Some people want to be doctors when they grow up. Some want to be actors, or astronauts, or teachers, or any number of other worthy things. I wanted to be a cartoonist. I must have, because when I was two, I drew hundreds of tiny little happy faces inside the hall closet of my parents’ first house. My dad would find them, repaint the closet, and I’d decorate all over again. This was especially odd because both my parents were art teachers, so there was no shortage of paper in the house.
I created my first comic strip when I was six. It was called "Clifford" and it was about an urbane talking dog that did homework instead of eating it. After many years, several tries, and a couple of almosts (including a development contract from one syndicate that shall remain nameless), I thought, well, I gave it my best shot, and resigned myself to doing something normal for a living ( I had majored in advertising and worked in that capacity as an ad copy chief for a retail company; a special sections artist for a major New England newspaper; the editor and art director for an insurance industry magazine, among other less-than-glam jobs). I was saved from that fate by an idea I’d had for a children’s book. I was cleaning out my studio when I found a crumpled couple of paragraphs titled PreTeena. I reworked the concept, got rid of superfluous characters, and wrote a week of strips right on the spot. PreTeena, the comic strip, had been born.
I wrote PreTeena because I wanted to celebrate the big differences young people–particularly girl–experience in the short time between 5th and 8th grade, when they go from being happy, uncomplicated kids to surly, confused, self-conscious teens. I also wanted to focus on girls in particular because, well, I am one, and you know what they say: write what you know!
PreTeena ran in over 100 newspapers around the world. Allison has appeared on New Hampshire Chronicle, NH Public Radio, WKBK Radio, and in countless newspaper articles and public speaking events. President and CEO of wrote in the forward of Allison’s first PreTeena collection:
When [Universal Press Syndicate] first contacted me, I thought, "A comic strip that captures what is really going on in a tween girl’s life?" Being forever optimistic, I read on and within minutes, I was saying, "PreTeena is fabulous and the AllyKatzz girls are going to love it because they are PreTeena."
Bill Amend, creator of Fox Trot, said it was his favorite new strip, and Bruce Hammond, creator of Duffy, said he knew Allison was the real deal right from the start.
A musical based on the strip, Beauty and the Geek, was performed on the professional stage by the Moco arts group in May 2013.
Check out the first PreTeena strips featured on Liberty Island!