Since about 1997, I have belonged to a professional cartoonist organization called CAPS. It was founded back in the 70s by MAD Magazine stalwart Sergio Aragonès, writer Mark Evanier, and cartoonist Don Rico. I have really loved being a part of this group that meets monthly in Burbank, CA. We get together, have special speakers, and talk shop.
At one point, I started getting involved in the group, even serving as its president for a spell. One duty that I took on was as co-editor of the monthly newsletter. The other editor was Disney Legend Floyd Norman (check out a new book about Floyd HERE). Floyd and I would take turns every other month as it was quite a job putting together what often was a 32 page beast. If you couldn’t get members to write articles, the editor wrote them. If the members couldn’t spell, the editor had to spell. If there were no pictures submitted, the editor had to find some. If no one came through in drawing the cover, yep, the editor did it.
This piece is one of those times I had to come up with a cover idea, likely at the last minute. It was a fun challenge when the need arose, because deadlines would be so tight that it sometimes ended up being like cartoonist improv – whatever came to mind at that moment is what blorted out of your brush.
I think this image came to mind because I was always seeing grown men be so business minded to where there was no sight of the kid inside. While the titans of industry would be reading The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek, they probably started off reading comic books. Even cartoonists sometimes get caught up in the work of being a cartoonist that they can forget what that feeling of pure joy and escapism a few minutes with a comic book would bring when we were kids. Comic books are likely what got us interested in being cartoonists in the first place!
I came from a world where both business AND comics were an influence, and both came from my own father. Dad was a mortgage banker, but he grew up on comic books. When I was too young to read, he would sit there and read me tales of adventure from his old childhood comic books. His favorite character was Disney’s Uncle Scrooge of course. Scrooge, in stories by the great Carl Barks, became my favorite, too. But Dad didn’t stop there. Every day we would spread out the comics from the newspaper and he would read those to me as well. Peanuts, Nancy, Dennis the Menace, The Family Circus, and Beetle Bailey were all favorites.
I’m positive that my love for cartooning came from those reading sessions with Dad, and he taught me a lot about business, too. I’m glad, because the two go together. A cartoonist often finds himself working as a freelancer.
So, as life moves you forward, never forget the joy of the comics that you enjoyed as a kid. They’ll keep you young.
And to those of you who are cartoonists in the Los Angeles area, CLICK HERE to see what CAPS is all about. April’s monthly meeting just happens to be tonight where they will have a terrific panel (including Sergio Aragonès) talking about Will Eisner – the godfather of the graphic novel.