When you're blessed with a curse, you can handle it one of two ways. You can either accept the affliction and roll with the cliches life has dealt you, or you can fight it like a television doctor with only an hour to cure a disease.
At times, I have fought being a cartoonist. It was important to "get serious" and "get a real job," something with stability and a real future. But telling a cartoonist not to draw and deny his or her sense of humor is like telling a politician not to be crooked.
It seemed that doing something fun as a career must be taboo, otherwise it wouldn't be work, right?
No matter what I did, it would lead back to drawing in one form or another, or other opportunities to draw and get paid a pittance would pop up.
My first real cartooning gig came when I landed a freelance column for The Record. (Funny side-note: I was shopping my comic strip around at the time during the mid-'90s to local papers, looking for someone to take on my work. The Manteca Bulletin was interested, but unsure if they could add a strip. A certain Lodi publisher, who shall remain nameless, wanted to change too much about my strip, and I said, "No, thanks.)
Anyway, what was meant to be an "issues" column in the Record's "Manteca!" section became a humor column when the editors realized I had to poke fun at everything. My comic strip "Can Hed Comix" started appearing every other Sunday, next to my column. That went on for about a year, before the paper cut "the fluff." Guess what my work was deemed.
At the time, I was devastated. It must have been a direct reflection on me if my work wasn't good enough to keep. I toyed with the idea of (head thrown back in angsty, dramatic, forearm-over-the-eyes pose) never drawing again.
The Internet introduced the ability to reach readers worldwide, so I started a Web site and built up a following. I didn't get paid for it, but I was drawing and making people laugh. Or helping with their digestion at the very least.
Almost a decade later I found myself being written about in the News-Sentinel. That worked into a comic strip.
During my time here, I've gone on drawing hiatus, but ultimately I came back to the creative well. I'm glad I did.
This Saturday, a project I had fun working on with Lodi Living Editor Lauren Nelson over the past few days will be published.
I won't say any more than that about illustrative endeavor, but I will say that when I was 9 years old, I decided I was going to be a cartoonist. 31 years later, I've stayed true to my curse. And I couldn't be happier.