AUBURN, WASH. - It's an overused word, but Auburn's Dana Simpson is kind of a unicorn.
She's a professional cartoonist. And her work is in 3 books and syndicated in more than 100 papers. It's a feat bordering on mythical. "This strip is about a little girl and her best friend a unicorn," said Simpson.
Phoebe and her Unicorn made its newspaper debut in 2015.
"The way that this story starts is Phoebe skips a rock across the pond and hits a unicorn in the nose with it by accident. Resulting in being granted a wish. And she wishes for Marigold to be her best friend."
The unicorn's full name: Marigold Heavenly Nostrils.
"The name Marigold Heavenly Nostrils came from an online unicorn name generator. I typed
'Dana Simpson' into it and it gave me back that name," said Simpson.
Cartoons have always been Dana's calling -- even in middle school.
A strip she drew while at Evergreen State College -- 'Ozzie and Millie' -- got national recognition.
Back then, Dana Simpson was David Simpson.
"I never know whether I want to mention this at all in interviews, but being a transgender person, Phoebe is sort of an expression of the little girl self I actually had to suppress a bit during my actual childhood," said Simpson, who hastened to add, she had a great childhood, growing up in Gig Harbor.
Today, the characters she creates speak to girls everywhere.
"My favorite fans are the youngest ones because they're so unfiltered in their love of it."
'Phoebe and Her Unicorn' has even been compared to 'Calvin and Hobbes' -- Dana is huge fan of that strip but points out an infuriating difference:
"Phoebe can't even mention the existence of underwear, which seems weird to me because Calvin could run around in the yard naked all the time and nobody cared. I think that there's a gender double standard at work with that kind of stuff," she mused. "I've in some way set out to make a feminist 'Calvin and Hobbes.'"
The pen of a cartoonist has always been a powerful tool.
In Dana Simpson's hands -- it's a magic wand.
"Phoebe found something magical and in finding that I found something magical. That's my trip to Narnia. I ended up spending all my time with a unicorn," Simpson smiled.