So, how did you get involved with the Tucson Weekly?
I knew about a publication prior to the Weekly, called Coyote. Doug Biggers and Mark Goehring had founded it with several other people. .... They were some hippie types putting out a monthly publication. ... I just went into the office, said hi, and started contributing. After a year, Coyote was discontinued because it wasn't making any money, and they (Biggers and Goehring) decided they wanted to start the Weekly. They asked me if I wanted to do a strip, and I said, "Sure." I started a strip called C.L. Dobbs.
Its main character was a coyote.
Yeah. I guess I've always been disposed to using desert creatures whenever I could. ... I also had a coyote in the strip in Coyote. The strip was called Sirius. ... I only did a half-dozen or those. I tweaked it and changed a few things, and called it C.L. Dobbs. ... It started off as a single-shot gag every week, like K.Rat, but I moved into continuity, so there would be a story that would continue from one week to the next. One continuity ran 40 strips (out of 130 total). Later on, I decided that wasn't a good idea in a weekly publication.
After C.L. Dobbs, was that when K.Rat was born, or was there something in between?
There was something in between. I did C.L. Dobbs until about the fall of 1986. Then I did Entropede. That featured a centipede-like insect. ... It symbolized disorder in the universe. ... It was twice the size of C.L. Dobbs and K.Rat, with two tiers and six to eight panels instead of three or four. It was very philosophical and introspective, kind of Twilight Zone-ish. It was a lot of work, and I was only doing it every other week later on; it was some heavy stuff. I am glad I did it, but it was ultimately too taxing. I quit after about nine months, in the summer of '87. I took about a year off--I was just too burned out at that point. When I decided to get back into the comic thing, I came up with K.Rat.
What is K.Rat, and what does the name mean?
Kangaroo rat. That's an easy question to answer. He's just another character that can be a mascot for Tucson. I like drawing animals more than people. ... It's different from C.L. Dobbs in that I concentrate more irony into the strips. I am able to use the quirkier sides of my sense of humor.
Why do you think you're the only local contributor who's stayed with the Weekly from the start?
I don't know. I guess I am fairly dogged in whatever I do; I am persistent, and once I start something, I keep at it. ... It keeps me active as a cartoonist.
You've seen a lot of changes at the Weekly over the two decades. What are some high and low points?
I've seen a lot of change there. When it started out, it was basically in 1 1/2 rooms, and it had four employees. I actually worked as a designer there for a year or so, from 1986-'88 or so. I'd say the low point came in 1989 or so, when the two founders got into a dogfight over who was going to control the paper. They were old friends who had worked together in harmony, and for whatever reason, it fell apart, and Mark ended up leaving; a lot of people left at that point. ... I met my wife there in 1987; she was a graphic designer. That's a high point, I guess. And speaking frankly, I haven't been too happy with the Wick buyout since it happened (in 2000). It had been a pretty collegial place, and it became more corporate. ... A lot of people didn't react well to the Wick way of doing things.
Any other thoughts after 20 years?
I think there's something to be said about the fact that tonight, I am finishing up K.Rat No. 750. ... Even though it hasn't made me rich, it's been valuable and important, to stay in that groove, and work it and develop it. I know that for the people who read it, they know that it's been a fixture in their lives for quite a while.