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"Jenny" is just a click away for stripes.com visitors.

However, like many military friends, the comic strip’s creator, Julie Negron, and I live several time zones apart.

It took some effort to catch up with Julie, who just moved from Okinawa to Oklahoma with her Air Force husband. I wanted to hear about Jenny’s appearances on "Army Wives," a popular Lifetime television series.

"Jenny" broke ground on the pages of Stars and Stripes as the first comic strip about military spouse life. It has appeared here weekly since November 2005.

The strip also appears in base and post publications around the world, Julie said, like the one at Fort Bragg, where it caught the attention of the "Army Wives" staff.

"Their art department saw the strip in The Paraglide at Fort Bragg, where the show was filming," Julie said. "The set director wrote to me about using the strip on the show."

"The art department told me that … ‘Jenny’ comics are all over the set for flavor and to help keep the actresses grounded in their fictional lives," Julie said, adding that she spotted her handiwork on a fridge in one episode in the show’s second season.

Clips of "Jenny" are posted on the character’s refrigerators, and she appears in full color in the mock post newspaper. On her blog, jennyspouse.blogspot.com, Julie has pictures, provided by the "Army Wives" staff, of cartoons in place on the set.

In the show’s third season, viewers might also spot Julie’s artwork on mugs or t-shirts.

Julie said there are plans to add "Jenny" products to the set.

"Jenny" was born when the frustrations of moving overseas collided with Julie’s longtime desire to create a comic strip.

She recalled having to chase down elusive medical records while preparing to PCS in 2004.

"When I, for the third time, called to inquire about the records, the frustrated clerk … actually said to me, ‘I don’t even have to talk to you. You’re just a spouse!’ and hung up on me," Julie said.

"We were never as hampered by regulations as we were when we got overseas. Spouses are truly dependents at that point, for good or for bad," she said.

After hearing many similar stories from other wives, Julie said the thought struck her: "This should be a comic strip."

So she made it one. She compiled and submitted a proposal, which was accepted by Stars and Stripes.

Although Julie has more experience than Jenny — she’s been married longer and has two grown daughters — Julie said Jenny’s life reflects hers in many ways.

"I’m proof that you can age gracefully as a military spouse, keep your sense of humor and all of your own teeth," said Julie.

"Many of Jenny’s situations come directly from my life," she said. "Whenever something silly or ironic happens, my husband and I look at each other and say, ‘Comic strip!’, and then I have to write it down."

Julie offers the strip free to military groups, so her alter ego shows up on spouses’ Web sites, newsletters, family center briefings, as well as military newspapers.

"I receive e-mail every single day saying ‘Thanks for making me laugh’ from readers worldwide," she said.

While "Jenny" helps "Army Wives" characters assimilate to fictional military life, she offers humor and empathy to those of us living the real thing.

So go ahead and put your coffee mug on my face while you read "Jenny," but when she makes you laugh, try not to spill it on me.

For more about Julie and her work, see the Spouse Calls blog.

Terri Barnes is a military wife and mother of three. She lives and writes in Germany. Write to her at spousecalls@stripes.com and see the Spouse Calls blog here.


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