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New comic is a lighthearted look at family life in the U.S. military

He isn't sure, but cartoonist Paul Jon thinks his older brother and baby sister have forgiven him.


It turns out they are the only members of his immediate family who are not included as characters in his newly syndicated cartoon strip, "Fort Knox." The strip is based on Jon's experiences growing up in a military family and will be featured in the Deseret News, starting today.

It replaces the comic strip "Lio."

"I didn't include my older brother and sister because they weren't as interesting," Jon said in a recent interview about the strip. "My sister was a little upset, but she's the baby and always got the attention. This is a nice change."

In conversation, Jon is lighthearted and fun. This is the first time one of his comic strips has been syndicated, although he has been drawing and publishing as a professional cartoonist for at least 10 years.

He began developing "Fort Knox" back in 2005. Its main characters are Major Joe Knox, his wife, Jane Knox, and their two sons, Donald and Wesley.

Jon's parents were the inspiration for Major Knox and Jane, while his redhaired brother, Dan, was the inspiration for Donald. Wesley is Jon's interpretation of himself as a child.

As you view the strip, you'll experience little vignettes of military life and also the day-to-day challenges of growing up, moving and navigating work and marriage. In one strip, the character Wesley has to face down a bully named Kirk, who is actually named after one of the bullies Jon had as a child.

Other strips involve Major Knox and his experiences on the military base or dealing with his wife, Jane. Jon's real-life grandmother even makes a few appearances as Pearl Knox, the overly paranoid mother of Major Knox.

"The strip is definitely portraying reality," said Jon, laughing.

In addition to cartooning, Jon also works as the creative director of a San Francisco-based software company. While he said it has been a challenge to juggle work and cartooning, he said he is excited for the opportunity to have his strip published in newspapers nationwide.

Most of his work on "Fort Knox" is done on the weekends. For Jon, the challenge is not in drawing the strip but instead coming up with funny and eye-catching writing to accompany his pictures.

"If you're a good writer, you can bring to life the worst piece of drawing," said Jon, who graduated college with a journalism degree.

For him, some of his inspirations include Jim Davis, who created "Garfield," and also Bill Watterson, who created "Calvin and Hobbes." While modest about his future goals, Jon said he hopes his strip will be appealing to families and children.

"I'm hoping people understand the characters and want to see what Wesley and Donald are doing," he said. "My purpose was to create something everyone could relate to — and I hope I can build off this."

Already, Jon's comic has earned the support of several hundred military families, including the support group called "Military Brats Online." Jon also has a Facebook page for the comic with more than 650 fans.

For more information about Jon and "Fort Knox," log on to: www.pauljon .com.