Phoebe (and Her Unicorn) is 10

Phoebe Howell is celebrating her tenth birthday this week.

A celebration that corresponds with the 10th anniversary of Heavenly Nostrils
making its webcomic debut on April 22, 2022.

As cartoonist Dana Simpson explains she had ended her Ozy and Millie webcomic
and had planned on changing her career – leaving comics and try illustration.

That never got past the planning stage, because of the Comic Strip Superstar contest, which I entered and won, and I found myself right back in it.

I won with a strip called Girl, which was about a little girl — originally unnamed — hanging out with her animal friends in the woods. In the contest I’d won a contract to develop the strip for syndication. The contracts got signed, and the development began.

The strip spent fully two years, the length of my development contract, being developed, during which time a unicorn named Marigold Heavenly Nostrils showed up and made herself the title character. (Also, Girl became Phoebe, after Holden Caulfield’s little sister in The Catcher in the Rye.)

It would take three years and a title change to Phoebe and Her Unicorn for it to became a syndicated newspaper comic strip on March 30, 2015, with a bit of a recap “for those who came in late.”

The comic strip was being collected into comic books even before syndication and to date there are
20 Phoebe and Her Unicorn books, both strip reprints and original graphic novels.

Andrews McMeel interviewed Dana on the occasion of the strip turning 10:

What has been your favorite part about creating this strip and these characters for 10 years?

I made it my job to draw unicorns! I think it’s the greatest job anyone has ever had. I like pretty much everything about it.

Would you ever increase Phoebe’s age over the years if you ever decide to conclude Phoebe and Her Unicorn?

For the 10th anniversary, I’m pushing her age up from 9 to 10, which isn’t going to make a huge difference in the strip day to day but does indicate the slow passage of time. If it goes another decade, maybe she’ll turn 11.

© Dana Simpson

Congratulations Dana! Definitely we need another ten years (at least).


full disclosure: Phoebe, Marigold, and The Daily Cartoonist share a mystic bond with Andrews McMeel