From the book, "Fox Trot" by Bill Amend (Bill Watterson, designer)
In far too many comic strips, trendy stereotypes pass for humor, cliches pass for insight, mechanical repetition passes for story, and cute animals designed for merchandising pass for heart and warmth. Fox Trot offers welcome relief from all of this, and not a moment too soon.
It's refreshing to read a comic strip where the characters have real personality. The humor and appeal of Fox Trot derive from the interaction of its characters, not from silly events imposed from without. Each member of the Fox family has a unique identity that goes beyond his or her role in the household, and this gives the world of Fox Trot a veracity other family strips lack. The Fox family has the resonance of honest observation.
Fox Trot particularly captures the Machiavellian nature of adolescents. The balance of power between Peter, 16, Paige, 14, and Jason, 10, is a constantly bartered commodity, and alliances are fragile and short-lived. No collusion will survive an opportunity to get a sibling in trouble, and hesitant parents are goaded with the cry of, "Punish him! Punish him! Ground him! Ground him!" These kids are convincing.
The parents are also authentic, and not just cardboard authority figures propped up to let the kids steal the show, or alternatively, some drippy parental ideal. They disagree and occasionally set bad examples for the kids. Roger and Andy are lively, honest characters. They add another dimension to the strip.
And finally, a word ought to be said about Quincy, Jason's iguana. Amazingly, Quincy does not philosophize or think those cute thoughts that quickly put most comic strip animals into the greeting card business. Instead, Quincy is content to amuse himself with the consumption of mealworms and the havoc they sometimes wreak on his digestive tract. He acts, that is to say, like a real lizard.
The strip deserves attention for this bold stroke alone. In short, all a cartoonist really needs besides pen and paper is two open eyes. Human nature has a way of expressing itself in all people, and the cartoonist who can see this will never run out of ideas. Surprise is the base of all humor, and nothing is more surprising than truth.
Fox Trot has the ring of truth to it.