Help of Colleagues Keeps Big Top Open as Cartoonist Rob Harrell '91 Recovers from Surgery

Help of Colleagues Keeps Big Top Open as Cartoonist Rob Harrell '91 Recovers from Surgery

March 10, 2006

rob harrell.jpgMarch 10, 2006, Greencastle, Ind. - "A cartoonist whose vision is threatened by a tumor is getting some help from fellow comic-strip artists," begins an Associated Press profile of Rob Harrell, a 1991 graduate of DePauw University. The story notes that Harrell, whose Big Topcomic appears in about 40 newspapers, is recovering from surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in the lacrimal gland behind his right eye, and is getting some high profile help to keep the cartoons in production as he recovers.

"He hated the thought of running old cartoons, so artists Jim Davis (Garfield) and Tom Wilson (Ziggy) stepped in to draw Big Top for him," the AP's Matt Sedensky writes. In total, about 15 artists are offering Harrell a helping hand.

"It's one of the nicest things that people have ever done for me," says Rob Harrell, who is based in Austin, Texas. "It's so much fun to get up in the morning and see what somebody else did," he adds.

"At first, doctors said they probably would have to remove his eye, but cancerrob harrell big top.jpgspecialists later suggested an experimental treatment," Sedensky writes. "He had just the tumor removed and soon will begin radiation therapy... Harrell has since resumed work. The patch over his right eye has been removed, but the eye is swollen and only about two-thirds open."

The Big Top strips by guest artists will continue through March 22. For fans who noticed things have been different lately, Harrell has an explanation ready: "When Harrell's strips resume, the circus bear Wink will wake up and learn that he fell from his unicycle and suffered a head injury. He will realize his friends looked different for a couple of weeks because it was all a dream."

Read the complete story, which references Rob Harrell's DePauw degree, by clicking here. Learn more about the artist in this previous story.