Safe Havens is a comic strip drawn by cartoonist Bill Holbrook. It was originally syndicated by Washington Post Writers Group before switching to King Features Syndicate in 1993. Started in 1988, the strip is currently published in more than 50 Newspapers. The strip originally concerned the group of pre-schoolers at Safe Havens Day Care, but has focused on Samantha and followed her as she has grown up (approximately in real-time) and gone through elementary school, high school, college, and (currently) marriage. The comic then went online in 2010.
The strip is located near the seashore in a city, several hundred miles from the state capital.
Samantha, Jenny, and Dave are the only original characters left from the Day Care. Roger entered shortly after the strip began. The strip's original main character, a boy named Matt Havens who was the son of the day care operator, was dropped early in the elementary school stretch.
Samantha is a teen growing into womanhood, with a hopeful nature and a scientific mind. Her technical side enables her to see the world rationally and realistically, which comes in handy when you're surrounded by a mermaid, the spirit of a late grandmother, living dust bunnies and a genetic mishap that turned the family border collie into a school guidance counselor. She is now married to Dave Hamper.
Dave is Samantha's husband. Dave is dyslexic, but found that instead of it being a disability it's simply an alternate yet perfectly viable way of interfacing with the world. He uses his unique special talents to achieve stardom on the basketball court. He is currently stationed with "Nuova Pallacanestro Firenze," a team in Florence, Italy.
Jenny is vain, shallow and self-centered, possessing a set of personal ethics that could charitably be called "situational." She is everything that Samantha is not. Contrastingly, the two have been friends since preschool.
Remora is a 415-year-old mermaid who has decided to live on land for a while. Like all merfolk, she has the option of living 24 hours a day as half-fish, half human (i.e., Mermaid Classic), or for twelve hours fully human followed by twelve hours as a fish. In the latter time frame, she lives in a tank in Samantha's room. In summer of 2006, she decided to take a vacation in the ocean with friends. From that time, she spends the summer months at sea. She and Thomas Volant have a son, Marlon, who has exhibited traits of both Remora's merfolk heritage and Thomas' acrobatic predilection.
Samantha's father, Donald Argus, works as the safety inspector at Fastrack, Inc. (see On the Fastrack, another comic strip by Holbrook). Her mother, Jeanine Argus, was a state senator, then was elected Lieutenant Governor in November, 2008, and then after one term was elected Governor in 2012. Samantha has a little sister named Sophie, and three grown older siblings: Sylvester, Steve and Shondra.
When the mother of Samantha's mom died, she left Samantha a magic ring. When wearing it, Samantha can speak to her grandmother in any reflection. A former daredevil with a wealth of adventurous experiences, she sees her post-life duty as making sure Samantha doesn't spend her years glued to the front of a computer screen.
Roger is the mascot of the Havens High School Fighting Personal Digital Assistants (the team used to be called the Lions until a "contribution" from a high-tech firm resulted in the name change). Roger takes his mascot role incredibly seriously, communicating entirely through the costume's screen display. Roger's face has never been shown since he is always wearing some sort of full-body costume. Even in the day care, he wore a box, and then made it into a television costume.
The Other Clique
Samantha, Dave, Jenny, Remora and Roger are joined by Thomas Volant (Remora's boy friend, always seen hanging upside down from a trapeze), Bambi Bramante (up and coming pop singer with Jenny as her caustic agent), Gerald, Arnold, Lisa and Winston in the Other Clique.
Thomas, naturally acrobatic, has since infancy preferred being on a trapeze. He has performed for Cirque du Soleil. He and Remora have a son Marlon, who took after him by hanging on a trapeze. In 2014, Marlon began to show Remora's aquatic merfolk heritage as well.
These are the souls who never fit into any of the school's official catalog of Cliques, so they were listed in the box marked "Other." Their own mascot is (appropriately) a cat who is the clone of a dog. They're always open to new members.
Miss Callowood was the kids' elementary school teacher for several years. She had been rather trendy before becoming a teacher and had several facial piercings, although her face was never actually seen. She left teaching after getting married and having a child, although she returned for a while during the kids' high school years as a guidance counselor.
Miss Havens was the operator of the day care and Matt's mother. She also was dropped when the kids entered elementary school, although she has shown up in brief sequences a few times since.
A "goth" enthusiast with a flair for the extreme and avant-garde, introduced when Dave Hamper was traded to another high school for his senior year. Initially a pseudo-rival to Samantha for Dave (she always wore sunglasses ala Dave, shedding them only when she got married), she was eventually accepted into the group and joined everyone at Havens University as a creative film major. She shared a college dorm room with Samantha, Remora and Jenny before marrying Don Delft, a former teammate of Dave on the college's basketball team who was drafted by the NBA in the spring of 2008. Don is so tall that his face was never seen; his head extended above the top of the strip until he posed for a family portrait with his new baby on January 2, 2012.
Son of Remora and Thomas.
A hunk with eyeglasses, Hispanic background and a wheelchair. He is Jenny's husband, and also a clandestine inventor, most recently evident as the creator of an extendable arm which provides Samantha with a convenient alibi during a recent basketball game (strips of 12/1-5/2008).
Luis and Jenny's first child, born New Years, 2012, simultaneously with Clay. Very competitive.
Don and Ming's first child, born New Years, 2012, simultaneously with Candide.Very competitive.
- Markstein, Don. "Safe Havens". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. http://www.toonopedia.com/safehavn.htm. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
- Rakoczy, Rebecca (April 3, 1989). "Cartoonist draws on experience". The Ledger. Gwinnett Daily News (Lakeland, FL): p. 5C. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=CcUwAAAAIBAJ&sjid=R_wDAAAAIBAJ&pg=1077,3101248&dq=safe-havens+holbrook&hl=en. Retrieved January 15, 2011.
- "Day care antics shine in new comic". Ocala Star-Banner. May 29, 1989. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=IBEwAAAAIBAJ&sjid=vAYEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6639,4805493&dq=safe-havens+bill-holbrook&hl=en. Retrieved January 15, 2011.
- Purdom, Larry (September 12, 1998). "Cartoonist Bill Holbrook To Be Inducted In Cartoonist's Hall Of Fame". Waycross Journal-Herald: p. P8. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=i1ZaAAAAIBAJ&sjid=wEwNAAAAIBAJ&pg=6556,4600217&dq=safe-havens+holbrook&hl=en. Retrieved January 15, 2011.
- Tobin, Suzanne (August 31, 2001). "Meet the Artist: Bill Holbrook". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/liveonline/01/style/comics_083101.htm. Retrieved January 15, 2011.