November 19, 2019



This year, you can give that special someone a Gift Membership to Tom the Dancing Bug's INNER HIVE.


That's right, you can give a loved one / friend / frenemy a yearlong membership to the INNER HIVE, and from the moment you sign them up and throughout 2020 they will receive the weekly INNER HIVE emails containing:

- that week's Tom the Dancing Bug comic, at least a day before it's published online; and

- exclusive commentary, extra comics, contests, giveaways, word-find puzzles, and advice for the lovelorn

and all other benefits and privileges of membership will be conferred up on them.


$25 CHEEP.  Simply sign up here, including the recipient's name and the email address the INNER HIVE mailings should be sent to:


Email address of RECIPIENT


It is for you to inform the recipient of the gift.  The recipient will simply receive the next INNER HIVE email after you sign them up.

You can also use the above form to RENEW an existing gift membership.

More info on the INNER HIVE is here.



Thank you, and have a Merry Everything.



Terms and Conditions apply.  They always do.

The Gift Membership will end 12/31/20.

Payment is for starting the membership.  Recipient may cancel at any time (there's no accounting for taste).

Any questions, please contact

October 01, 2019


Screen Shot 2019-10-01 at 11.55.01 AM


Looks like I've got my drawing work cut out for me.


Guys, together we raised $14,000 to help these frightened children.


PLUS, another $5,315 was donated directly to the Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights separately, by two participants who were inspired by this fundraiser, but could not donate through this fundraising page.  Counting these contributions raises the total to $19,315!


I'm so proud of the generosity of the Tom the Dancing Bug community, and so grateful that this money will go toward aiding children who are in horrible living conditions, alone, and desperately afraid.


THANK YOU to everyone who participated, no matter the amount.


I said I would create a custom Tom the Dancing Bug illustration for certain participants, and I'm now announcing those who will have these drawings foisted upon them.


1. I said that the top contributor would get an illustration.  But as the top contributions soared, my drawing hand was horrified when I revised that to say I would create an illustration for any contribution over $800.  The following people should email me at <tomdbug at gmail dot com> to arrange their illustration:


Alan Crawford


Philip Apps

Alan Ward

Larry and Holly Beck


(* This person complied with all rules for eligibility, but contacted me separately requesting anonymity in the prize's announcement.)

If your contributions aggregated to over $800 and I somehow missed you, please also contact me to let me know.


2. I also said that two random contributors of $25 or more would win an illustration, and the following two winners of the random drawing should now contact me at <tomdbug at gmail dot com> to arrange the illustration:


Thomas M.

Andy Karn


INNER HIVE members should check next week's email for the results of the contest specific to the INNER HIVE.




Yours in utter awe and gratitude,

Ruben Bolling,

the son of an unaccompanied minor refugee immigrant

September 26, 2019


Every week, at least a day before that week's Tom the Dancing Bug comic is published online anywhere, I send the comic, with some commentary, news, and other comics, to the members of the INNER HIVE.


If you're interested in joining the INNER HIVE, here's a sample mailing, sent out to members Tuesday of this week, and it's fairly representative of the kind of thing you'll get if you join.


Information on joining is here.




There's a tendency to forget where we've come in Trump's story about getting election help from foreign governments.  Before he was inaugurated, his entire campaign was outraged at allegations that anyone had ever met with agents of the Russian government.  Don Jr. called the charge that the Russians were helping Trump "disgusting" and "so phony."

Now that it's come out that the Russians did help, the campaign welcomed that help, Don Jr. attended a meeting seeking that help, and the campaign manager gave the Russians its campaign its voter data, it's no longer disgusting, it's all perfectly appropriate.

And Trump is openly sending his personal lawyer to Ukraine to get their help in his election. 


I think that for most Tom the Dancing Bug readers, this week’s comic will be read as a fairly straightforward satire of Donald Trump’s mendacious denials of his soliciting/coordinating foreign election interference, depicting him as a child denying his obvious cookie theft. Simple enough.
But close readers of the strip, some of whom may be INNER HIVE members, may be confused by specific historical comic strip references.  So while I certainly don’t intend this background to be at all necessary to enjoy or understand this comic, I’ll lay it out here for you guys:
1.  Li’l Don may look like little Donald from my series of “Calvin and Hobbes” parodies, “Donald and John.”

2.  But in fact, I’m invoking a different mischieveous comic strip kid, Dennis the Menace.

3.  I’ve evoked the Dennis the Menace look, using the “Li’l” title, many times before, with Li’l Bill Clinton, Li’l Al Gore, Li’l George W. Bush, and below, with Li’l Barack Obama and Li’l Mitt Romney (a story had come out that when he was in prep school, he and his friends had bullied another boy by forcibly cutting his long hair).


This one was fun but tough to draw, as you can see in panel 8, which is pretty much border-to-border blue pencil.  Blue pencil has been a helpful way to draw (I can ink over the pencil, and then remove the blue on the computer), but it barely erases, so when I really screw up it becomes a mess. 

But the big news is that the Tom the Dancing Bug Migrant Children Fundraiser is going nuts.  Tom the Dancing Bug readers have now raised over $11,000, with about a week to go!
In addition, a reader contacted me separately to tell me that because of the logistics of how he makes charitable donations, he could not donate directly through the Fundraiser, but he sent me documentation of his $5,000 donation, with a request for a matching contribution from his employer! He requested to remain anonymous, and doesn’t want his contribution to count toward any of the prizes, in order to continue to encourage others.
But his direct contribution, and a similar $315 contribution of another INNER HIVE member, puts the number we’ve raised to help these children at almost $17,000!!
I’m floored by this, guys. This amount will make a real difference in the lives and well-being of extremely frightened and vulnerable children.
This week’s upcoming Classic comic is Bad Fetus, in "Fetal firepower" (2013).  In six years, the only thing that’s changed about the insanity depicted here is that now a conservative would never speak disparagingly about Russia.


September 11, 2019


Migrant children fundraiser small

UPDATE 9/30/19, 11:30am ET:  

This is the last day to participate and be eligible to win a Tom the Dancing Bug custom illustration.  A quick check reveals that the top two contributions so far are a mind-blowing $800 and a earth-shattering combo-contribution of $1,024.


I had said that the top contributor (multiple contributions from the same person are aggregated) would automatically win an illustration.  But I'M CHANGING THE RULES!  I'M A RULE-CHANGER!  


We're all on the same team here, so why make this a competition?  I'm declaring now that both these contributors have now won the top prize, AND anyone else who will have donated a total of $800 or more before the end of the campaign tonight will also automatically win an illustration.


Of course, all other contributors of more than $25 are still eligible for the random drawings!


THANK YOU to all contributors of any amount for participating in the aid of these children!




UPDATE 9/24/19:  


"But the big news is that the Tom the Dancing Bug Migrant Children Fundraiser is going nuts.  Tom the Dancing Bug readers have now raised over $11,000, with about a week to go!

In addition, a reader contacted me separately to tell me that because of the logistics of how he makes charitable donations, he could not donate directly through the Fundraiser, but he sent me documentation of his $5,000 donation, with a request for a matching contribution from his employer! He requested to remain anonymous, and doesn’t want his contribution to count toward any of the prizes, in order to continue to encourage others.

But his direct contribution, and a similar $315 contribution of another INNER HIVE member, puts the number we’ve raised to help these children at almost $17,000!!"






UPDATE 9/16/19:  I'm absolutely floored that after five days this thing is over $8,000!  Thank you SO MUCH to those who have participated!




Of the many crimes against humanity the Trump administration has unleashed on the world, its treatment of immigrant children is the one that hits me the hardest.  The separation of children from parents is the worst form of torture, and the fact that my country deliberately set this as a policy in order to terrorize families simply boggles my mind.  The fact that we are holding incredibly vulnerable children, alone and frightened, in inhuman conditions, is a sick betrayal of every standard that the richest and self-proclaimed best country must be held to.


Of course, we can fight this politically, by advocating for changes to policies and elected officials, but there are also things we can do to actually directly help these children and their families.  The Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights protects and advocates for immigrant children, and I wanted to somehow help them, even if it's only in some tiny, Tom the Dancing Bug-sized way.


You can participate by making your donation directly to The Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights through a donation page I set up,

but I have to warn you:  You might be saddled with a Tom the Dancing Bug original illustration, drawn just for you.  


Three donors will get a Tom the Dancing Bug illustration sent to them:

--> The top donor to the Fundraiser (multiple donations from the same donor will be aggregated); and

--> Two random donors to the Fundraiser regardless of size of donation, $25 minimum.


To be eligible for the prize, be sure to not to check "Don't show my name" on the donation page.


The illustrations will be 6 inches x 8 inches, and you can tell me what you'd like me to draw (subject to the boundaries of law and propriety), or we can come up with something in collaboration.  God-Man fighting Charley the Australopithecine, Hollingsworth Hound in a tutu, Percival Dunwoody riding a Giant Wombat... whatever you want.  OR you can just choose (almost) any Super-Fun-Pak Comix, and I will re-draw it for you (apx. 6 inches x 2 inches).  OR if choosing stresses you out, you can just relax and leave the illustration up to me.


The deadline for prize eligibility is 11:59 pm ET, September 30, but PLEASE DONATE NOW.  


Winners will be announced HERE on October 1, so check back to see if you won.


Thank you, everybody.  Hoping you are fortunate enough to be in a position to help in any way.


Yours Indeed,

Ruben Bolling,

the son of an unaccompanied minor refugee immigrant



(Note: I made a $200 donation to start things off, plus this will of course assure you that all transaction costs of using to manage this campaign are covered.)

1454cWEB tiresome trump




September 10, 2019


1112cWEB hhound - climate problem

April 30, 2019


It's true!  It IS the May INNER HIVE DRIVE!




Through the end of May, if you join Tom the Dancing Bug's INNER HIVE*, your sign-up fee will be donated to the National Network of Abortion Funds


That's right: YOU get all the benefits of INNER HIVE membership: weekly emails that contain exclusive, before-publication Herblock Prize-winning, RFK Award-winning and Pulitzer Prize-losing comics, with other exclusive stuff like commentary, extra comics, behind-the-scenes info and sketches, sandwich photos**, and whatever else I can think of.


AND $15 (the first six months or so of your INNER HIVE dues) goes to help in the current crisis of reproductive rights.  The National Network of Abortion Funds works with local member funds across the country, including those in Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, and Missouri, in their critical fight to remove financial and logistical barriers to abortion access.


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Yes, this is a small step in the face of an enormous challenge.  But I feel that if I make this promotion a part of my response to the current assault on women's rights and autonomy, I can not only increase my contribution, but publicly encourage others to do more.

For more information on ways to donate directly, here is a helpful article.



Joining the INNER HIVE is easy and fun!  And there are two ways to do it:


• You can join through CampaignZee, for $11.95 per six months; or

• You can join through Patreon, for $3 per month, with the option of higher levels for higher rewards.


Either way, you get a weekly email containing that week's Tom the Dancing Bug comic (before it's published online), plus extra comics, exclusive commentary, and other stuff!




So join the Tom the Dancing Bug team!

BE the first on your block to get each weekly Tom the Dancing Bug comic,

GET your other membership benefits and privileges, and

JOIN me in taking this small step in helping women in crisis.



*And, for those who join on Patreon, remain a member for at least six months

**No Inner Hive mailing has ever included a sandwich photo.

Note:  Those who joined in the first half of May (May 1-15) will have their sign-up fees donated to The Committee to Protect Journalists, as promised at the time of sign-up.

Another note:  A prepaid two-year membership without recurring fees is also available.



For those who do not want to sign up for Tom the Dancing Bug’s INNER HIVE with the recurring payment system of CampaignZee (semi-annual payments) or Patreon (monthly payments), you can now join for two years with one single payment. When your membership expires, it will not renew. It will be up to you to start a new membership (or not) - no muss, no fuss.

(Note: Purchaser assumes the risk that the life of the comic strip, the United States, or the world, does not last two years.)

Click "Buy Now" below. $75.00


April 16, 2019


Pulitzer prize


It was announced yesterday that I was named a 2019 Pulitzer Prize Finalist.


Hearty congratulations to this year's winner, the great cartoonist Darrin Bell.  (UPDATE 4/17: I just learned that Darrin is the first African American cartoonist to win the Pulitzer, which makes his deserving win even more fantastic!)


And congratulations to the other finalist, Rob Rogers, another great cartoonist, who was fired from his Pittsburgh Post-Gazette staff cartoonist position of 25 years for drawing cartoons critical of Trump, a situation he handled with dignity, integrity and humor.  I'd just seen Rob speak about this last week, as I wrote here.


Being told out of the blue that you didn't win an award isn't always an awesome experience, but as losing goes, this is a pretty good way to lose.  I'm genuinely honored to have been named in consideration of such a prestigious award. (UPDATE 4/17: Here is a link to the nominated Tom the Dancing Bug comics, on the Pulitzer website.)


I've a had kind of an amazing run of awards (and near-awards) recently, and it always delights me to have the chance to thank the fantastic partners and supporters of Tom the Dancing Bug:


- Andrews McMeel Syndication / GoComics, my partner and friend (yes, corporations can be friends - or, full of friends) for over 22 years;

- All of Tom the Dancing Bug's invaluable print clients;

- Boing Boing, an awesome website made by awesome people, which premieres the comic online every week and is an ardent supporter in every way; and

- Daily Kos, which has done so much for progressive politics and for political cartooning and for Tom the Dancing Bug!


And of course I thank Tom the Dancing Bug's INNER HIVE, which literally saved the comic strip when I started the Hive in 2012 and still saves it every single week.  As I said to them in this week's mailing, I share the honor which each and every one of them, because they are on the Tom the Dancing Bug team and are an essential part of the Tom the Dancing Bug process.


With the decline of print newspapers, INNER HIVE subscribers sustain the new business model that makes Tom the Dancing Bug a viable enterprise.  In return for their subscription fee, they get Pulitzer Prize-losing comics a day before they appear anywhere online, as well as commentary from a Pulitzer Prize-losing cartoonist.  All this plus jokes, behind-the-scenes looks, extra exclusive comics and whatever other benefits and privileges I can dream up or make up.


(Yes, this just became a fund raising drive.)  This is the best time to join the Tom the Dancing Bug team.  Who knows, maybe your support will put Tom the Dancing Bug over the edge next year to become a Pulitzer Prize winner!*


Information on how to join the INNER HIVE can be found here, or you can simply and directly join through Patreon here.


Anyway, I truly appreciate all my partners, friends, fans and readers, in whatever capacity they support or enjoy Tom the Dancing Bug.  I already feel so fortunate to have the privilege of making comics that are read by so many people.  Being honored for my efforts is an extra thrill because I can hope that honor can help justify the support I've received and reflect well on the friends who have believed in me and the strip.  




*Not the way it works.


To comment, please use Twitter.

April 02, 2019


Hey, I'll be conducting Office Hours this Saturday, 4/6/19, in NYC at the MoCCA Arts Festival, from 3pm - 5pm.  Come on by the National Cartoonists Society booth (A122); I'll be giving out fist-bumps, answering questions, asking questions, toting books, and kissing babies.

2019 MoCCA Arts Festival
at Metropolitan West, West 46th Street, between 11th and 12th Avenues, NYC

Any last-minute changes will be posted on this space and my twitter account.

Hope to see you there!

March 06, 2019





The really hilarious thing about this week's comic is that it's based on a real place.


Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Minors is in Homestead, Florida, and kids 13-17 are housed in the facility run for profit by a subsidiary of Caliburn International.  It's for children who applied for asylum in the U.S., but "unaccompanied" isn't always accurate, because that's the designation for children arriving without parents, but they may have arrived with adult siblings, other relatives or family friends.




Separate from Trump's monstrous family separation policy, this treatment of "unaccompanied" minors differs significantly from the treatment under Obama:  It apparently takes much more time to place the children out of facilities with sponsor families and relatives, and there are reports that the children are being used as "bait" for sponsor families and relatives to come to claim the children and then get deported.

There is no great solution for the humanitarian crisis in Central America, but I know that cruel and punitive deterrence policies deliberately inflicted on children can't be any part of the United States of America.




You can read more about Homestead here: NPR; Miami Herald; Concord Monitor; Berlin Consulting.



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