• A cardinal holding an envelope lands on a branch near a squirrel holding an acorn. Cal: "Hey, Skip! I just got a letter from my cousin!"
    • Skip: "You mean the penguin who lives in the Arctic but hates the cold?" Cal: "That's the one." A purple penguin shivers outside his igloo, wearing earmuffs, mittens, and boots.
    • Cal: "Let's see what he wrote." Skip: "There's a photo, too. Uh... what does the letter say, Cal?" Cal, reading the letter: "What the...?" (From below the acorn's former location comes a "CLUNK. OUCH!")
    • A purple penguin wearing sunglasses and green swimtrunks rides a wave on an orange surfboard as the sun beats down. "Dear Cal, I don't care what Al Gore says -- *I love global warming!* Come visit me here in the Artic [sic] sometime. The waves are incredible! Cowabunga! - Pert Penguin"

    January 30, 2008 (published) / May 12, 2012 (posted here)

    This is the "pilot" of Skip & Cal, so to speak. It was drawn over winter break of 2007-2008 after the senior staff at the Cardinal Courier offered to let me do a comic strip with subject matter of my own choosing in addition to the editorial cartoon I’d started doing that semester. It’s also the only strip ever to be done in color.

    I don’t remember if this strip actually ended up in an issue of the Courier or not, but it does mark the official naming of my squirrel and cardinal characters as "Skip Squirrel" and "Cal Cardinal" (which were coined by my dad). (Note, however, that this wasn’t actually the first appearance of the characters themselves. They’d been appearing in the editorial cartoons in some form or another since I started drawing them. In fact, their personalities pretty much solidified in their first cartoon together.)

    This strip also marks the first appearance of Cal’s cousin Pert Penguin. He seems to be enjoying global climate change more than your average arctic creature.

    Details Pro Tip: Pay attention to Skip’s acorn from the first frame to the third. That squirrel does it even when he doesn’t mean to!

    This work originally appeared in the Cardinal Courier, the award-winning student-run newspaper at St. John Fisher College, between 2007 and 2011.