Calvin & Hobbes Meets the X-Files

Creating a brand new comic strip is not too dissimilar to being the dictator of a tiny middle European nation that no one has ever heard of before.

Comic Strip Creator at Work
The Great Dictator at Work Conjuring His Comic Strip Universe.

Like a lot of those little countries, my comic strip didn’t exist a few years ago, and who knows what’s in store for its future? However, I cast aside such dark and foreboding thoughts and rule my imaginary Lost Cactus comic strip in an autocratic, albeit benevolent fashion. What’s disheartening is breaking through the clutter and demonstrating to folks young, old, and every age in between, that acquainting themselves with my Lost Cactus comic strip is worth a small percentage of their precious time.

And why is Lost Cactus worthy of a small notch in a prospective new fan’s daily timeline of important stuff? Well, for one thing, it’s funny. And who doesn’t like to laugh? I know I do. It’s why I became a comic strip fan at an early age. Humor has always been of paramount importance in my life and sometimes to my detriment, I discover it in the oddest of places. To abbreviate what would otherwise be a long story, through a creative process that involved mining for humor in uniquely different settings and situations—a process that I originally began in earnest in 2013—I now rule my small country, Lost Cactus. To my knowledge, this highly-classified quasi-government base hidden in the far reaches of Southwestern desert is about as far afield of where one would typically expect to find comic strip humor as one can get. Did I mention Lost Cactus has everything from aliens to dinosaurs to a genetically altered bee named Bentley? Well, I guess I just did.

Lost Cactus Table at DINK
Lost Cactus Table at DINK

Recently I had a table promoting Lost Cactus at a small press and comics show in the mile-high (in more ways than one) city of Denver, Colorado. I met some fantastic people, young and old, all there because they love comics and fan art in general. However, I believe I was the only artist exhibiting anything even remotely close to Lost Cactus. And not to brag, but if I don’t, then who will? Many who stopped by my table curiously, almost daintily, picked up the sample copies of my Lost Cactus Treasuries 1 & 2. After briefly flipping through the pages, they would have a hearty chuckle, and then inevitably turn to their partner to show them what they just read, spawning a quick smile, and more times than not, a reach for the wallet to quickly purchase one or both books. I sold a lot of books!

As the show progressed over the long weekend, I also received a lot of genuine compliments that money can’t buy. The one I heard a lot that I take to heart and cherish the most is when people made a comparison in style between Lost Cactus and my all-time favorite comic strip, Calvin & Hobbes. As show attendees and other exhibitors came up and inquired what Lost Cactus is all about I developed an elevator pitch that seemed to resonate: Lost Cactus is like Calvin & Hobbes in style and a humorous take on X-Files in substance. I winced at the name-dropping every time I said it, but it worked as people could quickly relate to what Lost Cactus is all about:

A classicly drawn 3-panel strip that spoofs paranormal, urban myths and under-the-radar government agencies to great comic effect, published in beautifully designed full-color anthologies featuring a shared universe of short stories and humorous essays that expand the Lost Cactus mythology beyond the finely inked comic strip panels.

So if you’re looking for the humorous comic strip ramblings of a put-upon hipster and his precocious talking dog/cat, you’re in the wrong country. You are in Lost Cactus. There are no roads that lead to Lost Cactus. You will not find it on Google or any other map. Its inhabitants are all sworn to secrecy. And presidents, since its inception 1947, have all been kept out of the loop. You know the reason: plausible deniability.

Greetings from Lost Cactus Postcard
Purchase a vintage Lost Cactus postcard.

Alien Bug Spores

Since today is Alien Day I thought it appropriate to introduce this alien-themed strip featuring Bentley the Bee’s gut-bursting new alien offspring.

First some background for those unfamiliar with Lost Cactus. The Lost Cactus National Laboratory is tasked with studying all kinds of dangerous life forms delivered to the base from near and far. Among the contagions, viruses, microscopic blood suckers and deadly life forms delivered to Lost Cactus for study from our intergalactic partners are particularly contagious creatures called Alien Bug Spores. The inquisitive Bentley the Bee makes contact with these same bug spores and soon thereafter suffers the consequences in a scene reminiscent of the infamous gut-bursting scene featuring the late John Hurt.

LC-00287
©John Hopkins

Here’s the liner note from Lost Cactus – The Second Treasury that accompanies this strip kicking off a hilarious story arc featuring Bentley coping with parenting a fast-growing xenomorph character named Junior.

‘In the 1979 horror classic, Alien, none of the actors knew what was about to happen to John Hurt’s character in the famous chest bursting scene. The director, Ridley Scott, wanted the fear on their faces to be real. However, the fact that the set was sealed off in plastic and the crew all wore raincoats should have tipped them off.’

About the Lost Cactus Treasuries

The Lost Cactus comic strip treasuries deliver more than just the laugh-lines. The backstories, trivia, thought-processes and inside baseball comic strip sausage making are also set below each strip providing the reader with a wealth of uncommon knowledge. Lost Cactus is all about educating, enlightening and most of all entertaining its readers. 

Lost Cactus Celebrates World Book Day

Reading is fundamental to the expansion of human knowledge, and reading the First and Second Lost Cactus Treasuries has the added benefit of expanding your Uncommon Knowledge

World Book Day
Lost Cactus celebrates reading on World Book Day!

The Following is the Preface from Lost Cactus – The First Treasury Introducing the Exclusive Lost Cactus Concept of Uncommon Knowledge.

Let us begin with a simple question: “What is common knowledge?” Well, the utility of an umbrella, or a snorkel, or a pair of flip-flops, or a spoon are obvious examples of common knowledge. I would say the ingredients of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich are well known, too. Even the fact that we have become a paranoid society full of street cams, smartphones and data-gathering drones is universally understood these days. So, we can safely assume everyone wandering around the shopping mall has about the same breadth and depth of common knowledge. Right? Right.

However, what about uncommon knowledge? For instance: Who was Werner Heisenberg? What is a clone stamp? Where is Amelia Earhart? When was the Big Bang? Why is the sky blue? How do you calculate the weight of the sun? Of course, no one at the mall has that information, including the person behind the information counter. But fear not dear reader, each chapter in this treasury will begin with one of the following: 

Random Brain Scatterings – Short, acerbic essays on an eclectic variety of topics that will add to your wealth of uncommon knowledge. Look for the skull icon.

Urban Myths and Tall Tales – When you see the Ty and Bentley icon at the top of the page, you are about to read a story conjured in one of the Lost Cactus characters’ fertile imaginations.

For Your Eyes Only – Top-secret and highly classified insider information appropriated right out of the Lost Cactus base archives and indicated by the saucer icon.

As you read onwards, you will discover the answers to the aforementioned uncommon questions, and much more. Additionally, as you make your way through Lost Cactus – The First Treasury, even more, will be revealed. For instance, you’ll learn how Doc obtains the DNA to create his Elvis clone, or where he gets the fuel to power his revolutionary energy generator. The terrifying subject matter contained within General Fox’s blooper reels. And how Cato got his name. Those are just a few examples of the Lost Cactus insider information that you’ll glean along with plenty of fun facts and trivia. And, at the end of each chapter, all of your newfound uncommon knowledge will be put to the test. So do pay attention. 

In a nutshell, this book will elevate your intelligence quota to heretofore unseen heights. Plus, you’ll be exposed to information so classified that even presidents are kept out of the loop, thereby maintaining their “plausible deniability”. Yes, I borrowed that from one of my favorite movies. I could ramble on, however by now, you must be anxious to start reading this amazing book. One last thing, remember to spread the word about Lost Cactus – The First Treasury, so eventually it will become common knowledge for everyone.

Veritas vos liberabit!

One More Thing! Get a FREE Lost Cactus Embroidered Patch!

Email the English translation for the above Latin phrase to john@lostcactus.com and we’ll send you a FREE Lost Cactus Patch.

Hint: The phrase should resonate with all freedom loving individuals around the world. 

Lost Cactus Patch
The Official Embroidered Lost Cactus Patch

Sketchbook Ramblings

The process of creating a comic strip universe involves a LOT of drawing and I have a stack of sketchbooks jam-packed with sketches bolstering that rather obvious statement.

These sketches range from barely legible scribbles of story ideas that breached my fervent imagination in the middle of the night and then sketched in a bleary-eyed early morning hurry before I forgot them, like a dream, to nicely rendered little works of Lost Cactus artwork. Most of the time you’ll find my latest sketchbook positioned beside my keyboard so I can draw in between time-consuming computer tasks or while taking breaks from the day job. These sketches are much more methodically rendered with my favorite Faber-Castell PITT artist waterproof ink pens in high-quality Moleskin-style sketchbooks. Sometimes my sketchbook ramblings morph into strange stream-of-conscious compositions like this recent example that I finished with some watercolors.

I have drawn this way for as long as I can remember and it is a great way to let the imagination fly. This one features a couple of new characters I am working on for my next Lost Cactus project. That is all I will say for now regarding that little tease other than can you find ‘The King’ in this picture?

Is it tinfoil hat time? Maybe.

Lost Cactus – The Second Treasury is the sequel to the first anthology which was originally published in 2016. Lost Cactus goes beyond the eponymous three-panel and Sunday comics with a diverse mix of sci-fi short stories, witty essays, poetry and original artwork blended with a plethora of trivia, artist commentary, maps, and quizzes. This framework is vividly woven together into an eye-catching, thought-provoking and entertaining book that transports the reader beyond the typical comic strip compilations found in the humor sections of bookstores and online.

Sit back and enjoy Lost Cactus – The Second Treasury and soak up all of the uncommon knowledge this anthology has to offer. Furthermore, if you feel compelled to don a tinfoil hat after reading Lost Cactus, don’t be alarmed, you won’t be the first.

Meet Mabel Pennywell – a Lost Cactus character study

The character Mabel who makes her debut in 🐝 LOST CACTUS – THE SECOND TREASURY🌵is a member of the notoriously secretive Pennywell clan like her Aunt Penny who happens to be Lost Cactus’ chief medical officer.

Mabel quick sketches
Comic strip sketches for series of strip featuring Mabel Pennywell.

Here is a rough study of Mabel in her bedroom with her perplexed captives, Bentley and Cato. The series of strips that introduce Mabel are some of my favorites in the book. She is a smart, resourceful and strong character and tough to escape from as Cato and Bentley are doomed to discover.

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