Kansas City, MO
Date of Birth
Place of Birth
BA, Amherst College, 1984
Why did you choose to come to Amherst?
My Dad went there and I always liked the occasional visits as a kid. And, of course, there's the matter of wanting a good education.
Favorite (most memorable or most influential) class at Amherst:
I forget the exact title of the class, but it was the introduction to my computer algorithms class where I learned Pascal. Prior to that, my BASIC programming was all self-taught and it was really fun to learn to program computers in a more structured, logically sound way.
Favorite (most memorable or most influential) professor:
I had many, but Professors Starr, Romer and Jagu were all really great teachers and very supportive of my extracurricular cartooning work, even though it often destroyed my grades.
Awards and Prizes
Cartoonist of the Year, 2006, National Cartoonists Society
The Lord of the Rings
Tips for aspiring writers?
Find a deadline. The scarier, the better.
Tell us a bit about your path to becoming an author.
I came out of Amherst with a degree in physics, but had spent four years doing cartoons for the Student and thought I would at least give a comic strip career a shot before pursuing something more realistic. Newspaper
comics are generally distributed by a half dozen syndicates, so I sent a month's worth of strips off to all of them. As expected, all of them sent me rejection letters, but one was encouraging enough that I thought I'd try
another strip idea. This second strip attempt was FoxTrot, and after a couple years of rejection/revision/rejection/revision, I finally caught the editors of Universal Press Syndicate in a charitable mood and they offered me a 20-year deal in 1987. The strip launched six months later in April 1988.