Basket Case is proud to help support Bill Holbrook’s Kevin and Kell strip. (Bill also draws and writes On the Fastrack and Safe Havens.) I’ve been following all three strips for years, although the local papers in St. Paul and Minneapolis only had Safe Havens “back in the day.” According to the wiki page, On the Fast Track was first distributed in newspapers in 1984, Safe Havens started in 1988, and Kevin and Kell has the distinction of being the longest-running webcomic, since 1995.
Having had to move a couple times between the U.S. and Japan, and having had to travel a lot for business in the middle there, I wasn’t always able to follow KandK consistently. So, a few weeks ago, after having decided to become one of Bill’s patrons, I found myself in need of going back through his archives to find one of the strips I’d want for the original artwork. Think about that – Bill has been drawing Kevin and Kell for almost 21.5 years almost without a break. 365.25 * 21.5 = a number bigger than I can count on one hand. And THAT’S a big number right there. Needless to say, it took least more than an hour to look at all those strips, and it was definitely time well-spent.
If you’re not familiar with this strip, it’s a “furry” comic set in a universe where humans left Earth after trashing the place, and birds evolved to take over and guide the other animals as they achieved intelligence. As such, the inhabitants of the planet have the same quirks and foibles as their predecessors did. The leads are Kevin, a tech-savvy rabbit running his own ISP company, and his wife Kell, a wolf that initially worked at a predation company named Herd Thinners, and is now the president of her own firm, Dewclaw’s Fine Meats. Their’s is a blended family, with a wolf son, Rudy, from Kell’s first marriage; an adopted hedgehog/human daughter, Lindesfarne; and their shared daughter, the carnivorous rabbit, Coney. Lindesfarne is married to the bat, Fenton, and Rudy is dating a fennic fox named Fiona. As such, they’re occasionally confronted by prejudice and hostility by the more close-minded members of their communities that dislike mixed marriages. In addition, Bill isn’t afraid to address other social issues such as transgendering (Bruno, Rudy’s best friend, is a wolf that underwent trans-species surgery to become a sheep).
Kevin and Kell is first and foremost a humor strip, in with the longer, sometimes more serious stories lines. It’s not exactly a “gag-a-day” title, but it comes close. However, there are quite a few pop culture references and pun names, including Trump when he was on Apprentice, G. W. Bush, and even an appearance by M. C. Escher. What I like most are the Sunday special splash pages, where Bill just let’s loose and shows what he’s really capable of as an artist. The best examples are his CD collection covers for Bruce Springsteen, and Big Brother and the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin. There’s also a Picasso parody, and a scene from Beauty and the Beast. (Occasionally, Bill will team up with Jenner for the coloring.)
While the ideal would be to buy yourself copies of the Kevin and Kell books, you do owe it to yourself to at least read through the full archive from beginning to end to fully appreciate Bill’s intelligent writing and wit. And then drop him $5 to have your name appear as “a sponsor for a day.”
(All artwork is copyright (c) Bill Holbrook 1995-2017.)