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Rats! Episode 108 – Life after college

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Click on the thumbnail above to view the full-size webcomic!

It’s funny because it’s TRUE! I don’t know how things work these days, but waaaaaaaaaay back when I was a college graduate and recently commissioned second lieutenant, there was a few months of waiting between the day a cadet got their commission and the day they got to start Officer Basic Course (OBC). In my case, I had to wait almost six months, and since no companies were interested in hiring someone for six months only to watch them disappear for five months of military training, I was stuck taking on various part-time jobs. Among other things, I worked one part-time job as a recruiter for the VTCC and  another part-time as an artist for a t-shirt company that went bankrupt halfway through the summer. Yeah, fun times.

Then I went off to OBC for five months at Fort Eustis, and when I was done with that… I went right back to lousy part-time jobs. I had no idea what I wanted to do after college, and I ended up being selected for the Reserves instead of the regular Army, so I just sort of floated around for a while. I got a job at Hardee’s in Squires Student Center (and to this day I hate fast food). Then I signed up for grad school at Radford University and got a job as a graduate teaching assistant. That was better. I spent most of my time developing computer graphics for the oral communications department at Radford, and to this day, I still do that kind of work from time to time. Then I finished my course work, moved to be with my husband, and got another lousy part-time job as a cashier at an arts and crafts store where I spent way too much time restocking the silk florals aisle. I hate silk flowers almost as much as I hate fast food.

After that, I sold advertising for a local newspaper, which was… okay. I was not a natural salesperson, and driving around all day trying to convince people to buy advertising was “challenging,” shall we say? Then I got a job as a government contractor doing computer graphics for a two-star general. And the work there varied from interesting to mind-numbing to outright frustrating. It was the highest paying job I ever held. I worked with some Very Important People in the military, I put in 80 hours a week and I got paid for 40. I quit working for other people after four years at that job.

Then I was on my own, doing whatever I could figure out how to do. It’s taken me years to figure out how to run my own business, and to be honest, I’m still learning. But that’s okay, because I have a full-time job outside of that. It’s called “Mom” and I get paid in hugs and kisses and the occasional spatter of cat puke.

See what you cadets have to look forward to in life?!

Rats! Episode 107 – Introductions


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My freshman year, we had a cadet first sergeant who was tough as nails and mean as spit. His name was Cadet First Sergeant Phillips, and I believe he went on to be a Navy Seal after he graduated. He was tall, ugly, and hell-bent on whipping us rats into shape. He sort of succeeded with me. I did somehow survive my freshman year at any rate.

This comic and all the ones that follow were drawn the year after I graduated from Virginia Tech and got my commission in the Army Reserves. I moved off campus that summer, moved into an apartment with two friends, and then headed off to Officer Basic Course that fall. While I was at OBC, I had to mail in my comics to my new fiancé, a smart, gorgeous young man named Michael who eventually became the Hubster. Michael would then hand-deliver the comics to the Collegiate Times. This went on for five months, and then I returned to Blacksburg, got a lousy part-time job at the Hardee’s at Squires Student Center, and eventually moved into my own apartment, adopted three cats, started graduate school at Radford University. Honestly, at this point in my life, I had no idea what I wanted to do, even though I had my bachelor’s degree and my commission.

So anyway, the next two years’ worth of comics were drawn with a more hind-sight view of the VTCC. My view of the Cadet Corps as a graduate may have been a bit different than my view of it as a cadet. I can’t say for sure. You’ll simply have to read the comics and tell me.

By the way, I realize the earlier comics, from episode 01 to about episode 80, are screwed up. It has something to do with the change over from my old webhost to my new one. All I can say about it is that I am working to fix it, but will have to fix each entry by hand, so it will take a while. Also, GoDaddy sucks. ‘Nuff said.

Rats! Episode 106 – A Message from the Commandant

Rats! webcomic

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I graduated from Virginia Tech in 1991, but continued to draw “Rats!” for another two years. The summer after graduation, I worked for the VTCC as a recruiting officer, greeting visiting students to campus and telling them about the VTCC. The aide to General Musser, the Commandant of Cadets, had asked me to put together a booklet of “Rats!” comics to keep in the Brodie lounge. It wasn’t anything fancy, just a bunch of my favorite comics I had photocopied at Kinko’s and then stapled together. I drew a quick cover for it, and then added this page as an introduction.

General Musser actually enjoyed “Rats!” as I recall, and I remember at least two instances when I was called down to his office and was asked by his secretaries to draw a comic about particular incidents that had happened to the general. I think both have run on this website by now.

Unlike General Mouser, General Musser had a great sense of humor, and I remember him fondly. Hopefully, he always thought fondly of “Rats!” too.

Rats! Episode 105 – Technicon!

Rats! webcomic

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Some of you may know I was a member of VTSFFC as well as the VTCC while I was at Virginia Tech. VTSFFC stands for the Virginia Tech Science Fiction and Fantasy Club. I was president of the club for a year. The Hubster was Vice President. A few friends of ours nominated the two of us together because they thought we made a cute couple.  Twenty-two years later, we’re still together, and at least the Hubster is still cute.

Anyway, VTSFFC ran, and still might run, an annual science fiction convention. Looking at this flier, I have to admit, for a small college convention, we somehow managed to snag some pretty impressive guests. Larry Elmore ( is one of the best known fantasy artists in the business, and Ruth Thompson’s work ( will always astonish me.  Mark Ryan is from England, and I can’t recall how we managed to get him over to the US for this tiny little con, but somehow we did!

This is the last drawing I’ve got from the second year of “Rats!”  I graduated and got my commission in 1991.  I continued to draw “Rats!” for another two years, as you’ll see. But life was definitely different for me from that point on.

Rats! Episode 104 – Change of Command

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Click on the thumbnail to view the full-sized webcomic!

Being in command is not nearly as much fun as sitting back and laughing at other people who are in command. Trust me on this one.

I hope you new seniors at the VTCC are ready to take charge. You’ve got one year left until you graduate and then the real fun begins. NOT!

Rats! Episode 101 – Head gear


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It can take a lot of hairspray to keep my hair in place when it’s long, especially if I’ve got to take on and pull off a wheel cover or BDU cap all day long. Some days, I had so much hairspray in my hair, you could just reach up and snap off a lock of my hair! Of course, then I’d hit you for it.

Rats! Episode 100 – Parts is parts!


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I have been there and done that, and it is not funny when you’re missing one tiny piece of an M-16 rifle. Especially that little pin that holds the bolt together. No, not funny at all.

Except in hindsight, many, many years later.

Quick tip, when you clean your M-16, take off your field cap and put that down on the table beside you. Put all the small parts in there so you can find them later.

Rats! Episode 98 – Under Pressure


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Things are no better today than they were when I drew this comic. Back then it was all tests, papers, quizzes and presentations. Now it’s kids, work, house cleaning, kids, more work, etc. The fact is, my life is non-stop stress. I do find ways to deal with it, but I have to be careful not to get too overloaded. So for any of you college kids out there who think you’re overloaded right now? Just you wait. Life does get busier!