Behind every comic strip there is a cartoonist, and behind Fort Knox, is Paul Jon Boscacci. Living the life of a Military Brat has given him rich experiences to literally draw upon for his Fort Knox characters, and in this article, Jon tells us what got him started, and how we all can help keep him going!
They always tell you to “write what you know” and I ignored that advice until 2005.
Striving to be a syndicated cartoonist, I worked on any and every idea I could think of . . . with little success. I created a comic strip based on a park ranger, a little kid inventor, an alien, a family headed by a dog, but (strangely) nothing ever interested the syndicates . . . until I decided to work on something that I could actually relate to.
In early 2005, I contacted Amy Lago, the comics editor at the Washington Post Writers Group and former editor to Charles Schulz, with an idea: I wanted to do a comic strip about growing up in a military family.
She encouraged me to develop it, so I hit the drawing board. Within a few weeks, I created Fort Knox.
The Knox family is based on my own family: It includes my father (Joe)—a colonel who spent over 30 years in the Army, my long-suffering mother (Jane), my red-haired megalomaniac brother (Dan) who carried a briefcase and wore a tie to kindergarten, and me—a weak asthmatic who was the perfect bait for every bully in town.
I kept my parents’ first names the same, but changed my brother’s name to “Donald” and mine to “Wesley.” I also added a love interest to the mix: Betty Wu.
Betty is based on my strong-willed wife and named after an old co-worker. I rounded out the cast with my wild grandmother who tried to get gun lessons when she turned 80 (named “Pearl” in the strip), General Wickum—named after a general that used to live down the street from us, and Frank Tucker who’s based on every friend my dad’s ever had.
Life in Fort Knox
Even though we lived in or near many different Army bases, the strip centers on my family’s experiences at Fort Knox, Kentucky from 1985 to 1986. At that time, I was an accident-prone asthmatic sharing a room with a brother who was solely focused on world domination. He was even known to conspire with his teddy bear (in the strip this bear is named “Fidel”).
Fort Knox was both a wonderful and horrifying experience for me. On the positive side, I was spoiled by my parents because they thought my asthma was stomping the life out of me. (Honestly, I’m not really sure that was true, but the Christmas I spent there was the best one EVER. Santa was practically drown me with toys.)
On the other hand, I also had to deal with one of the meanest school bullies that I have ever known. His name was Mike and his eyes were covered by his long blonde hair. He was a tyrant who also considered me his best friend. (It’s hard to ” pal around” with someone who stuffs you in a locker.)
In the strip, Mike has been renamed “Kurt.” Aside from that, nothing else about his rotten self has been changed.
Launching “Fort Knox”
I spent three long years developing “Fort Knox” with Amy. She advised me on everything from character development to punchlines. Then, in April 2009, I received a call from her: They wanted to launch the strip in October.
After breathing into a paper bag for ten minutes, I hit the ground running.
By the October 5th launch date, I was well over twenty weeks ahead in drawing with one year of writing in the can. After months of hard work, we launched with the strip in 35 newspapers. Pretty darn good in such a tough economic climate.
With the strip launched, my main focus now is to reach out to other Military families and offer them a voice on the comic pages. So, I’ve partnered with sites such as Military Brats Online and I am featured on other sites including ArmyWifeNetwork.com.
I’ve even set up a Facebook fan site at www.facebook.com/fortknoxcomic that has grown to over 1,200 members in two months! Check it out and I’d LOVE for you to become a member too.
I’m also looking forward to doing more work with the USO – a true friend of Military families everywhere.
How You Can Help Our Cause
If your local newspaper does not run Fort Knox, please call and ask to speak to the editor, and follow up with an email or write the newspaper.
You can also point your newspaper over to The Washington Post Writer’s Group for syndication information.?? For now, feel free to check out “Fort Knox” online at http://www.gocomics.com/fortknox and much thanks for your support!
Lastly, if you want to drop me a email letting me know you have seen the strip or that you you support what I am doing, email me at: email@example.com.