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Go Tigers!

Go Tigers! published on
The Richmond Tigers have won the AFL premiership. September 30th 2017. Pat the Tiger and Pat the Dog went wild!

Pat the Tiger is a massive fan of the Richmond Tigers AFL football club, in the game we call Australian Rules football. Pat and his partner Pat the Dog have just been watching their mighty Richmond Tigers at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) for the Grand Final. They’ve been shouting themselves hoarse. 

The final score:
Richmond Tigers: 16 Goals, 12 Behinds = 108 Points
Adelaide Crows: 8 Goals, 12 Behinds = 60 Points

RICHMOND WINS THE 2017 PREMIERSHIP!  For the first time since 1980!

Pat and Pat are ecstatic. It’s going to be an exhausting night of celebration for both of them! 

New Caption Competition Jul/Sep 2017

New Caption Competition Jul/Sep 2017 published on
Hi all you happy Doc Rat readers. Here’s the next Caption Competition challenge for you. It’s the serving staff for Hasty Taste deep-fried lardburgers. Now, use your imagination and come up with something funny to complete the cartoon. The competition winners have usually been those whose caption adds more to the joke than
Jul/Sep 2017
Caption competition CC-75
just a recap of the picture. Pertinent, off-the-wall or sometimes just surreal in a perfectly-focused way. So go ahead – try your luck. You could be the next person to find some free, original Doc Rat artwork winging its way to your home. 


Click on the picture to be taken to the competition page. Then send me the funniest caption you can think of, and if yours makes me laugh the most, you’ll win the actual picture itself. Get to it.

Some people have had trouble getting the caption entry machine to work. If that happens, please just e-mail to me on :jenner email address

Here are the three strips from the Doc Rat story showcasing our smiling Tasmanian devil who sells these dubious burgers from the hospital’s fast-food servery. You personally may or may not think that such an outlet has a place in a hospital, but that sort of thing does happen. (Legal disclaimer: This is a general fast food parody and is not meant to comment on the attributes of any particular company or products.)

Happy fatty salty Hasty Taste
Happy kiddie ad for Hasty Taste
Junk integrity with Hasty Taste

And we have a new winner, from May/Jun 2017

May/Jun 2017
Alun Rundle caption competition winner CC-74

Alun Rundle, Newport, South Wales, UK

You came up with the perfect motivational message for all people with asthma. 
How can someone look at this and not smile. Isn’t Jarrad delightful?
The prize will be on its way to you soon.
Click on the picture to see this joke and all the honourable mentions.
And enter the current contest. You too could be a winner. 

New Caption Competition May/Jun 2017

New Caption Competition May/Jun 2017 published on


May/Jun 2017
Caption competition CC-74

Here it is.

Okay, a little late, I admit, but better late than never. 

Jarrad is going for a run and demonstrating that he won’t be held back by a touch of exercise-induced asthma.

Click on the picture to be taken to the competition page. Then send me the funniest caption you can think of, and if yours makes me laugh the most, you’ll win the actual picture itself. Get to it.

Some people have had trouble getting the caption entry machine to work. If that happens, please just e-mail to me on :jenner email address


And we have a new winner, from Mar/Apr 2017

Mar/Apr 2017
Philip McCarty caption winner CC-73

Philip McCarty, Owens Cross Roads Alabama, USA

Thank you for a genuinely funny joke that made me laugh out loud at my computer. 

The prize will be on its way to you soon.

Click on the picture to see this joke and all the honourable mentions. 


The Doc Rat archives

If you want to read Doc Rat from the beginning, until recently you would have been disappointed to find it absolutely empty from 2006 to 2014. I am working now to restore that. Every week, I load another twenty strips into the archive page, and I’m pleased to report that at this moment it’s up to DR0340, which first came out on October 12th 2007. As it takes an hour out of my working day to do it, and as I work on Doc Rat one day a week, then twenty a week is all I can manage.  There’s some good reading to be had, at this stage.

Don’t forget that Doc Rat is also on Facebook and Twitter, both the latest ones and those golden oldies from ten years ago. 


Jenner will be at Anthrocon 2017

I will be attending Anthrocon, in Pittsburgh PA, June 29th to July 2nd,  2017. Keep an eye out for me where you see Bill Holbrook, of Kevin and Kell fame.

I really look forward to meeting everyone who can make it there. Certainly if you’re already planning to go, then look me up – we can share a sketch and a story or two.


Jenner will be at Anthrocon 2017

Jenner will be at Anthrocon 2017 published on

I will be attending Anthrocon, in Pittsburgh PA, June 29th to July 2nd,  2017. Keep an eye out for me where you see Bill Holbrook, of Kevin and Kell fame.

I really look forward to meeting everyone who can make it there. Certainly if you’re already planning to go, then look me up – we can share a sketch and a story or two.

Jenner had a great time at ThronesCon 2017

ThronesCon 2017
ThronesCon 2017 Jenner on the Iron Throne

While I’m at it, I must tell you about ThronesCon 2017, a Game of Thrones convention that was held here in Melbourne on the weekend of May 20th and 21st. I had a wonderful time talking, laughing, telling stories, and also selling sketches and my limited-edition prints. As you see in the illustration, the con scheduled four of the cast performers to come to Australia. Although one had to cancel due to sudden unavoidable reasons, we still had great congeniality and conviviality from Dominic Carter (Lord Janos Slynt), Miltos Yerolemou (Syrio Forel) and Ian Beattie (Ser Meryn Trant). 

When I can, I’ll give you all a better look at the caricature artwork.

ThronesCon2017 print
ThronesCon 2017 Guests caricature print









Update June 7th 2017. Here’s a better look at my four caricatures from ThronesCon 2017, Melbourne, Australia.

Syrio Forel. Art by Jenner.
Ser Meryn Trant. Art by Jenner.
Lancel Lannister. Art by Jenner.
Lord Janos Slynt. Art by Jenner.

Memories of Watership Down, and a little childhood trauma

Memories of Watership Down, and a little childhood trauma published on

I read Richard Adams’ Watership Down in 1978 at the age of eighteen, and for me it was, alongside The Lord of the Rings and Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, one of the influential books that shaped my dreams and imagination for a decade.

Artistic poster of a rabbit being strangled to death
Artistic poster of a rabbit being strangled to death

For someone who emotionally connected with anthropomorphic animal fantasy, on me it scored a direct hit. This was because it took itself deadly seriously whilst still maintaining an animal-simple world view. Life was uncomplicated, beautiful, sometimes desperate and sometimes deadly. It was the raw, vital essence of living, distilled with the complexity removed; it felt like undiluted existence Although its origins were Adams’ tale-telling to a couple of children, the final version of the story in the book of Watership Down was that of a child of nature told adult-to-adult. I have never found this vibe captured in any book I have read since – Watership Down is unique.

Not only did I fall for it utterly, it so chanced to happen that I travelled on holiday to England at the end of that year – the first time I, an Australian, had ever set foot in the ‘motherland’. This was a Watership bonanza for me. The movie had just been released, and as I rode on the London underground for the first time in my life, I was treated to the sight of huge posters on the walls, depicting a rabbit blackly silhouetted against the setting sun. This was a stunning image. A closer look showed, subtly placed behind the foreground plants and grasses, a wire snare around his neck strangling him to death. This vouched the production’s credentials – it would be a story that would pull no punches. When I stayed with family friends in Gerrard’s Cross, with access to strolls through the woods of Burnham Beeches (a world both alien and familiar to me), I was then finally able to go to the local cinema to watch the animated feature for the first time.

It was all I could have hoped for. They had made as good a movie of the book as anyone could have expected in the real world. I bought the picture book of the film (you couldn’t buy actual movies in those days. folks) and later the LP album of the beautiful musical score.

For the crowning glory, I took a train to Newbury and spent a day hiking from there to Whitchurch, through the heart of the actual Berkshire countryside in which Adams had set the story. And which, I may add, the film makers had painstakingly depicted, location by location, in their background art. This even included the actual building of Nuthanger Farm, a private residence that played a central part in both book and film. The down, the power pylons, the railway, the church yard, all were there. That month of my life was a thrill that will never quite be matched.

I don’t think Adams thought of Watership Down as a children’s book. But do I think the producers of the film felt compelled to market it as such or face commercial failure. As a result, we had the strange instance of the principal characters of a ‘kids’ flick’ tearing one another’s throats out and bleeding to death on screen. I think all that proves is it wasn’t really a kids’ flick.

Movie stills - not quite as artistic
Movie stills – not quite as artistic

This left parents with the uncomfortable dilemma of whether or not to take their children to it. I remember the next year, back in Australia, my aunt and uncle asking me whether I thought it would be frightening to my niece, who I think must have been about six at the time. They were concerned because she had recently watched another animal movie, ostensibly for children, from which she had come away traumatised – silent, clinging, cowering and refusing to speak. I sat her down and pulled out my picture book. I gently showed her some of the beautiful scenes of the rabbits and the countryside. And, admittedly, the fighting. And the lacerations. And suffocations. And strangulations. And exsanguinations. And… by the look on her face I reached the firm conclusion that if my little niece had been terrified by one single scene in some other animal movie, then perhaps a screening of Watership Down would not be for her.

I told my uncle and aunt it wouldn’t be a good idea to take her to the cinema. They thanked me for my counsel.

Oh, and incidentally, what was the original movie that had terrified the daylights out of her? The Tales of Beatrix Potter, as performed by the Royal Ballet. I never did find out why.



  • I was inspired to write this post in response to a segment about films that caused childhood traumas, broadcast by Nick Hodges on the excellent on-line channel History Buffs.
  • Jasmine Jaegermond’s maiden name was Down. I named her after this book.

We have a couple of winning entries for the Caption Competitions

We have a couple of winning entries for the Caption Competitions published on

The winner for the November/December 2016 caption competition is Yvonne “Catbunny” Pawtowski.

Nov/Dec 2016 Doc Rat caption competition winner
Catbunny caption winner



Catbunny surprised me with a rather off-beam entry – it was such a departure from the obvious that it made me stop and think. I love the unexpected! Of course, you get the Eighties pop culture reference, I hope. See this entry and the other suggestions that won special mentions by clicking the link HERE



…and the winner for the January/February 2017 caption competition is Brian Coe.

Jan/Feb caption winner
Brian Coe caption winner


As always, I most enjoy a submission (and as it’s about a suppository, I really don’t want to call this one an “entry”) that adds an extra idea to the whole of the joke. The picture and caption together should give a better end result than the picture alone. 

See this and the other entries by clicking the link HERE.

Congratulations, Catbunny and Brian, your prizes will soon be on their way to you. 




New competition for March/April 2017

Doc Rat Caption Competition March-April 2017
Doc Rat Caption Competition March-April 2017

Here’s the next one, to get you thinking. Remember, if you win the competition, you win the artwork. I don’t care how many goes you have at it. Try some obvious ones and some off-the-wall ones. Just go to the competition page HERE.

Some people have noted they have had trouble submitting their caption through the form. This seems to happen with some platforms or devices. Don’t be discouraged, just send it to me through the CONTACT page or e-mail me directly on jenner email address




Convention appearances:

Jenner will be attending FURDU on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, from 5th to 7th May, and ANTHROCON in Pittsburgh PA, USA, from 29th June to 2nd July. 

Back in Business

Back in Business published on

Thanks for being patient during the short spell while I caught up. I’m sure you’re all waiting to find out what exciting events happen next!

And thank you for the letters of support. Onward…!caption-competition-072-small

New caption competition

Use your imagination to come up with a funny caption. If the entry form doesn’t work, please just send me an e-mail through the contact form or at jenner email address 

Jenner was at ConFurgence 2017, Melbourne Australia, January 6th – 8th.

ConFurgence 2017

Jenner selling Doc Rat merchandise at ConFurgence 2017, Melbourne, Australia.
Jenner selling Doc Rat merchandise at ConFurgence 2017, Melbourne, Australia.


Rat pause, December 2016

Rat pause, December 2016 published on

It is with a heavy heart that I press the pause button on Doc Rat for two weeks. Many tribulations have weighed down my progress lately, including computer malfunction, and although I hadn’t planned for it to go this way, I have had to decide that health and sanity are important things for me to value if I am to sustain Doc Rat in the long run.

So, this is just temporary. You’ll find out what happens to Daniella in exactly two weeks, because Doc Rat will commence again on Wednesday January 4th, 2017. Hang in there, rat fanciers. 


Jenner will be at ConFurgence 2017, Melbourne Australia, January 6th – 8th.

ConFurgence 2017
ConFurgence 2017

We have a winning entry for the Caption Competition

We have a winning entry for the Caption Competition published on

The winner for the Sep/Oct 2016 caption competition is Rob Falconer.

Sep/Oct 2016 Doc Rat caption competition winner
Rob Falconer caption winner
Rob Falconer has been a regular contributor to the Caption Competition. All his persistence has finally paid off, as he has now joined to list of prize winners for having come up with the funniest caption. See this entry and the others by clicking the link HERE





The competition for Nov/Dec is now open.

Go to the competition site and start thinking of the caption you think will best make Jenner laugh out loud. Who knows? You may win, and if you do, you will become the proud owner of the original artwork.
Doc Rat Caption Competition November-December 2016
Doc Rat Caption Competition November-December 2016
Some people have noted they have had trouble submitting their caption through the form. This seems to happen with some platforms or devices. Don’t be discouraged, just send it to me through the CONTACT page or e-mail me directly on jenner email address
The featured animal is a quoll, a marsupial carnivore about the size of a cat.


Jenner interviewed about Doc Rat

Jenner was recently interviewed by Curtis Hoffman on the Basket Case site. You may read it HERE.
Follow this link to the Basket Case interview with Jenner
Doc Rat: Just what the doctor ordered.
Get Uncle Kage Down Under fundraiser

Jenner art commission auction – Get Uncle Kage Down Under fundraiser

Jenner art commission auction – Get Uncle Kage Down Under fundraiser published on

Uncle Kage has been a regular attendee at the annual Australian furry convention ConFurgence (formerly MiDFur), held in Melbourne, Victoria. He gives so much to the fans that he has helped make the event sparkle with wicked yet intelligent fun.

For ConFurgence 2017, in January 6th -8th 2017, I would dearly love to see him there again. But with the current cost of air fares, he needs a little help to make the dollar stretch that last little way.

So, here’s where I want to pitch in. I will sell an art commission. The money will go entirely to topping up the Uncle Kage travel fund with the hope of bringing him to Australia in 2017.

I will draw on paper, A4 size, a full-colour picture of your character in black ink pen and pencils. I will also scan it and provide a digitally coloured copy as well. The picture may be of your character alone, or standing side by side with Uncle Kage himself.

I will complete the commission within one month of payment.





Jenner will be at FurWAG, Perth, Western Australia. Sep 30th – Oct 12th, 2016.

Jenner will be at FurWAG, Perth, Western Australia. Sep 30th – Oct 12th, 2016. published on
FurWAG 2016, Sep 30th - Oct 2nd
FurWAG 2016, Sep 30th – Oct 2nd

Yes, I will be attending FurWAG, the Australian furry convention of the west side of the country. Given that WA is the state where I grew up, graduated from medical school, learned art, made my cartoons and writings available to the international SF&F fannish community and jumped on board for the beginning of furry fandom, it’s only appropriate I return to Perth to join in the fun of these annual weekends. This will be my fourth, and I haven’t missed a single one.

The guest this year is the fabulous artist Silverfox! Go to the web site for details.

Caption Competition Sep-Oct 2016

Doc Rat Caption Competition September-October 2016
Doc Rat Caption Competition September-October 2016


Here is the latest competition picture. Please send in your entries  for your most side-splitting captions. I don’t yet have a winner for the July-August picture, but I should be able to announce that soon!










 We have a new Caption Competition winner: Dermot McAreavy! 

Jul/Aug 2016 Doc Rat caption competition winner
Dermot McAreavy caption winner

 Priceless Jenner original artwork found.

While moving house recently, a friend who had been involved in Aussiecon 2, the 1985 World Science Fiction Convention, found a single sheet of paper that he recognised as a piece of artwork I had created in 1984. It was one of the pieces I had submitted to the art show and hadn’t sold. So he returned it to me. A lot of my fannish art back then had used anthropomorphic animals, so in a sense my cartoons were known through the world SF fanzine community for their anthropomorphic animal characters at precisely the same time that (unbeknownst to me) furry fandom was in the process of being conceived by American fans with parallel likes and tastes. 

Long-lost original Jenner artwork from 1984
What no weapons policy?
Aussiecon 2 (1985) art show bidding sheet for original Jenner artwork
What no weapons policy? Bidding sheet

This was a cartoon that was published in one of the Australian ‘zines of the time, taking a humorous look at the debated topic of the “no weapons policy” for costumes. I used my favourite personal characters – sort of commando sewer rats – as the ones to debate the point with a staff member. That was in 1984. A year later, I hopefully took it and a few others with me to the big convention Aussiecon 2, aiming to sell them all for big money in some enthusiastic bidding wars.

You’ll see from the attached bidding slip that the reserve price was $10. It didn’t sell. 

Ink and Letratone on A4 paper, some damage and staining. Of vast historic value. It’s now back in my collection, and it is no longer for sale. As far as I’m concerned, it’s worth much more.  I hope the potential buyers who held back are kicking themselves today.

Caption competition 069 for Doc Rat, Jul-Aug 2016

New caption competition – Jarrad and Quarrydog

New caption competition – Jarrad and Quarrydog published on

The caption competition for May/Jun 2016 has been judged, and the next contest for Jul/Aug 2016 has been posted. Have fun! 

If you find you can’t submit your entry using the competition form, then until we rectify that, simply go to the Contact page. Don’t forget to identify your name and home city.

The Doc Rat story arc was based on a real poster.
Smash Fascism poster. Carlton, Melbourne, 2016

Jarrad’s inadvertently revolutionary posters were based on one particular poster I saw a couple of months ago, in the university district of Carlton, here in Melbourne, I was intrigued by it. Although it implored me to Smash fascism, beyond that it was remarkably short on instructions. And I always find that pictures of adorable cats soften every message, so that made it doubly perplexing. I could imagine Jarrad wanting to spread joy and love, but messing it up in his own tangle-footed way. How far can this seven-year-old boy and his crew push the world to the brink of disaster in the name of peace?

Quarrydog, Medical student
Quarrydog, Medical student

And here’s a sketch of Quarrydog, dressed up as a medical student. Yes, of course he’s only thirteen – I’ll have to be drawing Doc Rat for many more years before he reaches university age in the story. But we can dream, can’t we?

Zootopia, and apologies

Zootopia, and apologies published on

Zootopia, in my opinion, is possibly the most nearly perfect animated move ever made. Simply put, in every single aspect it scores top marks.  The look, the scope, the vista. The digital know-how to give an aspect as complex and intricate as if a real camera had filmed a real crowd in a real city. The animator’s craft so perfect and subtle and nuanced that if more fair to call it not character animation but animated characters acting. The flawless control of pacing. The beautiful, melodic, urban multicultural music score. And not least the writing .

The script of Zootopia is a masterpiece, and its writers – Jared Bush, Phil Johnston – deserve to be immensely proud.

I could talk for a long time about the significance of Zootopia as arguably the first ever big-budget movie in the modern anthropomorphic style: animal characters who take ‘human’ roles but whose animality is an integral part of the premise. And there may come a time when I do. I would enthuse at length about the shrewd sequence of logical cause and effect that propels the story, the many witty devices, the deftly-crafted humour and the richness of what I call “the emotional symphony”.

An apology must follow
Zootopia – Judy Hopps and Gideon Grey

But for brevity, I’ll stick to one single aspect: Apology. Because of all the qualities of the writing that stand out, the place of apology in the storytelling of Zootopia bears a maturity rare in this category of family-targeted movies.

Yes, the vibe’s about holding on tight to your dream. But what is neatly slotted into the screenplay’s background is a precious lesson in life – how to make good on your mistakes. How broken things – and broken people – can be fixed.

To me, what nailed it were the two episodes with Gideon Grey, the boy fox who was (rabbit) Judy Hopps’ childhood bully. He terrorized her, beat her and walked away unpunished. Fast forward many years. Hopps stays true to her dream and enlists in the police academy, becomes the star graduate officer and sets out as a trailblazer for rabbitkind as Zootopia’s first bunny cop. She expects to treat others fairly and to be treated fairly, regardless of species. But while she has her successes, she also has a major public screw-up, brings what she sees as disgrace to her uniform and shatters her own dreams of making the world a better place.  She tried, she failed, people got hurt, and she withdrew to the ambitionless safety of her small-town family home base.

Enter the grown-up Gideon Grey. Bigger and hungrier than ever. Shock and panic, then relief. The brain-dead bully really has grown up, not just physically but also emotionally  and, dare I say, spiritually. No, he did not need to be beaten up to teach him a lesson. There was no place for retribution, score-settling nor any other comic book ‘justice’. This simple soul had found his own peace. Most importantly, he (alone or with counselling) had come to his own insight, had recognised his fault and attended to it. In so doing, he had found peace, and thereafter his every step upon the earth propagated this peace to others.

This is an astonishingly rare piece of storytelling, and on experiencing it my heart lifted and sang. The ‘villain’ took it upon himself to find his own insight, the insight that could never be forced into him with a fist. Guided by his insight, he explained to Judy Hopps his past screwed-up-ness, frankly apologized and… well, that was that.

It was sincere. Hopps was disarmed by the apology, and so was I, because quite plainly in the recent years Grey had been more than corrected. He had been healed.

What makes Zootopia a masterpiece of writing is what happens next. Grey unwittingly points Hopps to a clue that can help her get back on the trail of her major case, so off she races to the city. But subtly, what Grey has given her as well, in his own salt-of-the-earth manner, is the object lesson that you can make good on your mistakes. He is spiritual healing personified. Even when the mistakes are ones for which other people have paid your price.

And it’s then you start to realize that Hopps is a flawed character, just as was Grey. As a child at the movie’s outset, her uncalled-for public taunt of the bully at the school concert was an act of hurt that was no less excusable than his standover attack on her. And her Zootopia Police Department press conference blunder could be laid on the doorstep of her ingrained, bucolic prejudice. Just under her surface, under her gently smiling tolerance courses racism in the antithesis of the values she claims to hold so high. Not that she ever would have recognized it as such, even when told.

Grey was paradoxically ahead of Hops in the wisdom stakes. He taught her that insight heals, and with this reflection, she healed herself, her severed friendship with Nick Wilde, the damage to her mishandled case and the people of the city. And then, in the natural course of these things, adventurous crime fighting ensues, and justice is ultimately delivered.

Wrapping up, Hopps’ finishing speech to the next generation of police college graduates evidences her new moral maturity as it recaps the above and delivers her lesson on sound, workable values in a complex world. Oh, I do so sincerely hope that storytelling and scriptwriting of this calibre will be the future benchmark for all such motion pictures.

What I strive for, at least in the more serious periods of the Doc Rat stories, is a lesson in fixing wrongs, in making amends, and in healing. I try to manifest the notion that true reconciliation heals both parties, and likewise the healing of both parties is a precondition to reconciliation.

In the ‘Jennerverse’ world of Doc Rat, I have often set apologies formally in the rabbit ceremony of charonta-lamba. But the full formal ritual is not always needed. The skill can be applied at any time of making things right again. Rabbits do it on the hop, so to speak. The knowledge of the principles is the important thing – what it means and what it takes.

Apologies have the power to create peace.

I couldn’t have put it any better than the way in which it was dramatized in the story of Zootopia. I take my hat off to Messrs Bush, Johnston and the story writing team. Well done indeed.

Ten years! Yes, it really has been ten years!

Ten years! Yes, it really has been ten years! published on

Doc Rat first appeared on Monday, June 26th 2006. I am proud to have continued to bring a strip to my readers five times a week since then. Almost without a break. There are some occasions in that span when for technical, personal or other reasons there has been a break of some weeks, but apart from those minor gaps I have worked strenuously to keep the show on the road.

Doc Rat
Doc Rat

We are now well past the two-and-a half thousand mark. For the first 500, I drew them on paper. These works, in centimetres, were of the dimensions 24 x 7 – a wry joke I set for myself to remind me of the amount of my life this project threatened to claim (or at least once I added my Doc Rat duties to my main duties as a full-time doctor). The subsequent strips have been created on a Wacom tablet, running Corel Painter. My goal with going electronic was to preserve the hand-drawn feeling, so that a reader would be hard-put to tell whether what they were seeing had been crafted with ink on paper or digital ink on a screen. Certainly, though, going electronic allowed me a lot more flexibility to correct and clean up my lines, resize heads, redraw without erasing the life out of paper, and of course type in the text instead of having to letter by hand. I originally thought I would be able to create strips faster on the tablet. As it turned out, I am doing them better, but sadly not any faster than before. 

Time and practice has made Doc Rat much better, actually. Even though the first strips still hold up well enough, they are necessarily early works of a person with ten years less experience. 

Which brings me to the archive. Since the web site’s program was reincarnated in WordPress a few years ago, it has been a long-term goal of mine to restock the ten years of archives. The admirable Wolf Bylsma has done a lot of this, but there is still more to be done. I’m working on it. 

DR0001, the very first Doc Rat. June 26, 2006
DR0001, the very first Doc Rat. June 26, 2006

The fannish discussion site, The Cross Time Cafe, took Doc Rat on board as one of its works for ongoing conversation. I recommend you give it a look.

The form of Doc Rat grew as the characters developed more complete lives of their own. Small story arcs became larger story arcs, and there were stretches of serious drama in amongst  the usual minefield of funny jokes. That’s just how it turned out. Life is laughter and tears. My goal has been that if I am to tell a joke, I tell best joke I can. If a story, the best story I can.

Ben has gone from a single man to engaged, married and a father. Daniella and he have faced peril and death, as have many of their friends. Societal change has been on the agenda, as it is still. It’s a case of healing the small things and the big things. 

I hope you have enjoyed Doc Rat for as long as you’ve been reading it, up to a decade. Now, prepare yourself for Ben’s big surprise. (Note: as the 26th will be a Sunday, the surprise will have to be revealed on Friday 24th. Okay?)

Caption competition winner! March-April 2016

Caption competition winner! March-April 2016 published on
Special Doc Rat print offer
Doc Rat colour print for sale
Daniella takes a tae kwon do class
If you would like a signed colour print of  Daniella and her band of young warriors, just send Australian $20 via PayPal tojenner email addressand I will mail it out to you. The mailing cost is included in the price, and remember, you need pay only in Australian dollars, which are worth very little anyway! So treat yourself.


The winning entry is from Lucius Appaloosius, of Mystic, Connecticut, USA

Lucius Appaloosius caption winner for Doc Rat Mar-Apr 2016
Lucius Appaloosius caption winner for Doc Rat Mar-Apr 2016
Special mentions:
“But Dad, this is the third one that broke! Can’t we just get the Kevlar one, like Mum said?”
– Eleanor, Ballan, Victoria, Australia
 “Please fix my horse Doc.  We were just swimming alone when he ran out of steam!”
– Rebecca Swanston, Vancouver, Washington, USA
 “I thought this was supposed to be puncture proof.”
– J Rhine, USA
“Now I see why Sonic doesn’t like going near water!”
– Phil McCarty, Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA
“I was hoping to get a ‘swimming buddy’, but no one wants to come near me… I don’t know why!”
– Jed G. Martinez, Margate, Florida, USA
“So it’s not soft water, then?”
– Jenner
Caption competition 068 for Doc Rat
Caption competition May-Jun 2016 for Doc Rat

The May-June 2016 competition is now open.

Please submit your entries in through the Contact  form. (Not the Competitions form – we’re having a little bit of a problem with that.)
Think of the funniest caption you can, and you may win the original picture as a prize.
And remember: 
Doc Rat is now on Twitter @DocRatComic 

Nov-Feb 2016 Caption Competition

Nov-Feb 2016 Caption Competition published on

The winner: Josh H. Knight, Midland, Texas, USA

Josh H Knight caption winner


“Phil was impressed by the new trainees’ desire to work – not everyone volunteered to hold the flip calendar.”
– Alun Rundle, Newport, South Wales, UK

“The Doc’ gave me thith prethcripthion againtht my lithp, but I don’t think it’th working.”
– Tiger T

“Can you calculate the total for me? I’m a cobra, not an adder.”
– Melkior, Victoria, Australia

“Well, the bill seems OK, but you know I’m a lousy adder”
– Valerie Falconer, Penarth, Wales, UK

“I was told this is to detoxify my body. Is that safe??”
– Max Goof, Dublin, Ohio, USA

“Prescription for Aricept … fangs for the memories…”
Tristan Black Wolf, Syracuse, New York, USA

“I wanted to pick up a few fang-you notes.”
– John Reynolds, Concord, California, USA

“It’th right on the tip of my tongue…”
– Michelle Gaudette, Medway, Massachusetts, USA

“Please tell me I’m immune to my own poison! I bit my tongue when I saw your bill!”
– Phil McCarty, Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA

“I bit my tongue.”
Timmie, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA

“Our secretary’s real near-sighted, you see. So there I was by the stapler …”
– Dave Neil, Idaho Falls, Idaho

“Ith to help control my lipth.”
– Kim Squire, Scarborough, Ontario, Canada

“It’s a layoff notice. Jenner is replacing the cartoon.”
M Henry, Reidsville, North Carolina, USA

“…for a course of small-squealing-rodent replacement patches.”
– Jenner

Caption competition 067

March-April 2015 caption competition is now open for entries!

Go to the “competitions” tab.

Doctors and teachers

Doctors and teachers published on

Is Ben Rat an M.D.?

Well, no. You see, that’s American. In Australia, the initial graduate qualification is M.B.,B.S. – “Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery”. Of course, that’s still basically the same thing. Ben has the M.B.,B.S., and then some extra letters to represent further post-graduate qualifications.

Being a doctor has a lot in common with being a teacher. Indeed, the original meaning of the word doctor was a learned person who imparts knowledge. I’m talking about medical doctors, but of course there are many other forms of doctor in the academic world. Some doctors have Ph.D. after their names. In fact, a witty and live-spirited American scientist of my acquaintance used to boast that as a doctor of philosophy his three post-nominal letters outranked doctors of medicine with their two. That was until he saw my business card, and registered my twenty-eight. We’re friends to this day, although he sometimes still looks at me in a funny way,

Medical doctors and teachers both have a very human job. To perform well in their craft, doctors must elicit information, compile it into some sensible order and then, with a base of knowledge, come up with a correct answer, after which they finally – and this is where the teaching skills come in – impart that answer in a way that gives the patient the understanding and skills to take the problem to its resolution.

The best treatment doesn’t treat, it empowers the receiving person to self-treat. It renders the patient more capable and less prone to needing care. The best consultation is when the patient walks out the door happier, smarter and stronger than when she walked in.

So, do doctors like teaching? Ha! Just try to stop them! Ben educates and empowers his patients in the course of his consultations. He has also taught formally, in a voluntary capacity in some community education functions.

Daniella is a doctor of dentistry and works with patients. As you know, she also teaches dentistry to students as a lecturer at the Bluegum University. And she teaches Tae Kwon Do at the community centre.

Both Doc Rat and Doc Wolf started teaching Quarrydog the basics of doctoring. Mary started teaching Ben and Danni Secret Bunny Business.

All are passing on knowledge, an interpersonal service practised with skill.

The reason I introduced Simon/Quarrydog as a young character who wanted to become a doctor was, in part, prompted by the fact I also teach medical students from Monash University. I do this in a one-on-one situation in my rooms, as I work through my daily consultations. And yes, teaching is satisfying. Successfully transferring skills to someone, to enrich that person’s capacity, is an intensely rewarding thing to do.

Here’s to the world’s teachers. May they ever be recognised.

Sometimes the sword is mightier than the pen, but the pen is always more human than the sword.

Sometimes the sword is mightier than the pen, but the pen is always more human than the sword. published on

A lot has been spoken and written, and more still will be be uttered, about the breathtaking and sub-human savagery unleashed in Paris in the past day. Others will comment about the sadness, the fear and the evil; I’ll add my voice to the chant, but I’ll not try to outdo anyone in grief.

Instead, I’ll say that as a doctor, my job is not just to save lives but to enrich them. When people wonder why they are alive, part of what I do is to step in and help them try to make sense of it. When they ask why they should keep going, I use what small wisdom I have to guide them. 

And so, in Doc Rat, I try to spread the philosophies I have learned, bought by years of my own experience and the life experience and losses of many, many other people. Anthropomorphic animals may not look as if they are seriously taking on the real world problems of the environment, overpopulation, racism and terrorism, but in a sense the issues that bunnies, mice, wolves and foxes face in the Jennerverse are still fixed with the same tool kit as we may use on our own problems. 

“No-one should want to hurt anyone,” cried Flopsy. And that’s true. Whatever the pressing problem that brings people into conflict up against other people, no one should ever want to hurt anyone. No-one should feel happy to have hurt anyone. The moment anyone can feel okay about having hurt someone is the moment that person has become more animal than human. That person’s punishment will be worse than anything we can inflict in revenge, because a life not connected to other souls is a shallow life without meaning. 

Indeed, you don’t have to have reached the stage of hurting someone to become sub-human. You can be sub-human just with the preparedness to hurt, the preparedness to disregard. Conversely, the preparedness not to hurt and not to disregard, even to our cost, that state of mind is the membership dues we pay for the privilege of calling ourselves an individual of the human race. 

“Quarrydog says “It’s not okay to hurt people.” Boss Alpha Blutenstein says “Sometimes the violence we accept for granted in our own generation will look shocking to the next.” Broken people, broken things and broken relationships will be fixed, not discarded, by Doc Rat and the other healers, and when their recipients build up the strength to do so, they say “Thank you for saving me.”

We only have one life to walk our mortal journey. Sometimes, the lives of some of us will be unfairly brought to an end by the physical strength of others. Violently, in fear, in regret, in terror. I have no answer to redress that. But I can only say that to mean anything at all, our mortal journey must also be a human one. Those of us who call ourselves human know we are this or we are nothing.

And so, what is the means by which the pen counters the bloody might of the sword? In the face of face of a massacre of people for the simple reason that they were there? Only this dearly-bought wisdom: It is impossible to feel okay about taking a life and still be truly human.

The greatest self-punishment of a killer is to exist empty and damned.

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