Rat Race evolved out of a comic strip called Joe Rat that appeared in the North Carolina State University student newspaper, "Technician."

In the Fall of 1980, a restless design student named Karl Zorowski struggled to develop an idea for a comic strip to run in the student newspaper. While walking from Harrelson Hall to the Student Union to attend a screening of the 1950s Russian film, "The Cranes Are Flying," he tossed an empty cup into a trash can only to have the cup thrown back out of the receptacle. He picked it up, returned it to the trash can, and watched as the cup slowly rose upward and fell to the ground. Zorowski stared at the trash can and found himself face to face with the biggest, ugliest rat he had ever seen in his life. The proverbial light bulb went off over the designo's head, and a new comic strip character was born.

Joe Rat appeared weekly in the student paper from October 1980-May 1982. The strip received a strong following among the student body. Joe became famous for his cynical view of campus life, and his digs against the fraternities. Zorowski and the strip were often the subject of letters to the editor of the paper either asking for his removal from the staff or showing support for the comic. During the "Who Shot JR?" craze on "Dallas," Joe himself was shot in the strip and a "whodunit" followed in the pages of the paper, including the characters in the other strips claiming they did it.

FAN MAIL FROM SOME FLOUNDER?


ZOO DAY


Joe Rat was also the unofficial mascot for the 1981 Zoo Day, an annual outdoor festival that included live music, thousands of students, and massive consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Joe Rat achieved immortality that day - his visage (with beer in hand) emblazoned across hundreds of T-shirts sold to drunken revelers for a mere five dollars apiece...

The artist, unfortunately, has little memory of that particular day.

He's been told he had a GREAT time...


The comic must have been considered a success - the University included a six page feature on Joe Rat and his creator in the 1982 "Agromeck," the school yearbook.

Photo by Simon Griffiths

During the 1980's and 1990's Joe Rat appeared in "The Bulletin," a monthly racing publication for the North Carolina Region of the Sports Car Club of America.

Today, Joe hopes to continue his existence through the syndication of Rat Race.