New comic strip focuses on trend of 'boomerang' children


If you've got an adult child crashing on a couch for several weeks or more, you've got a boomerang kid.


The dynamics of such a family are explored in the comic strip Dustin , created by Steve Kelley and Jeff Parker. Dustin begins a monthlong trial beginning Monday on the main comics page.

Dustin Kudlick is 23 years old. He's a college grad, but a dreamer, who lives in the apartment above his parents' garage and messes up temp job after temp job, biding his time until the PGA calls him up and the endorsements roll in. Or perhaps until his stand-up comedy career takes off. Or anything else happens that guarantees him wealth and an easy lifestyle.

Kelley said the economy has created a large group of boomerang kids who can't find a job after college or are unable to sustain the lifestyle they were accustomed to growing up.

"(Moving back home) sounds good, but it creates problems," Kelley said. "All of that is fun to explore with humor."

Dustin's lack of direction exasperates his practical lawyer of a father, Ed, and his shopaholic mother, Helen, who is a talk-show host and hometown celebrity.

His sister, Megan, is the anti-Dustin, who at 16 carries straight A's and already has her sights set on Harvard and a career on a corporate board.

"The characters are largely my personality sliced up into pie pieces," said Kelley, who conceived the strip. "I'm a very practical human being, which Ed is. At the same time, I'm a dreamer."

Kelley and Parker are both political cartoonists, Kelley with the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and Parker with Florida Today and syndicated through Cagle Cartoons Syndicate.

Kelley has been writing jokes for more than 30 years and has performed as a stand-up comic on The Tonight Show seven times with Johnny Carson and Jay Leno.

The strip is a longtime dream for both of them.

"I've always wanted to get a comic strip going," Parker said. "With comic strips, you have characters to develop so the readers can become involved in their lives and want to follow along."

Parker creates Dustin's characters through visual representations and backgrounds that Kelley called magical.

Kelley provides the strip's engaging dialogue.

"I think Steve's one of the funniest people around," Parker said.

What to expect

- Dustin will run Mondays-Saturdays through March 19 instead of Brewster Rockit. Look for Dustin on the upper right of the comics page. The Pajama Diaries will move down.

- We will follow that with a tryout of Fort Knox, a strip about a military family. Look for Fort Knox on March 22 or see it at