Meet Cartoonist and Cattle Capers Author Dawn Kravagna

Dawn Kravagna is a cartoonist, writer, and the mastermind behind the book Cattle Capers starring Master Detective Adam Steer.

She began drawing comics when she was very young (or as she put it “since I could hold a pencil”). Her father was a jockey’s agent, so she grew up in the horse racing world, and there was even a cow in her –-and her dog’s– life. (See the quote at the end of the interview for more on that.) For a time after college she was involved in animal welfare, which she still tries to be as she supports the Tapir Preservation Fund, the HSUS, ASPCA, and International Primate Protection League. As she put it, “If you take my longtime love of cartoons and dogs, my interest in animal welfare, my limited success with comedy, and a degree in Creative Writing, a cartoon comedy mystery novel about animal characters was almost a given. Yet, I can only now see that was inevitable!”

I had the chance to ask her a couple of questions about how her life influences her work and vice versa. She was gracious enough to take time out of her busy schedule to humor me with some enlightening answers.

I have been a Warner Bros fan since a tot, a particular fan of Tweety & Sylvester. ~Dawn Kravagna

Courtney Mroch: For those who don’t know, can you give a little background about Cattle Capers?

Dawn Kravagna: The original design back in 1990 was to create an adventure comic strip. I was attempting to get syndicated and had limited success, a few strips published here and there, but no big contract with King Features or the Creators Syndicate. I drew and inked a sample strip and created several character drawings. But in doing more research, I discovered that adventure comics were not selling to the syndicates at that time.

I then took my portfolio of drawings and the concept to a comic book shop in Renton, which is a favorite of mine, and discussed my work. It was agreed that I had a great concept and I should go for a comic book. But, to do a successful comic book series, you have to commit to publishing a book every two months; working fulltime and struggling with some health issues, I knew that it was not possible to meet that schedule.

CM: What are some of the other characters in your book?

DK: The other main characters in Cattle Capers(tm) are:

• Chief of Police Pork of Precinct Thirteen-and-a-half, a hog who is superstitious and dislikes Sheriff Hogsbutter, whom he thinks is too thin to be a true hog.

• Lt. Cluck, a rooster and stickler to the rules who drives the other cops crazy with his fussiness.

• Pepy, the sloth deputy, symbol of all slow-moving government servants who may owe more allegiance to the Sheriff than his superior officer, Chief Pork.

• Betsy Moo, past love interest of Adam and obviously a cow; they still have unexpressed feelings for one another.

CM: Do you have animals that interfere with your drawing and writing time as much as mine do when I’m at the keyboard?

DK: My pet interferes with my life, not just my keyboard time. But I love him to pieces. His name is Buster and is 7.5 years old. He was born on Pearl Harbor Day, so I like to say that was the day a little bombshell dropped into our lives. Silky terriers are known for running a household if you do not train them young. Well, he runs the household. It is not that he is a bad dog, as he sits in his bed in my writing room. However, I refer to him as a walking stomach and bladder covered with fur, because he loves to eat. He is on a special kidney diet, so I am distracted by his whines for treats which he is not supposed to have. However, his charming personality has made him the inspiration for a new novel series based on human characters that is in the works. A comedy, of course.

One of his idiosyncrasies is that he likes to give himself walks. He gets so excited that he does flips when I get out the leash. He watches every move I make when I get home that might indicate that a walk is imminent. Do I put on my sneakers? (I cannot put them on anymore unless taking a walk) Am I going for the closet where the poopie bags are? Am I nearing the coat rack where the leash is kept?

Am I saying the “W” word? (We cannot say the word walk in our
household.) So, after he is leashed up and he’s done dancing with glee, he grabs the leash in his mouth and drags me along as he walks a block or two. The neighbors used to laugh for the first few weeks.

I cannot get started on my writing/drawing till Buster has been walked, fed, given his medicine, and cuddled. THEN I can take care of Dawn’s business. Which, afterwards, he gets his last outing, his goodnight treat, then cuddles on the pillow in my bedroom to keep me company as I rest for the evening.

My neighbors did have a cow named Cabbage that used to romp around with our German Shepherd mix mutt, Peaches. Peaches snuck out of the yard during the day (according to our neighbors) to play with Cabbage and they’d sleep together. I frequently caught them kissing each other through the fence, but they always stopped when I tried to take a photo, even from within the house. Cabbage used to me to ask me to come to the fence to scratch him on the forehead. They butchered him for meat, which the wife could never have the heart to eat due to his friendship with Peaches. That was the end of their raising bulls for meat. Cabbage was not the first, but he was the last. It breaks my heart every time I think about him. ~Dawn Kravagna