Ever since I was a child I've had a dream. In the dream I'm being chased by a bear and the faster I ran the slower I moved. Then suddenly I found myself in Mr. Penino's AP History class only to realize it was the day of the big test, all the questions were written in tiny print on a blackboard three miles away, I hadn't studied all year and I was completely naked. Soon every student carried a much bigger sword than me, I was the only ones who couldn’t fly, a large hammer kept pounding a spike into the ground but couldn't break the dirt, a train failed to get through a tunnel and a volcano prematurely exploded, leaving me utterly ashamed yet completely relaxed.
I also had another dream--minus the Freudian imagery so barefaced and incontestable that it caused my pet cat to burst into laughter and shake her head in bemusement and disgust. And that dream was to be a syndicated cartoonist. To write a strip that would be seem by some number hopefully that was followed by a comma or two and a few zeros. To feel not only professionally but also psychologically and emotionally satisfied by having a public venue to express myself in the most candid and creative means I know how. To expose my mind and soul to the world so that I could elicit such feedback as:
"I'm pretty sure that, like 'Prince Valiant,' 'Sally Forth' is used to transmit coded messages to CIA operatives, because nobody else ever reads them."
And so with that one savage, stinging comment all my hopes and dreams were undone...along with my multi-year contract with the federal government. In a way I'm happy I no longer have to live a lie, to spend each and every day trying to figure out how to write a middle-of-the-road family strip while simultaneously transmitting secret tactical codes without somehow resorting to unwritten Native American languages. It was long, tiring work that regularly put my life in danger, resulted in numerous overnight excursions and got me repeatedly shot by Basque Separatists.
So below I present to you the last encoded Sally Forth strip ever to be published (click on image to make legible). Can you discern both its top secret message and the cross-continental conflagration it was meant to spark? Kudos and an immediate target on the back for the first person to get it right. Enjoy.