Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
FoxTrot is a daily comic strip by cartoonist Bill Amend which began syndication on April 10, 1988. It centers around the daily life (which isn't all that normal) of the Fox family. It is syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate .
The Fox Family
The Foxes lives at 1254 North Elm Street, the specific city being a mystery. Older comics suggest the family lives in Kansas City, Missouri, as Peter and Roger are big Chiefs fans. This would also match the publisher of the FoxTrot books, Andrews McMeel, which is based in Kansas City. However, the newer comics (starting with "Think iFruity") would suggest the family is in Chicago, as that is the airport Roger uses for business trips.
Roger Fox is the father and a not-too-bright corporate slave. He is 45 years old and was born in Chicago. Roger is a fan of sports and chess, though any time he attempts to play them, he finds himself either losing (chess) or breaking bones (sports). He often indulges in foods of all kinds (despite the dubious cuisine Andy produces, he remains perpetually overweight). Roger can practically destroy a computer by touching it and when he tries to barbecue, all too often he ends up burning the food (and himself). His ideas of a good family vacation are quite similar to those of Calvin's father (from Calvin and Hobbes). Of the primary cast, Roger, while not an idiot (despite periodic evidence to the contrary; he has to have some brains to be able to support a spouse and three children) is probably the most oblivious to the world around him.
Andrea "Andy" Fox is the mother and a freelance writer. When she was an English major in college, someone used to slip anonymous love notes under her door. Her paramour , unfortunately, turned out to be a total dweeb—she married him anyway. She is now 42 years old and extremely vital to the household: without her, it would "collapse in a day or two." Andy cooks absurd "health-food " meals, such as lima bean cobbler or tofu curry. A penny-pincher when it comes to heating, she insists on keeping the thermostat extremely low during the winter months, often low enough to freeze soft drinks, milk, hot chocolate and oxygen. For the most part, Andy keeps the family grounded and acts as a straight man to their antics, although she has been known to crack under pressure, usually during the course of visits from her mother. Many of her storylines center around new obsessions—collecting "Bitty Babies," the movie Titanic, and her Mango-Kiwi-colored iFruit computer.
Peter "Pete" Fox, the oldest child at 16, is a junior in high school. He habitually procrastinates on schoolwork until the last minute ("I should start on my book report. Ah, there's always tomorrow. I suppose I'll need a book. When's the library open?"). He is a sports fan and likes to pretend he is football/baseball/basketball star, although in truth he is generally relegated to bench-warming, if he makes the team at all. Peter also entertains fantasies of becoming the lead guitarist in a rock band one day. He is capable of ingesting massive amounts of food, but never gains a pound. Peter usually works a summer job at the local movie theater as a janitor and ticket collector, although he often blows his entire paycheck on food from the concession stand. Peter met his girlfriend Denise in 1988 and has been dating her ever since. He wears a blue and white baseball cap with the letter A on it, a grey sweatshirt, and blue jeans almost daily. Despite his typical adolescent-macho fantasies and fixations, Peter also shows signs of sensitivity and being a good student, albeit oft-suppressed ones.
Paige Fox is the 14-year old, style-obsessed sister and a freshman in high school. She is always depicted with a ponytail. It has been suggested in the strip many times that Paige get a new hairstyle. When Amend was asked if it would happen, he said probably not, because no one would recognize Paige otherwise. Paige can't get herself a prom date, unless one counts geeky Morton Goldthwait (which Paige does not). Most of her jokes center around the idiosyncrasies of high-school popular culture, as well as Jason's attempts to annoy her (which mostly end with him getting beat up). Her frequent attempts to cook only yield charcoal and smoke. Unlike Peter, Paige does not have a single object of her affections, though her naptime dreams often feature a dashing French hunk named Pierre.
Jason Fox is the 10-year old, often annoying nerdy little brother. His life mission appears to be to annoy Paige, which often results in her beating him up and breaking his glasses. Ironically, we never see Jason without them on. Jason has frequently tutored Paige in math, though he prefers to be referred to as a "math consultant". He is smart enough to know the average temperature on Venus and to solve complex equations that most adults would find staggering, but at the same time believes that Santa Claus and the X-Files are real. He is also a genius with all things computerized, having once written his own Internet browser and, another time, crashed the entire Internet itself (by accident) with a "Darth Jason" virus. He also wrote his own operating system, Jasondows. He can also be found frequently entertaining outrageous schemes to either earn or spend huge amounts of money: he once attempted to found a dinosaur-themed casino in Las Vegas and once attempted to build a skyscraper comic book shop—only to scrap that plan, as it would take up space that was already reserved for his Star Wars-themed amusement park, including a life-sized Death Star ride. Jason's favorite activites besides bothering Paige are playing video and computer games, such as Doomathon, drawing Slugman cartoons, and maintaining romantic tension between himself and Eileen.
Quincy is Jason's pet iguana. Quincy specializes in two fields: chewing on things, and scaring the wits out of Paige. Jason's hypothesis that he could conjure a similar reaction out of all girls was disproved when he brought Quincy to school for show and tell, and Miss O'Malley, his teacher, thought Quincy was cute. Paige once saved him from choking on a shoelace while Jason was out of the house. Quincy is a frequent observer of the Fox household antics, but he has only ever shown three facial expressions: his standard, calm-eyed gaze; a scrambling panic when Jason throws him in the air; and dizziness after landing. He is by far the most unflappable member of the household.
After Roger's disastrous attempt at earning a living through online trading ended with him selling the family's old computer, Andy purchases a Mango-Kiwi iFruit (based on the original Apple iMac). The iFruit can talk, criticize font selection and even change the wallpaper (of the room). Though initially mortal enemies with the geeky Jason due to its emphasis on ease of use, Jason grows attached to it, especially after matching colour schemes persuades his mother to buy all manners of peripherals, such as scanners and CD-ROM burners. The iFruit once beat Roger in chess 250,000 times in a row; the one time Roger beat it, Andy was convinced to call the repair center. Evidently, it is durable enough that even Roger cannot damage it (It's made of bullet-proof plastics).
Recurring characters who are not part of the Fox family
- J. P. Pembrook: the CEO of Roger's company, who – unbeknownst to him – has his million-dollar deals analyzed by a ten-year-old (i.e. Jason). We never see his face, only his hands; given his ruthless personality, that may be a good thing. He has won the Iron Fist Award and the Golden Gallows Award, acording to trophies seldom seen on his desk.
- Fred: Roger's friend at work. Often plays golf with him (and always wins). Roger apparently considers Fred to be an authority on everything.
- Steve Riley: Peter's best friend from high school. Owns an electric guitar and amp set that Peter sometimes borrows, much to his parents' dismay. Steve also has a job at the local pizza parlor.
- Denise Russo: Peter's blind girlfriend. Denise's parents have been heard to speak, but have never been shown on Peter's visits to Denise's house. Denise is clearly the one in control of the relationship. Once Peter attempted to break up with her, but that ended in failure.
- Nicole: Paige's best friend, also fashion-obsessed. Seems to have better luck with boys then Paige (which doesn't say much), which causes problems in their relationship.
- Pierre: Literally the boy of Paige's dreams. He is a perfect French lover who appears in Paige's daydreams. Usually when he appears, the last panel shows Jason doing something she would freak out at. For example, if Paige is dreaming of kissing Pierre, in actuality it might be Jason holding Quincy up to her lips. Usually, all Paige says to Pierre's antics is "Ooo, Pierre!" Once Paige dreamed about Pierre at school and mentioned his name out loud just when the teacher asked for the capital of South Dakota (Pierre). Pierre fans should look to pages 187-192 of Enormously FoxTrot, there is a special collection of Paige and Pierre art panels.
- Morton Goldthwait: The "biggest geek in school" according to Paige. He has a crush on her and hasn't given up, despite what she thinks of him. He took the SATs as a freshman and was mad he got a 1590 (one raw score below perfect). Considered a hero by Jason.
- Margaret O'Dell: A woman Paige babysits for. She likes to leave Paige endless lists of phone numbers and instructions. She doesn't seem to be married.
- Katherine "Katie" O'Dell: Ms. O'Dell's daughter whom Paige babysits; the only character to age over time: when she first appeared she was nine months, but she has since aged to two years. She once had an obsession with the children's TV show, Blue's Clues, but seems to have gotten over it. She once cut up her dress while Paige was sleeping; another time she learned a swear word from Paige and Paige had to shut her up with several jars of peanut butter.
- Marcus Jones: Jason's best friend, with whom often he emulates Star Trek and bothers Paige. Marcus has four sisters (Doreen, Lisa, Lana, Cybil). His mother is a nurse. All members of Marcus' family, save Marcus himself, are unseen characters.
- Eileen Jacobson: Jason's sometimes nemesis, sometimes semi-friend, whom he doesn't want to admit he secretly likes. A Harry Potter fan, Eileen didn't appear in the comic until 1995, when she got a higher grade than Jason on a math test, and ended up going out for ice cream with him. Eileen also showed when Jason and Marcus went to summer camp. She has made quite a few appearances since and Jason eventually admitted he liked her.
- Miss O'Malley: Jason and Marcus' teacher since 1991. She's the replacement for Jason and Marcus' former teacher, Ms. Grinchley. Considerably younger and more "on the ball" than Ms. Grinchley, she appears to have a marginally better handle on Jason as well, much to his dismay.
- Slug Man and Leech Boy: Comic book characters created by Jason in a Batman and Robin parody. Slug Man and Leech Boy are almost always fighting their arch-enemy, Paige-O-Tron, the most evil robot in the universe (although they once were said to have had an "epic battle with Gargantutron last summer"; Jason has also drawn a comic story titled "Slug-Man Battles Miss Grinchley").
Recurring characters who do not appear often
- Grandma: Andy's mother, whom everybody loves and calls perfect, especially in comparison to Andy herself. Needless to say, this doesn't make Andy herself feel very good, as their feud has been going on since fifth grade. Grandma's real name is not known (since she is Andy's mother, her last name wouldn't be Fox, but rather Andy's maiden name). The two appeared to have made peace on their first meeting, but affairs have relapsed since then (probably because Grandma is simply too interesting a character to be discarded after a single use).
- Phoebe Wu: A friend of Eileen. They met at Camp Bohrmore Science Camp in 1997. She kept a journal for her time at camp, even saving samples of the food. Although initially bitter rivals with Jason and Marcus, the four eventually formed a "Super-Secret Friendship Club" while at camp, something the two boys have had varying cause to regret since then.
- Eugene Wu: Phoebe's arrogant brother. His friends call him The Brain--or at least, they would, If he had any friends. He once arrived in Jason and Marcus's neighborhood along with his sister Phoepe, and then succeded in breaking the Jason, Marcus, Eileen, and Phoebe's friendship club by stealing Phoebe's camp journal and planting clues pointing to members of the club.
- Miss Rockbottom: Paige's gym teacher. Paige once called her a "power-hungry neo-Nazi fascist tub of lard," but believes she took it as a compliment.
- Dr. Ting: Paige's biology teacher, who has come to rely on her lab reports as a source of weekend entertainment.
Characters who no longer appear in the strip
- Linda Downer: Peter's unrequited crush before he met Denise, has not appeared since 1988. Apparently a friend of Paige.
- Miss Grinchley: Jason and Marcus' teacher before Miss O'Malley. Despite her name, she does not seem reminiscent of the Grinch.
- Skip Riley: Roger's summer intern in 1990, the ultimate sycophant, who even called Roger his "light and inspiration", before jumping ship to become an intern for Charles Diggs, the head of Roger's department.
About the strip
Amend majored in physics at Amherst College, and this is reflected in "FoxTrot"'s frequent inclusion of complex mathematical formulae, usually written by Jason Fox. The formulae are correct, though oddly flavored; Jason often uses them to describe bizarre situations, or, more rarely, they are school assignments for Peter Fox. Amend also uses Jason to express his knowledge of computer languages in much the same way that he uses physics formulae. Both these elements add a layer of superfluous complexity to the strip, and juxtaposed with the odd circumstances in which they appear, give FoxTrot a uniquely surreal air.
From June 16 to August 16, 1997, Bill Amend did a series of comic strips where Jason attended Lake Bohrmore Science Camp. Jason, Marcus and Eileen all attended this summer camp, and it was the first appearance of Phoebe and Eugene. Morton Goldthwait was Jason's counselor, although he didn't find out until the end of Jason's stay at camp that he was Paige's brother. For this period of time, only the above mentioned characters appeared in the strip, and Peter, Paige, Roger and the others only appeared at the beginning and end. After the end of this series, the strip returned to normal. These comics can be found in Welcome to Jasorassic Park and Camp FoxTrot. In 2000, Phoebe and Eugene briefly appeared in the strip again when they visited their uncle, who lives in the neighborhood featured in FoxTrot.
If one observes closely, one will notice that in any scene where a character is reading a newspaper, there are headlines that say things such as "Cartoonist Delivers Triplets in Elevator" or "Cartoonist to direct Jurassic Park II." In scenes with large crowds, Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes can often be seen in the background. In some scenes, characters from various comics can be seen in the background. On one occasion, pictures of Cathy, Dilbert, and Calvin and Hobbes were seen as pictures above a staircase. On another occasion, Peter is shown wearing a Calvin and Hobbes T-Shirt, at a time when Bill Watterson was having licensing conflicts with his publisher. Often signs in the theater are edited to have a humorous effect (such as "Mission Impossible 2: The Comic Strip Deadline"). Peter's posters in his room also are often edited to read things like "Baywitch". Almost all of Peter's posters are a parody on Baywatch.
Many products seen in the strip have altered names, such as "Chips McCoy" (Chips Ahoy! ), "Toridos" (Doritos), "Cap'n Sucrose" (Cap'n Crunch), "Fax Mactor" (Max Factor), and "Arper Shimage" (Sharper Image ). Most of the magazines shown, at least starting from around 1994-95, are parodies of real magazines or magazine genres. For example, Paige often reads "Fourteen" magazine (Seventeen), and other altered magazine titles seen frequently are "Thyme" (Time) and (at least for a while) "Illustrated Sports" (Sports Illustrated). The fast-food restaurant that the Foxes occasionally patronize has two M's back-to-back, parodying the McDonald's logo.
In the cinema where Peter works you can also often see names such as Trek Wars. Other signs on walls have been seen to change message between panels. For example, in the first panel of a cafeteria scene, a paper sign in the background reads, "No food fights!" In the next panel, it reads, "Really!" In the last panel, it reads "We mean it!"
The first one of these 'subtleties' to appear was a dryer which had the brand name "Dry Queen 1000" on it. Also, we see a partial view, the "OX" on a bottle of bleach, presumably Clorox. This was the third strip; it was shown April 13, 1988. The first subtlety to be shown in a color Sunday strip appeared April 17, 1988 in the "throwaway panel" identifying the strip. It shows Jason eating "Honey Skulls" (Honeycomb) cereal.
Beginning with Death By Field Trip, the size and shape of the regular collections changed to accommodate a new Sunday strip layout. The books were also made smaller to give a larger gap between anthologies (see below). They (as well as the anthologies) are published by Andrews McMeel Publishing , and are available wherever books are sold.
- FoxTrot (1989)
- Pass the Loot (1990)
- Black Bart Says Draw (1991)
- Eight Yards, Down and Out (1992)
- Bury My Heart at Fun-Fun Mountain (1993)
- Say Hello to Cactus Flats (1993)
- May the Force Be with Us, Please (1994)
- Take Us to Your Mall (1995)
- The Return of the Lone Iguana (1996)
- At Least This Place Sells T-Shirts (1996)
- Come Closer, Roger, There's a Mosquito on Your Nose (1997)
- Welcome to Jasorassic Park (1998)
- I'm Flying, Jack ...I Mean, Roger (1999)
- Think iFruity (2000)
- Death By Field Trip (2001)
- Encyclopedias Brown and White (2001)
- His Code Name Was The Fox (2002)
- Your Momma Thinks Square Roots are Vegetables (2003)
- Who's Up for Some Bonding? (2003)
- Am I a Mutant, or What! (2004)
- Orlando Bloom Has Ruined Everything (2005)
Originally, the anthologies were made up of the previous two smaller collections, with color Sunday strips (as opposed to black and white in the smaller books). Starting with Assembled with Care, the anthologies are made up of the three previous smaller books.
- FoxTrot: The Works (1990)
- FoxTrot en masse (1992)
- Enormously FoxTrot (1994)
- Wildly FoxTrot (1995)
- FoxTrot Beyond a Doubt (1997)
- Camp FoxTrot (1998)
- Assorted FoxTrot (2000)
- FoxTrot: Assembled with Care (2002)
- Foxtrotius Maximus (2004)
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