rocks will fall

guest strip: welcome to falling rock national park

three aprils ago, on an unexpectedly sunny day in portland, oregon, i first made the acquaintance of the strange and lovable creatures that inhabit falling rock national park. from behind my table at the stumptown comics festival i thumbs-uped a passing gent with a tidy ginger beard and an obama t-shirt. he approached and asked if i’d liked to trade a copy of tick for a collection of his daily comic strip, bound in a small volume bearing a striking resemblance to the iconic mass-market edition of allen ginsberg’s howl, only without the “h.”

wrong

the owl in question, of course, was carver, who quickly became my favorite libertarian (although i confess the competition for this title is not particularly fierce). josh’s comics were a shot of soul into a cold, market-tested, vector-based world. his characters didn’t make pop-culture references or say shocking things to get your attention. there was no forced “edginess” or cynical appeal to any particular readership demographic. like many of my favorite stories, these took place in some improbable limbo between childhood and adulthood (the kind of place that, as a kid, i longed to find, and have spent my adult life attempting to inhabit). the characters, not unlike the muppets, can’t take care of themselves, yet still manage to care for each other. they’re consistently funny, which is no small feat for a daily strip, but more importantly, they have heart.

peg

if you aren’t familiar with falling rock, it is likely because of these merits. unlike many of his contemporaries, josh does not tailor his work to procure a particular audience; he just makes an honest, idiosyncratic, lovely little comic, day after day, and allows its readers to come to it. the difference, i assure you, is staying power: josh is building something that will last, a timeless and memorable menagerie that gets under your skin and never leaves. we devoted readers get to watch him craft this world in real-time. you don’t want to miss it.

crit

all of which is to explain why, when i first discovered josh’s tradition of inviting guest artists to concoct an april fool’s day strip, i resolved to one day receive such an invitation. today it is my pleasure to report that “doing a falling rock guest strip” is the second major life ambition i can cross off my list (the first, of course, was convincing a foxy hipster chick to gay-marry me):

carven and ernestosh

i dread the day, surely not far off, when josh’s fans begin compiling “which falling rock inhabitant are you” quizzes on their various social networks. despite our political differences, i’m certain i’ll come up carver every time. it is most apparent when i table with josh at festivals, as i will next weekend at mocca. if you stop by, you’ll be able to witness first hand life imitating art: josh will be tall, soft-spoken, sweet, and unpretentious, unflappable in the face of my small, curmudgeonly, gratuitously honest self.

but carver gives me hope there’s a lovable version of me, if only i can draw it out.

owl art

scribble