Rats! Episode 01 – How did I get here?!

A long time ago (back in 1989, to be exact), in a galaxy far, far away (Blacksburg, Virginia), there was a 20-year-old college student who had nothing better to do with her time than sit and draw cartoons about the Virginia Tech Cadet Corps, of which she was a member.

No, I’m not kidding, I was actually a cadet in college. I wore a uniform everyday, had room inspections and PT, and I even had an Army ROTC scholarship.

I was a lousy cadet, which should surprise no one. Back then, I had yet to develop a passion for fitness, so all the running and push ups and hauling around of 50 lbs of equipment on my back was pretty much my own personal version of Hell. And you just know I had problems with authority. Plus I had no prior experience with the military, in spite of the fact that my dad was career Army (every time he discussed work, yours truly pretty much tuned out). That meant I was completely clueless about things like saluting and marching and singing jodies, etc. Yet in spite of all that, I somehow made it through four years of ROTC and the Cadet Corps, which was like being in a military academy tucked inside the civilian student body (probably somewhere around where the gall bladder would be… get it? Tucked inside the student body, near the gall bladder… oh never mind).

The four years I spent at Virginia Tech were some of the most exhausting, frustrating, and painful times of my life. And yet they were also hysterically funny. After two years in the Corps, I started drawing cartoons about what it was like to be a rat; that is, a freshman cadet. No matter how much I advanced through college and the Corps, I always felt like a rat — confused, hopelessly lost, distracted, and frazzled. Not much has changed since those days, really.

I drew four years worth of Rats! for the Virginia Tech Collegiate Times. That was two strips a week for nine months of the year. Last weekend, I dug through my closet and found all my old strips. Some are in pretty bad condition and need serious restoration. Most are just fine, though. None of these have ever been published anywhere but in the CT, and then not since 1993, the year I finally stopped drawing Rats! and got married and moved on with my life.

I hope you enjoy Rats! You’ll be seeing it here every Thursday until I run through all the original strips. I figure that should take three years. I’ll be running the cartoons in chronological order, so what happens in the strip probably won’t match up with what’s going on the real world (i.e. strips drawn for Christmas or Spring Break will appear when they turn up in the order they were drawn, and not necessarily at Christmas or Spring Break). So sit back and enjoy. You’re about to get a sneak peek at four of the wildest years of my life.

About Cynical Woman

Cartoonist, Artist, Geek, Evil Crafter, Girl Scout Troop Leader and Writer. Also, a zombie. I haven't slept in I don't know how long.
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  1. This explains A LOT of things…


  2. Zetta,

    Oh yeah. It explains a LOT!

  3. Funny, but tell me there will still be Cynican Woman strips as well.

    BTW, I live in Lynchburg, VA, which is very much Hokie Country.

  4. Wow–what a lot of talent you had even back then. I’m amazed you had the time and energy to draw such a wonderful cartoon strip while in ROTC… Must have been all those 4 AM jogs with full kit on, eh? 😉

    Keep up the good work, cadet! 😉

  5. Celine,

    LOL, I don’t know if I would actually call it talent, but I had something. Maybe a bad case of insanity. Fact was, things were too bizarre and painfully funny not to cartoon about, so I had to get it out of my system. Glad you enjoyed Rats! It’ll run every Thursday for a couple years, at least.

  6. Elise,

    The Cynical Woman strips will definitely continue to run! This week’s strip will be a little late, I fear, due to technical difficulties with my desktop computer, but as soon as I get it up and running, the strip will be up. It’s been drawn and inked already, and is just sitting on my desk, waiting for the Hubster to finish up repairs. So don’t worry, you’ll continue to get your regular weekly dose of The Adventures of Cynical Woman on Tuesdays.

  7. Pingback: ACW Episode 52 – My very adult weekend « The Cynical Woman Website

  8. I hope you will post them all. But disrespect – you will end up at the brace – and perhaps even read about it in ‘the yellow pages’ [a phrase we used in 68] Bob M

  9. Bob,

    I’ll be posting one a week until I run through all four years worth of cartoons, so that should take a while. The VTCC was probably one of the strangest experiences of my life, very memorable, and I can’t imagine not sharing all those experiences again 😉

    The yellow pages, huh? Not a phrase we were using by 1987. I was threatened to be ‘black balled’ once for a comic I drew, but apparently I didn’t have the appropriate anatomy, being female.


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