Kell Dewclaw is one of the two main characters of Bill Holbrook’s comic strip Kevin and Kell, having married Kevin Dewclaw; she a 35 year old gray wolf who is a Staff Predator at Herd Thinners. She has a son, Rudy Dewclaw, a stepdaughter, Lindesfarne Dewclaw, and a daughter, Coney Dewclaw, as well as a younger brother, Ralph.
Kell is generally friendly and open-minded, although she has a prejudice against cats. She is loving but strict as a parent, although she rarely has cause to use discipline- Lindesfarne is well-behaved, and Rudy knows that Kell’s stellar tracking abilities will thwart any misbehavior on his part. However, Kell can be quite blunt, has a tendency to say things that turn out to be inappropriate for the situation (She once remarks that she hates living on "pins and needles" just as Lindesfarne, a hedgehog, walks through, and asks Danielle, George and Dorothy, all of whom have very long ears, if they need a baby monitor). and although she did not initially realize it, was somewhat prejudiced against felines. Kell is domesticated, which causes individuals to become more trusting and loyal, and is seen as a mark of inferiority by wild predators.
Less is known about Kell’s childhood than Kevin’s, apart from some flashbacks of fond memories of her father. When she was approximately eighteen to twenty-two years old, she married a fox named Randy Foxglove. At some point in their relationship or marriage, Randy had an affair with a fox named Gladys Burrows, resulting in Vin Vulpen being born. Kell suspects that this happened, but is unable to verify this. A few years later, (Vin is about 20 at the time of his "death"), they have a son named Rudy.
Kell’s parents considered Randy weak and unable to hunt. In an attempt to prove himself, he went on a hunt, but a moose stepped on him and broke his neck, killing him. Despite her suspicions, Kell was deeply impacted by the loss, and abandoned all investigation of her former husband’s infidelity. Despite this and her yet undiscovered domestication, she had difficulty trusting others. Some time after her husband’s death, Kell dated Chet Cheetah, a cheetah with a possible inferiority complex (he considers it an insult to lose to, and be dumped for, an herbivore) and in the course of breaking up with him, broke his jaw (Chet also implies that this was the last relationship she was in before she met Kevin). About three years after her husband’s death, she met Kevin in an online chat room, and despite him being an herbivore, dated and married him, because of their love online overcoming her predatory inclination to eat him.
Kell’s decision also draws disapproval from her family. While her parents did not go so far as to disown her entirely (as Kevin's did to him), they strongly disapproved of her decision. Her father writes her out of the will, unbeknownst to even Kell’s mother, saying that all the family heirlooms would go to Ralph if she did not divorce Kevin. Her brother Ralph also attempts to eat Kevin; however, this is not because he disapproves of the marriage, but because he believed that Kell would eventually suffer as a result of her marriage, because the sheep he had loved died in childbirth (not realizing that if he ate Kevin, Kell would suffer the same grief that he did). Despite this, many of those who had criticized her marriage are won over, and Lindesfarne, Kell's stepdaughter, sees Kell as her mother. Kell also becomes pregnant with Coney soon after marrying Kevin, and gives birth to her early in the series. As with many previous marriages where the parents disapproved, the appearance of a grandchild worked wonders in helping to reconcile Kell's parents to her new marriage--particularly after Coney demonstrated that she was not merely a carnivore, but had considerable hunting talents for someone so young.
Kell’s family is possibly the most important aspect of her role in Kevin and Kell’s storyline. Near the beginning of the strip, it is shown that her father, whom she clearly respects, is slowly succumbing to Alzheimer’s Disease; he initially barely remembers the fact that Coney is his grand-daughter, and then forgets the rest of his family. He dies in November 1998, and his will goes into effect, although no one knows about his plans until it is read. Ralph plans on selling the heirlooms, but Kevin takes a temporary job as Santa, and buys them back. Franklin, who lives on in Kell’s memory, posthumously recognizes his mistake in removing Kell from the will, and recognizes that Kevin’s actions showed greater integrity than Ralph’s. Kell’s mother, Elanor (possibly a mis-spelling of “Eleanor”), moves in with her after losing her life savings day trading and becomes an important character, serving as Kevin’s campaign manager and taking care of Coney.
Kell gets along poorly with Kevin's parents. Kevin's father gives Kevin a rolled-up newspaper (presumably with which to discipline Kell) as a wedding gift, only saves her from the rabbit council on Kevin's request, and while he works as her consultant for security at Herd Thinners, typically insults her and other predators' intelligence. Kevin's mother irritates Kell through what she perceives as being overly intrusive, such as her attempts to make Coney accept a solely herbivorous diet. However, she gets along well with Kevin's sister Danielle; although Danielle threatens to report her to the authorities in the Rabbit Warren, she is thankful to Kell for saving her life almost immediately afterward. Danielle's "doppelganger", Danielle Kendall, as a human, does not fear predators, and has no reason to dislike Kell; if anything, traveling to Kell's world helped her to realize the pointlessness of ostracizing those with interspecies or same-sex relationships.
Although much of her importance is in response to events involving other characters and her basic personality does not change much, Kell is often quite important in the strip's plotlines. For example, she is initially the only one who knows of Bruno and Corrie’s interspecies relationship and Corrie’s identity as a sheep, she helps discover Hare-Link’s true embezzler when everyone else suspects Fenton and, with Kevin, helps make the Microtalon code Y2k compatible, saving civilization itself.
Many of the plotlines with Kell as a main character involve Herd Thinners in some way, often her transitions between positions. It is also implied that her salary is the family's main source of income; when she considers resigning rather than work for Kevin's ex-wife (whom she despises), Angelique asks her if she can live on Kevin's income alone, prompting Kell to reconsider.
- Herd Thinners Staff Predator Kell’s primary job at Herd Thinners, in which she must hunt prey to meet her quota. She is also given the responsibility of designing and running the website, despite being colorblind.
- Herd Thinners Webmaven After a marten who designed the website was fired, Kell is given sole responsibility of updating the website, and is upset at doing so, as she is unable to use her hunting skills. After her father’s death, however, she tells R.L. that her father would want her as a staff predator, and manages to convince him to hire Ralph as her replacement.
- Herd Thinners Executive After R.L. vanishes and was presumed dead, Angelique promotes her as an executive after eliminating much of the senior staff, partly in an attempt to buy her off, and partly because she knew that she is domesticated. While Kell earns the most money in this position, rules prevent her from hunting by herself.
- Herd Thinners Corporate Recruiter Kell, seeing her father in what she describes as a dream, and learning the history of Herd Thinners' hierarchy, attempts to enact a change that would require executives to hunt. Angelique, not a true predator, opposed the change, but as a compromise, gave Kell a position as a corporate recruiter, to “hunt down” individuals. On an assignment, Kell reunites Minora Ursal and her husband and son with her parents.
- Herd Thinners Chief of Security When Pop Kindle runs a “numbers racket” to lead the herds astray, the migration ceases, as does need for new predators. Kell is reassigned to security, and with her father-in-law as a consultant, solved the problem. She also helps clear R.L. and Angelique of fraud charges, and investigates Sid’s murder by Rabbit’s Revenge.
- Caliban Academy Coach After Kell begins overcoming her prejudice of cats, she is, ironically, fired by on the advice of a cat contractor. She volunteers as coach, and while Rudy, as a "lone wolf", resents this, he becomes quite confident after he and the rest of his team work as "interns" for Herd thinners during the rabies shot shortage. Kell has apparently stopped volunteering for the team since returning to Herd Thinners, but keeps in touch with Sam Pardus.
- Office Manager for Aby’s Kell takes on this job while she was unemployed, and enjoys the friendlier atmosphere of the shop. However, the Rabbit Council opposes Kell helping Aby speak “canine” to expand her customer base. When they cannot convince Kevin to take action, and when Kevin cannot convince them that Aby learning canine is harmless, they set up a fake insurance company, which charges high rates for insurance to starve the prey and imperil Herd Thinners. Kell helps Herd Thinners solve the problem in exchange for giving Aby an exclusive contract. The contract increases business and requires her to hire a professional accountant; Kell leaves and is rehired as a staff predator.
- Herd Thinners Staff Predator (again) Kell's job after her rehiring is similar to her work as a staff predator, but she is now also what Lindesfarne describes as "an unofficial aide to R.L.", attending important meetings and meeting with clients. Because of her value to the company, R.L. pays her an executive salary in this position.
- Kell’s name was derived from The Book of Kells, a Celtic manuscript. Additionally, her and Kevin’s names rhyme with Heaven and Hell, and emphasize their contrasting opposites.
- Kell and the other Dewclaws are supposedly descended from The Big Bad Wolf. Their ancestry is referenced on several occasions, such as when Kell "huffs and puffs" the leaves off their tree, and when Ralph attempts to blow Kevin and Kell's house down while trying to kill and eat Kevin.
- Aby: When we were both ten, you kept me stuck in a tree for two hours. (December 18, 2006)
- Aby: "It was a quarter-century ago. I was walking home from school and you chased me up an elm." (December 19, 2006)
- Lindesfarne: "Kell can catch a tracking scent from a single strand?" Kevin: "She's the best." Rudy: "Why do you think I'm as well behaved as I am? (May 1, 2003)
- Rudy: "Um... you don't look like much of a fighter." Randy: That's what my in-laws said. If only I hadn't tried to prove them wrong.(May 4, 2000)
- Rudy: "Daddy, were you really killed by a moose when you were hunting?" Randy: "Yes, Rudy. He stepped on me and broke my neck. I was trying to prove something and only ended up depriving my loved ones of my presence forever!"(May 5, 2000)
- Kell:"I always suspected that your father had been unfaithful, but I couldn't be sure... until now. After he died I didn't pursue the matter... but ever since I've had issues with trust."(May 20, 2002)
- Kell:"Oh no, it's Chet." Chet: "That's right, your former boyfriend, and I'm insulted. When you dumped me, you didn't say it was for a HERBIVORE!" Kell: "Actually, I didn't say anything." Chet: "And while my jaw was wired shut, neither could I!"(January 8, 1999)
- Corrie:"But... you kept trying to eat Kevin Dewclaw!" Ralph:"...To spare my sister the pain of making the same tragic mistake I did... loving an herbivore!"(October 9, 2001)
|Herd Thinners Webmaven
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|Kevin and Kell by Bill Holbrook|