Welcome FoxTrot, Get Fuzzy, Pearls Before Swine et al.

A Note to Readers

December 12, 2004

It's a new day in the Sunday comics. Last month, we asked readers to vote to help us make long-anticipated changes in our daily and Sunday comics lineups. Thousands wrote or e-mailed to tell us which existing strips and panels were their favorites, and also to vote on several new comics we were considering adding.

The result, in part, can be seen today in the Comics section, where some old strips have been retired and five popular new strips have been added. Along with old favorites like For Better or For Worse, Doonesbury, Dilbert and Peanuts, The Sun will now offer Foxtrot, Get Fuzzy, Pearls Before Swine, Speed Bump and Zits for your reading pleasure.

None of the strips being added is brand new; in fact, all of them already appear in hundreds of other newspapers. But they are new to The Sun, so to help familiarize you with them, we've compiled a handy guide with brief descriptions of each, including information about the characters and creators.

We hope you like the new comics. To share any thoughts or comments, please call us at 410-783-2537, or go online to baltimoresun.com / comics.

-- Meredith Lidard

Pearls Before Swine

Story: Creator Stephan Pastis says that the strip is about "an arrogant, rude, hot-tempered rat, and a sweet, dumb, good-hearted pig and their adventures."

Characters: Rat, an arrogant, self-centered know-it-all who's obsessed with fame and immortality; Pig, humble, kind and slow-witted, an animal who doesn't aspire to much but spending his days watching television and not being productive; Zebra, a "zebratarian" who focuses on protecting his fellow zebras from their predators, specifically crocodiles; Goat, "intellectually detached," prefers spending time with his snout in a book.

Creator: Pastis drew cartoons for his high school newspaper in San Marino, Calif., and his college newspaper at the University of California, Berkeley (where he graduated with a degree in political science). He attended UCLA Law School and became an attorney before pitching Pearls Before Swine to United Media. It made its debut in 2002, and appears in 200 newspapers.

FoxTrot

Story: Creator Bill Amend says that the strip is a "playful look at modern family life, mostly seen from the kids' perspective."

Characters: The Fox family. Roger, the father, husband and "corporate cog" who's still attempting to master 1970s technologies; Andy, the mother, housewife and grievance counselor; Peter, a high school junior with a senior's ego; Paige, a high school freshman and mall queen; Jason, the 10-year-old younger brother who's too smart for his own good; Quincy, Jason's pet iguana.

Creator: Amend contributed cartoons to his high school's newspaper and literary magazine in Burbank, Calif. He created and published a weekly alternative campus newspaper with a friend at Amherst College, where he majored in physics and graduated with honors in 1984. He started FoxTrot in 1988; it appears in more than 1,000 newspapers.

Zits

Story: Co-creator Jerry Scott says that Zits focuses on "a 15-year-old boy and his life," his adventures "navigating the highways of adolescence" and "relationships Jeremy has with his friends and parents."

Characters: Jeremy Duncan, a 15-year-old aspiring rock star; Chad, the perfect brother in college; parents Connie and Walt; best friend Hector.

Creators: Jim Borgman (pictured at right) and Jerry Scott. Borgman is a Pulitzer Prize winner and graduated summa cum laude from Kenyon College, where he was a staff artist and editorial cartoonist for the Kenyon Collegian from 1974 to 1976. He created Zits with cartoonist Scott, who also pens Baby Blues. Scott began cartooning professionally in the 1970s when he submitted "gag" cartoons to magazines. Zits made its debut in 1997 and appears in more than 1,100 newspapers.

Get Fuzzy

Story: Revolves around a young, single ad executive and his two pets.

Characters: Rob Wilco, a twenty-something ad executive; Bucky, a one-fanged temperamental Siamese cat; Satchel, a naive dog caught in the middle of Bucky's antics and Rob's constant criticism.

Creator: Darby Conley drew cartoons for his high school newspaper in Knoxville, Tenn., and won first place in a student cartoon contest in the Knoxville News-Sentinel. He contributed cartoons to Amherst College's daily newspaper, and graduated in 1994 with a degree in art and art history. Get Fuzzy first appeared in 1999 and appears in more than 450 newspapers.

Speed Bump

Story: Creator Dave Coverly says that "if life were a movie, these would be the outtakes." He says that his comic "basically re-examines the little details of life we take for granted ... and give them their own daily spotlight."

Characters: No recurring cast. Coverly says that there are a few themes that run throughout the panel, including relationships, aging, animals, kids and aliens.

Creator: Coverly published cartoons in his high school newspaper in Plainwell, Mich., and in Eastern Michigan University's newspaper. He studied in England and graduated from EMU in 1987 with a degree in philosophy and imaginative writing. He attended graduate school at Indiana University, and graduated in 1992 with a master's degree in creative writing. Speed Bump, which first appeared in 1994, runs in more than 200 newspapers.

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