Tom Batiuk is a 14 year old. Because he clearly seems to think smoking and drinking makes you a badass, which I’m pretty sure that stopped being a thing in high school. A literal 14 year old boy writing this strip would explain why it’s so fixated on comics and has such a creepy portrayal of the female characters. Also, teaching an animal to smoke and drink isn’t awesome, it’s abuse.
Oh, and Cliff absolutely has the hots for Zanzibar in the last panel. Note the leer and the fact that his right hand is clearly under the table.