By: Todd Clark and Steve Dickenson

How long have you been doing the strip? "It's just starting, so it's only been months leading up to the launch." (TC)

How do you divvy up the work? "We both draw. We both write. But I'm better looking. It's usually the image that comes first, but not always." (SD)

Where do you find inspiration? "From the fact that I've got a family and bills. Actually, the image usually dictates the inspiration." (TC)

Do you wish you lived in the '50s? Or, relieved that you didn't? "I DID live in the '50s. I'd go back tomorrow. There was a post-World War II climate of naive optimism that we could do anything." (SD) "I couldn't live without pause and rewind on live TV anymore, but the extreme political correctness of today drives me a bit crazy." (TC)

Is this what you always wanted to be? "Since rock star doesn't seem to be happening, I've wanted to cartoon since I was about 18." (TC) "No questions asked. It happened in the second grade as I stumbled across a 'Peanuts' book in the school library." (SD)

Still keep your day job? "What's a 'job'? Is this a trick question?" (SD)

What's your order at the coffee shop? "My little girl and I have a three Mocha Frappé a week habit." (TC) "Coffee. Three creams. Three sugars. It annoys the snobs behind me." (SD)


By: Piers Baker

How long have you been drawing the strip? "It started life as a story about a lifeboat man and his seagull sidekick about 10 years ago. Five years ago, I introduced a lugworm called Quentin and phased out the lifeboat man. (There are only so many jokes you can write about a lifeboat)."

Where you do gain inspiration? "I have Ollie and Quentin's whole world in my head now so quite often I just throw them into a situation and see what they do."

How do you describe your drawing style? "Tintin meets Wallace & Gromit."

Is this what you wanted to be when you grew up? "Absolutely! As a child I thought all grownups had to do serious jobs like be lawyers, doctors or teachers. All I wanted to do was draw. I used to set myself difficult cartoon examinations to help improve my skills -- not easy stuff like dogs and monsters, but difficult things like horses with their stupid impossible hind legs."

Do you still keep your day job? "Sadly, yes. I draw cartoons for children's schoolbooks during the day, which is a lovely way to earn a living, but I'd prefer to dedicate the time to my strip."

Do some jokes not translate from England to elsewhere? "I do have to think a bit about it, but not a great deal. I've had to change the odd word and some of the spelling, but I'd say 99 percent of what you'll see in Minneapolis is as it would appear in the U.K."

What's your usual order at the coffee shop? "Really, really dull. A huge decaf americano. Maybe two. Yawn."


By: Tony Murphy

How long have you been doing the strip? "A while. It was originally called 'Love Junk.' It got a boost in 2004, then got picked up by the [Washington Post Writers Group] syndicate."

Where do you find inspiration? "It's just little things I think are funny. They're true and people can relate to them."

Is it all about you? "It really is about me, but if you can relate to it, it's all about you."

Is this what you always wanted to be? "I was a sports nut as a kid. I wanted to be whatever season it was. But then I read 'Peanuts Jubilee' when I was 12 years old -- although there's no college major for cartooning."

What's most challenging? "Trying to make a punchline work. A fun part of the creative process is that once I have three or four ideas, another one will come along. The more you do, then the more you can do. Also, I keep notes about ideas. You learn through painful experience that you cannot keep it in your head."

Still keep your day job? "I'm a proofreader at DC Comics."

What's your order at the coffee shop? "Cappuccino. Make it a cappuccini half-caff. That's funnier."


By: Richard Thompson

How long have you been doing the strip? "'Cul de Sac' started in the Washington Post Sunday Magazine almost four years ago. Already it feels like forever, though I'm enjoying it a lot."

Where do you find your inspiration? "All around me, I can barely move without tripping over inspiration or stepping in it. Today I found out that my older daughter has divided up her closet into ranges of clothing that are more and least likely to be worn; this could easily translate into something Petey, the somewhat neurotic 8-year-old in the strip, might do, only the clothes would be segregated into groups labeled 'Itchy' or 'Likely to make people stare unduly.'"

Are you one of the characters? "I'm all of them, unfortunately, mostly Petey."

What's most challenging? "Finishing a drawing; without a deadline I'm useless."

Is this what you wanted to grow up to be? "It is, though I had shifting plans. One childhood dream was to join the Black Watch Royal Highland Regiment and play in their bagpipe band and I figure if the cartooning thing goes south, I could still give it a shot."

Do you have a day job? "I do, but it's drawing cartoons. I do a weekly cartoon for the Washington Post called Richard's Poor Almanac and I freelance illustration work."

What's your regular order at the coffee shop? "We go to the neighborhood diner pretty often, and if you order coffee, that about covers the options available. Their coffee's atrocious, but the waitress will call you doll face and serve you a one-eyed bacon cheeseburger, too."

Kim Ode • 612-673-7185