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KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Julie Negron works at home on her weekly comic strip, Jenny, which she creates for her Web site and publications such as Stars and Stripes. Mrs. Negron is the spouse of Maj. Angel Negron, chief of 18th Wing Flight Safety. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Nestor Cruz)
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All about Jenny

Posted 9/11/2008   Updated 9/11/2008 Email story   Print story

    


by Staff Sgt. Nestor Cruz
18th Wing Public Affairs


9/11/2008 - KADENA AB, Japan -- The role of the military spouse is filled with challenges, especially for those unfamiliar with the military culture. But one Kadena spouse has found a way to turn the trials of military life into comedy gold. 

"Jenny," a comic strip created by Julie Negron, follows the adventures of a young Air Force spouse navigating her way through the daily grind. 

Mrs. Negron, the wife of Maj Angel Negron, chief of 18th Wing Flight Safety, came up with an idea for a comic strip about spouses after a particularly bad PCS experience. 

"We had just gotten our orders to Okinawa and I had to get our dependent medical records cleared," said Mrs. Negron. "Our records went missing and when I offered to help, I was told 'I don't need your help. You're just a spouse.'" 

Mrs. Negron said she needed a creative outlet following that experience. After PCS'ing to Kadena in 2005, Mrs. Negron joined the spouse's club here. She heard various "horror" stories from club members -- everything from the difficulty of getting a power of attorney in the sponsor's absence to finding garbage packed with household goods. As she took notes on stories, she thought to herself "This is gold." 

She researched comic strips, but found no comics about military spouses. Her husband suggested illustrating the stories she heard from other spouses. After a brainstorming session between the two, Jenny was born. 

"Jenny was created to show the crazy, silly hoops we spouses sometimes have to jump through," Mrs. Negron said. "I felt it was about time somebody created a comic strip about military spouses." 

The strip draws from real-life experiences of both cartoonist and contributors. Various episodes have covered topics including contract movers who pack everything, missing medical records, washing uniforms and balancing missions with family events. 

"Jenny and her husband, DH, are a young couple without kids placed in various family situations," said Mrs. Negron. "Jenny's experiences reflect the humor, ingenuity and sheer determination necessary to be successful as the spouse of an active-duty military member." 

The strip was picked up by Stars and Stripes followed by several spouse newsletters and base newspapers. Soon after, Mrs. Negron received letters and e-mail from both military spouses and active-duty Airmen. 

"I'm constantly getting positive responses from readers which feels really good," the cartoonist said. "I've received e-mail from spouses telling me it was their first time to laugh in a long time and also e-mail from people serving downrange saying 'That reminds me of my wife' or 'That just happened to us last week!'" 

In response to Jenny's fan mail, Mrs. Negron created a Myspace page for her character, complete with Jenny statistics such as age, favorites and the number of years she and DH have been married. Fans have also requested a book featuring a compilation of past Jenny comic strips. 

"Fans have asked me to put together a book of Jenny episodes especially the ones from Jenny's spouse handbook," Mrs. Negron said. "The success of Jenny really took me by surprise. At first it was just for fun and a creative outlet for me, but people really connect with what Jenny goes through." 

The Jenny cartoonist plans to continue chronicling the adventures of Jenny and company while retaining the spirit of being a spouse new to the military culture. A new comic strip is also in the planning stages, but Mrs. Negron is keeping it top secret for now. 

"I'd like to break into the mainstream, syndication world," said Mrs. Negron. "I have some ideas for a new comic strip, but it's still under development. Stay tuned!" 

The "Jenny" comic strip is being archived by the Cartoon Research Library (a repository for nearly all newspaper comic strips in American history) at Ohio State University. "Jenny" is the first and only comic strip solely about military spouses. 

Mrs. Negron was recently awarded membership in the prestigious National Cartoonists Society and will attend next year's Reuben Awards. 

"No awards for me but I'll be able to meet everyone on the funny pages," Mrs. Negron said. 

New and old Jenny fans can visit Mrs. Negron's Web site at http://www.jennyspouse.com.



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