A daily comic strip by Jef Mallett about Edwin Frazier, nicknamed "Frazz" by the kids at Bryson Elementary School. He works there as a janitor, but is also very wealthy due to having written several hit songs. Most strips feature the day-to-day interactions between Frazz, the students, the teachers and the staff, though some will focus on Frazz's off-hours activities, particularly his triathalon training. Frazz is a well-read Renaissance Man, so strips will often include references to books, music, history, art, and pop culture, among other things.
Regular characters include:
- Frazz - the star of the strip, a successful songwriter whose janitor job has turned from keeping himself alive while he writes to a source of further inspiration. He is respected by the kids and the school's staff, and regularly dates Miss Plainwell.
- Caulfield - an eight-year-old kid who regularly challenges Frazz and Mrs. Olsen with his literary insights. He's smart, but tends to get detention because it doesn't challenge him. Caulfield chooses a literature-themed costume every Halloween and regularly stumps the teachers, but Frazz tends to figure them out quickly.
- Jane Plainwell - a first-grade teacher and Frazz's romantic interest. Outside of school, the two frequently run in marathons together.
- Mrs. Olsen - a third grade teacher and a regular foil for Caulfield, who distracts her with insightful questions and comments in class.
- Mr. Spaetzle - the principal of Bryson Elementary. He is a kind-hearted man who enjoys the admiration Frazz gets, and strives to be like him.
- Mr. Burke - fourth-grade teacher and friend of Frazz's. They regularly shoot baskets—except that neither of them ever makes one. Several years into the comic, he also took up running.
- Coach Hacker - the physical education teacher, interested only in team sports. A former star athlete, he is now horribly out-of shape; he likes to compete with Frazz by comparing his favorite sports (football and hockey) against Frazz's (running and cycling).
- Almighty Janitor: Frazz. He writes best-selling songs, does triathlons, and reads classic literature, all while being the janitor of an elementary school.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: In one strip◊, Frazz claims to have "Attention Defi-Hey-Look-A-Squirrel."
- Author Filibuster: Frazz is so fanatical about bicycling, swimming, and running that he (and by extension, the cartoonist) sometimes seems contemptuous of any adult who doesn't regularly participate in triathlons and the like.
- Banana Peel: Realistically depicted, to the disappointment of the girl who tried to slip on a fresh one. Probably doesn't help that she tried it on carpet.
- Best Years of Your Life: the child actually manages to counter that that probably springs from her father's career. On another occasion, a child asks for and gets assurance it's not true.
- Black and Nerdy: Caulfield is dark-skinned and able to match wits with Frazz.
- Bluebird of Happiness: One child's bad mood is underscored by having her ignore a bluebird.
- Book and Switch:
- Brilliant, but Lazy: Caulfield's highly intelligent, but is easily bored in school and prone to procrastinating on assignments.
- Calvinball: One week of strips was devoted to "Bedlamball".
- Cannot Spit It Out: Frazz and Ms. Plainwell to each other, for quite a long time, and despite the fact that Everyone Can See It.
- Drives Like Crazy: Mrs. Olsen. She routinely runs into signs and cars in the parking lot.
- Embarrassing First Name: Why do you think he calls himself "Frazz" instead of "Edwin"?
- Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: Frazz's original motive. Resulting in early strips where he explains why he keeps it now that the money is not an issue.
- Friend to All Children: Frazz is friends with all the children at Bryson, and all of them like him back.
- Funny Answering Machine: A Sunday strip has Frazz and the kids recording a song with some nonsense instructions for the caller.
- Fun with Acronyms: We could use a Big Ol' Snow Storm.
- The Ghost: Mean Gene, who is referenced several times but never seen on-panel.
- Halloween Episode: Every year there's a week of Halloween-themed strips in which Caulfield dresses up as a character from literature, challenging the teachers to guess his identity. Frazz usually figures it out long before any of the others (if they get it at all).
- A couple of times, he's referred to an entire literary work through his actions, such as taking a new route to school for "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost, or sitting on the swings with his dog for "The Pit and the Pendulum" by Edgar Allan Poe.
- The 2016 costume storyline is confined to a single day's strip (10/31), in which Caulfield shows up for school in a high-altitude mountaineer's outfit. He tells a puzzled Frazz that he's a pop-up ad for a mountain expedition company, then adds as an afterthought that he could also symbolize the novels Into Thin Air and The Eiger Sanction.
- I Just Like Saying the Word: This is why Frazz eats kumquats.
- Intergenerational Friendship: Frazz is Friend to All Children, but especially to Caulfield.
- Jerk Jock: Former jock, but Coach Hacker definitely fits the bill, being both the gym teacher and a Jerkass who regularly looks down on Frazz for not being interested in "real" sports.
- Kids Prefer Boxes: Caulfield thinks it's great that while he has broken half his toys, he still has all these empty boxes for his cat. Indeed, he spent most of Christmas vacation juggling the cat from box to box.
- Less Embarrassing Term: Subverted when Frazz loses a swim meet to a 75-year-old. He says he wouldn't use the term "75-year-old", so much as the term "everybody".
- Love Floats: When Frazz and Miss Plainwell finally get together for a (running) date. Lampshaded:You know, the traction's terrible up here.
I hadn't noticed.
- Medium Awareness: In this strip, a girl holding a dog leash rising into the sky and out of the panel refers to it as "a people-who-can't-see-outside-the-picture-frame detector".
- Nature Lover: Frazz, running and biking in the Great Outdoors. And commenting on the kids who never go out.
- Non-Idle Rich: Despite his great wealth, Frazz has no intention of giving up his day job.
- Official Couple: Frazz and Ms. Plainwell, once Frazz gets the courage to ask her out.
- Picture Day: One story arc where Caulfield draws a goatee on himself in permanent marker the day before picture day. Resolved when the photographer uses a computer program to cover the goatee.
- Pretty Butterflies: A viceroy. (Frazz gets to explain why it looks like a monarch.)
- Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue...Roses are red
And violets are blue
Take care of that sciata
Down by your (wazoo) note
- Santa Claus: Discussed. Frazz even explains how he can afford all the gifts: he licenses his image.
- Scantron Picture
- Caulfield does this as a Running Gag. He uses the dots to write out music notes, and later recreates The Mona Lisa.
- In one comic, Frazz and Caulfield are talking about standardized tests, and Frazz tells Caulfield that he once took a test that had bubbles from A to G. On its side, it's basically a blank piece of sheet music.
- Countless references to literature, art and music. Not mention that Bryson Elementary is named after author Bill Bryson. Then there's Caulfield's name.
- More than one strip has mentioned Giantway, a mid-Michigan grocery chain which went under in 1992.
- The first Sunday strip has Frazz painting the cafeteria in kid-friendly parodies of Nighthawks, Campbell's Soup Cans, Creation of Adam, Persistence of Memory, and The Last Supper, with the title panel (not shown in the linked page) featuring Frazz as the Vitruvian Man for a bonus.
- One early strip had a newspaper with the headline "Mr. Pastis' Pig Gets Loose."
- Sistine Steal: An early Sunday comic had Frazz painting the cafeteria in kid-oriented versions of various famous paintings, including the Creation of Adam featuring a cafeteria lunch lady spooning food onto a student's plate.
- Spiritual Sequel: MANY people have noted the physical similarities between Frazz and Calvin, the similar personalities, the general feel of the comic, the fact that Frazz shares several hobbies with Calvin's dad, and (most importantly) Mallet's art style being nearly indistinguishable from that of Bill Watterson. Though every theory has been Jossed to death - that Mallet IS Watterson, that Mallet intended for Frazz to be a sequel/alt-continuity to Calvin and Hobbes - most fans, regardless, consider it a very-fitting, even if accidental, spiritual successor.
- Splash of Color: One strip is shades of gray, except for a colored egg.
- Spoiled by the Format: Frazz intends to avert this for his first novel, by adding a hundred pages of gibberish after the end of the story.
- Straw Loser: Coach Hacker exists solely to magnify Frazz's virtues through his own flaws.
- Sturgeon's Law: In one strip, Frazz explains this to a kid using a real sturgeon as a metaphor.
- Subverted Punchline: In this comic, Frazz makes a reference to a song by The Who without saying the name of the band, hoping that Caulfield will ask the question of "Who?" as in "who wrote it?" He goes for proper grammar instead and asks "whom?"
- Take That!: When Frazz thinks the kids are revealing embarrassing secrets, he tells them that he paid good money to see Howard the Duck.
- Through His Stomach: One teacher wins the secondgraders with food.
- Unit Confusion: Parodied when Caulfield points out loudly that light-years are a measure of distance, whereupon Mrs. Olsen tells him to quiet down because he's "making a ton of noise."Frazz: (to Caulfield in detention) You're going to be here at least a cubit.
- Viewers Are Geniuses: Jef Mallett has stated that he believes his readers to be among the smartest in the world.
- X Called; They Want Their Y Back: Frazz once took a long bike ride on a chilly day, ending up with only the lower half of his legs windburned.Caulfield: (pointing to Frazz's white-and-red legs) Poland called. They want their flag back.