Each day, Dustin invites readers into the lives of the Kudlick family, who have welcomed the strip’s 23-year-old namesake back into the house after college for “just a little while.”
Mind you, the Kudlicks are not a dysfunctional family — rather they are highly functioning with mother (Helen), father (Ed) and daughter (Megan) suddenly living again with devoutly dysfunctional Dustin, who at 23 is unemployed, unmotivated and unable to see any of that as a problem.
An inveterate dreamer, Dustin refuses the prescribed route to success — working his way up. Instead, he insists he will patent an invention…join the PGA Tour…or take his comedy act to television. Until then, he works temporary jobs for a day or two — sometimes a week — and then quits or is fired and the process begins anew. One day, he’s a meter maid, taking down soccer mom SUVs. The next day, he is a private detective investigating a cheating spouse: “I have to follow some lady around the golf course…her husband thinks she’s moving her ball.”
Though Dustin is the star, the strip is what creators Steve Kelley and Jeff Parker call a “sitcomic” that often explores relationships of cast members, even in Dustin’s absence. Kelley notes, “Between Dustin’s temp jobs, Helen’s radio show and Ed’s law practice, the strip has plenty of fresh air pouring in. The only thing about Dustin that’s predictable is that it’s different every day.”
Dustin was named “Newspaper Comic Strip of the Year” by the National Cartoonists Society for 2010.
Kelley, of The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, has extensive experience producing humor. In 1985, he began writing comedy and performing at open-mike nights in San Diego. His incisive wit and dry delivery quickly propelled him to showrooms and television. Kelley performed at Harrah’s, The Desert Inn, and The Riviera in Las Vegas and Trump Plaza in Atlantic City. He opened for the late Peter Allen at Carnegie Hall and made seven appearances on “The Tonight Show.”
Kelley’s political cartoons are syndicated to more than 100 newspapers nationwide, and appear frequently in The New York Times, USA Today and The Chicago Tribune. His work has won many awards, including six first-place finishes from the California Newspaper Publishers Association. In 2001, he took first-place awards from the CNPA, the Los Angeles Press Club and the Best of the West competition. That same year, he won the National Headliner Award. In 2009, he won The Scripps-Howard National Journalism Award and served as a Montgomery Fellow at Dartmouth College.
The Virginia native and Dartmouth graduate is father to a 17-year-old son, Hayden, about whom he brags without regard to the listener’s interest.
Jeff Parker began drawing editorial cartoons for Florida Environments news magazine in 1989. He moved to the Orlando Business Journal in 1990 before joining his hometown newspaper, Florida Today, in 1992, where he remains today. His work is syndicated to hundreds of newspapers in the United States and abroad, and has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, Time, Newsweek, Le Monde and Courrier International. His cartoons have also been broadcast on CNN and Fox News.
Parker’s work has received awards from Gannett News Service, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors, the Florida Press Club and the Florida Press Association. In 2005, Jeff won the National Cartoonists Society’s Reuben Division Award for Editorial Cartooning after three prior nominations.
In 1999, Parker joined a contingent of American cartoonists who traveled to Cuba for a look inside one of the last bastions of communism. His journal and sketch diary of the trip were published in three editions of Florida Today.
In addition to drawing Dustin, Parker assists Mike Peters with his comic strip, Mother Goose & Grimm. Parker works from his home studio. His wife, Pat, considers him her only child.