Originally published in the Ann Abor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
February 5, 2012
Nearly 27 years ago, I talked myself into an appointment with the editorial page editor at the Flint Journal. I wanted to draw editorial cartoons for them. I didn’t want or expect a staff position or anything like that. I just wanted to provide cartoons, have them publish them, and get paid some amount of money. (I had no idea what amount.)
So one late summer afternoon, armed with 10 or so cartoons drawn on spec, I entered the hallowed halls of journalism. I don’t remember the guy’s name, but I do remember that he was generally unenthused. He was nice enough to talk with me, but it was clear I was something that got added to his to-do list and he now wanted only to check it off. That’s the thing that annoyed me — he was intent of giving me the standard quick-tour and have me be impressed that I had seen the inner sanctum. But at that point I had drawn cartoons for and worked in newspapers and printers. I understood how it worked; I knew how it sounded, how it smelled. I was interested in going to the next level. (Truth is, I very likely was impossibly unprepared for “going to the next level,” but youthful naïveté and willful delusion are a powerful combination for learning — I was willing to take the chance at likely failure.)
Soon enough I was out the door and with no real follow-up plan. No regrets, though. Things turned out all right. I graduated from college, I got me a job, I continued to draw cartoons, and I can afford to wear as many socks on my feet as I can fit, which is nice because my feet are otherwise very, very cold. AND, when visiting Flint this weekend, my father-in-law brought me a page of his Flint Journal with the very cartoon you see at the top printed on it. If this was a beer commercial, this is where all my fashionable pub friends and women in various stages of undress would hoist a glass to me (well, not actually me — a much better-looking actor playing the role of me) with a “you’ve made it, why not drink beer?” tagline and raucous laughter at something really not all that funny.
Thank God it isn’t a beer commercial, because that’d be the end, and I’m really looking forward to drawing more cartoons.