Ozy and Millie

by Fred Patten
Culver City, CA, USA

Ozy and Millie III: Ink and White Space, by David Simpson. Illustrated. High Point, NC, Plan Nine Publishing, December 2001, 156 pages, $12.95. ISBN: 1-929462-43-3.

Most collections of comic strips published in book form in America are of newspaper comic strips, and they are published by Andrews McMeel Publishing, the book division of the Universal Press [newspaper] Syndicate. One of the best-kept secrets in cartoon publishing today is that newspapers are no longer the only place where comic strips can be found. Many are being published by their creators on the Internet. And the major book publisher of collections of those strips is Plan Nine Publishing.

Ink and White Space is the third annual collection of David Simpson's daily Ozy and Millie comic strip, a gently humorous fantasy with a liberal political philosophy. The cast (drawn as funny animals) are mostly children. Ozy (Ozymandias Llewellyn) and Millie (Millicent Mudd) are two 10-year-old elementary school students in Seattle. Ozy is a laid-back philosophical observer of life, while Millie is a frenetically hyperactive sarcastic cynic who is always challenging Authority (mostly her teachers and her classmates' snobbish social clique). Other cast regulars include Stephan, a stereotypical computer geek; Avery, who believes that to be Cool he has to buy whatever products the advertising media are promoting today; the school principal, who believes the purpose of education is to teach children to conform to the majority; Ozy's adoptive father, a dragon who represents the free spirits in society who are not interested in trends or conforming; and numerous others who have been gradually introduced during the strip's three-year run.

Ozy and Millie usually runs in short story arcs of around two weeks. Many are variants on Millie being forced to interact with others, and what happens. Others are based upon current national events. One example that reflects Simpson's political bias is Millie going Hallowe'en trick-or-treating in a Darth Vader costume, but telling people she is the Supreme Court after four years of the George W. Bush presidency. After the confusion that climaxed the 2000 presidential election, Millie tries to scare her mother (who took the election seriously) by sneaking up behind her and screaming, "Dimpled chad!" Gags involving Ozy tend to be more surrealistically fantastic than politically topical. For the most part the fact that the Ozy and Millie characters are drawn as funny animals (Ozy and Millie themselves are fox cubs) is not pertinent to the plot, but Ozy himself is a constant exception. There are occasional gags on the theme that Ozy, as a standard funny animal, goes about in public with no pants on. During one Winter sequence his fur grows so thick he becomes a giant furball. Millie offers to trim him back to normal but instead fashions him into a French poodle cut. Ozy's dragon adopted father breathes fire and must constantly guard against carelessly igniting their house.

Most of this third collection is printed in black & white, but there is a 12-page signature of full-color Sunday pages at the end. Ozy and Millie is a witty, well-drawn comic strip. Thanks are due to Plan Nine Publishing for making it available to readers who do not want to have to carry a computer around to read it.