F.A.Q.: Frequently Asked Questions

Pictures say more than words, so this is one of the very few FAQs in pictoral format!

How long have you been doing the strip?

I originally created the strip late 1993. At the time, it was centered around two bickering roommates, which were loose adaptations of the mascots of my college and our rival college. A more confident version of Tony and a bird that would later become Brad were present, but the rest of the cast would come much later.

The cast was added gradually. Numerous changes of animal (ie Kevin was a wolf at first), clothing, and other minor physical details came over the next six years. The current version of the cast was more or less finalized about two years ago.

During the development, I had mostly been pencil-sketching and doodling, but never completing actual strips. But on Dec 31 1997, I made an official online debut, thus beginning a long process of attempting to crash-learn html and computer-graphics programs ...

How did you come up with the title?

Believe it or not, it wasn't just a random title created by an anagram generator or something ...

"Menagerie" is a French word, roughly meaning "a display of strange and unusual animals." Not like you'll find any strange and unusual animals in this comic strip, right?

The title is actually a pun on Tennessee William's classic play, "The Glass Menagerie," a play about a dysfunctional family consisting of a bored young man, his frail sister, and their overbearing mother. The sister keeps a collection of glass figurine animals, hence the title. No real relation to this comic otherwise, however. I didn't even really like the play ;-)

Why DO you use animal characters, anyways? Hoping Disney will buy you out someday?

No, I personally like being able to give as much variety to my characters as possible. Animals allow for a great variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, without worrying about trying to draw ethnic or regional features in this politically correct era.

Plus it's no surprise many cartoons prefer animals. They have longer snouts, bigger ears, and fur/tails that help emphasize emotions. Observe here how a startled Mike looks more comically exaggerated in kangaroo form than his human form.

Additionally, animals have their own stereotypes--natural enemies, dispositions, temperament. This is especially useful when you give a character a personality totally different than what is normally associated with that animal.

Where do you come up with the characters? Hopefully you don't have Multiple Personality Syndrome or something.

To begin with, I give every main character one or more quirks of my personality. That way I can associate with them all on at least one level.

There's no denying I borrow broad traits and even names from people I know. I just don't make a habit out of it--not that I expect lawsuits or anything. The best method seems to be to take several traits from various people and combine them into one character, so no character is anyone specific.

And since many have asked, the character I associate myself with best is Brad, believe it or not. Cynical view of life, temper, dislike of technology, and tendency to be a loner all match. Can't say his appearance, belligerence, or love of caffeine is mine, tho!

Can you give me any more information about DeMontfort University, the setting?

DeMontfort U, total student body and faculty somewhere between 25 and 30 thousand. It's a completely fictional public university set in California, with all the related problems involved; overcrowded, underbudget, over urbanized. It's large enough to support a large variety of majors, and theoretically prestigious enough to draw a decent amount of out-of-state and international students. In other words, it's a big mess where anything goes, but it's still a great place to delay searching for a real job for four years. Redwood  Dorm is one of the main student-housing complexes.

(Although I did not know this when I selected the name, there IS a real-life DeMontfort University in the United Kingdom. My strip is by no means based around this real-life college).

Almost all of this strip takes place in Richter Hall, part of the Redwood Dorm. Richter is a bit of a joke in the dorm housing office, since it was only partially reconstructed after an earthquake several years back. As a result, it's the very last dorm to be filled with housing assignments. The residents thus tend to be mismatched and notoriously boisterous.

If you're so inclined, you can also take a closer look at the floorplan of the third floor, and the layout of the rooms of the main characters.

That's all for now!  If you have any more questions, feel free to ask me ;-)

Today's Strip | News & Updates | Character Bios | FAQ
Reader Submissions | About the Author | Links & Buttons

All images on this site are © Vince Suzukawa/Classwork Comics, 1997-2002