Spirit of the Staircase Collected and Syndicated on GoComics

What do you do when a furry, sprite-like creature falls from the sky and onto your park bench? You invite him to live with you, naturally. Spirit of the Staircase, the newspaper cartoon strip currently running in the Knoxville Mercury , will be available in two brand new formats on October 10, 2016: Tap Water and Tuna Party, the first collected volume from all-ages publisher Karate Petshop, and on Universal Uclick's GoComics.com.

Created by cartoonist and illustrator Matthew Foltz-Gray, Spirit of the Staircase is an all-ages, whimsical story of Matt, an introverted human, and his best friend Mumford, an outgoing furry creature of indeterminate species, and the everyday adventures they have in the semi-magical realm of Knoxville, Tennessee. Their exploits include a trip to the grocery store where Mumford attempts to act like a human and succeeds more than he knows, employing spiders to hang the Christmas lights, and of course, hosting a tap water and tuna party.

tap-water-and-tuna-partyAccording to Foltz-Gray, “Spirit of the Staircase is about friendship among a bundle of misfits swimming through the issues of everyday living. These characters aren’t rich or successful, but are surviving and doing just fine. It’s a strip that caricatures the small adventures and experiences every human and creature alike goes through on a daily basis and gives the readers a second away from their own daily struggles to laugh, relate, celebrate, and ponder.”

Foltz-Gray cites as his influences for Spirit of the Staircase including Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes, Richard Thompson’s Cul de Sac and Charles Schulz's Peanuts.

Spirit of the Staircase started as a weekly cartoon strip in the independent newspaper The Knoxville Mercury in 2015. Since its debut, Foltz-Gray won a silver medal from the Society of Illustrators for the individual Spirit of Staircasecomic strip, “The Game of Snooze.” “The Game of Snooze” was exhibited in the Society of Illustrators’ New York gallery during June and July 2016 and earned Foltz-Gray the attention of Universal Uclick's GoComics.com where the entire archives of Spirit of the Staircase will be available for readers on October 10, 2016.

In light of these accomplishments, Karate Petshop Publisher Norm Harper knew that it was time to bring a collected print edition of Foltz-Gray’s work to a wider audience. "When I saw Spirit of the Staircase for the first time, I was immediately floored, “said Harper. “Matthew’s artwork has a way of making the mundane seem magical, and the strip's biggest laughs often come not from a final panel punchline, but from the ongoing interaction of characters who feel real and relatable. I am thrilled and honored that Karate Petshop could help Matthew expand the ways in which the comic strip is reaching its audience."

Tap Water and Tuna Party collects the first 56 Spirit of the Staircase comic strips and includes commentary and brand new illustrations by Foltz-Gray as well as a foreword by Coury Turczyn, Foltz-Gray’s Editor at The Knoxville Mercury.

In his review of Tap Water and Tuna Party, comic critic Justin Wood called Spirit of the Staircase, “…funny, capable of originality, and arguably the best-looking strip I’ve seen in the newsprint format since Bill Watterson put down the weekly pen in 1995.”

Tap Water and Tuna Party is priced at $9.99 and will be available for purchase on October 10, 2016 from Karate Petshop’s website, KaratePetshop.com, and comic conventions across the country.


Matthew Foltz-Gray received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration and Storyboarding from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. After graduating, he began his professional career taking on small freelance projects with his local design agencies and clients. Matthew’s first illustration job was providing the art for Karate Petshop’sRikki, a graphic novel adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s “Rikki Tikki Tavi.” This was followed by his own cartoon strip, Spirit of the Staircase, in the independent newspaper The Knoxville Mercury. Matthew’s work on Spirit of the Staircase has been recognized by the East Tennessee Society of Journalists, The Society of Illustrators West, and The Society of Illustrators.


Founded by Norm Harper in 2015, Karate Petshop publishes books and graphic novels for grown-up geeks to share with the next generation. Our focus is on producing quality books with dynamic art and unique voices that can create a shared fan experience for the whole family; from elementary to high school and even something for the parents, too. For more information, review and interview opportunities, and more, please visit KaratePetshop.com or email us at KaratePetshop@gmail.com

ABOUT GOCOMICS AND UNIVERSAL UCLICK GoComics, from Universal Uclick, is home to many of the most popular comics and cartoons in the world. GoComics.com is the web's largest catalog of syndicated newspaper strips and web comics, offering new, fresh and free content every day. Universal Uclick is the largest independent syndicate in the world and a leading digital entertainment provider of humor, comic strips, political cartoons and gaming content for print, web and mobile devices. Universal Uclick provides editorial development, licensing and other distribution services for iconic brands likeDoonesbury, Dear Abby, Miss Manners and some of the most significant comics in history, including Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side, Garfield, Peanuts, Dilbert, For Better or For Worse, Cathy, and Ziggy. Recent standout successes include Lio, Cul de Sac, Pearls Before Swine, Get Fuzzy, Big Nate and The Argyle Sweater. A full comic catalog can be found at GoComics.com. For more information, visit UniversalUclick.com.

TITLE: Tap Water and Tuna Party AUTHOR: Matthew Foltz-Gray PUBLISHER: Karate Petshop DATE OF PUBLICATION: October 10, 2016 RETAIL PRICE: $9.99 US (Trade Paperback) ISBN-13: 978-0-9966046-2-8 PAGES: 60