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In the comical, sometimes bizarre world of "Rubes," the new year kicks off with a disagreeable cow, a poker-playing dog and a cat with poor driving skills.

"The Animal Antics Family

Organizer," featuring color panels from the syndicated "Rubes" comic strip, is Nipomo resident Leigh

Rubin’s latest wall calendar. Rubin’s "Zoo in a Box" desk calendar and "The Beach Babies, a Vintage Glimpse of the Central Coast" by Cambria native Dusty Kenney round out locally-produced calendars that will help you track the days, weeks and months of 2007.

As December winds down, bookstores are flooded with calendars, featuring everything from nuns and puppies to motorcycles and The Three Stooges.

Leigh Rubin

"That is such an incredibly competitive market with such a short lifespan," Rubin said.

Most people will recognize

Rubin’s characters from his comic strip, which appears in 400 newspapers daily, including The Tribune. But the "Rubes" characters also grace a host of products, including shirts, mugs, greeting cards and books. Last year’s calendar, Rubin said, sold several thousand copies.

"Animal Antics" ($12.99) is a practical calendar that includes four columns so different family members can mark important dates. Each month includes three cartoon panels.

And yes, Rubin said, he does use his own calendar. He has one pinned up next to his desk, where he marks speaking engagements, deadlines and "when to get my teeth cleaned."

The "Zoo in a Box" desk calendar ($13.99) offers a new panel each day. Oddball characters include talking piggy banks, Speedo-clad penguins and a Martian doctor.

"The bonus is that you can use the back of each page for scratch paper," Rubin said, only half-joking since he actually does use his for scratch paper.

Both of Rubin’s calendars can be found at local bookstores or the publisher’s Web site (www.willow creekpress.com/rubes).

Dusty Kenney

While Rubin has been putting out calendars for a while, Kenney is still relatively new at it, having compiled her first last year. While the original Beach

Babies calendar featured babies and toddlers at beach scenes, the 2007 edition ($12.95) has a more historical edge, with kids dressed in period attire. This year’s calendar also goes beyond the beaches.

"I tried to cover as many of the towns in San Luis Obispo County as I could," Kenney said.

Pismo Beach is featured once again, but other photos capture inland places like San Luis Obispo, San Miguel and Atascadero.

Kinney also tried to match the scenes with each town’s individual character. So this year’s subjects appear at an antiques shop in Cayucos, a winery in Templeton and the Morro Bay harbor, among other places.

Now a year older, the models from 2006 (including Kenney’s daughter Ella), have returned. But this year’s calendar also features new kids.

"There’s twice as many babies this year," she said.

A portion of the proceeds from Kenney’s calendar (available at local bookstores or from www.thedusty image.com) will benefit the Friends of the Hearst Castle.

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