Magpie House Design
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Frequently-asked questions:

Q: When does the strip run?

A: Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at one minute past midnight Pacific (GMT-8) time.

Q: Have you been cartooning all your life?

A: Not yet.

Q: You're a bit of a smartass, aren't you?

A: Yep, and I have a card to prove it.

Q: How did a nice, intelligent girl like you get to be a Web cartoonist?

A: All children draw cartoons. Very few of them keep it up. I'm one of the few and the proud.

Q: You're a grown woman. Why do you draw a silly cartoon about animals?

A: We all have to have a vice.

Q: But don't you have a family?

A: No, and frankly my "children" will do whatever I want them to do, without complaining. If they get out of line, I can always rub them out.

Q: Are you on drugs? Should you be on drugs?

A: No. Drugs are for loosers. I happen to be naturally weird.

Q: Have you always been weird?

A: Actually I was pretty normal until I met Marc and Scott, if you can call carrying on conversations with animals and inanimate objects normal. They showed me that it's okay to let one's inner eccentricities shine through.

Q: Speaking of Scott, why to a spin-off of someone else's comic strip?

A: Mostly to bug the original artist. Seriously, though, I think I fell in love with Joe Maus the moment he muttered, 'I gotta get a new job, I'm beginning to like the taste of Maalox.' That's an attitude I can relate to. But my spin-off shows that one should be careful of what one wishes for.

Q: How can you draw a cartoon about animals?

A: I own a lot of animals and live out in the country. I'm a keen observer of the natural world. But mostly I just wing it.

Q: What qualifications do you have to write about space and science and stuff?

A: My strip is a cartoon about anthropomorphic animals in space. Anyone who has problems with my "science" should go draw their own strip.

Q: How did you come up with "Of Mouse and Moon"?

A: It really started with a single gag, the one where Joe has to go get the "Moon Bootz" to compensate for the reduced gravity in the office. There must be something inherently funny about rodents on the Moon, because one gag followed another, until the idea of incorporating the SPAM organism occurred, after that, the story pretty much wrote itself. I couldn't have stopped it if I tried. Kind of like the SPAM. I'm just happy Mr. Kellogg has a sense of humor.

Q: What about "Pirates of Penumbra"?

A: Ah, that came to me one afternoon as I was mowing hay. I came up with the ditty "If you're evil, mean and nasty, clap your hands!" and since I'd recently seen "Fantasia," the idea of an aligator piarate and a hippopotamus heroine started to gel. Once I got to working with it, though, things changed a bit.

Q: Why pirates?

A: Pirates are fun. Real pirates were horrible, but Hollywood and pulp-fiction has made them flamboyantly silly. Everybody loves pirates. I was planning a "Pirate Fest" as a fund-raiser for the animal rescue organisation I support, and I had pirates on the brain. Besides, it's a play on the Pirates of Penzance.

Q: What's a 'penumbra,' though?

A: It's the ring of shadow, between the full darkness and the light, that you see during a total eclipse. It's not so evident in the strip, but Big Ben Hooker uses an eclipse to sneak up on the lunar station. Like in the title-page painting.

Q: You paint and take photographs, too?

A: Yes. If you're going to have a hobby, may as well make it an expensive one.

Q: You also have a farm?

A: See above answer.

Q: Don't you have a job?

A: See above question.

Q: Why do you live in West Virginia?

A: Because it's the best way to live in the Third World and still live in America.

Q: What about Missippi?

A: Thank God for Missippi, as we say in these parts.

Q: What do you raise on your farm?

A: I have horses, sheep, and eighteen-odd cows. Eighteen very odd cows.

Q: Are they mad cows?

A: More like eccentric cows.

Q: You say your farm is the inspiration for Kate's Mountain?

A: Yes. Before I moved down here, the largest animal I ever owned was a dog. I didn't know cows came in colors other than black-and-white. I'd always dreamed of living on a farm, with a huge menagerie. Which further proves we should be careful what we wish for.

Q: Oh, come on--! You live the life of Reilley out there--!

A: Yes, and the far has given me plenty of material for comic-strips. It helps to have a slightly skewed view of reality, in order to see the absurd humor in everyday situations. But it also helps to have a bunch of psycotic animals. George Orwell was not making anything up. Animals hate us and want us to die, but not before we leave the feed-room door open.

Q: Isn't that rather harsh?

A: Anyone who thinks that animals are our slaves, has never spent time on a farm. I mean a real, old-fashioned family farm, not a corporate concentration-camp meat factory. The animals take advantage of me something shameful, always shaking me down for food, or being recalcitrant, or just plain cussed'.

Q: Surely you exaggerate?

A: No. Imagine your dog, begging for a snack. Now make it a thousand-pound cow. They don't take 'no' for an answer.

Q: Then why do you do it?

A: What other business can you be in where you can eat your employees if they annoy you?

Q: You don't actually eat your cows, do you?

A: No, of course not. I couldn't hurt one of my own animals. My job is to look after them and protect them and keep them happy. I could never eat one of my own creatures, even though I threaten them with it. It's kind of like why God hasn't annihilated the humans yet, no matter how much we screw up, and tick him off, he just can't bring himself to destroy us.

Q: You seem to like comparing yourself to God.

A: Why do you think I'm a cartoonist?