Friday, May 4, 2007

Welcome to Falling Rock National Park!

Hello friends. If you're anything like me, you love comic strips. I'm not talking about the shitty ones like Garfield, Beetle Bailey or, worst of the worst, Family Circus. No, I'm talking actual, funny comics, the ones that make you laugh. Or better yet, make you laugh and think. The Far Side, Doonesbury, Get Fuzzy, This Modern World and Calvin and Hobbes are more along the line of what I'm talking about, and so is Welcome to Falling Rock National Park.
McBone is proud to give a McBone shout-out to Josh Shalek, creator of the daily strip, Welcome to Falling Rock National Park. I first met Josh when we were both slumming at the Boulder, Colorado Barnes and Noble, and, seeing that we shared so many common interests (pirates, robots and radioactive spiders to name a few), we formed a fast friendship. It was then that he introduced me to his strip, The Family Monster. I loved it, and have been a devoted reader of his work ever since.

The Family Monster has since been retired, but with WFRNP Josh has taken his art to new heights. WFRNP takes place on a national park in the American west and revolves around the adventures of five characters: Ernesto, an abnormally large lizard who wears a baseball jersey; Carver, a grumpy, self-righteous owl; Melissa, a sometimes vicious but more often languid mountain lion; Pam, a chain-smoking, retired school teacher javelina; and Dee, the park ranger (if you are familiar with Josh's work, you know Dee quite well already).

WFRNP is philosophical, political, poignant, irreverent, absurd and always funny. It pokes fun at all things in life that take themselves too seriously. There are guest characters (one of Josh's most effective trademarks), improbable situations and wonderfully drawn characters and desert landscapes. Perhaps his greatest talent as a cartoonist, though, is that his strip is never repetitive and always pushing its own boundaries.
But enough of what I think. Check out the two strips I've posted here (just click on the image to enlarge), and then spend a while on Josh's website. I suggest visiting his archive and reading a couple of week's worth of strips. Get to know the characters and the park and afterwards you too will be wondering why, when there are artists like this out there, must we put up retreads like Hagar the Horrible, Blondie and Hi and Lois, day after day after day.


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