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The Comic Strip

By Brett A. Fisher

IntroductionBy Brett A. FisherGreetings! My name is Brett Fisher, and Ive been drawing cartoons since I was ten years old.Ive been published in a few small publications over the years, including my high school and college newspapers, local weeklies, and even a local online news page.I earned a bachelor of arts degree in liberal studies/social sciences from Oregon State University in 1999, and I spent a decade performing various para-professional tasks in newspaper journalism; including time spent as a reporter and an editor.I also worked nearly nine years in state government as a low-level bureaucrat.My wife and I have been married for going on ten years. We have one adopted child, two god-children, and one grand god-child. We served as foster parents for four years as well.The comic strip you will read about on the following slides represents the culmination of a lifelong pursuit of mine. It has taken me 20 years to summon the courage to submit this story for publication, primarily because a good comic strip relates well to the lives of readers. I wanted to make sure I had garnered enough life experience to know what I was talking about when telling a story that people can appreciate.The story of Utopia is about family, work and careers, middle-aged crises, parenthood, retirement, the golden years, and any number of subtle nuances that life of the average rat racer entails.I spent over 20 years in the rat race myself, trying hard to work my way up a ladder to no where special. I realized a couple of years ago what I had been doing, and how much of my time had been wasted focused on the proverbial brass ring of success.One of the main characters of this strip, Jim Bob Ratson, is loosely modeled after me and work I did for state government. He is frequently lamenting his job, his career, and ponders how pointless his work seems. He wants more out of life than three hots, a cot, and a pension. But he feels obligated to suffer through the rat race for the sake of his family, including the expectations of his elderly parents.In truth, life is indeed more than that, as I have been learning. And, so Jim Bob will be learning as the story goes along.My goal with this comic strip is to tell a story that appeals to a broad audience of readers: from professionals with young families and aging parents, to retirees having entered their golden years, to co-workers having to co-exist in the dog-eat-dog world of the rat race.I hope you enjoy reading this strip as much as I have enjoyed authoring it.I look forward to your feedback.

Sincerely,

Brett A. Fisher

Story SynopsisBy Brett A. FisherWelcome to Utopia, not exactly the perfect place on Earth but itll have to do. This is the story of the rat race, as told by three generations ofyou guessed itrats. Utopia is the story of the rat race told by those who have run their race, those still running it, and those yet to run it.Meet The Ratson family. Theres J.R. and Stella, the parents who live in a retirement community called Utopia Senior Living.J.R. Ratson (James Robert Ratson, Sr.) is a retired city sewer technician and Stella is a retired homemaker. J.R. is sociable in the community, but a bit cantankerous. He likes to complain about pretty much everything; but especially about his health, the food at the facility, and the temperature, which is often too cold for him. Stella is more mellow than her spouse, but even she can take to complaining about Utopia; especially the younger female staff. Both enjoy the company of their friends and peers, as well as regular visits from their son and his family. They also interact regularly with staff, from the cafeteria servers, the janitor, and the activities director.J.R. particularly enjoys sitting in the lounge and discussing a variety of subjects with his friends, including the stogie-loving George Ratburn; cynical and pessimistic Archie Ratzke; the vain bachelor, Rayford Ratgood; Elmer Ratworm, a retired librarian and book aficionado; Dudley Ratweed, an old hippie; and Claude Ratberry, a disembodied rat brain in a jar and the oldest resident of Utopia. Stella stays busy with her knitting while chewing the fat with her girlfriends, Gracie Ratburn, Eunice Ratzke, and bachelorettes Ines and Gloria.J.R. and Stella have finished their rat race, and are contentedly watching the rest still run theirs, including their son, James Robert Ratson, Jr., a mid-career bureaucrat working at the Bureau of Everything and Nothing Specific (BEANS) as a Client Support Specialist.Jim Boy, or Jimbo, as Stella and J.R. affectionately refer to him, actually prefers to be called Jim Bob. He hates it when his parents call him Jim Boy and Jimbo.Jim Bob is married to Wanda, and together they have a three-year-old toddler son named James Robert Ratson III, whom they call Jimmy, and a new baby girl named Roberta, or Bertie.While Jim Bob dithers away at his job, Wanda juggles full-time motherhood and homemaking with a cosmetology business that she runs out of the home. She frequently calls Jim Bob at work to report their childrens latest behaviors, which keeps their lives interesting, to say the least.Jim Bob dislikes his job and his career. He has come to lament having heeded his fathers advice to start building a pension. He really wants to be a novelist, to the chagrin of his parents, and spends what little free time he has writing his thoughts down. But his father, J.R., frequently reminds him that starving artists dont eat.At work, Jim Bob complains to co-workers about life in general. His lamentations fall on the ears of Rhoda, a cranky but savvy senior bureaucrat on the eve of her own retirement; Art, a connoisseur of other peoples lunches; and Maurice, the temp and new guy. Then there is Jim Bobs itinerant supervisor Selma, a keen micromanager. Jim Bob often tries to find ways to avoid her, because she tries to persuade him to work overtime and to take on other peoples work, including her own. Sarcastic supervisor Tony interacts with Jim Bob on occasion, too, just to annoy his subordinate.

Character ProfilesJ.R. Ratson: The Ratson patriarch, who resides with his wife, Stella, at Utopia Senior Living. J.R. enjoys sitting in the parlor with his best friend, George Ratburn, sparring over words and complaining about pretty much everything. He is a retired sewer technician that now draws from his full pension. He lectures his son on the virtues of working for a pension.Stella Ratson: J.R.s wife and better half, Stella is often found in the sitting room or den, crocheting or knitting. Stella enjoys spending time with her best friend, Gracie Ratburn, thinning the wallet at the local shopping center, jawzersizing, or chewing the gristle, as her husband puts it.Jim Bob Ratson: J.R. and Stellas middle-aged son, who is also a mid-career bureaucrat working at the Bureau of Everything and Nothing Specific (BEANS). Jim Bob hates his job and his career, but he feels stuck in it. Secretly, he wants to be a novelist, but everything he brings it up to J.R. and Stella, he gets the old starving artist shtick. Even Jim Bobs wife, Wanda, encourages him to stick it out until retirement so that they can qualify for a full pension. Jim Bob is often at odds with his immediate supervisor, Selma, a master micromanager.Wanda Ratson: Jim Bobs wife and mother of their only child, a son named Jimmy. Wanda is a homemaker who also operates her own cosmetology business out of the home. Some of her best customers are the ladies at Utopia Senior Living. When not selling her cosmetic products, Wanda is often chasing after Jimmy, and reporting her sons antics to Jim Bob. Although she is sympathetic to her husbands dream of becoming a novelist, she encourages him to stick it out until he can retire on a full pension.Jimmy Ratson: Jim Bob and Wandas oldest child. A three-year-old who likes to play on mommys smart phone.Roberta Bertie Ratson: Jim Bob and Wandas new baby girl.George Ratburn: The stogie loving best friend of J.R. Ratson. His sarcastic sense of humor leads to spirited spars with his bud. The two specialize in complaining about everything. The only person besides J.R. targeted as much by Georges sarcasm is his wife, Gracie. The two relish in roasting one another.Gracie Ratburn: Georges wife and Stellas best friend. Gracies wit is a match for her husbands sarcasm. Gracie enjoys roasting her husband, George, almost as much as he does her.Claude Ratberry: The oldest resident at Utopia Senior Living, Ratberry exists these days as a disembodied brain in a jar. Although he is bodiless, Ratberry is not brainless. He still has his wits about him, and his IQ is probably the highest in the place. He credits this to the formaldehyde, which has swelled his brain to three times its normal size. Ratberry has aspirations of running for President.Rayford Ratgood: Vain bachelor and technology aficionado. He is always sporting the latest, though sometimes not so greatest, fashion accessories for bachelors. He enjoys fraternizing with the bachelorettes of Utopia.Elmer Ratworm: Retired librarian, avid reader, book collector, and Utopias resident encyclopedia of trivia.Dudley Ratweed: Utopias resident ex-hippie complete with dreadlocks.Archie Ratzke: Cynical and insulting friend to J.R.Eunice Ratzke: Good friend to Stella, and the usual target of her husbands insults. But she can dish out as well as he does, too.Ines and Gloria: Two makeover-loving bachelorette residents of Utopia.Activities Director: Often at odds with the residents over everything from games to grub, food fights and dining room protests.Supervisor Selma: Jim Bobs micro-managing office supervisor.Supervisor Tony: Another one of Jim Bobs office tormentors.Rhoda: Jim Bobs colleague and late-career bureaucrat whose simplistic desire to eat, sleep and soon retire irks Jim Bob to no end.Art: Jim Bobs colleague and aficionado o