CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Those long Alaskan winter nights do something to people.
In Chad Carpenter's case, it's helped him dream up a wickedly funny comic strip. "Tundra," makes its Daily Mail debut in today's comics section, on page 6B.
Most of the gags are told in a single panel -- "That seems to be the way my mind works best," he says -- and feature a cast of snowmen, bears, wolves, moose, pigs, cows and other four-legged creatures.
Humans occasionally appear, usually as cavemen or hapless hikers, but usually wind up the butt of the animals' jokes.
"The secret to retaining your scavenger status," one buzzard says to another while pushing an anvil from its perch, "is to make it look like an accident."
Carpenter said he gets most of his ideas come just before he's going to sleep or while he's driving. He said his sense of humor was influenced by his parents, as well as the comic strips he read growing up.
When he was 18, he moved from the Last Frontier to Sarasota, Fla., where his uncle owned an art gallery.
This uncle also happened to be friends with cartoonist Dick Brown, who created the long-running "Hagar the Horrible" strip. Carpenter soon began hanging out with the veteran cartoonist, who invited Carpenter to his studio to show him the behind-the-scenes workings of a comic strip.
He also took up with "Mother Goose and Grim" cartoonist Mike Peters. Once, Carpenter asked Peters how to produce a comic strip day after day and not run out of ideas.