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

autobiography Blog

mountain lions

2006-09-05-falling-rock-national-parkMountain lions, like Rashida Jones, are best admired from a distance. Both are beautiful elegant creatures, yet both become deadly when approached. Get too close and something (claws and teeth, a huge bodyguard named Big Bip) turns a magical encounter into a trip to the local ER. Today I want to talk about mountain lions, especially as they relate to my character Melissa in Welcome to Falling Rock National Park.

Melissa is, as hawk-eyed readers have pointed out, a mountain lion. She is interested in abstract sculpture, sleeping, devouring small desert creatures, and the short stories of Richard Yates and Lorrie Moore. Like real mountain lions, Melissa can often be found napping on a warm rock in the morning or in the shade during the hot afternoons. Also like mountain lions, she can only be found when she wants to be.

There is an exhibit at the Denver Zoo (in Denver!) featuring a snapshot of a family on vacation in Colorado’s foothills. The picture seems innocuous at first. However, it has been enlarged and a certain area highlighted to the left of the family. In that spot, not twenty feet from where the oblivious parent and children stand, a mountain lion lurks in the tall grass. The family hadn’t noticed anything amiss until they got home and developed the photograph.

That’s just how mountain lions roll. If they need something, they take it. If they don’t want to be seen, they won’t be. I have been told a mountain lion’s roar sounds like a woman shrieking. Though I’ve never heard it myself, I can imagine it would be mighty unsettling to hear that sound outside my tent, many miles from civilization.tucson-jan-07-(230) When I was in Boulder, I often went running along the mountain trails just outside of town. These trails could not have been safer. They were used constantly, sun or rain or snow. I never walked a snow-covered trail that didn’t have multiple footprints already, no matter when the most recent snowfall occurred. This did not mean they were mountain-lion-free, however.
I was helping a customer at the store where I worked. When I was looking up a book for him, he told me he’d seen me running the other day. “Oh really?” I said, somewhat surprised to be recognized. “Yeah,” he said, then he really surprised me. “I’ve also seen mountain lions on that trail, so be careful.” I did my best to look strong and healthy the next time I ran that particular trail; mountain lions are opportunists like the rest of us and won’t work harder than necessary for a meal.

If you have the luxury of seeing a mountain lion before it rips out your throat, you should make yourself look as big and frightening as possible. If you’re with another person, stand together arm-in-arm and wave your free hands like crazy. Make lots of noise too. The mountain lion won’t go after a big scary creature with two heads.

If I ever have a hard time getting a handle on what Melissa would say in a particular situation, it is only because mountain lions are so inscrutable. Sure, they have to eat, and they sleep a lot like all cats. But there is something more to them. A mysterious core knowledge that may only be known by the mountain lions themselves. It is compelling yet utterly unknowable by the likes of me. I do my best to approximate.tucson-jan-07-(222)


Blog comic


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.