Whenever a tour comes through the Gazette, we poll our visitors to see which pages they turn to first when reading the paper. The comics page is always in the top five, and many of the suggestions we've received through our "What's Missing" campaign, also address our selection of comic strips. So when Quirk submitted his idea for a strip that featured travels through Nebraska, the Gazette's Idea Committee seized the opportunity to fill an empty slot on that page, offering him a trial run through the end of the year.
Jurascals is story of a rascally Jurassic dinosaur from Auburn, New York who travels to Nebraska with his friend Skunk in search of others of his kind. Quirk elaborates on the inspiration for the strip, "After a trip to Nebraska, our family suitcase is filled with my art, but more importantly I return home with ideas that shape my work. The vast Nebraska farm lands, the sand hills, the Badlands and the infinite night sky are already telling a story that authors, musicians and artists try to capture and retell in their own way. I'm reflecting my version of that story in Jurascals." Quirk also weaves current events into his work, as demonstrated by the strips he created for the newspaper in Auburn when Hurricane Sandy made her deadly trek along the Eastern Seaboard last month. He promises the same for his Nebraska readers. "The McCook community will play an integral role in the Jurascals narrative in a way I hope your readers find surprising and enjoyable!"
He writes on his website that he finds the "...great state of Nebraska, a bountiful source of inspiration" for his artwork. Quirk began drawing as a child, first learning how to draw Disney characters. His dad, affectionately called Pappy after Poopdeck Pappy of Popeye fame, and a comic strip lover himself, encouraged Joe by buying him how-to-draw books. "Although I never went to school for art, I wouldn't call myself a self-taught artist, because my father taught me," Quirk explained.
The father of two, Mariel, 9, and William, 6, he put his talent to work when his daughter came home from school with a list of sight words to learn. "We'd sit at the dining room table with some crayons and copy paper ... write the words and then make drawings representing the words. Eventually I made a few little 8-page books for her, including one called "We Can Go to Omaha," which was the first time I drew the dinosaur." His artwork found its way to an art gallery in Connecticut and soon after he began creating comics for two newspapers in New York. Now readers in Auburn, New York and Southwest Nebraska will share the journey of "Dinosaur" and "Skunk" as they search for another "rascally Jurassic dinosaur" somewhere in Nebraska.
For more information on Jurascals and J. Timothy Quirk, visit www.jurascals.com