Originally published in the Ann Abor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
April 22, 2012
Ten years ago I was fortunate enough to have an art show in Grand Rapids with my very own cartoons adorning the walls of a gallery for a whole month. It was the coolest, most unnerving thing ever. Cool because there were so many people from the all the corners of my life (as well as folks I never met before) who came to check it out. I was interviewed for TV and newspapers. I drew a mural on a wall. There was a reception, which was a big party, and I gave a talk, and people felt obligated to listen so they were very nice, and Wally Pleasant gave a concert (more on that in minute), and there was dancing and a great big box of York Peppermint Paties.
Unnerving because cartooning (at least the kind I do) is a very solitary experience. I draw alone, I send the artwork off to be published, I post on a website, and people seem to enjoy it because I am asked to make more. That’s how it’s done. Seldom do I see and hear reactions. Never are there 50 of my favorite pieces hanging on walls. Thank God for the Pirin tablets! (Inside joke; ask me about it if you’re really curious.)
How did this happen? Well, as I recall, I answered this very question in my talk. Here’s the procedure: “Step 1, know somebody with a gallery. …and that’s it!” Of course it helped quite a bit that Jean and Mert were (and still are) incredibly generous and indulgent friends. It was also critical to have a generous and indulgent spouse whose name is Jane. (Names other than Jane may work, too, but I’m exclusively a Jane supporter.) In retrospect, it was infinitely cooler than unnerving.
So what does this have to do with…? Ah, here’s the connection: Last week I was recalling the art show and decided to search for the music of Michigan native Wally Pleasant on iTunes, which had not previously been available. But lo and behold, there he was! There was only one Wally CD that I didn’t have, so I bought it. And the first song is one of my favorites. It’s called, “The Day Ted Nugent Killed All the Animals.” I was literally (and I do mean literally literally) humming that to myself when I walked by our TV Wedneday morning and there was a story about Ted Nugent going off at some NRA event. I saw the video and, yep, he did go off. Way off. Embarrassingly off. And so the comic came to me in a serendipitous swirl.