Should Old Cartoonists Just Fade Away?
I was sitting at my computer, as usual, designing new cartoon products from older cartoons, and working on my shoe designs on another business, and my wife, whose desk is directly behind mine said, “Why don’t you start your cartoons again?” I kind of looked at her funny, and then my glaze turned into a stare in front of me, out my window to the main Hot Springs Mountain. It was lush and green after a long cold winter. I had been designing products out of habit, and, because they sell sometimes, it never hurts to make a living. Plus my fans were asking for new cartoons. It boggled my mind that they had seen my entire inventory which is in the thousands.
Lee noticed that I carry paper and pen with me on our mountain nature hikes, and, if a cartoon concept enters my head, I jot it down. This had been happening a lot lately, even though I had stopped creating new cartoons in 2007 as I was full time in college with no time for much else. She said it was a shame to have so many new concepts and not do anything with them. I looked in my day planner and there were at least a hundred or more that I had written over the past few months. March 19, 2010, was the 13th anniversary of my cartoon venture. I have over 4500 original images. Nature hikes with my wife can be very merciful to writer’s block.
My cartoon venture is a little different than the majority of cartoons one might see in the newspaper in that it is a team effort. This is more common than many think. It is estimated that 20-30% of newspaper cartoons are created by teams. Of course, Disney, though animated, was always a team effort, and though he could draw, he preferred seeing his characters rendered by other artists. So do I.
Another obstacle was that most of my team created with me as a part-time gig. Most had long gone and moved on to other full-time projects. After all, it had been three years since I’d created a cartoon concept and written it. I sat with the idea another week or so and finally, without even telling my wife, I started advertising for illustrators who might audition. I knew from experience I could work with three at the most and manage them and the project effectively and comfortably. There was a time when I was writing up to a hundred concepts a day when I first started the project, and working with twelve illustrators at one time. The difference is I was only forty-four then. I am now turning fifty-six. My mind still feels twenty-one and that’s a good thing in the world of cartooning; especially given that the majority of very good cartoons on the market are done by talented people in their twenties and thirties. Many are retired by my age. But Generation Two has just begun and I am loving it. It is like a brain calisthenics.
After a month of dealing with all types of talented and sometimes not-so-talented illustrators and reviewing portfolios, I found three new members. All are veterans from nearby to as far away to a small village in Germany. My manager (and senior illustrator) Rich is doing his Scouting thing in Ohio and will start back with us in August. Rich has been with us for eleven years.
I have reconnected with many old friends on Facebook, Twitter, and other Internet crevices. Most of them are grandparents retiring and such. That seems so strange to Lee (and me) as we feel like our lives are just starting. We got married on June 18th and had already been friends and in business together for a year. She started her career 30 or so years ago in technology, evolved to the writer, and is now a product designer and partner in several ventures we do together. And to top it off, we go hiking together almost every day whenever we feel like it. We know most of the animals by name, and they seem to know us too (could be our overactive imaginations). Should Old Cartoonists Just Fade Away?
We waited 50 years to get it right So our natural advice to anyone is never giving up, ever.
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