Originally created 12/31/06

'Diaries' focuses on working mom



Jill has a husband, two daughters and a career.

Balancing life as the wife of Rob and the mother of 6-year-old Amy and 4-year-old Jess while working from home - which inevitably coincides with domestic duties - can make for some funny and interesting tales.

Jill and her family are featured in The Pajama Diaries, a comic strip by Terri Libenson that is set to run weekdays and Saturdays beginning Monday in The Augusta Chronicle.

The strip will get a test run as a replacement for Fox Trot, which is now a Sunday-only strip. Fox Trot cartoonist Bill Amend decided to drop all but the Sunday strip so he could develop other interests.

Mrs. Libenson said that though she is married with two daughters, ages 6 and 4, and does work from home, The Pajama Diaries is not exactly a snapshot of her life.

"It is and it isn't," she said in a recent phone interview from her home in Cleveland, Ohio. "I do tend to work from life a lot. I thought I could sort of loosely base it on my own family. The characters are definitely based on us, but they kind of take on a life form of their own. I can already see their personalities going in different directions."

Mrs. Libenson had wanted to be a cartoonist since childhood. After graduating from college in 1992, she got a job as a greeting card writer and illustrator at American Greetings. She is still with the company part time, and she said the position provided the perfect medium for her to begin getting her cartoons out and to improve her editing, writing and artistic skills.

Mrs. Libenson first named the strip Mommy Diaries, but she took the advice of her editor to make some changes to broaden its appeal.

"We kind of took the focus away from Mommy because we wanted it to be more about Jill. And I also wanted to have a comic strip - a family strip - that showed more of the female point of view," she said. "The other thing, too, is it's just the whole juggling factor that mothers tend to go through nowadays, especially if they're working, I wanted to sort of bring that to life as well and just make some social commentary about that. That's a large part of my strip."

She chose the name because the strip is delivered in diary format and the main character works in her pajamas all day. The strip started in March and is in about 40 newspapers.

One main difference between her strip and others is that the characters will age.

"I have kind of an observational humor," she said, "and I just can't imagine having a teenager in my own life and still writing about a 6-year-old."

Reach C. Samantha McKevie at (706) 823-3552 or samantha.mckevie@augustachronicle.com.