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Comic Strip / Dustin

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Dustin is a comic strip created in 2010 by Steve Kelley and Jeff Parkernote  and distributed by King Features Syndicate.

The strip centers on Dustin Kudlick, a 23-year-old college graduate who moves back in with his parents Ed (a 54-year-old lawyer) and Helen (a 45-year-old radio host) and his 17-year-old sister Megan while unsuccessfully attempting to land a stable job. He does even worse when it comes to dating girls. The cast is rounded out by Dustin's best friend Fitch, his mischievous kid neighbor Haydn and the sarcastic employee at the TurboTemp job agency.


The strip won the NCS Award for Best Newspaper Strip in 2010 (the same year of its debut).

This comic provides examples of:

  • Adorkable: Ed is incredibly awkward (a character trait partly inherited by Dustin) as well being quite obsessive-compulsive.
  • All Women Are Lustful: Helen is pretty much a G-or-PG-rated version of this.
  • Art Evolution: The first year or so of the strip featured a loose art style in the vein of Zits, before it was refined radically.
  • Basement-Dweller: Averted. Dustin is a college graduate and considers his stay with his folks as temporary. Subverted by the fact his degree is in English Literature, something that does not amuse the woman at TurboTemp.
  • Big Eater: Like father (Ed), like son (Dustin).
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Megan. She tends to be quite crabby at times.
  • Burger Fool: One of the many jobs he has held has been related to the illustrious field of fast food.
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  • Casanova Wannabe: His attempts to court girls often end in humiliation, with many a date not seeing any potential in him.
  • Character Title
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Chris, a marijuana advocate who often calls into Helen's radio program. That bird's sure high in the sky.
  • Cool Loser: Dustin is described as being rather good-looking in-universe, his "limited" success in dating coming from his living with his parents and not having a steady job... and the fact he wears cargo shorts.
  • Crossover: Dustin was among the guests at the Bumsteads' Halloween bash in 2015.
  • Drop-In Character: Haydn apparently spends more time in the Kudlick residence than in his own.
  • Drugs Are Bad: The marijuana man on Helen's show always ends up rambling, much to her (and many a reader's) dismay.
  • Expy: Early on, many accused the strip of being a Zits knock-off (especially for the rather similar art-work), with Dustin and Ed being seen to be dead ringers for Jeremy and Walt respectively.
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  • Fat Best Friend: Fitch.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Helen is sanguine (shallow and bubbly), Megan is choleric (brash and determined), Ed is melancholic (dour and practical) and Dustin himself is phlegmatic (apathetic and easy-going). Fitch and Haydn both qualify as eclectic.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • The love life of the main character's parents often leads to this kind of situations.
    • Those certain issues where Dustin got a figure... uh, life... uh, no, nude modeling job at an art class, one of them complete with Exposition by the art class teacher, Scenery Censor, and an I-didn't-sign-up-for-this grin on Dustin's face, and, in the first one about the job, his boss, Simone Fontenot, right after announcing the job to him, complete with Dustin saying, "You what?!", burst out laughing, because she was imagining him naked.
    • One of the jokes in a strip taking place at an airport security checkpoint is of Ed asking, "Where's the stripper pole?".
  • Happily Married: Ed and Helen have been in marital bliss for 24 years, to the point of engaging on some "this and that", much to the queasiness of Dustin and Megan, the latter of which thought she walked in at the worst moment... when her parents were just having an innocent pillow fight... while waiting for a new mattress.
  • Hollywood Dateless: Dustin and Megan. This might be "explained" by a family condition, as Ed was this in his younger years (his only other "serious" relationship aside from Helen was one date with an air stewardess shortly after leaving college).
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: Megan is somewhat obsessed with boys, although she hasn't had any success on getting a date.
  • Hurricane of Puns: One continuity featured this: first a faulty wash that could send the family to the cleaners, and then a situation where Dustin ended up hailing the cab another man already took, an experience described as "Uber embarassing",, with a further couple of puns made about the driver reeking of B.O. and being fond of banjos.
  • Imagine Spot: In a Sunday installment, Ed has a dream in which Helen feels satisfied with her ward-robe, Dustin has become a successful screen-writer with a sports car and two mansions and Megan has been admitted by numerous colleges, all with full scholarships. And once he tells his dream at breakfast, the family is visibly shocked.
  • Kid Sidekick: Haydn.
  • Manchild: Dustin doesn't have acting his age among his priorities.
  • Ms. Red Ink: Well, she's married, but it's still subverted. While Helen has very expensive tastes and often asks Ed for money (or simply uses his credit card in spite of her having one to her name), she also holds a radio job (it is not specified how much she earns there).
  • Mom Looks Like a Sister: Mostly averted. While Helen is drawn in the same style as the young women featured in the strip (some of which Dustin has attempted to date), Megan has a distinct design (see Youthful Freckles below).
  • Mrs. Robinson: Dustin once had a date with a wealthy woman who was around 38 (fifteen years' difference), according to her an age when she "can afford cheaper wine—and younger men".
  • Nervous Wreck: Ed is sometimes shown as being rather neurotic.
  • Omnidisciplinary Lawyer: Ed has gotten cases from practically every branch of law.
  • Overprotective Dad: Ed is very much this towards Megan.
  • Prematurely Bald: Dustin spent a couple of days sporting a hat indoors for fear of getting bald early because of genetics. This ended up scaring the already-balding Ed, who takes the hat for himself. Then, we discover that Helen has a thing for bald men.
  • Sassy Black Woman: The social worker at the agency was pretty much this on the strip's early years before she began to appear more frequently and her personality became more fleshed out.
  • The Scrooge: Ed is often described as being this, especially compared to his wife. It seems to be quite common at his firm, for once he and some colleagues spent at a bar until closing time beecause no one of them wanted to pick up the tab.
  • Self-Deprecation: After an airline stewardess complimented him for being such a Nice Guy during a flight, Ed told her that he was a lawyer. Surprisingly, she didn't mind at all.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One continuity had Dustin wanting to become a street artist like Mary Poppin's Bert. He then proceeded to draw some Hanna-Barbera characters on the driveway.
    • Another storyline had Dustin being stuck in a tree while trying to retrieve a ball, besieged by a bulldog resembling Tom & Jerry's Spike. Haydn then asks him to reach for another thing, which Dustin assumes to be a kite (it turned out to be a drone).
    • One strip features characters playing Splatoon.
  • The Slacker: Dustin will always try to dodge housework.
    • This became a more prominent aspect of his character after the strip's first couple of years, becoming the main reason of Dustin's inability to hold a steady job. It's even implied that he has lost more than one job by napping at work.
  • Straw Character: Chris, the pot advocate is pretty much this.
  • Super OCD: Ed is often hinted to have this condition. One continuity had him becoming very upset because the neighbors' wind chimes rang at random instead of following a determined pattern.
  • Token Good Teammate: Ed is the only one of the Kudlicks that isn't totally self-absorbed. Fitch might qualify as this as well.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Ed and Helen. He's a balding, overweight, frog-faced 54-year-old dork (who by his own admission, the only difference from his college self and nowadays, is that he had hair before), while she is still the looker at 45. Their personalities aren't too similar either.
    • The situation was lampshaded on a strip where Helen tried to explain to Dustin that he should marry his "best friend", an advice he took literally ( he pictured Fitch as his "bride"), squicking him out instantly.
  • The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: Averted with Megan, who is not particularly good-looking. But at least she doesn't look like her dad (this does vary in-universe).
  • World of Snark: Everyone in the strip carries some dry wit along.
  • Youthful Freckles: Hard to tell if the teen-age Megan has freckles or bad ol' acne.


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