Last Update: 5/10/2021
This list is meant to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about the cartoon strip Kevin and Kell (K&K). It is unofficial, as it is not written by the author of K&K, Bill Holbrook.
Kevin and Kell and all the characters therein are copyrighted by Bill Holbrook. They may not be used in any work, art, or story, public or private, without prior approval of Bill Holbrook.
A Really Fast Introduction
1. The Strip and the Web
1.1 ) What is Kevin and Kell?
1.2 ) Who is Bill Holbrook?
1.3 ) Where do I find the strips?
1.4 ) Are the strips available on paper?
1.5 ) How do I get the strips sent to me?
1.6 ) Is there a mailing list?
1.7 ) I can't live without a K&K T-shirt! Where can I get one?
1.8 ) Can I link to the K&K websites?
1.9 ) Is K&K available in other languages?
1.10 ) Why are there one-line descriptions below each script?
1.11 ) What's that acronym supposed to mean?
1.12 ) How does Bill manage to run three daily strips at once?
1.13 ) Of all the characters from all the strips, Bill, which do you
1.14 ) Is there any chance of an Animated K&K Television series?
1.15 ) Where can I see Bill's other strips?
1.16 ) Is it true K&K appeared in Playboy?
1.17 ) Can I use the K&K characters in my own stories and art?
1.18 ) How do you draw the strip and scan it?
1.19 ) Where do you get your ideas?
1.20 ) Which cartoon is most popular?
1.21 ) Is there any special reason you (and most other cartoonists) use all caps?
1.22 ) Can I buy the original artwork for K&K?
1.23 ) Did you have an idea of how the K&K universe was going to work?
1.24 ) Do you ever use ideas, suggestions, etc. from the mailing list in the stories?
1.25 ) Do you use idea men or gag writers like [other artist]?
1.26 ) What do we need to do to keep K&K up and running?
1.27 ) Why bother with newspaper syndication at all?
1.28 ) How come you can have crossovers between your other strips but not K&K?
1.29 ) How much does it cost to produce a daily online strip, anyway?
1.30 ) Would you ever do a “Guest Artist Week” for K&K?
1.31 ) If you had an emergency and had to take time off, would you reprint strips?
1.32 ) Who has been the greatest influence on your art?
1.33 ) Where else can I find out about K&K?
1.34 ) Did I hear that there is a K&K RPG?
1.35 ) Will there be more fan art in future K&K books?
1.36 ) Why are the characters dressed the same way every day?
1.37 ) How many people see K&K every day?
1.38 ) How did the concept of the strip come about?
1.39 ) Is there a K&K community on Second Life?
1.40 ) What's “The Virtual Quill” about?
2. The Characters and Settings
2.1 ) Who is Kevin?
2.2 ) Who is Kell?
2.3 ) How did they meet?
2.4 ) Who is Lindesfarne?
2.5 ) Who is Rudy?
2.6 ) Who is Coney?
2.7 ) Who are Bruno and Corrie? Who is Carla?
2.8 ) Who is Fiona?
2.9 ) Who is Fenton?
2.10 ) Who is R.L.?
2.11 ) Who is Ralph?
2.12 ) What are the mice doing in Lindesfarne's room?
2.13 ) Who is Candace?
2.14 ) Who are Mannie and Majorie Ursal? Who are Minora, Bob, and Harcourt Silvertip?
2.15 ) Who is Dolly? Who is Mary?
2.16 ) Who are Ms. Aura and Nigel?
2.17 ) Who is Tammy?
2.18 ) Who is Ray?
2.19 ) Who is Vin?
2.20 ) Why isn't Kevin called Kevin Kindle?
2.21 ) Who is Daisy?
2.22 ) Who is Dr. Caduceus?
2.23 ) Who is Rhonda?
2.24 ) What is that name supposed to mean?
2.25 ) Who is Angelique? Who is Gweneth?
2.26 ) Why is it always the one of Kevin's ears that points away from the reader...
2.27 ) Who are Franklin and Elanor Dewclaw?
2.28 ) Who are George and Martha Fennec?
2.29 ) Will Kevin and Kell ever have a baby who's a herbivorous wolf?
2.30 ) What is that thing in Rudy's tail in the early strips?
2.31 ) Since her marriage and the birth of her daughter, does Kell still eat rabbits?
2.32 ) Who is Bentley/Grandpa Kindle?
2.33 ) Who is Zerda?
2.34 ) Who is Angstrom?
2.35 ) Who is Tree?
2.36 ) Who is Danielle?
2.37 ) Who is Rachel? Who is Joan?
2.38 ) Who is Aby? Who is Coach Pardus? Who is Mark? Who is Sam Sewerrat?
2.39 ) Who is Dorothy/Gran/Mom Kindle? Who is Douglas?
2.40 ) Who (and what) is Francis?
2.41 ) Who is Fran?
2.42 ) Who is Quinn?
2.43 ) Who is Leona? Who is Savanna?
2.44 ) Who is Frank Mangle? Who is Sheila?
2.45 ) Who is Edgar?
2.46 ) Who is Gino?
2.47 ) Who is Sheldon Dome?
2.48 ) Who is Bob Shrike?
2.49 ) Who is Desdemona?
2.50 ) Who is Camille?
2.51 ) Who is Randy?
2.52 ) Who is Wendell?
2.53 ) Who is Marty?
2.54 ) Who is Wally?
2.55 ) Who is Cassiopeia?
2.56 ) Who are Lin and Mei-Li?
2.57 ) Who is Dip? Who is Caniche?
2.58 ) Who is Jess? Who is Harold?
2.59 ) Who is Hockley?
2.60 ) Who is Greta? Who is Todd?
2.61 ) Who is Miranda?
2.62 ) Who is Carl?
2.63 ) Who is Llisa?
2.64 ) Who is Turvy?
2.65 ) Who is Tyler? Who is Gary?
2.66 ) Who are those geese?
2.67 ) Who is George Gopher? Who is Ophelia?
2.68 ) Who is Spork?
2.69 ) Who is Crockett?
3. Plots and Subplots
3.1 ) What is the Great Bird Conspiracy (GBC)?
3.2 ) What were Fiona's powers?
3.3 ) What is The Wild?
3.4 ) What is the Herbivore Forum?
3.5 ) What is Flea-Bay? What is Mating_Call.com? What is Hare-Link?
3.6 ) What is Herd Thinners? What is Dewclaw's Fine Meats?
3.7 ) Where do the Dewclaws live?
3.8 ) What is Rabbit's Revenge?
3.9 ) What are portals?
3.10 ) What was the GPF Crossover?
3.11 ) What is Aby's Auto Repair?
3.12 ) What is Ninth Life?
3.13 ) What is the Interspecies Support Group?
3.14 ) What is Roadkill, Inc.?
3.15 ) What is MOUSCAR?
3.16 ) What is the Happy Little Predator Preschool? What is the Happy Little Forager Preschool? What is the Happy Little Offspring School?
3.17 ) What is N.O.P.E.?
3.18 ) Who are the Tidewater Pitchforks?
4. The Universe of K&K
4.1 ) What is the predator/prey relationship?
4.2 ) What is domestication?
4.3 ) How are the species divided?
4.4 ) What is cloning?
4.5 ) How can there be a Santa Claus and an Easter Bunny?
4.6 ) Why do they wear clothes? Isn't fur enough?
4.7 ) Will humans ever visit the K&K universe?
4.8 ) Why are some interspecies matches acceptable and some not?
4.9 ) Are all the characters in K&K left-handed?
4.10 ) In our world, hybrid species are sterile. Does this apply to the K&K world?
4.11 ) How come the characters don't see through things like Corrie's wolfskin disguise?
4.12 ) How does the K&K universe relate to ours?
4.13 ) What kinds of churches does the K&K world have?
CAUTION: Spoiler material included. If you intend to read K&K from the beginning, some surprises are revealed here.
K&K is a cartoon strip for everyone today dealing with family, work, and the Internet. It's a world of sentient animals, living like us but with one very important difference: The predator/prey relationship still exists. It is normal for predator species to kill and eat prey species, despite both being members of society. The central family in the strip consists of Kell Dewclaw; her husband, Kevin; her 14- to 22-year-old son, Rudy; Kevin's adopted 17- to 25-year-old daughter, Lindesfarne; and Kevin and Kell's zero- to eight-year-old daughter, Coney.
Kevin and Kell met online and fell in love, and it wasn't until they met that each learned the other's species: Kevin is a rabbit, and Kell is a wolf! Balancing their marital relationship against their ecological one is one of the driving forces of the strip. This is the second marriage for both of them.
Kell used to be a staff predator at Herd Thinners, Inc. She went on to hold several administrative positions at Herd Thinners until her dismissal, at which point she founded Dewclaw's Fine Meats. Evidently, she had been happiest doing what she did best: hunting.
Kevin runs the Hare-Link Internet service provider out of the basement of the Dewclaw treehouse and takes occasional outside jobs. His first wife left him for an online suitor and later married Kell's boss at Herd Thinners.
Rudy is half wolf and half fox (his father was fatally stepped on while trying to bring down a moose). He has had a hard time accepting a rabbit as head of the family and has periodically challenged Kevin for the status of alpha male.
Lindesfarne is an English hedgehog, who was adopted as a baby by Kevin and his first wife and raised as an American porcupine. Her quills make it hard for Lindesfarne to get close to people, including her parents.
Kevin and Kell have one biological child of their own together, Coney, who has her father's looks and her mother's, well, appetite. Both Kevin and Kell's families originally disapproved of the marriage; Kell's brother Ralph used to try to eat Kevin. Kevin's father is still pretty cranky about having a predator in the family.
The children have their own friends, of course. Rudy's longtime best friend is Bruno, who was born a wolf but has transitioned to a ram, thanks to an unusual relationship with a sheep named Corrie. Rudy has a girlfriend, Fiona. Lindesfarne's husband is a bat named Fenton, the only person who “saw her differently” (with sonar). Fenton has worked for Hare-Link. He and Lindesfarne now live as grad students at Beige University. They also have a quilled, winged baby daughter of their own, Turvy.
When characters were in high school, they attended Caliban Academy, where Rudy and Fiona competed on the school's hunting team. Oddly enough, neither of them has been hunting lately; they're valued more for what they contribute to the Beige gardening team. Their leonine friends Edgar and Leona also went from Caliban to Beige. Their newer friends include Carl the rhino, Miranda the rabbit, and Greta the snake.
Coney's friends in infancy included Nigel, a buzzard; Mary, a sheep; and Harcourt, a then-vegetarian grizzly. They all had to move away at some point, but Harcourt returned around the time Coney entered kindergarten. Her closest friend nowadays is Lin, a tigress. She also spends a bit of time with two cousins, Wendell (a bunny about her age) and Francis (a human a couple years younger). Some of her classmates join her at summer camp, where she has other friends.
K&K is the only cartoon strip that can balance family life, technology, career pressure, school pressure, young adult dating, and the need to kill something and eat it. Welcome!
A bit of background on Kevin & Kell, the World Wide Web, and how the two couldn't exist without each other.
Kevin & Kell (hereafter called “K&K”) is the first cartoon strip syndicated exclusively over the World Wide Web. The artist is Bill Holbrook, who is also the creator of On the Fastrack and Safe Havens. K&K updated five days a week from September 4, 1995, to June 30, 2000, and has updated seven days a week since—with no breaks.
From 2004 to 2014, K&K also appeared in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Bill's hometown newspaper. This led to minor changes, such as a vertical Sunday format and Rudy wearing black pants instead of blue. K&K has yet to be syndicated to other newspapers.
K&K was awarded the Ursa Major Best Anthropomorphic Comic Strip Award for 2003: https://www.ursamajorawards.org.
In Bill's own words:
“Born in Los Angeles in 1958, I grew up in Huntsville, Alabama, after my father was transferred to work in the space program. I graduated from Randolph High School in 1976 and Auburn University in 1980, majoring in illustration and visual design.
“While at Auburn, I became art director of The Auburn Plainsman, where I produced editorial cartoons and a comic strip, Fenton Farnsworth. I was also having editorial cartoons published in The Huntsville Times and The Monroe Journal.
“After graduation, I was hired in 1981 by The Atlanta Constitution as an editorial staff artist, producing maps, charts, and spot illustrations. In 1982, I resumed my focus on comic strips, inspired in part by an unexpected meeting with Charles Schulz on a trip to California.
“A first attempt at syndication failed, but in 1983, I began developing a strip about office politics called On the Fastrack. That was picked up by King Features Syndicate and debuted in 150 papers on March 19, 1984.
“Eleven days before that, I'd met Teri Peitso on a blind date. We were married on Pearl Harbor Day, 1985, and now have two daughters. We also gave birth to a second strip about kids called Safe Havens. The four of us live in the Atlanta area. Teri has had two mystery novels published, A Far and Deadly Cry and The Grass Widow, which have been nominated for seven writing awards.”
K&K can be found at https://www.kevinandkell.com.
K&K once appeared in Boardwatch magazine in Sunday funnies format. These strips are maintained at the kevinandkell.com archives and included in the treasuries Historic Kevin & Kell and The Great Bird Conspiracy.
There are several collections of K&K strips available from the Bill Holbrook Store (http://billholbrook.com/store.html). There is also a K&K comic book, Origin of the Species.
What are the ISBN numbers for the books so I can order them?
Bill prefers that you buy the books via the Bill Holbrook Store. “That way,” he says, “my share is measured in dollars, not pennies. :)”
Have you considered selling the entire archives on CD?
Bill says, “I did discuss it years ago with Plan Nine [which has folded since], but the judgment was that the market for it would be too small. Personally, I would very much prefer that readers buy the dead-tree editions, as that keeps the strip going. (Now more than ever.)”
For $20/year, you can have the strips sent directly to your email address. Check the K&K patrons page at https://www.kevinandkell.com/support/patron.php for details. Bill accepts PayPal donations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can take part in the daily commentary on K&K. Bill himself participates in the mailing list, giving unique insights into how a cartoon strip is done, details on the characters, and answers to questions that haven't made it into the FAQ yet. Go to https://groups.google.com/group/kevinandkell and fill out the subscription information.
If you do join the list, please remember to set your mailer to “TEXT ONLY,” no HTML. HTML adds enormous amounts of bloat to your mail and makes the mailing list digest and archive (which are text-only) EXTREMELY difficult to read.
You can also comment under individual strips at https://www.kevinandkell.com/ by way of Disqus.
What are the ground rules for the K&K mailing list?
The K&K mailing list is not moderated, so we rely on all the participants to exercise discretion and taste. The following rules are also good to follow for site comments.
Bill says, “I try not to impose control on this forum. I feel that it's for you, the readers, not for me. :) Whatever I have to say, I say through my strips.”
How do I change my options on the K&K mailing list?
You must be a Google list member to change your options on the list; people who were receiving the list when it moved from Herd Thinners to Google Groups may not already be Google members. To do this:
What about IRC? Is there an IRC Chat channel?
Set your IRC chat client to:
IRC Server: irc.nightstar.net IRC Port: 6666, 6668, or 6669 IRC Room: #kk
Then discuss the strip in real time with your fellow fans.
K&K merchandise is available at the Bill Holbrook Store: http://billholbrook.com/store.html. Unfortunately, no shirts are available at this time.
The www.kevinandkell.com website has a collection of link buttons you can add to your page: https://www.kevinandkell.com/links/extras.php. They link to that site specifically.
Legal notice: Kevin & Kell is created and copyrighted by Bill Holbrook. You're welcome to download, view, and print these strips, but please don't upload the files anywhere else, where the creator won't get paid.
K&K is available in German at https://www.kevinundkell.de, although the site hasn't updated in years.
They serve as titles for the strips when they're archived.
Acronyms are the delight of the lazy typist, and the despair of the new list member. Some of the acronyms you'll see on the K&K Mailing List are:
Note: There are hundreds of other acronyms in common use, and that's not even thinking about emoticons. This FAQ will not attempt to be encyclopedic about them.
Bill says that he works on a three-week cycle. On the first week, he completes 18 Fastrack dailies and three Fastrack Sundays while writing three weeks of material for Safe Havens. On the following week, he draws 18 Safe Havens dailies and writes three weeks of material for K&K. On week 3, he draws 18 K&K dailies and three K&K Sundays while writing three weeks of material for material for Fastrack, and then the cycle starts again. He tries to keep about two months ahead of publication.
Bill says, “[40 hours a week] is pretty accurate, as far as the drawing goes. However, it's the writing that takes most of the time and effort. :) Let's just say I work a lot more than six hours a day.”
How hard is it to avoid jumping in with ideas based on current headlines, etc.?
Bill says, “Actually, I've only done that once, introducing Corrie's clone the day after the actual Dolly was introduced to the world.”
Do you plot out stories in advance to dovetail later on?
Bill says, “I have a long-range view of the broad storylines, which still allows for a degree of day-to-day improvisation. As for the Y2K story, that was planned from the strip's beginning and was even more complicated as it was [sic]. I originally wanted the entire cast to converge on MicroTalon headquarters on Dec. 31, 1999, with a cascade of personal revelations. (For example, Corrie's relationship to Ralph). The end result was a pared-down version of that.”
Were there any storylines that went in a different way than planned?
Bill says, “Yes, there was one in particular that I abandoned, concerning a very major character. I'd rather not divulge what it is, as it would put an entirely different spin on that character. Sorry to be so mysterious!”
In the past, Bill has said, “I really can't answer that. I can say that the only character I expressly created to reflect myself was Bob Shirt in Fastrack, who turned out to be so boring that the strip survived only by moving the spotlight away from him.”
Bill has since said that of the K&K characters, Rudy comes closest. (It's worth noting that Rudy is the only cartoonist in the cast.)
Which K&K character is hardest to draw?
Bill says, “At this point...none of the major characters are hard to draw. After almost eight years, it's second nature. (That also goes for Fastrack and Safe Havens.)”
Which is the hardest to color?
Colorist Terrence Marks says, “Kevin is the easiest, by far. Two colors. Three if you count the ears. As far as the most difficult? [Co-colorist] Isabel says Lindesfarne and Rudy, because they have similar but different colors. I'd have to go with Lindesfarne, because she has both very light and very dark colors, which means I usually wind up filling the whole strip with her facial color or having to go over her skirt with the pencil tool to eliminate lines, on account of they both require different tolerance settings.* But mind you, it doesn't take much longer.
“The house, mind you, is usually what takes the most time, on account of it has lots of detail and takes up the whole panel.
“*When you do a flood fill, it fills in everything contiguous of the color that you're pointing at plus/minus the tolerance setting. So basically, if you have a high tolerance setting and do a fill in an area that has light-colored lines defining part of the border, those list lines get ignored; they're within the tolerance range of white. If that makes any sense.”
Bill initially said, “This has been as ongoing project for several years now. A script for a pilot has been written by myself and two veterans of animation, Pam Hickey and Dennys McCoy. It's being shopped around, and although there've been some nibbles we're waiting someone to take the bait.”
In 2001, Bill gave us an update: “I guess the story can be told; I personally pitched a Kevin & Kell TV series to the Cartoon Network last December. The meeting went well, and they said I'd hear back from them in three weeks. Three weeks went by, then four, then five...but almost six weeks later, they called and politely passed on it. Oh, well. We're still trying.”
Have you thought of people to do the voices?
Bill says, “My partners and I came up with a wish list of voices (if money was no object). I favored John Goodman as Kevin, with Lindesfarne voiced by Jeanine Garofalo. :)”
Have you considered using Adobe Shockwave or Flash animation?
Bill says, “I thought of that two years ago, so I took a night course in animation at the Art of Institute of Atlanta. You can see the animations I did for that class at [https://www.kevinandkell.com/links/animation.php], which is basically the Kevin walk cycle and the ‘turning around three times’ piece. The animation was done with Adobe Premier. Sorry about the ‘hitch’ in the Kevin walk cycle. That happens when the program comes to the end of the 24 frames and repeats. That 25 seconds of animation took me six weeks to do, which is why you won’t be seeing any more animations from me unless I’m able to pay other people to do it. :)”
Safe Havens and On the Fastrack are printed in newspapers around the country. They are available at https://www.comicskingdom.com/safe-havens/ and https://www.comicskingdom.com/on-the-fastrack/. Note that Safe Havens does not have Sunday strips.
The August 1999 issue of Playboy used a K&K strip to illustrate an article on computer hacking. They did it without asking permission but paid Bill $300 afterwards when he wrote to them about using his material without permission.
Bill says, “Thanks, and I appreciate your asking. Unfortunately, I'll have to say that I prefer to discourage fan fiction. Even with the most innocent of intentions, artists in the past have gotten burned by the dilution of copyright. Sorry; I hope you understand and that you'll continue to enjoy K&K.” The same injunction applies to using K&K in unauthorized crossovers with other online comic strips.
That said, Bill has loosened his opposition to fan art. In fact, he has launched a deviantART community for that purpose: https://kevinandkell.deviantart.com/. He asks only that the art remain “PG-rated,” like the official comic; i.e., no overt depictions of sex, gore, strong swearing, or illegal drugs.
Can I make a set of K&K icons?
Bill says, “You can use [the] images for your own site, as long as they include the line ‘Kevin and Kell characters (C) 2003, Bill Holbrook. All rights reserved.’
“Distributing the icons elsewhere, however, [is] something I'd rather not see happen.
“I appreciate your conscientious request for permission.”
Bill says, “Thanks for your questions! I put tracing vellum over my pencil sketches, and ink with a #0 Rapidograph pen and an Osmoroid cartridge pen. The strips are drawn at 13 inches by 3¾ inches, and I scan them (in the ‘TIFF Compressed’ format) at 600 dpi. I open the file in Photoshop and go to greyscale mode, where I apply the shading. Then I convert them to bitmap and upload them to Chris Kohler's www.kevinandkell.com site, where Terrence Marks takes over. He does the coloring of the strips and emails the files to me for my approval. Chris sizes them and adds the titles and copyright notices. Finally, Doug Pratt adds the caption at the bottom of the strip and sends the finished comic to our client sites and email subscribers.” (Note: Bill has since taken over caption duty.)
“I learned how to draw fast when I worked at the Atlanta newspaper from 1981 to 1984. It has become second nature by now! When I think up an idea, I sketch it in pencil at the size of my original drawings: 13 inches by 3¾. Then, if that gag is one that passes judgment, I trace over the pencil sketch with ink on vellum. Eliminating the blue-pencil step was a major time saver.”
Terrence Marks says, “I use Photoshop exclusively. Bill sends me the strips three weeks at a time, at about 3900 × 1000, TIFFs in bitmap format. I open a week or two of strips, put on a prog album,* and convert them back to RGB and set them up in four layers:
“Then I color the characters. I’ve got a file that has everyone’s stock colors, and I use that. I take two colors (like ‘Rudy’s jacket’ and ‘Kell’s hair’) and go through a week or two of strips and put them down. Then I repeat until everyone’s all colored. I generally use the flood fill and pencil tools.
“A day or two later, I put on a different prog album* and fill in the background and scenery colors. I delete the safety layer and smooth out the borders between the panels, with the paintbrush and airbrush tools. Then, finally, I shade the comics using the burn (midtone) and dodge (highlight) tools and whiten the characters' eyes (where appropriate). I save it as a TIFF, then send Bill a 585-pixel-wide GIF. If he likes it, I upload the TIFF.
“I generally don't bother with filters or other fancy effects, because they draw attention away from the strip itself and because they're not usually visible after reduction.
“*Exotica, hi-fi percussion jazz, or moog records can be substituted if need be. We're experimenting to see if underground rap interferes with the process or not.”
When you draw the daily strips now, do you draw them specifically to be colored? I'm thinking that you must do a lot less line shading, for example, before you send the strips to Terrence Mark.
Bill says, “Yes, I've eliminated the shading and most of the solid black areas. The pre-color versions now have a lot more ‘air’ in them.”
I've noticed that some of the Sunday strips feature different color schemes, especially for clothes.
Bill says, “In order to give Terrence and Isabel a break, I color the occasional Sunday.”
Bill says, “I'm really not sure where my ideas come from; I imagine the characters in various situations and interactions and watch what they do. The actual drawing of a strip takes about half an hour. The writing can take anywhere to an instant to over an hour or more. One never knows!”
Harlan Ellison says, “Schenectady!”
Editor's note: This is an unanswerable question, for the simple reason that ideas don't leave a return address. I've found Harlan Ellison's reply to be a great time saver, myself. —John Reynolds
Do you keep a notepad around to jot down story ideas?
Bill says, “When I was first developing comics for syndication (while working at The Atlanta Constitution in the early 1980s), I tried carrying around a small notepad everywhere. I never got any usable material, whether during the day or in the middle of the night. I eventually found that my ideas rarely come in flashes (I wish they did!), but instead they emerge through developing characters and having them respond to unusual circumstances.”
Bill says, “Judging from reader reaction over [the] years, I think the most popular K&K ever was the infamous Little Red Riding Hood gag: https://www.kevinandkell.com/1996/kk0528.html.”
Bill says, “Simple: It's easier to read.”
You can buy an original K&K strip, daily or Sunday, for $100. The artwork is black and white only, as the strips are colored digitally. You can also get originals by participating in the K&K Patron Program.
Originals of Bill's other strips, Safe Havens and On the Fastrack, are also available.
Please contact Bill to see whether the artwork is available before sending money. His address is:
P.O. Box 255
Decatur, GA 30031
Does Bill do individual commissions?
Yes! Bill's Valentine's Day special in 2002 was so popular that he will continue to do commissioned work. The schedule is:
One person, black/white drawing: $50
Couple, black/white drawing: $100
One person, color: $75
Couple, color: $150
Contact Bill at the above address or his email with a character description.
Bill is also available for freelance commercial illustrations; contact him at the above address or at email@example.com.
Bill says, “I created the basic structure and storyline and let the characters do the rest. It's an old saying: I built the house, and the characters live in it.”
Bill says, “It's my policy never to use suggestions of any kind in the strip. Kevin & Kell is created entirely by myself.”
How many of Bill's strips were based on ideas discussed here in the group?
Bill says, “Zero, actually, although the feedback over what works and what doesn't is invaluable.”
Even something as simple as, say, the species of a one-time character?
Bill says, “Well, if it’s just along the lines of ‘I’d like to see an otter in the strip someday,’ yes, that would be fine. :)”
Bill has used one idea from a mailing-list participant in a strip: https://www.kevinandkell.com/2002/kk0729.html. Bill says, “This is a *one-time* event, not to be repeated! Please don't start thinking up K&K gags and submitting them to me. This is a singular occurrence, and I'm breaking my longstanding policy only because the idea was too dang perfect.”
Bill also says, “The secret of any strip's longevity is in having readers who care about the characters. Without the audience, there would be no strip. I've always been grateful for them.
“I would like to say that I take all reader feedback seriously, both positive and negative. I never, never ignore readers' criticisms, under any condition. I feel that if anyone takes the time to write to me, they deserve a response.”
Note: That doesn't necessarily mean that any disputes will be resolved in your favor. Bill has many readers, and each one's opinion is important, but no more or less important than another reader's. Ultimately, a creator has to follow his own vision. This is an instance of Pohl's Law: Nothing is so good that someone, somewhere, won't hate it.
Bill has had several experiences where readers have written to him, but his replies have been blocked by the reader's email services not recognizing him and dumping the reply as spam. The reader never sees the reply and thinks Bill is snubbing him. This is never the case.
If you write to Bill and want an answer, make sure firstname.lastname@example.org appears in your list of acceptable addresses!
Bill says, “Well, my opinion is that depending entirely on gag writers for one's material is settling for mediocrity.”
Would you start another strip if you used assistant artists?
Bill says, “I would never create a strip just to have it done by assistants. What would be the point?”
You can buy the books directly from the Bill Holbrook Store or Lulu, join the patron program at whatever level is most comfortable, and, on the Kevin and Kell website, go to the site sponsors that occupy the box directly below the strip's last panel.
I'll click when the ads are interesting, but not just for click-throughs.
Bill says, “Thanks, but the ads don't work that way. :) First, the banner ads never, ever paid that well. Second, what you're seeing now are sponsors that pay a flat rate to advertise. In order to support Kevin and Kell, you can buy stuff from those sponsors (at least visit their sites to see what they're offering), giving them an incentive to continue to advertise.”
I like to use [package] software that copies strips for me so I don't have to visit the site.
Bill says, “Anything that extracts the strip from the website is something to which I'm totally opposed. I don't have standard banner ads; I have sponsors who've made a specific commitment to support Kevin and Kell. Without them, I can't do the strip anymore.
“Join the effort to keep Kevin and Kell on the air with the patron program.”
Has the readership declined so you make less money?
In the past, Bill has said, “No, the readership continues to rise even as the revenue declines.” In 2017, he says, “In the past ten years, both have remained remarkably consistent.”
Do you spend less time on K&K than on the commercially syndicated strips, since they bring in more money?
Bill has stated that he needs all three comics to make ends meet, so he treats all three with the same dedication and seriousness.
Bill has said, “Good question! The answer is that the syndicates take on many tasks that would be difficult for an individual cartoonist, and [they] allow creators to focus on what they do best. The syndicates handle accounting, collections, distribution, and sales, among other [things].
“If the Atlanta paper were to call me and ask to run Kevin and Kell, it would be relatively simple. I'd just send them the strips (before Terrence colors them) and invoice them regularly. However, if more newspapers asked for it, or if I decided to aggressively sell it to the newspaper market, a syndicate is the only solution. I have no plans of doing that, though.”
Note: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution did run K&K for some years. We must assume that Bill provided them the B&W artwork but still had no plans to syndicate.
Bill says, “Because Safe Havens and On the Fastrack are both King Features strips, I can (and do!) have plenty of crossovers between the two. (Samantha's father is Fastrack, Inc.'s safety inspector.) However, neither strip can have any contact with Kevin and Kell.
Note: In one Fastrack strip, Patina and Rusty read webcomics and describe what happens in this K&K strip. Bill confirms that this is about as close as he can legally come to a crossover between the two strips.
David Allen, former CEO of Plan Nine Publishing, offers his take:
“The Cost of Drawing a Comic Strip.
“#1: Time—the most valuable commodity in the universe. A planetful of money will not buy back a single second. Allen’s 17th Axion states, ‘How you spend your time says much more about your character than how you spend your money.’ Comic artists spend 8–10 hours a day working on their comic (this, of course, assumes normal, merely mortal cartoonists with one strip, as opposed to godlike supercartoonists with three). They must write it, pencil it, ink it, scan it, then upload it.
“Now, add to this the time needed to maintain the site, answer the mail, and put together book covers, promo material, etc.
“So, what the total? Well, based on my extrapolation, which may or may not apply in Bill's case…
“Monthly expenditure in time: 224 hours
“Monthly expenditure in money:
“Labor: $1,344 (224 hours at $6.00/hr or burger-flipping wage)
“Total monthly expenditure: $2,844, or $34,128 a year
“(We haven't even touched on website expenses yet, which vary from site to site and depend on arrangements with mirror sites, etc. We also haven't covered things like travel, which is either not covered or only partially covered by honorariums.)
“As you can see, a web cartoonist of a moderately popular strip must sell a ton of books, T-shirts, ads, and such to cover that big an expense.”
Bill says, “Well, I do enjoy them [on other strips]. So far, I've contributed to Ozy and Millie, Sluggy Freelance, Newshounds, and GPF [General Protection Fault]. They spread the word about the various titles, informing the readers of one about the existence of the other. Still...this won't happen any more than once a year or so. [I'm] hoping to be the Cal Ripken of comics. :)”
Note: Bill has also done Fastrack crossovers with Dick Tracy and Intelligent Life.
Bill says, “Well, I've been doing Fastrack for almost 20 years (it debuted March 19, 1984), and I've never missed a day on any of my strips. Even on the April Fools' Day swaps, I also did a K&K strip myself. So I guess the answer is no, I don't have any plan of that sort.”
Note: As of the latest update to the FAQ, Fastrack is 38 years old, Safe Havens is 38, K&K is 26, and Bill has maintained his perfect record for all of them.
Bill says, “I've had many influences, but no one individual has influenced me more than Charles Schulz.”
He adds, “Peanuts is simply the greatest comic strip ever. Period. :) For sheer range of humor, from the slapstick to the poignant and everything in between, no one has ever matched Charles Schulz. (My strips are just sad imitations next to his accomplishments.) I also don't believe that his work suffered in his latter years. In the fall of 1999, before his illness, I read a Peanuts strip which I thought ranked with one of his best. He was in top form right up to the end.”
K&K has an entry in Wikipedia, the Internet free content encyclopedia, at https://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_and_Kell.
A role-playing game based on K&K has been produced, with Bill's approval and cooperation, by Michael Hopcroft. At the time of this update, it is available at Paizo, DriveThruRPG.com, and Amazon. The game includes more than 25 K&K characters from the strip and locations such as Caliban Academy. The game manual is illustrated with strips from the K&K archives.
The fan art used in Straight Outta Computers was a one-time-only deal. In the following book, Oh, the Humanity!, the space below the Sunday strips was taken up with Danielle's story of Lindesfarne's disappearance from the human world. Later books have filled the space with the weekly postings of Lindesfarne's blog.
Bill says, “Consistent clothing provides for instant identification. Readers recognize the characters immediately in the first panel and can proceed directly to the substance of the strip.”
Note: Several characters, especially female ones, have changed their default outfits over the years.
Bill has said, “Kevin and Kell gets about 15,000 to 20,000 unique visitors a day, seeing over 3 million page views per month.” Alas, more recent figures are not available with the current server.
Bill says, “In the early months of 1995, I finally decided to call the phone company and install a second line into the den, allowing me to hook up the modem I'd bought the previous summer. Within a week, I was on CompuServe, and Kevin & Kell began to form in my mind.
“In my other strips, On the Fastrack and Safe Havens, I'd frequently had my characters take the form of animals in fantasy sequences, and I wanted to take this strip one step further by having it be populated entirely by non-humans. As I got into the online culture, I began to see a wealth of material in the contrast between the high-tech world and a bucolic woodland setting.
“Contrasts became the theme of the project, and I started by having two natural enemies meet online, fall in love before they knew their backgrounds, get married, and raise a family. I chose a rabbit and a fox and named them Kevin and Kell. Get it? Heaven and Hell. Contrasts. Yuk-yuk. Never mind.
“After getting a week ahead on my other strips, I took the first week of April off to develop this idea. I drew about 30 gags and showed them to my wife, Teri, and she immediately had a negative reaction to the relationship, since the fox has certain negative associations for underhandedness; plus, the ‘foxy lady’ concept was too cliché.
“I continued working on the rabbit idea, drawing version after version, as Kevin gradually bulked up into his present form. As for Kell, I changed her into a wolf because of its more noble reputation. I had some initial hesitation, since rabbits and wolves aren't natural enemies (wolves prefer bigger prey), but now it all seems to have worked out.
“One thing I had to change was the setting, since I had them living in a hole they'd dug together. That made sense, because foxes and rabbits reside underground; however, wolves don't. Thus the treehouse was born, which gives them extra income by renting out the top branches to birds. Incidentally, birds occupy a specific niche in this world; they're the service personnel. Whether secretaries, teachers, nurses, day caregivers, etc., they make the society function.
“As for the rest of the family, I had a baby rabbit and Kell's preteen son. The more gags I drew, however, the more something seemed missing. The baby and the son didn't interact much, and in this family, some sibling rivalry was required. So I created Lindesfarne so that the herbivore/carnivore relationship between the parents would be mirrored with the children.
“I didn't want a third rabbit in the family, so for variety's sake, I made her a porcupine. This was important, because with her natural defenses, the reader doesn't worry about her living with predators.
“I took another week in May to write about 30 more gags incorporating these changes, which pulled everything together. Kevin & Kell came online on September 4, 1995.”
There was, but it appears not to be functional anymore. Gary McClellan and other K&K fans opened the Herd Thinners Pub in the Village of Domain. There was also a group for introducing K&K into Second Life.
The Virtual Quill is Lindesfarne's blog, formerly simply called “Lindesfarne's Blog.” She posts every Sunday to talk about things that have been happening at school and at home, which gives us a parallax view of life with the Dewclaws. Being on Tumblr nowadays, it allows some reader interaction. Her blog posts are also included in each of the K&K print collections from Yo Momma onward, appearing with the Sunday strips.
It is rumored that Bill Holbrook is involved here somehow, but he has not commented on that rumor.
Are there other K&K character blogs?
Yes. You can follow (or “track”) Rudy on Facebook. (He used to have a Twitter feed, but that has been discontinued.)
Catherine Aura, having been born a bird, naturally tweets. As a conspirator spending most of her time in the human world, she has lent a very different perspective on events, some quite pertinent to the lives of the main K&K characters. She indicates that several of them are now in on the conspiracy and provide support as needed. Be warned: Some of what she describes would be a bit much to depict graphically. Also note that since January 2019, her tweets have been only links to the comic and The Virtual Quill.
Who are all these furry people, and what are they doing on my monitor?
Kevin Dewclaw, ne Kindle, is a 45-year-old, six-foot-tall rabbit (herbivore) who works from home. He is married to Kell Dewclaw, his second wife. Until Elanor came to stay, he provided daycare for their infant daughter, Coney. His daughter Lindesfarne was adopted during his first marriage. Kevin was originally the sysop for the Herbivore Forum. A later venture of his, an online grooming service called Flea-Bay, expanded into a dating service called Mating_Call.com. Currently, he is running an ISP, Hare-Link, and serving as Kell’s proxy on the board of Herd Thinners.
Kevin has always stood out from other rabbits, not just in being big and coming from a “litter” of one but in not fearing predators. His brawn probably had something to do with it, even enabling him to become a pro wrestler, though he was glad to leave that chapter of his life behind. Marrying a predator, of course, made him even less popular with the warren. Nevertheless, he was invited onto the Rabbit Council, if only so that Coney will be around for their protection. He has found the other councilors highly corrupt but forced them to clean up their act a bit.
In his spare time, when not engaging in herbivory or, shall we say, marital activity, Kevin likes to role-play online as a vegan dragon.
Kell Dewclaw is a 41-year-old wolf (carnivore) married to Kevin. She used to be a professional predator at Herd Thinners, Inc. but has also been the company webmaster, chief of security, and eventually CEO. Kell was fired once because of a consultant's recommendation and worked as the office manager at Aby's Auto Repair. When she left Herd Thinners for good, she launched Dewclaw's Fine Meats.
This is Kell's second marriage, her late husband being a hunting casualty (stepped on by a moose). She is the mother of Rudy and Coney and tries to be a good mother to her adopted daughter, Lindesfarne. She has domestication (see 4.2) and used to go to great lengths to conceal it from the outside world. The Dewclaws are a proud family, descended from the Big Bad Wolf, and Kell's family did not take her marriage well. Over time, Elanor, Kell's brother Ralph, and Frank (Kell's dad) have come to accept Kevin to varying degrees; Frank came to it posthumously.
Does Kell still hunt?
Kell always hunted as a junior staff predator; when she became chief of security, she still hunted at need. When Herd Thinners fired her, she coached the hunting team, and when Herd Thinners rehired her, she insisted on coming back as a senior predator, the job she always wanted. Between her age and past injuries, she can no longer hunt professionally; instead, she has become the CEO of Dewclaw's Fine Meats.
Kevin, newly divorced, met Kell, widowed, in an online chat room. Their cyber-relationship grew into love, and it was only on meeting face to face that they discovered each other's species. Each found something in the other that they could not find in one of their own kind, though; Kevin found Kell's independence and aggressiveness enticing, while Kell was won over by Kevin's openness and trust. Being a rabbit confers other talents as well. (Ahem.) They decided to marry, much to the scandal of their families, and raise their children together.
The K&K comic book Origin of the Species tells the story of their courtship and marriage. At the time of this update, the book is available through Google Books. Bill also sells hardcopies at conventions.
Lindesfarne Dewclaw is Kevin's 25-year-old daughter (17 for much of the comic's run), adopted in infancy from an English hedgehog orphanage. Lindesfarne was brought up as a porcupine (herbivore) and became an insectivore when she switched back to being a hedgehog. Her quills give her the defense she needs in a predatory world but make it difficult for her to develop personal friends. She is an expert hacker and scientific genius. Her husband is Fenton Fuscus; she went back to her hedgehog heritage in order to become nocturnal like him. She is a grad student at Beige University, near Domain, and now has a daughter, Turvy.
Lindesfarne learned during the GPF Crossover (January 2004) that she was actually born a human princess but, as an infant, fell through the portal between the worlds. The portal changed her to a hedgehog baby. She was rescued and left at an orphanage in England, where she was adopted by Kevin and Angelique. The Dewclaws have learned what happened, and they have accepted her regardless.
Since she learned from Tree about the moderate intelligence of plants, Lindesfarne has served as a counselor to them. They, in turn, try to help her at times.
For the record, the name is pronounced “LIN-duz-farn.”
Has Kell officially adopted Lindesfarne?
Bill says, “Yes, and Kevin has adopted Rudy.”
Rudy Dewclaw is Kell's natural son, age 14 for much of the comic's run but currently 22. He is a predator, half wolf and half fox. In his early childhood, his father died in an unfortunate hunting accident (stepped on by a moose). As a teenage wolf, he had difficulty accepting a rabbit as the head of the house and repeatedly challenged Kevin for alpha male status. His attitude toward Kevin—and herbivores in general—has mellowed over the years.
Rudy is online frequently, although not the hacker Lindesfarne has been. He has had at least three webcomics of his own, all discontinued, but he still draws.
Rudy and Lindesfarne have been rivals on the surface, but each will step up to save the other in an emergency. Nowadays, he frequently visits her residence at Beige University, if only for dinner and, at this point, to be a fun uncle to Turvy.
Rudy was once pressed to take over as a last-minute Easter Bunny. In spite of himself, he wound up doing it regularly, first for tuition money and then for the thrill of the challenge.
To pay back a huge team of rabbits who helped him out of a bind, Rudy had to plant a garden. He discovered that he has an aptitude for gardening (at least compared with the herbivores who nibble their own gardens), which is an organized sport in the world of K&K. Due in part to the novelty of a carnivorous gardener, he has gained more popularity in this capacity than he had as a competitive hunter. He was not pleased to get a scholarship on the gardening basis instead, but that's Rudy's life for you: one reluctant step after another toward accepting herbivores and their ways. He is now considering a post-college career as a gardening coach.
Rudy's girlfriend is Fiona, who now shares a burrow with him. His best friend has been Bruno, though they no longer go to the same school. He is domesticated and, after much turmoil, learned to accept it and even be open about it. (It helps that Fiona loves him partly for his domestication-influenced loyalty.)
Wasn't Rudy once 12?
Bill says, “Yes, I did change that after the strip started, when I realized he was acting more like a 14-year-old than as a preteen.” (This was before the whole cast had advanced in age.)
What color are Fiona and Rudy's eyes?
Bill says, “India ink black. (That's the answer Mort Walker gives when people ask him what color are Beetle Bailey's eyes.)”
Coney Dewclaw is the daughter of Kevin and Kell, born a year after their marriage (about two months into the comic). Coney combines Kevin's physical appearance with Kell's predator's appetite and is a very effective predator in her own right. Coney is now eight. She used to be home-schooled by Kevin and Elanor; now she goes to a private elementary school, as well as an overnight summer camp for predators. (For some reason, she and her friends get in more trouble at camp than at school.) With age, she has become more discriminating in her targets and taken to protecting her peers.
When Rudy graduated from high school, he gave his signature bone necklace to Coney. She now wears it on a regular basis.
Coney has had a growth spurt in her ears, causing them to flop like Dorothy’s. She would have preferred to grow taller like her peers, but at least she has discovered that her ears are prehensile, which is unusual for a rabbit but not for the Kindle family.
Coney has developed a taste for messy activities, besides predation. She has had trouble finding things to do with Lin, who wants to keep clean.
Bruno Lupulin has been Rudy's best friend since infancy. He used to be a “wolf in sheep's clothing,” since he always wore a sheepskin on his back. The sheepskin was Corrie Dale, Bruno's girlfriend. For a long time, he carried her everywhere to protect her from other predators.
Through a chain of events that cannot be adequately synopsized, Corrie joined civilization as “Dale Corrie.” Bruno found that Corrie is the daughter of Ralph Dewclaw and one Wanda Woolstone, who died in childbirth, so now Corrie lives with her father. Corrie's true nature was publicly revealed when she was injured saving Fiona from a cougar (the only time she's eaten meat). Since she's half wolf and half sheep, her “true” species was debatable; in an unprecedented display of democracy, the K&K readership voted that she was, and should be, a sheep. She is now known as Corrie Dewclaw.
Despite joining civilization late, Corrie graduated from high school early, later pursuing an online degree. She has been webmaster of an interspecies relationship website. She used to be the webmaster at Herd Thinners, until moving to Dewclaw's Fine Meats.
Dolly is a clone of Corrie.
Bruno has had surgery to convert from a carnivore to a herbivore, adding three more stomachs. Rudy and Bruno had a fight when Rudy found out, and Rudy knocked his teeth out, so Bruno had herbivore teeth implanted, too. He continued to serve on the hunting team despite not eating the kills. In college, he has taken therapy to become a trans-sheep and now looks just like a natural-born ram.
Bruno and Corrie plan to marry after Bruno's graduation from a community college. In the meantime, they get to share a bed at the Fennec mansion. They have even adopted an infant chameleon (insectivore), Carla, now two years old. Between her super-long, sticky tongue and her tendency to camouflage between diapers, she's quite a handful, but they love her and vice versa.
Why is Bruno wearing a sheepskin? Didn't he stop wearing one when he started publicly dating Dale/Corrie? Or is it just natural for you, Bill, to draw Bruno with the sheepskin on?
Bill answers, “When Corrie began having a life of her own as a wolf cub, Bruno just didn't look like Bruno anymore. So I had Corrie create a new ‘sheepskin’ by sewing her own wool onto a hunk of old carpet.” (At this point, Bruno grows his own wool, thanks to the therapy mentioned above.)
BTW, a while back, Rudy gave Bruno another sheepskin, but Bruno never wore it, because it didn't have Corrie's scent.
Fiona Fennec is half red fox and half fennec fox (carnivore), Rudy's girlfriend, and his classmate, first at Caliban Academy and now at Beige University. She has been an expert hunter and adept at stalking, though she doesn't do as well when not making up for Rudy's difficulties. Her parents originally disapproved of her relationship with Rudy; since her mother married Rudy's uncle and her father married Kevin's sister, they're pretty well over that.
Fiona was once abducted by a flying saucer (actually operated by the Great Bird Conspiracy) and given an extraordinary power to fix broken machines. She used her power to fix the Y2K bug in computers around the world. Her powers were revoked by the GBC when the job was done, but she became rich in the process. Due to bad stock ventures, she has lost most of her wealth, having to rent out her mansion to many tenants and share a scholarship with Rudy by helping him with Easter Bunny duties.
Fiona was the venture capitalist behind Kevin's three companies: Flea-Bay, Mating_Call.com, and Hare-Link. She sold Hare-Link to her father to prevent a conflict of interest between Martha, Ralph, and Kevin.
At Beige University, Fiona is majoring in photography. Having had poor luck with the Beige hunting team, she has joined the gardening team, where she has much to learn but puts her ears to good use as a guard for the produce, albeit with a lot of controversy. She briefly roomed with Leona in their first college year; when Leona left for a sorority, Greta moved in. The three of them and Miranda were later in a quad together.
During the pandemic, since Rudy shared a home with his at-risk grandma and Fiona shared a home with 20 other people, the two were long forbidden to spend time close together. Eventually, the Dewclaws allowed Fiona to move into the bedroom Lindesfarne used to have. She and Rudy have since demonstrated enough responsibility that they now live unsupervised in the burrow (dug by George Gopher) where Fiona had self-isolated before moving, and during the school year, they share another burrow under Beige.
What's with the ears?
Fiona is a hybrid of an African fennec fox and a North American red fox. As she matured, her fennec ancestry asserted itself with much larger ears. It has caused her some difficulty, but she decided to take pride in her ancestry. That pride is more subdued now, but she has found enough advantages to her big ears to outweigh the drawbacks.
Fenton Fuscus is a big brown bat (insectivore) and Lindesfarne's husband. The nocturnal Fenton and diurnal Lindesfarne carried on an email relationship until Lindesfarne decided to revert to her hedgehog nature and be nocturnal as well. Fenton was abducted by the Great Bird Conspiracy and hidden at MicroTalon. He returned to his family with no memory of how he got to MicroTalon or what he did there, though Ms. Aura's tweets indicate that she eventually told him and Lindesfarne.
Fenton is now 26 years old and has been employed by Hare-Link. He bought Tree to save her from loggers and had her fixed up to be his home. He helped Lindesfarne with her RA work at Beige University, until they both needed time off to parent Turvy.
In an act of heroism, Fenton broke his left wing and needed a cast for months. While he has regained much of his flight skill, he may never fly with Lindesfarne on one wing again. Fortunately, Lindesfarne developed mechanical assistance (namely a quadcopter) for herself to fly, mainly to keep up when Turvy learned to fly in earnest.
R.L. was Kell's boss at Herd Thinners, Inc. He may be a wolf; we rarely see any part of him other than jaws and hands. He is in his 60s at this point. While he is an adept manager and savage predator, he is not particularly computer-literate. He secretly suffers from domestication. His predecessor at Herd Thinners was named L.D. and otherwise could easily be mistaken for him (evidence of nepotism?).
R.L. married Angelique, Kevin's ex, becoming a father figure to the 20 young skunks whom Angelique wound up adopting from a previous relationship. It is unclear whether they are still legally married, but they don't live together anymore.
R.L. has rarely been kind to Kell. On multiple occasions, he either fired or had intended to fire her. She became his primary rival via Dewclaw's Fine Meats. Nevertheless, Kell has retained some lingering respect for him.
Eventually, R.L.’s illegal habit of eating employees got him in trouble when a witness finally survived to tell on him. He was sentenced to 18 months in a minimum-security prison (Domain goes relatively easy on murderers), but our heroes soon determined that a body double had gone in his stead. Hearing reports of a predator killing just for fun in The Wild, Kevin and Kell traced R.L. to Dorothy’s former home. Aware that actually sending him to prison would probably get him killed, they let him stay there on the condition that he sign a non-compete agreement, putting Herd Thinners and Dewclaw’s Fine Meats on separate hunting grounds. They secretly left trackers (fleas) and told police to keep tabs on him. To reduce his killing spree, they put up warnings that he probably wouldn’t notice.
It seems that The Wild wasn’t safer for R.L. after all, so Angelique, with help from Gweneth, rescued him and smuggled him into prison. She had planned to smuggle the imposter out, but since he was enjoying his reign over the other prisoners too much to leave voluntarily, R.L. ate him. Thanks to monetary pull, R.L. got out early (albeit with a tracking bracelet on his jaws), but Angelique continues to be CEO. It’s unclear what his current title at Herd Thinners is.
Ralph Dewclaw is Kell's younger brother, a wolf (carnivore)—and a rather feckless one. For quite some time, Ralph had a Wile E. Coyote relationship with Kevin: Ralph kept trying to eat Kevin, but due to Kevin's size and strength and Ralph's ineptitude, Ralph took all the damage. Ralph was webmaster at Herd Thinners and now works at Hare-Link. Elanor keeps him well-, if not over-, fed, so he's no longer a threat to Kevin.
Ralph was actually a champion hunter in high school but fell in love with a sheep he was hunting, Wanda Woolstone. Wanda died in childbirth, and Ralph, heartbroken, could no longer hunt. The child took after her mother in appearance and grew up to be Corrie.
Ralph married Martha. They live in the Fennec mansion.
Are Ralph and Kevin finally friends?
Bill answers, “Not friends; I doubt they'd go out and have a beer together. :) However, they do have a workable boss/employee relationship.”
The mice were originally subjects in Lindesfarne's study of the effects of extended computer use, but her soft heart got in the way. Afterward, she thought of them as pets, and they thought of her as room service. A squirrel moved in with them for protection (from Coney). The squirrel has since moved to the human world, according to Ms. Aura's tweets. We have not seen the mice in ages, but Bill says they might still live with Lindesfarne.
Candace Canid is a border collie (carnivore) who used to be Kevin's assistant sysop on the Herbivore Forum. She and her husband Buster adopted Corrie (who soon had Dolly surreptitiously replace her) and later adopted Mary (also Dolly). The Canids and the Dewclaws were partners in creating Flea-Bay. Candace's earlier job was an air traffic controller; she now provides customer support at Hare-Link. The Canids moved to New Zealand, with Candace continuing to work for Hare-Link remotely. We have not heard from them since, apart from brief depictions of Candace at work.
The Ursals, Mannie and Majorie (bears, omnivores), are retirees who lived next door to the Dewclaws. Majorie was an expert hunter, but now they live on government assistance. The Ursals have since moved to Florida.
The Ursals had kicked out their daughter, Minora, and her husband, Bob Silvertip, for being vegetarian. Apparently, guilt from this overreaction had led the Ursals to be extra friendly to the Dewclaws. Kell happened to meet the Silvertips in The Wild, where they now had an infant son, Harcourt. She talked them into making amends, and the Silvertips moved in with the Ursals. Harcourt soon befriended Coney.
The Silvertips went south with Mannie and Marjorie but returned some years later, no longer vegetarian or even hibernating. Harcourt goes to Coney's school and camp, where they remain friends, with mild evidence of crushes on each other. He has some difficulty in his transition to hunting.
Dolly is a sheep (herbivore) who was cloned from Corrie. Due to her sheltered life, she has not been very savvy about the world at large. She was adopted by Candace and Buster Canid, who thought she was Corrie. An accelerated aging process (see 4.4) forced her to leave the Canids before they could discover the truth. Accidental use of Ms. Aura's time machine (see 3.1) reversed the aging process a little too far, so she became a lamb again. The Canids have re-adopted her as “Mary,” not suspecting she was “Corrie,” let alone Dolly. (Nobody ever said life was simple.)
Mary was one of Coney's playmates until the Canids moved to New Zealand. It is not yet known whether she now ages rapidly, normally, slowly, or not at all.
Did you ever imagine that you would get as much of a run with her as you did?
Bill says, “Dolly has surprised me. Sadly, her real-life counterpart did not have the same longevity.”
Catherine Aura is a buzzard (scavenger), who was Rudy's hunting teacher (those who cannot do...). She and her young son, Nigel, rented a branch apartment on the Dewclaws' tree. She was the supreme leader of the Great Bird Conspiracy. When the GBC folded up, she and Nigel used the time machine to travel to ancient Greece, but they returned. Ms. Aura became assistant coach on the Caliban Academy hunting team, and she and Nigel got their own tree. Nigel was one of Coney's playmates.
During the GPF Crossover (January 2004), when Danielle and Lindesfarne were revealed as humans, Ms. Aura and Nigel crossed into the human world to correct the balance between worlds. They became dolphins, the planet's “most superior species.” Since then, until January 2019, Ms. Aura's Twitter feed has kept readers up to date on her activities, which have included turning human; finding love in a human named Greg; having a daughter named Ursala, who looks part bear (because Greg has a bear counterpart in the other world); and still striving to avert disasters caused by travel between the worlds, this time with knowing help from Lindesfarne, Fenton, and occasionally Rudy. Due to inconsistencies in the passage of time between worlds, Nigel is now much older than Coney, to his dismay.
Tammy Tussock is a moth who was Fenton's other girlfriend until Lindesfarne found out. In spite of that, Tammy and Lindesfarne have become good friends; Tammy provides a “social butterfly” contrast to Lindesfarne's reserve. She is married to Ray Flambeau, whom she used to take advantage of just for his light, but a period of blindness got her to love him in earnest. They have a son, Angstrom, who is a glowing moth.
Ray Flambeau is a six-foot-tall firefly. Originally the brightest guy on the block in the literal sense but not the figurative sense, he was accidentally hit with the Great Bird Conspiracy's “intelligence beam” and became a genius. Since he deduced the existence of the GBC, he was hidden at MicroTalon. Ray was in love with Lindesfarne before he started dating Tammy. When the Dewclaws found Vin, Ray, and Fenton at MicroTalon, Ray put the intelligence beam in reverse and made himself stupid again so that he would not come between Fenton and Lindesfarne. He is married to Tammy and works at a remote North Carolina lighthouse, where they live with son Angstrom.
Vin Vulpen is a red fox (carnivore) who was once a star high school predator, until his steroid secret came to light. He was Rudy's worst enemy and, much to the chagrin of both of them, Rudy's half-brother by their father, Randy. Vin is domesticated.
For some time, he worked for Angelique at the R&D lab of Herd Thinners; then he went back to Caliban Academy, trying to get an athletic scholarship to college (this time without drugs). After an attempt to blackmail Angelique and R.L., he fled to The Wild and is officially presumed dead, though Rudy and Fiona know the truth.
Vin was last seen living happily in The Wild with a mate and her kits, having abandoned civilization to the point of forgetting his former name.
His tombstone reads “1983-2002.” That's older than I thought he'd be.
Bill replies, “He was a high school senior, and I also somehow had to account for the time he spent at MicroTalon and Herd Thinners. Having the characters stay frozen in age can lead to some odd conflicts like that, but the alternative would be to have Rudy be 21 now, Lindesfarne at 24, Coney at seven...” (This was back when they were 14, 17, and one, respectively.)
He has had cubs in The Wild? I though he was sterile.
Bill replies, “His mate's cubs aren't his own. Whether he can father his own cubs is an open question.” (Vin had had to surrender his stud fees due to reported sterility, presumably from steroid use, but that condition might not be permanent.)
Kevin was disowned by his family for marrying a carnivore, so he took his wife's family name, Dewclaw. His family took a long time to speak to him again.
Bill adds, “Kell kept her name when she married [Kevin] in order to help her career. As we know, the Dewclaws are a highly respected lineage, which makes Ralph even more of a mystery. :)
“Rudy used to have his father's name, but Kell's parents convinced her to switch him to ‘Dewclaw' after [his father died in] the hunting accident.
“[Lindesfarne] took the name Dewclaw when Kevin married Kell.”
(It's worth noting that only one woman in K&K so far has changed her name upon marriage during the events of the comic: Danielle Fennec, nee Kindle.)
Daisy is a flower who was supposedly domesticated by Ray Flambeau. She was actually given intelligence by Ms. Aura, to protect the Great Bird Conspiracy with a proverbial red herring. She now lives in the Dewclaw household as a pet. Bill says Daisy is about as intelligent as a dog or cat in our world, though we have seen her typing at a computer and having a pretty complex thought in words. We have also seen her pursuing romances, but none seem to have lasted.
Dr. Caduceus (snake, carnivore) is Kell's family doctor, who diagnosed her as suffering from domestication. He must be about 60, because he reports having been a teenager during Kevin's infancy. He has been the go-to physician for K&K characters in general. His “Guide to Accepting Domestication” appears in the third K&K print collection.
Rhonda is a tigress (carnivore). Originally Vin's partner in the Caliban Academy mixed-doubles hunting competition (and then called “Rhoda”), she teamed up with Rudy, Fiona, and Bruno as a hunting foursome. Her on-and-off boyfriend at the time was Edgar. She was Lindesfarne's roommate at Beige University. She is now married to Quinn Rabelais, a porcupine. After graduation, she joined Dewclaw's Fine Meats.
Rhonda stands out for an unusually large frame, which prevents her from stalking like most tigers. Nevertheless, she has become one of the top young predators at her company. At Marty's advice, Kell appointed her as “pack leader” to new hires.
Many of the names in K&K are easily found in the dictionary, like “Canid.” Some of them have significance to the strip, character, or artist that aren't immediately apparent.
Some Names and Their Origins:
Bill has confessed that Harcourt Silvertip and Fenton Fuscus took their names from Harcourt Fenton Mudd, of Star Trek.
Bill also says, “There's no Latin classification background to Nigel's name; when I drew him, he just looked like a Nigel.”
Angelique is, biologically, a rabbit (herbivore), Kevin's first wife and Lindesfarne's adopted mother. Angelique left them for a cyber-suitor, “User #458,” who turned out to be Kevin's father. After that disaster, Angelique married a skunk with 20 young children. He ran out on them, leaving her with his offspring to raise. The oldest and most assertive skunk is named Gweneth; the only other name we know among them is “Bosworth,” though we never found out which one he(?) is. Before college, Lindesfarne and Fenton used to babysit the skunks; now Gweneth, at 15, is returning the favor by babysitting Turvy. Gweneth recognizes that her adopted mother is not a good person, and she wants to compensate.
Angelique married R.L., Kell's former boss at Herd Thinners. Relations between Angelique and her former family remain uneasy. Kell used to report to her, which Angelique enjoyed. Vin once worked for her in R&D. Angelique has had plastic surgery to change her appearance to that of a rat, partly because it allows her to pass for a predator without actually eating anyone and partly because she had her rabbit license revoked for treachery. The kids now live at R.L.'s mansion, and they at least used to go to the Herd Thinners company day care center.
Lindesfarne has been especially cut up about Angelique, who had been pretty distant as a mother and then suddenly abandoned her and Kevin, only to try to start anew with her a few years later. As a high school graduation present, Angelique promised Lindesfarne no further attempts to win her back as a daughter. This has not stopped Angelique from visiting after the birth of Turvy, whom she sees as a granddaughter.
Twice, Angelique became the Herd Thinners CEO. The first time, R.L. was thought to be dead, and Angelique planned to take over the world—until R.L. not only returned but pointed out what a headache that would be compared with mere commercial profits. When R.L. went to prison, Angelique assumed a more permanent position, with shareholders preferring that she remain there even upon R.L.’s return to the company.
One of Angelique's first moves upon her second term was to have Herd Thinners target rabbits primarily. This produced quite a reign of terror, until several of our heroes set up a scenario that would both terrify her and remind her that she at least used to be a rabbit. It became more truly dangerous than they had in mind. Angelique's hair turned white with fright. Later, she had no conscious memory of the events but still moved the company focus away from rabbits, if only because a false report of tularemia in the population hurt rabbit meat prices.
Why would Angelique be so hard on her own (ancestral) kind?
Bill says that Angelique was always wicked enough to do something like this without much of a reason; she just didn't have the power before. If that explanation doesn't satisfy you, “The Virtual Quill” offers two tentative theories: (1) Angelique has a lot of old enemies among rabbits, and (2) she hopes to defray suspicions among employees about her origin. It's also worth noting that predators at Dewclaw's Fine Meats decided not to hunt rabbits for fear of upsetting Kell, so there was less competition on that front and a big, well, herd to thin.
Bill Holbrook explains, “There's only one reason why Kevin's bent ear is always the one away from the reader: It looks better that way! :) (Similarly, in Li'l Abner, Al Capp always drew Abner's hair with the part towards the reader, no matter which way he was facing.)”
They are Kell's parents, named after the Roosevelts. Frank had Alzheimer's disease and died, never really having appeared on screen in life, but he has occasionally appeared as a memory/ghost to Kell or Elanor, departing for heaven only after Kell became CEO of Herd Thinners. Elanor has moved in with Kevin and Kell, having lost her life savings by day-trading.
Elanor used to have a career as a political operative, which sometimes becomes relevant anew. She now helps out at Aby's Auto Repair with Dorothy, with whom she has a rivalry that has grown friendly. She also chats online with Dorothy's ex, Bentley, who turns out to have inadvertently introduced her to Frank. Bentley fell for her, but she prefers to stay friends.
George and Martha are Fiona's parents. Mr. Fennec is an African fennec fox; Mrs. Fennec is a North American red fox (both carnivores).
The Fennec marriage was arranged to bring diversity into an old bloodline; the Fennecs have felt superior to the Dewclaw marriage, not least because George's big ears have gotten him mistaken for a rabbit, so he used to hate rabbits more than the average predator. The Fennecs have divorced. Martha and her new husband, Ralph Dewclaw, live in the mansion Fiona built, next to the Dewclaws.
Despite his long-time hatred of rabbits, George bought Hare-Link from Fiona and later married Danielle Kendall/Kindle. They have a house of their own in the same neighborhood, as well as a son, Francis.
Bill named George and Martha after the couple in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? There is no direct connection to the Washingtons or even the Wilsons from Dennis the Menace.
Bill says, “That's an excellent reason for it not to happen!” (This was before Bruno turned to a diet of grass, but that only means that another herbivorous wolf would be pretty redundant.)
Do you know if Kevin and Kell will have any more kids?
Bill says, “No, they won't.”
Rudy used to have a safety pin through his tail, as a teenager in our world would have a safety pin through his ear (a fad that has not aged well, even for someone who still wears a backwards cap). Bill dropped it, because at 72 dpi, no one could tell what it was.
Attentive readers will also note that Kell's paws used to be the same color as her hair. This made her look like she always wore gloves, so now her fur is the same all over.
Bill says, “She makes sure that she doesn't eat *in-laws*. Generally, however, she confines her efforts to deer and larger game. Her quota is filled quicker that way.” (It's worth noting that her employees stopped eating rabbits on the assumption that she'd disapprove. This made her a lot more popular with rabbits.)
Bentley (whose name was not introduced for a long time) is Kevin's dad, a con man who claims to be behind every get-rich-quick scheme on the Internet. Kell met him once while investigating a rabbit burrow and hired him as a security consultant for Herd Thinners. He's on good terms with Lindesfarne, reluctantly tolerates Kell, and loathes Angelique. He still does not particularly approve of the Kevin and Kell marriage.
Bentley was revealed to be “User #458,” the online suitor for whom Angelique dumped Kevin and Lindesfarne. He didn't know who she was online, but of course he already knew her by sight, and the relationship ended immediately. By that time, though, she had already left Kevin and Lindesfarne.
Bentley served time in prison, covering up for Danielle Kindle's semi-accidental killing of a predator during a Rabbit's Revenge initiation. Thus, he is no longer employed by Herd Thinners. In prison, he started chatting regularly online with Elanor Dewclaw and developed an unrequited crush on her; they remain online friends. He now lives at the Fennec mansion, from which he apparently has been persuaded not to steal anything. He also helps migrators travel safely in stealth.
Zerda Zenith is a fennec fox (carnivore) and an assistant to Steve Lops, CEO of Carrot Computer. Hare-Link was hired to provide Internet service for Carrot Computer in the Domain area, and Zerda became Carrot's liaison with Hare-Link. Zerda, like George Fennec, was always being mistaken for a rabbit. Unlike him, she embraced the image and preferred to date rabbits over her own species. George pretended to be a rabbit in order to keep seeing her.
Zerda broke up with George when she fell in love with another fennec and decided to ditch her “rabbit” boyfriend. Revealing himself as another fennec did not improve the situation. We have not heard from her since.
Angstrom Flambeau is the son of Ray Flambeau and Tammy Tussock. He takes after both of his parents, having moth-like wings and glowing like a searchlight. Naturally, Tammy took to hovering around him for more than one reason. When last we saw him, he had matured enough to speak well. Sadly, he has a hard time reading, because his involuntary bright light overwhelms computer screens and even makes ink fade.
Tree was an innocent bystander caught in the intelligence beam that got Ray Flambeau. She exhibits a human level of intelligence, able to speak via the wind through her branches. Fenton bought Tree to save her from the lumber company and built a home inside her, with technology allowing her to see each room and do various things with furniture and whatnot. She has become a liaison of sorts, translating the thoughts of other plants (transmitted through a subsoil network) to the language of animals. After a flood nearly killed her, Tree was transported near Beige University, where she married a neighboring maple. Lindesfarne moved into Tree after marrying Fenton.
While Tree has good intentions, she has had much to learn about laws and ethics among animals. Nowadays, she's better about them than the plants with whom she communicates regularly. She retains a severe enmity toward flowers, who strike her as vain.
Danielle Kindle was one of Kevin's younger sisters (sibling #29). She was involved with the radical group Rabbit's Revenge and hid in the Dewclaw tree for some time. She and George Fennec had a relationship that began after his breakup with Zerda. Danielle was killed in a raid on Rabbit's Revenge headquarters.
Soon after Danielle's death, a human named Danielle Kendall accidentally went through the portal between the human world and the world of Domain and manifested as a rabbit, identical to Danielle Kindle down to the DNA. Although she has revealed herself to George and the Dewclaws as not being the original Danielle, she has been accepted by them. Her human habits (e.g., eating meat) and lack of experience with Domain still can cause problems. Her inability to scamper like a rabbit cost her her rabbit license; in the eyes of the Species Registry, she now qualifies as a fennec fox instead, having married George and assumed the last name Fennec.
The death of Danielle Kindle and the appearance of Danielle Kendall have caused more debate, discussion, and acrimony on the K&K mailing list than perhaps any other topic in the comic. Bill has refrained from voicing his opinions at any point, with the exception of this: “I didn't think there was anything constructive I could add, except to say that I never mean to hurt anyone with my strips.”
Rachel Einhorn (rhinoceros, herbivore) was a classmate who played Rudolph when Bruno played Santa. Her poor eyesight, combined with the scent of female wool from Bruno's fleece, gave her the impression that Bruno was female, until Corrie set the record straight. Bruno proceeded to wear his large ram horns, a previous gift from Corrie, at all times to avoid further embarrassing mistakes. Much later, Rachel got contact lenses.
Rachel was on the Caliban Academy hunting team, taking the place of Rhonda, thanks to her ability to knock trees onto prey (which she didn't have to eat). She became Lindesfarne's roommate at Beige University, again taking the place of Rhonda. She has since graduated and become a counselor at the herbivore summer camp and the head teacher at the herbivore preschool, which, at her suggestion, now accepts carnivorous children as well and has expanded to a private elementary school.
Rachel was the first openly gay K&K character, although orientation doesn't mean as much in Domain as it does in most human settings. She married Joan Hoof (horse, herbivore) with no in-world controversy. We haven't seen much of Joan; the mane, er, main other thing to know about her is that she's a “clothes horse,” interning with a designer.
Aby Eyeshine is an Abyssinian cat (carnivore) in her late 30s who runs an auto body shop. She and Kell met when Kell's car broke down, and Aby was able to perform an emergency fix. When Kell was fired from Herd Thinners, she took a job as Aby's office manager. Aby moved into the house next door to the Dewclaws when the Ursals moved south.
Sam Pardus is Aby's brother, who changed his last name. He is the coach of the Caliban Academy Hunting Team. He is a male calico cat, who used to disguise himself as a leopard to avoid discrimination against domestic cats. Eventually, his secret got out, but he received enough support to keep his job; Rudy even came out as domesticated to the whole school for that purpose. Note: Male calicos are rare and usually sterile; Bill has confirmed that this is the case for Coach Pardus.
Kell has had a reluctantly admitted prejudice against all felines, and Aby has helped her deal with it and even taught her the feline language. Aby has indicated that Kell once chased her up a tree when they were kids.
Aby has developed a few inventions. R.L. has been her primary investor; it is not clear whether he still is since Kell became his rival.
Aby officially married her job, but this has not stopped her from marrying blunt drag racer Mark Meadowvole (granivore), whom she has helped with his racing. What can we say? He leads a dangerous lifestyle—not least because of his cheating archrival, Sam Sewerrat—but Aby makes it her business to reduce the danger with car features and, of course, physical threats to other predators.
Dorothy Kindle, Kevin's mother, left civilization to live in The Wild after her divorce from Bentley. She is a full lop-ear, which explains Kevin's half-lop. Kevin, being unusually large for a rabbit, was delivered by C-section and was the only member of his “litter.” He is her first-born child. The rest of her litters were the usual multiple births. There has been no accounting for this uniqueness.
Dorothy previously was none too fond of her daughter-in-law but accepted the rabbit side of Coney's nature. She wants Coney to become more herbivorous and has tried various schemes to attract her to vegetables. This may be how she has thought Coney should develop, or Coney may have been the trophy in the contest between her and Elanor. Either way, Dorothy has stopped pushing the matter so much since Coney saved her from a predator.
Despite their open rivalry, Dorothy once saved Elanor's life. She then used her training as a physical therapist to get Elanor back in shape in a timely fashion, though that did little if anything to increase their friendship.
Danielle once tried to explain her human-world origin to Dorothy, who seemed to chalk the story up to a mental side effect of pregnancy. Whether she actually believed Danielle is unknown, but it must be hard not to in light of Francis nowadays.
In working at Aby's Auto Repair, Dorothy met a suitor, Douglas Squirrel (herbivore). They are now married, but there had been a snag when Douglas was discovered to be long-lost fugitive D.B. Cooper and went to prison. Bentley pulled strings to share a cell with him to make sure that he was OK for Dorothy. Perhaps not coincidentally, both men got paroled on the same day. Douglas continues to steal from bird feeders.
Kevin evidently inherited his lack of predator fear from Dorothy. Oddly enough, she used to volunteer as conditioning coach of the Caliban hunting team when Rudy was on it. For obvious reasons, they did not target rabbits with her around. She later coached Rudy and then Fiona in gardening.
Long ago, Dorothy became the first female Easter Bunny. In those days, she had to be extra good at it. She also had to turn down a marriage proposal from the pig who would go on to coach the Beige University gardening team, because the Rabbit Council wouldn't let her serve otherwise. In recent years, she has lent support to newer Easter Bunnies, until getting caught on camera and thus having to leave the program.
Francis Fennec is the son of George and Danielle Fennec. At first, his species was indeterminate, though his DNA contained enough of George and Danielle's to prove their parentage. At age two, he shed his fluff rapidly and revealed a human form, causing a new controversy. Regardless, he has been fiercely loved by his parents and the Dewclaws.
Now six years old, Francis hasn’t said much on screen until recently, but he has certainly been active. His most defining attributes are curiosity and resourcefulness, which induce him to explore and generally get into trouble. Mercifully, he’s not as defenseless as you might expect; his ingenuity helps compensate for a lack of physical advantages. He also relies on vision over scent, enabling him to notice what most others don’t. Coney often protects him as well. He did get banned from her summer camp after a close call, but he returned years later with less trouble.
Fran Caudal first appeared as a rival candidate when Kevin ran for a seat on the school board. Kevin won, but he recommended her as the new headmaster for Caliban Academy, where she works now. Fran unexpectedly served as Danielle's midwife, and Francis is named in her honor.
Quinn Rabelais, a porcupine (herbivore), was betrothed to Lindesfarne, by her then-mother Angelique, when Lindesfarne was a baby. (It's a rabbit tradition to arrange these things early.) When Lindesfarne and Fenton announced their engagement, the Rabelais parents were set to enforce their contract. Quinn had already fallen in love with Rhonda through their encounters in Ninth Life, so he married her instead, which released Lindesfarne from the contract.
Leona Mangle, a lioness (carnivore), is the daughter of Frank Mangle. She joined the Caliban Academy hunting team to impress Edgar, Rhonda's former boyfriend, not knowing that Edgar was also on the team, disguised as a lioness. The truth came out, Leona forgave him, and they became a couple. She now sports a scar over her left eye from a hunting injury.
At Beige University, Leona got involved in a sorority, taking her time away from both Edgar and roommate Fiona. Edgar strayed toward Miranda, which initially got Leona's dander up, but a subsequent trial period, in which she left the sorority, saw her losing interest in Edgar. In particular, after Carl's heroic act as a fellow camp counselor (albeit from the herbivore side), Leona set her sights on him; he rebuffed her early advances but became open to dating her, and now they're married. (It's possible that her childhood love of unicorns affected her feelings toward a rhino.)
Leona and Carl have a newborn daughter, Savanna, who looks mostly like an oversize lion cub (born by C-section) but has a retractable horn that emerges upon perception of a threat. Savanna has sprouted fangs, suggesting a future carnivorous diet, but she also likes veggies. Ophelia is her caretaker.
Leona is a waitress at Vore's Restaurant, which caters to all diets. She has graduated from Beige.
Frank is a lion (carnivore), the father of Leona. As a widower, he has bucked the trend among male lions by doing his own hunting, becoming one of the top predators at Herd Thinners. As Kell's co-worker, he was sometimes amiable but usually a bitter rival, holding a grudge from childhood. This made it a little awkward when he started dating Sheila Dewclaw, Kell's physically identical cousin…who turned out to be the one who actually chased him in childhood. He let go of the grudge and went on to marry Sheila, with his previously disapproving daughter's blessing. (We don't know when the wedding occurred; it was merely mentioned sometime afterward.)
Sheila used to be a world-traveling geologist with a habit of trying various lifestyles to extremes. She and Kell have locked horns at times, with Sheila acting catty out of envy of Kell's stability. Nevertheless, they would work it out. More recently, Sheila has taken a job local to Domain as an exterminator. She needed a lot of pressure to take on the responsibility of planning her stepdaughter's wedding.
Frank once physically fought R.L. in the hope of usurping his position, if only for Leona's college fund. To prevent the men from killing each other, Kell outfought both, inadvertently becoming the new CEO. After that, Frank was too grateful to plot against her. He is now the chief operating officer of Dewclaw's Fine Meats.
Frank was leery of Edgar but approves of Leona's relationship with Carl.
Edgar Carnassial is a lion (carnivore) and friend of Rudy since high school, having grown closer as college roommates. He used to date Rhonda, but their relationship was unsteady, partly because his male lion nature had him mooching food off her. He tried to make up for it by learning to hunt (barely) and becoming an understudy for the Caliban hunting team, which seemed a disgrace to his family but drew Leona to him, making her his next girlfriend. By college, he felt that Leona paid him too little attention, so he moved on.
Edgar is majoring in theater at Beige University. In the course of a play, he met Miranda, who would become his wife.
Edgar has served as a predator camp counselor.
Gino is a buzzard (scavenger) of no apparent relation to the Auras. He first appeared as a “stalkerazzi,” with Fiona as his intern. He later confided to her and Rudy his role in the Great Bird Conspiracy—propaganda, particularly to keep unknowing people away from the portal to the human world—and invited them to help spread rumors to that end.
Sheldon “Teapot” Dome is a tortoise (herbivore) who at least used to serve as the county's recreation administrator, for no less than 120 years. When he was too hidebound to let Coney into the Predator Youth League because of her rabbit appearance, Kevin ran for office against him. Mr. Dome won, but right afterward, Lindesfarne publicly revealed that his campaign manager, a weasel, had a child by him. With that, he changed his policy.
Mr. Dome later provided another obstacle to the Dewclaws: Rudy needed to submit proof of his age in order to stay on the Caliban hunting team, but Mr. Dome, who was once dumped for an abacus repairman, hated computers so much that he wouldn't look at even a printout. Rudy gave him a disguised PDA, and he may never have caught on.
The last time that Mr. Dome appeared in a non-ensemble capacity, he sided with the Dewclaws against a proposed ban on interspecies marriage. By that time, he had married the campaign manager. (Also by that time, Sen. Strom Thurmond, who probably inspired the character, had passed away.)
As his last name implies, Bob is a shrike (insectivore with carnivorous tendencies). He was Fenton's freshman-year roommate at Beige University. Because shrikes sometimes eat bats, Lindesfarne worried about this arrangement, but Bob made no false moves.
Desdemona Fuscus is Fenton's mother, who has played a larger role in the comic than his father. For quite a while after Fenton returned from presumed death, she remained aloof, apparently not having internalized his return. Lindesfarne speculated in her blog that this may have led him to seek the maternal affections of Tree.
Desdemona became much more present when Fenton and Lindesfarne got engaged, making an outright nuisance of herself by planning too much, though she and her husband secretly meant to push Lindesfarne into setting the date. It became clear that Desdemona wanted to ensure that the two married before anyone found out what she'd hidden even from Fenton: She's a vampire bat, which is widely misunderstood and feared even in a world of legal predation. News broke shortly before the wedding, leading to numerous guests bailing. Desdemona improved her public image by using her vampiric ability to save Dr. Caduceus in a medical emergency, but that wasn't enough to save her job as an executive assistant.
At Herd Thinners, Desdemona became Kell's assistant, collecting blood from kills and resuming executive assistant duties once Kell became CEO. At Dewclaw's Fine Meats, Desdemona is second-in-command.
Camille is an ostrich (omnivore). She was Rudy's teacher in the first year of the comic. Apparently, the job has been stressful for her, but she remains on the school board. As a fellow board member, Kevin has found her to be rather hidebound when it comes to teaching from the book and favoring tests, though she is not nearly the most obnoxious member.
Randy Foxglove was Kell's first husband and Rudy's father, a red fox (carnivore) who died in a hunting accident when Rudy was a toddler. He has appeared a few times to Rudy and Kell, initially insisting that he was a memory, not a ghost, but later repeatedly identified as a ghost. He has expressed his approval of Kell's marriage to Kevin.
After the revelation that Randy cheated on Kell, she and Rudy had hard feelings toward him. It took a ghost whisperer to put them at peace with one another, whereupon Randy ascended to heaven.
Wendell Luckyfoot is a grumpy five- to nine-year-old rabbit (herbivore) who first appeared while attempting to wallop the Easter Bunny (Rudy at the time) and take his place. He turned out to be a cousin to Coney, with whom he now interacts regularly at school and camp. His mom is Prudence, though we have to wonder about that name, as she's rarely around when he is, despite him reportedly being an only child.
Most characters find Wendell obnoxious for his mischievous streak; in fact, he's infamous throughout the warren. Rudy finds him relatable, having behaved similarly in childhood. Wendell and Lin have crushes on each other, though he's less open about it and may not even realize it.
Marty is a polar bear (carnivore) who used to work at Herd Thinners. Despite a seemingly good rapport with CEO Kell, he fought her for supremacy and nearly won. Being the nobler of the two, Kell not only spared his life but sent him to an ER. Kell's own injuries were severe enough that she could never hunt professionally again.
Understandably, Marty did not join the immediate mass migration to Dewclaw's Fine Meats. He did come later, when R.L. planned to eat him. Kell made him a coach to the junior staffers.
Wallow “Wally” N. Stye is a pig (omnivore) who had been sent to Kell as a one-time limo driver and ritual sacrifice when she became CEO of Herd Thinners. Since Kell did not care for R.L.'s tradition, she made him her regular driver instead, forcing him to think further ahead than before. At Dewclaw's Fine Meats, he drives a delivery truck instead. We have also seen him driving other vehicles, including a school bus, perhaps for supplemental income.
Cassiopeia is the queen of a colony of bees living in the maple across the street from Tree. She has indicated that she's not the colony's literal mother, just a “house mother.” Undoubtedly, she's more responsible than the other bees, who act like frat boys and used to make enough noise by day to keep Lindesfarne and Fenton awake, until Cassiopeia passed on the implication that insomniac nocturnal insectivores might resort to eating diurnal insects. The bees can be industrious, at least outside their home; once when they had to seek shelter in Tree, they completed Fenton's abandoned woodworking projects to pass the time. They now sell “artisanal” honey.
Lin Lee is a tigress (carnivore) and Coney’s current best friend, joining her at both school and predator camp. Lin’s mother, Mei-Li, was born a tabby but became a tigress by force of will. As befits the “tiger mom” stereotype, Mei-Li has high standards for Lin’s progress and allows little playtime. Nowadays, Lin’s way of rebelling against her mom is to embrace girly interests like dresses, much to the chagrin of Coney.
Lin has developed a crush on Wendell, for some reason. She has had trouble liking Harcourt, because he seems lazy to her and doesn’t eat only meat, but she won’t let anyone else pick on him. For a while, she believed that Harcourt was the Easter Bunny. Now she has learned about Coney, Wendell, and several of their relatives being in the Easter Bunny program. She hopes to become Wendell’s bodyguard as he serves in that capacity.
Mei-Li works as an attorney. When Hare-Link could no longer afford its prior lawyers, Kevin hired her—just in time for her to defend him in court. She has even helped Mark avoid signing a bad contract.
We do not know the name of Mei-Li’s husband yet, but he clearly does not match her in strictness. Whether at his suggestion or not, the Lees once allowed the Interspecies Support Group to hold a meeting at their house when the usual meeting place was unsafe.
Dip is a young adult ram (herbivore) who was bred to become a diploma and lived in The Wild for most of his life. Most graduates would have killed him and hung his fleece on a wall, but after Rhonda received him, she made him her workplace assistant at Dewclaw's Fine Meats instead. He then chose his own name, not having had one before. It's short for “diploma” rather than “sheep dip.”
Dip had been an outcast among his flock. When a predator caught all the rest, he hid at the home of Fenton's parents without their awareness. There he developed the computer skills needed for his current job. He later fessed up to the Fuscuses, who opted to let him stay due to their empty nest syndrome.
Dip had actually been a spy for Herd Thinners but learned to prefer Kell as a boss. When R.L. tried to take revenge, Dip received the bodyguard services of Caniche Chien, a poodle (carnivore) from France. This threat discontinued with some intervention by Kell, but then Caniche was targeted by a former employer for fear that she would blow the whistle on their crimes, so the Dewclaws provided her sanctuary in their home. Dip and Caniche are now married, with Dip taking the last name Chien.
Jess Jersey is a tomboy calf who goes to the herbivore camp and the Happy Little Offspring School. Despite being larger than the average camper, she has been a target of predation attempts.
Harold Hoatzin is a stinkbird, one of the few herbivorous birds, also at the camp. He is conscious of his stench and tries to make himself as tolerable as possible. He once saved Jess's life, and they are now in love. Harold lives in another neighborhood and doesn't go to the same school.
Hockley is a boar (herbivore) who goes to the Happy Little Offspring School. He at least used to physically bully all his classmates, especially Wendell, whom he perceived as the greatest threat to his alpha status. After finding out that Wendell was the Easter Bunny, Hockley tried to sabotage the egg distribution but, in a turn of events, got mistaken online for the Easter Bunny himself. He then learned some appreciation for being admired rather than feared, but he still has a mean streak.
Lin once kissed Hockley, for no other reason than to get Wendell's jealous attention. It didn't have the effect she wanted, and Hockley has taken an unwelcome shine to her despite rebuffs. He even became an Easter Bunny for her.
Greta Garter is a garter snake (carnivore) who roomed with Fiona in their first year at Beige University after Leona moved out. Despite being very self-centered and obsessed with makeup, Greta proved to be a caring, insightful, helpful friend, so Fiona agreed to room with her again.
Greta met Todd, an alleged turtle, through Tinder. For years, he always kept his head inside his shell. Eventually, he revealed that he was a toad (insectivore) hiding in the shell of the guy whom she'd expected to meet but who had apparently fallen prey to a raccoon. (Don't feel too sorry for the turtle; Bill indicates that he was sleazy.) Todd assured Greta that (1) he'd hidden only to avoid getting eaten as well, (2) he'd never exactly lied to her except by omission, and (3) he does love her. Greta got over her anger quickly, and they've kept dating.
Todd continued to wear a shell in public until he gave it to Ophelia. He is majoring in astrophysics.
Greta is a pre-med. She has no relation to Dr. Caduceus.
Miranda Hutch is a rabbit and the best player on the Beige University gardening team. She was the first teammate to act friendly toward Rudy, helping him fit in. Thankfully, she never got close enough to arouse Fiona’s jealousy.
That said, Miranda did arouse the justified jealousy of Leona when Edgar started cheating with her. Before Miranda could be devoured, she used a sufficiently safe way to get her message across: They hadn’t planned to get together like that; they just matched so well, and she would give Leona a chance to win Edgar back by the end of summer. By then, Leona had found another love. Miranda and Edgar are now married.
Why does Miranda have two dads?
Miranda's biological parents were eaten in her infancy. Her biological uncle and his husband (don't ask which is which) took her in, and she came to think of them as her dads. Given the early trauma, it's no surprise that they're extra protective of her, possibly keeping even closer tabs than Mei-Li keeps on Lin. But Edgar isn't the first predator she's dated, and his ineptitude at hunting reassures them.
Both dads are on the Rabbit Council. Through them, Miranda knew about Rudy serving as the Easter Bunny, which may explain her friendliness to Rudy.
Carl is a rhino formerly on the Beige University gardening team and a counselor at the herbivore camp. Far larger than Rachel, he used to walk (with mild tremors) on all fours all the time, sometimes not bothering with pants. He also used to deliberately make Rudy feel unwelcome on the team, despite having a mutual friend in Miranda, until the team saw Rudy facing hostile crowds like a prey.
Carl saved Francis' life at the camp, almost at the cost of his own. Leona loved him for this. At first he didn't welcome her attention, but after she saved his life thrice and Miranda indicated no lingering resentment of Leona, he softened and even started walking upright on Leona's account. Carl's acquisition of glasses may have helped his overall friendliness, but he still projects a pretty dour demeanor when not alone with Leona. The two are now married and have a baby daughter, Savanna.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, Carl served as Lindesfarne's midwife. His mother, a professional midwife, insists that he get certified before doing it again. Leona talked him into joining a class with her.
Carl left Beige to go pro in gardening, but since his relationship with a lioness made many people doubt he'd live long, he got picked last by the worst team in the league, the Tidewater Pitchforks. He hopes to turn them around.
Llisa Llama is a llama who goes to the herbivore camp. She has repeatedly shared a tent with Jess. Llisa has a habit of spitting, but like Harold, she tries to minimize the impact of her most disgusting facet. Being a pack animal, she is excellent at carrying a lot of weight.
Turvy Fuscus is the now three-year-old daughter of Lindesfarne and Fenton. She has her mother's quills and her father's wings, making her quite the handful. So far, she hasn't shown any distinctly human traits. Only recently has she started making vocal sounds in the common hearing range instead of sonar range.
Turvy has managed to fly well enough to hunt insects. She quickly rolls into a ball when scared, as by an instinctive understanding of Angelique. Turvy attends Little Brown Bat Nursery School.
Tyler is a six- to eight-year-old meadow vole (granivore) and the son of Mark's estranged brother, who fell victim to predation. Since other relatives were already gone, Mark was the next choice for Tyler's guardian, despite both a dangerous job and a feline girlfriend. Mark and Aby got married partly to make the adoption possible. Understandably, Tyler initially appeared dour and doubtful, but he didn't take long to warm up to the new arrangement.
Tyler's prime coping mechanism is indulgence in imagination. He likes to perceive the world in terms of parallels to pop-cultural works of fantasy and science fiction, often mixed. This is not a matter of delusion; he has decent worldly awareness for his age. It may not be coincidence that he does well at drawing. His gardening skills were poor until he switched from vegetables to grain.
Coney quickly befriended Tyler. Now classmates, they border on love interests. Against Hockley's expectations, Harcourt expresses no jealousy on this front; he regards Tyler as his friend as well.
When Tyler started attending the herbivore camp, he made the unwelcome acquaintance of tentmate Gary, a goat. Gary comes from a family of grain farmers who associate mice and voles with grain theft. He has attempted to trap or even frame Tyler to get him kicked out of camp.
Shortly after Herd Thinners started hunting geese, an injured gander (herbivore) with an egg turned to the Dewclaws for protection. The egg hatched, and both geese moved into the upper branches of Tree until they could fly away. The gosling goes by the nickname “Onk,” the full name being long and difficult for non-geese. Onk and Turvy have enjoyed each other’s company. Alas, thanks to a migratory lifestyle, Onk is rarely around and has no other friends. Onk’s father is a professional courier, so the two of them migrate more than twice a year.
Onk’s father later took up with another female goose, who produced a half-sister, nicknamed “Ack.” We have yet to learn a name or nickname for either parent.
What are their genders?
Onk and his surviving birth parent are both male. For a long time, no other character knew. Their species lacks sexual dimorphism, the parent hadn’t brought up the subject, and it seemed rude to ask. But Onk eventually said “Daddy” and did not object to being called by masculine pronouns. Ack and the other adult goose parent are female.
George Gopher is, unsurprisingly, a gopher (herbivore) who replaced Carl on the Beige University gardening team. This was a controversial choice on the coach's part, because gophers typically steal from gardens. Indeed, George had to hone his considerable gardening skills in secret so his own family wouldn't eat his crops, and other gophers hate him for bucking the trend. After getting kicked out of the gopher lair, he moved underneath Tree with the residents' blessings. Fiona feared that George would make her obsolete for the team, but he assured her she was needed more than ever, not least because of gopher saboteurs.
During the pandemic, 20-year-old Ophelia Stoat (carnivore) burrowed into George's home in desperation to escape a pelt hunt, having lost her entire family to such hunts by age 13 and been homeless since. Each assumed the other to be the same species, until Ophelia took off her mask, revealing her fangs, and asked for gopher meat. Lindesfarne ensured that Ophelia was a good distance away from George before learning the truth. The idea of being on good terms with a member of a prey species was radically new to Ophelia, but she became open to it after he and his friends repeatedly saved her life (stoat pelts are in high demand in their world). She moved in with Greta, who was living under the Beige gardening field while the dorms were closed. It took Ophelia a while to stop thinking of George as potential food, but they are now in love.
Todd donated his turtle shell to Ophelia so that she could easily hide from pelt hunters. Having faked her death as a stoat, she has assumed the identity of Ophelia Turtle, even in private. George also wears a shell, albeit a 3D-printed one and only in public, without the same commitment to a turtle identity.
Ophelia turned out to have rescued newly orphaned Carla and taken care of her until sending her to the orphanage for a safer life. This experience, combined with subsequent training, helped her get a job as Savanna's caretaker.
“Spork” Johnson is a cheetah (carnivore) who, like many Herd Thinners predators, unofficially quit by running off to The Wild. He fared poorly there and got desperate enough to attack the herbivore camp, thankfully in vain. As punishment, he started doing community service as a sanitation worker among dung beetles, dressed as one of them. He later continued voluntarily, partly because he likes doing something constructive and partly to keep hiding from Angelique’s vengeance.
Crockett is a crocodile (carnivore) at the Happy Little Offspring School. He has repeatedly expressed an interest in eating herbivorous peers, but he doesn’t want to make Rachel mad. It was a long time before we learned his name.
K&K has been developing since September 1995, and unless you know some of the background, you might miss some of the jokes. And that would be a pity.
After humanity left Earth, the birds were the next to rise to sapience. They inherited the artifacts left behind by us, which was a good thing, because we left the planet in a real mess. The birds went back in time and created an alternate history in which humanity did not exist, and they gave humanlike intelligence to the local fauna. Unfortunately, they botched the job and didn't rewrite the predator-prey relationships, so what arose was a mirror-image society to that of 20th- and 21st-century Earth in which violent death is even more likely.
The birds took measures to keep this civilization from tearing itself apart from the “violence inherent in the system.” They did this through taking key roles in society whose influence is out of proportion to status (teachers, secretaries, support staff, etc.) and tried to keep things on a more or less even keel. They deliberately introduced the gene for domestication into the other species of the world in order to bring stability between the species; it didn't work very well.
The GBC had a massive computer project at MicroTalon that would take over the task of running the world, and they released it at the start of Y2K. Once this happened, the birds were free to live their own lives. They have zapped their advanced technology into the far future to protect it from tampering. One “world portal” still exists: the one between the K&K world and the human world.
The head of the GBC, Catherine Aura, departed the K&K world to live as a dolphin in the human world. Since then, she has taken a human form and, alas, found that she still has a leading role to play in policing what goes on with the portal. Think of it as immigration enforcement with far more than national security at stake.
Bill says, “This may be a good time for me to point out I've never taken the position as to whether I personally approve of the birds' plans. I'm just the reporter here. :)”
Bill was not the originator of the term “Great Bird Conspiracy,” which is why you will not see the term in the strip, only on the mailing list and possibly the user comments at the comic site.
If the birds have such powerful tools, why don't they do a better job?
Bill says, “I think that by now we've ascertained that while the birds are intelligent, they're hardly super-intelligent. :) (They just found a lot of really cool gadgets left by the humans.)” He adds, “I just wanted to point out that the memory-erasing devices, time machines, etc. no longer exist. The only technology the birds have is that which is available to everybody, like, say, trampolines.”
Were all birds required to participate, or did they have a choice?
Bill says, “They had a choice. It was a very laid-back cabal.”
Fiona had the ability to fix objects, with emphasis on machines, simply by pointing at them. She was given the power when she was abducted by a flying saucer, and then she realized she had a duty to use this power to solve the Y2K Bug and save civilization. The flying saucer was actually piloted by the GBC. Fiona went on a world tour to fix all the world's computers. The GBC revoked her powers just before she could use them on the MicroTalon computers; thankfully, Kevin and Kell themselves took it from there. Fiona was thereafter an ordinary vixen, albeit one of the richest people in the world for a good while.
The Wild is an extremist back-to-nature cult. Members of The Wild remove all traces of civilization, including clothing and names, and live out in the forest. The leaders of The Wild kill any member who tries to leave the organization.
“The Wild” is also the term used to refer to an area that has not been “civilized” with roads, schools, housing developments, or DSL service. Many if not most wild animals have no ties to the cult. Some people living in The Wild still wear clothes and live in basic houses.
Do predators in The Wild respect society's limits on predation?
Bill says, “Anything goes in The Wild. That's why it's The Wild. :)”
The Herbivore Forum was a web service used by prey species. Kevin was the sysop, with Candace acting as assistant sysop when not at work. The Herbivore Forum offered chat rooms on many subjects, guides to hiding places, and other online attractions.
The Herbivore Forum closed for lack of activity in September 2000.
Flea-Bay was a company formed by the Dewclaws and the Canids as an extension of the Herbivore Forum to enter the Internet auction marketplace by matching grooming opportunities. Specifically, a person who had parasites they didn't want could match up with a buyer who was looking for a snack. R.L. agreed to provide Flea-Bay with start-up funding. Fiona bought Flea-Bay from him before Angelique could fire everyone. Flea-Bay expanded into an online dating service, Mating_Call.com. With the slack market for IPOs, Mating_Call.com folded.
Kevin is now running a local Internet service provider, Hare-Link. Fenton is the sysadmin for Hare-Link, and Candace provides remote telephone support; Lindesfarne occasionally assists both of them. Ralph is the webmaster. Kevin and George are co-owners, George having purchased from Fiona.
Herd Thinners is the company where Kell used to work as a staff predator. Her job at the start was to take down prey animals; what she did not eat herself, she took back to the office. These leftovers would be packaged as “processed meat” and sold in grocery stores. Each predator must fill a monthly quota or risk being downgraded to “prey.” The personnel at Herd Thinners are mostly predators, although elephants are employed in the information system department and Corrie used to be the webmaven.
Kell was the CEO of Herd Thinners for a while, until R.L. organized a boardroom coup to restore his position. No longer athletic enough to go back to professional predation, she founded a similar if more humane (to its employees, at least) corporation, Dewclaw’s Fine Meats, with funding from the Rabbit Council. Most of the hundreds of employees came from Herd Thinners, out of loyalty to Kell and/or fear of R.L. and Angelique. Herd Thinners continued to be a fierce rival, but its remaining staffers were definitely less competent.
Eventually, every professional predator at Herd Thinners quit, most of them en masse to look for unrelated work. To please shareholders enough to keep her job, Angelique gave Kell 10% ownership in exchange for temporary staff support. Kevin is now on the board, assured that Angelique won’t move against him because Kell could reveal Angelique’s herbivorous origins. At his advice, Herd Thinners started hiring more insectivores, particularly bats. The company markets insect meat as other meat (illegal in our world, but then, so is killing citizens for food).
“Herd Thinners” is also the name of one of the primary K&K websites and has hosted the chatroom: https://www.herdthinners.com/.
Is Herd Thinners global or local?
Bill says, “It's global, with many branch offices. The worldwide headquarters are located in the city of which Domain is a suburb.”
The Dewclaws live in a suburb called Domain. Their treehouse is at 8888 Nail St., on the corner of Tooth and Nail. Elanor lives upstairs on a branch. Aby lives next door in the Ursals' former house; Martha, Ralph, and Corrie live in a mansion down the road (originally built for Fiona, Martha, and George); and George, Danielle, Francis, and Dorothy live in another nearby house.
Where Domain itself is located is vague. Bill says, “All I can say is that Domain is a typical suburb of residential dwellings, about 15 miles away from the center of an unnamed major North American metropolis. (...Which is where the headquarters of Herd Thinners, Inc. is located.)” Rumor has it that the city bears an uncanny resemblance to Bill's hometown, Atlanta. The comic did confirm a Georgia location in 2010.
Rabbit's Revenge was a radical hate group of rabbits attempting to disrupt the social order. Their purpose was to “reflect” society's violence back on itself by killing carnivores, if not all animals other than rabbits. Their trademark weapon was a gun that shot wooden stakes shaped like carrots. Their philosophy was rejected by most rabbits, who saw it as unnatural.
Bentley was a member until he was hired by Herd Thinners. Danielle Kindle was involved with the group for a while. Both of them rejected it when they learned its true purpose. Danielle was killed during a successful raid on Rabbit's Revenge HQ to destroy the computer system, which effectively dissolved the group.
Portals are passages between one place and another, one time and another, or one world and another. They are generated by the GBC's advanced technology. One of them was used to take the Auras to ancient Greece and back, and another is a passage between the K&K world and the human world. The latter portal is located in the area commonly known as the Bermuda Triangle, whose legends are a bit of misdirection on the part of the birds.
The portal between the human world and the world of Domain was accidentally found by Ralph and Martha on their honeymoon and was also the means of bringing Danielle Kendall, human, into the K&K world as Danielle Kindle, rabbit. Lindesfarne is another human crossover, as explained further in the book Oh, the Humanity! with an arc that did not appear in the daily strips.
The portals have the ability to “rewrite” a person's DNA to accommodate them to their new environment. This can be resisted by traveling in a lead-lined container.
If someone travels from one world to the other, then someone must travel the other way. The more people come into a world without allowing for this balance, the more that world changes, generally in chaotic ways. For the K&K world, that means animals and even plants losing their instincts; for the human world, it means humans acquiring animalistic behaviors and body parts.
Bill Holbrook and Jeff Darlington, creator of General Protection Fault (GPF, https://www.gpf-comics.com/), got together at a convention in 2003 and planned a crossover between their two strips. Entitled “A Tale of Two Species,” it involved two GPF humans, Nick and Ki, accidentally crossing over to the K&K world and becoming a mouse and cat, respectively. They ended up meeting Lindesfarne and Fenton and learned how the K&K world works. At the time, Lindesfarne was just discovering her human origins, Danielle was preparing to marry George, and the GBC was trying to deal with a worldwide decline in instincts. Nick and Ki made it back to their own world, but the instinct loss continued. Danielle and Lindesfarne determined to cross back to the human world in order to save their families and everyone else, but they were stopped by Ms. Aura and Nigel, who crossed over themselves and restored the balance.
The crossover was planned to incorporate events that the creators had planned anyway, so it would be integrated into both storylines (instead of turning out to be a “dream sequence” or similar cop-out).
Aby's Auto Repair is a shop run by Aby Eyeshine. Aby is a very competent mechanic and hired Kell to run the office after the first time Kell got fired from Herd Thinners. Since the shop's clientele is mostly cats, a canine was very effective at persuading them to pay their bills on time. Kell left when she was rehired by Herd Thinners. Eleanor and Dorothy work there part-time.
Ninth Life is an online virtual community where members can create virtual avatars, interact with each other, create virtual communities, run businesses, and more. Many species like to play with new identities, but feline species tend to use pictures of themselves, because after all, how can you improve on that?
Parallels with our world's Second Life may be seen, although in Ninth Life, Linden Dollars do grow on linden trees.
The Interspecies Support Group, sometimes called the Interspecies Relationship Support Group, is primarily if not exclusively for interspecies romantic couples. Remember, the Domain couples most in need of this support are those of significantly different species, so you wouldn't expect to find Rudy and Fiona there. They are not all mixed-diet, let alone all predator-prey couples; we have seen a tortoise with a hare, for example, as well as a donkey with an elephant.
Roadkill, Inc. is, or at least was, a food company with an obvious specialty. It provided basically all meat in Domain markets that didn't come from Herd Thinners, until the rise of Dewclaw's Fine Meats. Despite a different style, Roadkill, Inc. became fierce competition for Herd Thinners while Kell was the CEO of the latter, going so far as to hack Kell's phone and attempt to lead her staff to their doom. It has not been heard from since the rise of Dewclaw's Fine Meats.
MOUSCAR is basically NASCAR for mice—human-size mice, not little ones like Lindesfarne's pets. It involves driving through a maze to reach cheese. Mark Meadowvole went pro as a MOUSCAR driver with Herd Thinners sponsorship. Despite his popularity with crowds, he has thus far failed to attract more promising endorsements.
The Happy Little Predator Preschool was where Coney and her carnivorous and omnivorous peers used to go during the school year. The Happy Little Forager Preschool, run by the same firm, was a nearby school for herbivores, where Rachel taught Wendell. The former school ran out of money and had to merge with the latter to become the Happy Little Offspring School—a move not as disastrous as it sounds, thanks in part to Rachel's disciplinary teaching and in part to Coney serving as a liaison and bodyguard. The school now includes elementary grade levels.
N.O.P.E. stood for “National Organization of Picky Eaters,” but that's slightly misleading: While they insisted on everyone eating like them, what they really opposed was interspecies marriage. They launched physical attacks, usually with intent to kill, on the extended Dewclaw family, especially then-expecting Lindesfarne and Fenton, for being a rather famous example. It was because of N.O.P.E. that Fenton broke a wing.
The members of N.O.P.E. were all carnivores, though often hiring insects for dirty work. The assailants we saw wore no clothes (perhaps they had recruitment outreach in The Wild) and looked like canids but, according to DNA tests, were actually quite mixed themselves. One captive member, fearing lethal backlash if the others learned his heritage, gave critical information that enabled the arrest of the leaders and the effective disbandment of the hate group.
One good thing, however unintended, came of N.O.P.E.'s efforts: Their tunneling helped Ophelia escape hunters. And led her to her future beau.
The Tidewater Pitchforks are a professional gardening team…in theory. They have been in last place for years, despite their rampant cheating. With Leona’s help, Carl had intimidated his teammates into taking gardening seriously, but the general manager had a policy of tanking and wouldn’t support this new regime. Herd Thinners later purchased the Pitchforks, moved them to the Domain area, fired the coaches, and traded or waived everyone but Carl. It remains to be seen how the new team will fare.
The Universe of K&K is similar to our own, but there's a little more latitude in the laws of physics, genetics, etc. The rules are true within their own framework. If you can handle the concept of a six-foot-tall, tool-using, mouse-clicking, funding-seeking, bipedal rabbit, the concept of his daughter being a carnivore shouldn't worry you too much. Nevertheless, some explanation as to how things work may be helpful.
The relationship between predator and prey is similar to that in our world, with the problems of a civilized society on top of that. Predators are expected to kill and eat prey; prey are expected to resist and escape but accept their eventual fate. Both sides are expected to use their own natural abilities, without outside or artificial help like firearms, but they can use technology to enhance their own abilities. The rule for predators is essentially “Eat what you take, but take only what you will eat, unless you mean to feed someone else.” Prey species show an understandable fear of predators but do not bear grudges against individuals.
Do prey species have any taboo about guns or using them for self-defense against predators?
Bill says, “It’s not taboo exactly, just an admission of abject incompetence. For both predator and prey, gun usage shows that one is either unable to hunt or to defend oneself.” (The NRA has appeared as a support group.) Other weapons are used a little more often, primarily by criminals.
Why shouldn't a prey species be willing to use a weapon? If I were prey, I would be thinking, “I might appear to be incompetent, but at least I wouldn't be eaten.”
Bill says, “The mindset of any prey species is, ‘Let ‘em try. My (speed, camouflage, quills, safety in numbers, etc.) will protect me.'” (They can be pretty picky about how to go about it, as Kevin found in childhood when other rabbits mocked him for NOT being a coward.)
Chris Kohler, the webmaster of kevinandkell.com, has summarized the predator/prey relationship in the two “Prime Directives”:
THE PREDATOR RULE: “As a predator, you may kill and eat someone as long as they are not in any way related to you. You must completely devour them or leave the rest to be completely devoured by scavengers. Disobey either of these two rules and it's considered murder.”
THE HERBIVORE RULE: “As a herbivore, you may defend yourself from predator attack. If, during an attack, a herbivore were to kill an attacking predator, the herbivore would be spared a murder charge, as long as they could prove it was self-defense. Any herbivore who kills cannot eat the individual they killed and be spared a murder charge, since herbivores are not subject to the Predator Rule.”
Do the Herd Thinners wolves hunt in packs or individually?
Bill says, “Both, depending on the prey they're after.”
Are there predators that prey on other predators?
Bill says, “In our world, predators do prey on other predators. Things are no different in the world where the Dewclaws live.”
If the standard is to go after the old or weak, what happens when a K&K family member is hurt or handicapped?
Bill says, “As has been pointed out, Rudy has found that he's had more success going after the young and stupid.”
Are there rules restricting predation against pregnant females? Is there a minimum age protecting children?
Bill says, “This being a light comic strip, I'd rather not deal with the concept of children being the targets of predation. Of course, our animal kingdom provides many examples of just that.” (On another occasion, Bill has said that a commitment to realism would put a whole lot of unpleasant things into K&K.)
Spontaneous domestication is the fear of many predators: the loss of one's ferocious nature, leaving one trusting and less aggressive. Domestication is, unbeknownst to the world at large, a result of genes introduced by the GBC (see 3.1). Kell, Rudy, Ralph, R.L., Corrie, Dolly, Candace, Buster, Aby, Sam Pardus, and Vin carry the gene, as did the late Franklin Dewclaw; R.L. is probably the only one who still keeps it a secret. Lindesfarne was working to discover the cause of domestication and develop a cure. Ms. Aura was aware of this and used Daisy to lead Lindesfarne off on a false trail. When Lindesfarne identified the domestication gene, she gave up her research, fearing that a cure would drastically alter people's personalities and lives. Kell's affliction was discovered by the personnel manager at Herd Thinners; she could have been downgraded from “predator” to “prey” if not for some fast work by Coney. The third K&K book, Accepting Domestication, includes Dr. Caduceus' “Guide to Accepting Domestication,” a medical self-help booklet.
Will domestication ever be accepted in the society of the K&K universe?
Bill says, “Well, it's a slow process....”
Since Domestication is genetic, does Coney have it? At what age would it show up?
Bill says, “Just because Kell has the gene doesn't mean she passed it on to Coney. :)”
The species are divided by their ecological niches: what they eat and when they are active.
Tammy Tussock, a pollen-eating moth, is not strictly a herbivore.
As in our world, like tends to run with like; the herbivores usually do not voluntarily associate with carnivores, and it's tough for a nocturnal bat and a diurnal porcupine to stay in touch.
Cloning is the process of using a cell from one creature to create a duplicate of that creature with an identical genetic pattern. In essence, cloning creates an identical twin. Dolly is a clone of Corrie. More recent development in cloning technology showed that the clone's aging depends on the age of the original donor cell: If an old cell is used, the clone will show signs of premature aging at a cellular level. In the K&K universe, the effects on Dolly were more drastic and manifested as wrinkles and other visible signs of aging, until an incident with a time machine undid that progress.
Given that the K&K Universe is separate from ours, why are there such human institutions as Santa Claus? There are several schools of thought:
Egbert Morris Bryant suggests, “Since it was possible for Danielle Kendall to cross the portal into Domain, it is possible that such crossings took place in the past. Finding themselves trapped in Domain and not knowing of a way to go home, they attempted to adapt but tried to keep as many human-based customs and rituals as possible. The GBC, never discovering these ‘humans’ and having very little knowledge of humanity, allowed these human based customs and rituals to flourish in Domain. Thus, it is possible for the citizens of Domain to know of stockings but not know of any use for them besides decorations for over the fireplace.”
Note that there isn’t just one Easter Bunny in the world; for practical reasons, there are millions, each working locally with a secret identity. Anyone who gets publicly identified loses the job. Several major characters have had turns as the Easter Bunny for Domain’s county, including Kevin, Kell, Rudy, Fiona, Dorothy, Wendell (never allowed to go solo), Caniche, Miranda, and Hockley. Non-rabbits have to wear a rabbit costume in addition to the signature tacky overalls and bowtie. Easter Bunnies typically have one bodyguard, who must also remain unidentified.
In Domain, are Batman and Robin really a bat and a robin?
You are definitely taking a comic strip too seriously.
Most civilized animals wear clothes for protection, to show status, and because there's nowhere else to put your car keys (except for marsupials). Members of The Wild regard clothing as a sign of civilization and go au naturel.
Birds regard their plumage as generally sufficient clothing but sometimes wear clothing for protection (e.g., as nurses) or to display status (e.g., in the GBC). Snakes regard their skins as clothing, given their regular molting.
For several years, Bill's standard answer to this was, “I think the human species works best in the strip as something that comes out of Lindesfarne's imagination.” However, this rule started getting bent when Rudy had an online comic strip featuring humans, an “invention” he credited to Lindesfarne's role-playing. The Birds saw it as a threat, since dwelling on humanity causes declines in instinct, and they arranged to dissuade him from continuing the comic.
Later, the rule was seriously fractured when Ralph and Martha accidentally crossed over to the human world through a portal that the Birds had left active; Martha inadvertently stayed human when they crossed back. She was able to change back to her foxy self after her human behaviors started affecting her family.
Finally, the rule was broken for good when, after the death of Danielle Kindle, a human named Danielle Kendall went through the portal and became a new Danielle Kindle. Despite repeated requests, Bill is not giving out the GPS coordinates of the portal. The portal is reputedly at “70 degrees 15 minutes longitude, 30 degrees 4 minutes latitude,” which is implied to be Bermuda. In a crossover with General Protection Fault, Ki Oshiro and Nick Wellington have visited Domain, manifested as a cat and a mouse, respectively.
Nowadays, the primary presence of humanity takes the form of the only human born in Domain, Francis. You can also read about a lot of human activity in Catherine Aura's tweets, up until January 2019.
Trivia: The Dewclaw counterparts' family name in the human world is Dubois.
Relationships between different species that have the same diet are acceptable; thus, Rudy and Fiona (carnivores) and Lindesfarne and Fenton (insectivores) are OK. Mixing predator and prey (Kell and Kevin) is traditionally taboo.
Yes; you might say that in this respect, they are made in their creator's image. Bill says, “Yes, I'm left-handed, as is the entire cast of Kevin & Kell and my other strips, On the Fastrack and Safe Havens. I occasionally draw right-handedness when the visual composition of the strip demands it.”
Bill says, “Hybrids *can* have children in this world. I would like to add, however, that species difference in Kevin and Kell represents all human conflicts, whether racial, religious, national, ideological, gender, etc.”
In the K&K world, sight is not as dominant as it is in the human world. Scent is much more important to both predators and prey, and appearance is discounted. Thus, since Corrie smelled like a wolf while wearing her wolfskin, everyone accepted her as a wolf. Since she smelled like Ralph Dewclaw, she was accepted as Ralph's daughter, despite discrepancies in size, fur, dentition, etc.
One area where sight is very important is communication: Reading another person's tail position is necessary for clear speech. Someone with a partial tail has, essentially, a speech impediment. This does not apply to all species, or Angelique, with her motionless prosthetic rat tail, would be in trouble.
Corrie has no wolf tail, so how could other people understand her clearly?
Bill says, “Each species has its own language, plus the common language everyone understands. Corrie may have difficultly speaking Canine but have no problem with speaking in general.”
The relationship between the two worlds is explained in one grand unified Sunday strip on https://www.kevinandkell.com/2003/kk1214.html.
Once mankind had fled a terminally polluted Earth, the birds were forced to become intelligent to survive (the nonflying species having perished under waste). The birds learned how to use the leftover advanced technology and went back in time 10 million years to create a world where humans didn't evolve and animals became intelligent and domesticated. There are essentially two Earths, separated around the 10,000,000 B.C. mark but mirroring each other's development.
The focus of religion in the K&K world is leading people to be at peace with their role in a world of predators and prey.
There are, of course, other faiths in the world. Bill has stated that the Fennecs are of Middle Eastern descent. Fiona wished everyone a happy Hanukkah one December.
The ultimate statement was the Nativity Story as told in December 2000: https://www.kevinandkell.com/2000/kk1224.html.
This FAQ would not have existed without the efforts of:
The FAQ was assembled by John Reynolds and Stephen Gilberg. Omissions, commissions, errors, and terrors can be laid at their feet.
Kevin and Kell and all the characters therein are copyrighted by Bill Holbrook. They may not be used in any work, art, or story, public or private, without prior approval of Bill Holbrook.