Comic engagement: May they be happier than the Lockhorns

Sandra Kinnunen was in her bathrobe, enjoying a cup of coffee and the Monday morning newspaper, when she found a birthday surprise from her boyfriend.

Dave Sanders, 53, of Tumwater had drawn a comic strip titled “Happy Birthday Sandra Kay,” and paid $190 to run it on the comics page of The Olympian.

Inside the strip, he wrote, “As a cartoonist, this seems like the most natural place to ask Sandra, will you marry me?”

The couple met through an online dating service and have been together for about seven months.

She is a counselor at a nonprofit organization. He works in customer service at the Valley Athletic Club and does freelance graphic design and cartooning on the side.

“I got the idea about two months ago, and I started sketching ideas on how we would look,” Sanders said.

Kinnunen, 44, said they had talked a little bit about marriage, so she was hoping – but not expecting – a wedding proposal sometime. She just didn’t know when or how he would pop the question.

“I never envisioned anything in the comics strip,” she said. “This really did blow me away.”

Does that mean she said yes?

“Oh yes, I did,” Kinnunen said.

The couple haven’t set a date yet, but they are kicking around Nov. 11, so that their wedding date would be 11/11/11.

Sanders said he wanted to make sure she had input on the engagement ring, so she’s wearing a placeholder ring until they go shopping.

“We’re thinking about going to a place where you can design your own jewelry,” he said. “We’re both creative, and that kind of speaks to who we are.”

The comic-strip proposal displaced “Doonesbury” for one day.

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433