Originally created 09/01/02

Cat, dog mayhem begins



Bucky Katt is a one-fanged Siamese terror, all attitude and no brain.

The wristwatch-wearing Shar-Pei Satchel Pooch is sweet-natured, but just as brainless.

They share a home with their guardian (definitely not their "owner") Rob Wilco, the straight man to their comic mayhem in the comic strip Get Fuzzy.

The 3-year-old strip from cartoonist Darby Conley is carried in more than 300 newspapers. It is the guest strip for September and will run Monday through Saturday on the comics page. With readers voting 2-to-1 in its favor, Zits, the guest strip for August, is a permanent addition to the comics page. The comic strip Cathy will go on hiatus during Get Fuzzy's run.

Each month, The Chronicle will introduce a new comic in the mix. You'll have a chance to say what you think about the strip, and whether the strip displaced by the tryout comic should return. You can vote beginning Monday by e-mail at feature@augustachronicle.com, or by calling Infoline at 442-4444, then dialing 4927.

More than 280 readers voted by e-mail or phone in August. Zits seemed to enjoy a broad base of support.

"I like this one," said a voting mom. "I've got teens and I can relate to this guy. I like this far better than the other one. It's kind of like Baby Blues or For Better or Worse where you can relate to the situation."

Several readers suggested Cathy as a candidate for a hiatus.

The tryout candidate Get Fuzzy has had one of the most successful start-ups ever for a comic.

Some cartoonists have strips with a message, but Mr. Conley, 32, said he goes for a good laugh.

"I try to be funny a lot," he said in a telephone interview. "A lot of people won't think I am, but I try to give people a little window ... Hopefully they'll get a joke out of it."

Sweet-natured Satchel was inspired by Patch, a childhood pet. Bucky, meanwhile, was inspired by a girlfriend's Siamese that wasn't exactly enthralled with Mr. Conley.

The cartoonist said he is hard-pressed to draw inspiration from home: He lives in an apartment in Boston that doesn't allow pets. He's seeking to remedy the situation by buying a house.

Mr. Conley says he works 60-70 hours a week on the strip. He's been drawing since his childhood years in Knoxville, Tenn.

He got the strip's name in another Southern college town, Athens, Ga., home base for his brother Tim Conley's band, The Fuzzy Sprouts. He did a promotional poster for the band with the line: "Life's too short to try to be cool. Get Fuzzy."

There have been preliminary talks about a Get Fuzzy movie, but for now, Mr. Conley said he's content to stick with Bucky and company.

"I'm not a guy who can do two strips at once," he said.

JUST FOR LAUGHS

Beginning Monday, changes are coming to the comics page, with Get Fuzzy replacing Cathy. Let us know what you think. Call Infoline at 442-4444 and press 4927, or send e-mail to feature@augustachronicle.com. To make an online forum posting on comics, go to augustachronicle.com/forums. Any questions? Call Tharon Giddens at (706) 823-3347.

Reach Tharon Giddens at (706) 823-3347 or tharon.giddens@augustachronicle.com.