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Ask An Intro To A Fox Trot Cartoon Collection

Dear Intro To A Fox Trot Cartoon Collection,

My grandfather recently cleaned out his attic and gave a lot of things to his grandkids. For some reason, though, he favored my cousin Eric. For example, he gave him a lot of great old vinyl records–even though Eric doesn't have a record player and everyone in the family knows I'm a record collector. Am I looking a gift horse in the mouth, or am I right to be upset by this apparent favoritism?

—Stiffed In Stamford

Dear Stiffed,

You hold in your hands what is labeled a "treasury," but it would be more accurate to call it a "treasure." Simply put, Bill Amend's Fox Trot does for the American family what Cathy Guisewite's Cathy does for the single woman. Amend takes the fears, hopes, dreams, and touching moments of family life and imbues them with unparalleled humanity. Like any great cartoonist, it's Amend's eye for the follies and foibles of everyday life that makes Fox Trot special. From Andy's unpopular attempts at vegetarian cooking to Roger's obsession with going bald, from Paige's love of ice cream to Jason's pathological desire to conquer every math problem thrown at him, Amend succeeds at making the Fox family real–and really funny.

Dear Intro To A Fox Trot Cartoon Collection,

I am a single, reasonably attractive woman who works in a small office. My problem is the man in the cubicle next to mine. He constantly flirts with me, and it has become uncomfortable. I don't believe in dating coworkers, and I don't think I'd be interested in him even if I did. Since we work in such close quarters, how do I tell him to buzz off without complicating our working relationship?

—Uncomfortable In Upper Darby

Dear Uncomfortable,

As the creator of Funky Winkerbean and, hence, someone in direct competition with Bill Amend, I find myself wondering why I'm penning this intro. But then I realize that, just like the Foxes, we in the cartoon biz are really one big happy-but-dysfunctional family. Amend is like a brother to me and, just like a typical sibling rivalry, I'm envious of his talent. His strip transcends the mundane and renders everyday life with insight one rarely finds in a daily strip. Who can't relate to the sibling triad that forms the Fox offspring? Don't we all have a shopping-obsessed sister like Paige or a wannabe-jock brother like Peter? For me, it's the iguana-loving sci-fi nerd Jason who resonates most. From Jason's constant attempts to torment Paige to his wild schemes with best pal Marcus, Amend seems to have torn pages directly out of my childhood journals ("Mom! Bill's been reading my diary!") and immortalized them in ink on bristol board. He's that good.

Dear Intro To A Fox Trot Cartoon Collection,

My 10-year-old son does nothing but hole up in his room and play on his computer all day. I'd like him to get out more, enjoying the fresh air and the company of other kids, instead of living in cyberspace. Whenever I suggest this to him, he just goes back to his hacking or whatever it is he's doing. Is there a way for me to reason with him, or will I have to put his iMac under lock and keyboard?

—Worried In Winnetka

Dear Worried,

Odie the dog. Heathcliff the cat. Kvack the duck. The comic-strip universe suffers from no shortage of memorable pets, but there's no critter quite like Quincy the iguana. Whether he's scarfing down mealworms, destroying Paige's sweaters, or enjoying one of Jason's tummy rubs, the irrepressible Quincy redefines the term "man's best friend." Maybe it's Quincy's unflagging loyalty to Jason. Or his coy, vacant expression. Or the way he licks Jason's arm when he's slumped over the table in despair. I can't really say for sure, but I do know that if Jason ever needed someone to iguana-sit Quincy, I'd happily do it for free. That is Bill Amend's gift. His characters, even the non-human ones, leap off the page and straight into your heart–with laughter. So welcome to the weird, warm, wonderful world of Bill Amend's Fox Trot: It's a place where you're sure to feel right at home.

Introduction, Fox Trot: The Works is an advice columnist whose syndicated column, Ask An Intro To A Fox Trot Cartoon Collection appears in more than 250 newspapers nationwide.

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