sculptures.

Of course I would be remiss if I neglected to mention Pam, the retired schoolteacher javelina.  Pam is the Perpetual Babe of the Month here at Falling Rock National Blog.  It’s easy to see why:

Newspaper editors: when it comes time to fill the Cathy void this October, think Ranger Dee!

Readers: wouldn’t you rather see Falling Rock in your local paper than some machine-made corporate Brand X comic strip?  Write your paper and tell them that Falling Rock National Park is what you want.

*beginning now

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season five

2010-08-16-falling-rock-national-parkFalling Rock returns for Season 5 today.  I’m so happy to be back.  If you could see me you’d know I’m dancing from one foot to the other in giddy glee.  It’s really hard typing this way.

This strip, along with the next two weeks’ worth of strips, was actually drawn way back in May.  It’s nice to have these finally see the light of your computer screen/iPad/3-D glasses.

To start the year off right, I picked an episode talking about the Falling Rock park in general.  Carver is, as usual, angry at natural phenomena way beyond his powers.  Park Ranger Dee is simply liking her job, up until the owl outburst.  I think Dee’s love for her work is tempered by her frequent proximity to Carver.  They’re opposites in many ways.  Dee came to the park voluntarily while Carver was born there and cannot leave.  Dee is tall, feminine, young.  Carver is a short, angry man.  He’s older than Dee in owl years, but I’m really not sure how owl years work – it’s more complicated than Celsius to Fahrenheit, I know that much.

Of all the characters, Ernesto the lizard is able to absorb the most of Carver’s vitriol without stomping off.  Dee finds Carver interesting as a case study.  If she were a psychologist she’d probably follow him around all the time, then write a bestselling psychological profile on him.  As she is simply a Park Ranger, Dee mentally catalogs Carver’s moods and then goes back to her dorm where she can determine how much of it is an owl thing and how much is Carver.

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park ranger dee

For the inevitable Falling Rock movie, my humble suggestion for the actress to play Dee:zooey-d-hat3 zooey-d-hat2 zooey-d-hat

Just sayin’.

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Dee’s new wardrobe

dee-jaunty-outfitBooks I never thought existed do, in fact, exist. Thanks to the library, I picked up two books on the history of the National Park Service. One of them is dedicated entirely to women’s ranger uniforms.

Dee’s current uniform is based on an older style of ranger outfit, although I’ve given her pants instead of the skirts women rangers had to wear through most of the last century. Can you imagine enduring a snow-covered trail in Rocky Mountain National Park or the blazing heat of Saguaro National Monument in a skirt? I’m glad I can’t.

The drawing above is based on a 1970’s uniform which I quite like. Maybe I’ll give Dee a few changes of clothing this year, just to change things up a bit.

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Sunday Funnies

falling rock sundy funniesI wish that Sundays were twice as long as every other day. You really need more time to prepare for the upcoming week, mentally and physically. You need to enjoy your Sunday funnies, have your breakfast of choice, lounge around in your pajamas until a little after noon. Then you need to fit in all the errands you never got around to all week. Then you should have some free time. That’s what weekends are for, right? Then a nice dinner and some time in the evening. There is too much cramming if you want a Sunday done right. If elected President, I promise to make Sunday last until midnight on Monday.

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As an international cartoonist celebrity, I receive literally thousands of fan questions a day. I’m chin-deep in letters, emails, faxes, telegrams, boxes of homemade cookies and cashier’s checks. Well, not really checks.

My tireless staff compiled the most-asked questions that are asked of me. Now, without further ado, I will answer the third most-asked question:
Which of your characters could you beat in a fight?
First, I’d like to thank the 458,953 people who asked this question. You all have your priorities straight. Now on to the main event.
Carver is an owl, therefore he is short. His bones are light and brittle, which makes them ideal for flight, not fight. He will, however, fight dirty. He also has a beak. Beaks are sharp, and I would rather run away than have him poke out my eyes. I give even chances on a match between me and Carver.

PAM (pictured below, resident Babe of the Month)
Pam is tough, and mean, and sure of herself. As a former teacher, she is used to discipline, but I doubt many of her former students ever challenged her to a duel. My chances are improved because she is quite a bit older and has lived a sedentary life. I’m going to have to give the fight to her, though, if for no other reason than this: looking directly into her hard, squinty eyes would break my spirit and my soft grip on sanity.
Dee is athletic since she works outdoors, she is also a bit younger than me. These qualities both give her the necessary advantage to taking me down. It may be a fair fight, but it is a fight I would ultimately lose.

Melissa is a mountain lion. Her paws are roughly the size of my face. She can sneak up on me while I’m asleep. She knows exactly where to strike her prey for maximum damage. She would undoubtedly beat me in a fight.

Ah, Ernesto. Although we are both by nature pacifisits, if it came down to it we would fight. He is tall and skinny, but not necessarily muscular. I also have the advantage of being warm-blooded. He cannot stay in the sun or the shade for too long, lest his body get overheated or frozen. He would be tenacious, but I am going to have to give the advantage to myself on this one. I could take Ernesto. I wouldn’t want it, but sometimes you can’t choose who you will have to fight.
Keep those questions coming in, folks. And remember: as an internationally recognized cartoonist, everything I say is likely to be inaccurate at best, filthy lies at worst.