Class of 1994 graduate Dennis Tucker?s comic strip ?Birdbun Theatre? has expanded into a weekly format.

The comic is described in a press release as ?a heady mixture of social satire and flight of fancy? (translation: sometimes the characters tackle social or topical humor, other times they are literally sailing to the Orient), the strip is centered around a bird named Bird and a rabbit named Bun.

Characterized by Tucker as a ?mixture of fantasy and real-life,? the strip is syndicated to publications in three states, including Rochester?s The Empty Closet, the longest-running gay/lesbian newspaper in New York. Past strips appear at www.birdbun. com.

Tucker served as the art director for the humor magazine, The Norm, while at UR. He calls his involvement with the publication ?four years of fun.?

?For three years I was The Norm?s art editor. Drawing comic strips, gag panels and spot illustrations, full-page spreads, black-and-white and color covers ? I loved it,? he said.

He also drew comics for the Campus Times.

Tucker made his way into cartooning through a somewhat circuitous route.

?I started UR as an English major, because I?ve always loved writing,? he said. ?Then I took a couple poli sci courses that got me interested in that field. I studied third-world societies and economies, organizational theory, fun stuff like that.

?It all tied in with my longtime interests in humanity ? how people interact, how society works and changes. Even though I?m not a political scientist now, I feel my education at UR was very valuable.?

After college, Tucker went to work designing Web pages, including that of Wegmans. Soon, a strip that he put on personal greeting cards turned into Birdbun and the rest, as they say, is history.

For Dennis Tucker, this is the realization of a dream.

?Ever since I was a kid, I knew I would always draw ? for my entertainment if nothing else,? he said. The idea was ?so ingrained that it didn?t even feel like a dream ? it was a given. I knew I?d be a cartoonist.?

Tucker also has the following advice for those aspiring comics out there ? ?Practice, practice, practice. Draw every day. If you?re doing a humorous strip, read S.J. Perelman, Groucho Marx, Woody Allen, P.G. Wodehouse, Dave Barry and Steve Martin.?

As for the future, Bird, Bun and friends are looking big.

?With Birdbun, [we] have a winning combination: a first-rate strip, strong framework and plan for distribution,? Tucker said.

Right now, the focus is on expanding the cartoon?s audience. ?Obviously we have a built-in audience with the gay and lesbian segment, and [gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans] publications have been our main contacts so far. We?re also talking to alternative papers and the college press,? he said.

Asked for any final thoughts, Tucker said, ?I would leave you with the advice given to me by Eric LoPresti, who was my editor and mentor when I started at The Norm. He said, ?Get to know as many different kinds of people as you can.? I guarantee your art ? and your life ? won?t suffer for it.?

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