Pat Brady's Rose is Rose comic strip, distributed far and wide by United Feature Syndicate (formerly Unitedmedia), is about the magic of everyday life as experienced by an ideal family, the Gumbos: Rose, her husband Jimbo, their son Pasquale, and the kitten, Peekaboo. A bit about these and other characters featured in the strip:

  • Rose Gumbo, for whom the strip is named, is perhaps best described by her son Pasquale's statement, used as the title of a Rose is Rose anthology: She's a Momma, not a Movie Star! (but, as the strip on the back of that book reveals, sometimes she forgets). Mostly a quiet homebody, Rose occasionally feels the need to slip away from home and family, and in daydreams become her alter ego, Vicki the punky biker (who dresses all in black leather, including a miniskirt that reveals the rose tattoo on her thigh). Rose's inner child also appears in the strip from time to time.

  • Pasquale Gumbo is an elementary school student and loves it. He's an amazingly well-behaved and well-adjusted child, full of wonder about his world, which is reflected in that of his dreams (shown as rides in a magical spaceship). Pasquale has worries and fears, like any child, but his momma, daddy, and guardian angel help him achieve and maintain peace of mind (in fact, a frequent theme in the strip and the subject of a recent book of Rose is Rose drawings by Pat Brady, Peace of Mind is a Blanket that Purrs

  • Jimbo Gumbo is described as a "decent Neanderthal", though he is occasionally allowed to be a bad influence on his son in the manners department (they have dinner over the kitchen sink when Rose isn't looking). Besides being a loving daddy, Jimbo is devoted to Rose, leaving her little love notes to find (they sometimes contain grammatical errors, but she does her best to overlook them). It's unclear exactly what Jimbo does for a living, but it's some kind of skilled blue collar work that involves carrying a toolbox, which makes him a dad after my own heart.

  • Peekaboo the Kitten, a.k.a. the Maharishi Peekaboo during her stretching exercises, secretly rules the Gumbo house from underfoot. But really, what else did you expect from an adorable furball such as this?

Besides being generally charming, Rose and her family are rendered in beautiful drawing and colors (especially the fantasy/dream seqences). Contentwise, Pasquale has a guardian angel, and the Gumbos are Christian, but in more than five years of following their adventures, I've never seen their religion as anything other than mild, humorous, non-preachy and nondenominational, so it's all good. Plus all their love of nature and the outdoors really appeals to all my pagan tendencies, so there ya go.

Rose is Rose could be described, perhaps, as the good twin of Calvin and Hobbes. The basic plot is a young child (Pasquale), switching between fantasy and home life, and the occasional real world concerns of the child's parents. Although, as its title would suggest, Rose is Rose is as much about the mother of the family as it is about the child.

In addition to the similarities in plotting, Bill Waterson and Pat Brady have very similiar drawing styles. Although they are (like all comic strip artists) very good at producing imaginative, overexagerrated caricatures, they also have a very good realistic idea for perspective, and, when neccesary, proportion. They also both slip in some very nice landscapes on occasion.

Even Pasquale's constant fanciful wonder of the natural world is very close to Calvin's constant experimentation. Of course, Pasquale lacks some of Calvin's inventiveness: he has a dreamship, but would never be sharp witted enough to turn a cardboard box into a transmogrifier.

Of course, there is one obvious difference between the two strips: while Rose is Rose is almost always sweet hearted, and Pasquale is totally well adjusted and happy, Calvin and Hobbes is, well, Calvin and Hobbes. Although I think that just as Calvin and Hobbes never became downright meanspirited, Rose is Rose never becomes downright sappy and syrupy. Both comic strips are in the end about the wonder of life, just with slightly different shadings attached to it.

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