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A boy and his dog? How about a girl and her unicorn?
Starting Monday, our comics pages are getting a fresh dose of magic and humor with the introduction of “Phoebe and Her Unicorn” by Dana Simpson. It will replace “The Born Loser” by Art and Chip Sansom.
Touted as an Internet comics sensation, the adventures of Phoebe, a “smart but not very focused” girl, and her best friend, Marigold, an arrogant and magical unicorn, are coming for the first time to newspapers. The Columbian is among nearly 100 papers eager to join the journey as it begins.
Launched as “Heavenly Nostrils” in 2012 on gocomics.com, it quickly gained an avid following and praise.
“‘Phoebe and Her Unicorn’ is nothing less than the best comic strip to come along since ‘Calvin and Hobbes.’ Simpson is that good, and that original,” said Peter S. Beagle, the author of “The Last Unicorn.”
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Simpson is a Washington native. Born in Pullman, she grew up in the Seattle area, where she still lives. While attending The Evergreen State College, she was a finalist for the Scripps-Howard Charles M. Schulz College Cartoonist Award. Her first comic, “Ozy and Millie,” which she drew for 10 years, developed a cult following. In 2009, she won the Amazon/Universal Uclick Comic Strip Superstar Contest, which allowed her to start “Heavenly Nostrils.” The strip’s name was changed to “Phoebe and Her Unicorn” when it was announced that it would be syndicated for newspapers.
Simpson is also releasing a new book of Phoebe and Marigold’s adventures, “Unicorn on a Roll: Another Phoebe and Her Unicorn Adventure,” on May 26.
As this is the first time Phoebe’s story will appear in newspapers, this week’s strips will focus on Phoebe and Marigold’s meeting and the development of their friendship. Phoebe’s parents, Ethan and Emily, who are laid-back suburbanites, are unfazed by a unicorn friend and willing to let their daughter be who she wants to be. Max is Pheobe’s friend, but he is usually distracted by video games. Pheobe’s biggest enemy is the most popular girl in school, Dakota, who just doesn’t get how someone as “lame” as Phoebe could be friends with a unicorn.
Starting next Sunday, April 5, “Pheobe and Her Unicorn” strips will be fresh for both online and newspaper readers.
Looking back, forward
We received dozens of emails and voice mail messages about the changes we made in December to our comics lineup. The feedback was welcome, and we are keeping track of our readers’ opinions.
We knew that there would be cheers and jeers about any changes to our comics pages, but the two strips that got the greatest response were “Agnes” and “Get Fuzzy.”
We understand the disappointment about “Agnes” and may consider bringing the strip back. In “Get Fuzzy’s” case, author Darby Conley appears to have stopped producing daily strips. The last new daily strip was published in November 2013, and he is sporadic with Sunday strips. At The Columbian, we want to feature new content, so until Conley starts writing a daily strip again, we will not be returning “Get Fuzzy” to our lineup.
Some readers have pointed out a hypocrisy in dropping strips for being in reruns, such as “For Better or For Worse” and now “Get Fuzzy” but keeping “Peanuts.” For now, “Peanuts” has what we consider a prestigious reputation as a consistent pop culture icon and has a nostalgia that most of our readers are not ready to abandon. At some point in the near future, we will discontinue it, but not quite yet.