Miles and Miles of Files Part IV: Little Folks

Now here’s something I dredged up from my cartooning days – rather, the tail end of them, because I haven’t really done anything but work-related brainstorming sketches in the last ten years. And it’s been probably 15 since I’ve done any cartooning.

Anyway, I used to get ideas like this all of the time, and I’d sketch out the basics, and if I turned out to be lucky, I’d go back and try and work it into a full drawing, which was only marginally better that what you’re about to see. Or else I’d file them and forget them (which is what happened with this one). Another throwaway idea, created just to be creating.

If you’ve only seen this one residual example of my cartooning, then you have no idea how important that outlet once was to me. Once upon a time, it was a coin toss as to whether I would push writing or cartooning as my primary form of artistic expression. There was even a point in college when I was corresponding with Shary Flenniken, at the time the cartoon editor of National Lampoon (during the brilliant P.J. O’Rourke era) about doing a strip for the mag. I was sending her strip concepts and she was sending me feedback on how to make it better. All in all, she was only one of two editors who ever took me seriously as a cartoonist (the other being the one who published the example linked to above).

(And Shary, if by some Internet miracle, you’re reading this right now, thank you for the experience of getting to work with you as such – I can see now how much it meant to me at the time.)

But in the end, it turned out that it was easier to be taken seriously as a writer than it was to be for a cartoonist. I continued to scribble out cartoons through my Sheriff’s Office years, but those creative tendencies would gradually wither away. The last time I tried to do something like that was when I worked in broadcasting and did a satirical strip about life in radio in order to blow off some steam.

I don’t know. Maybe I could get it back…

Anyway, on to the day’s document. This one dates from the Sheriff’s Office period. Again, the paper is the giveaway, this time the lined yellow legal pad that this was cropped from. I don’t remember writing this at all, nor what was going through my mind as I wrote it. What I do know is that when I found it a couple of days ago, I laughed so hard that tears were dropping from my eyes.

I’ll prepare you now: get ready to shake your head and go “Huh?” But trust me: I found this hilarious.

I also get the impression that this strip was the end of the line for me. Seeing this again, I get the wistful feeling that this was the last time I drew until I got to the radio station. By then, I was blowing off steam. But this is the last strip I ever drew as something that was just for the pure joy of creating something funny.

P.S. “PMA” is that great buzz-word of the late 70’s/early 80’s – Positive Mental Attitude (it took me a while to remember).

Tomorrow: The One-Shot Gag and the Amateur Director

Don’t you know I’ve seen this all before
History repeats itself once more
I don’t want to go – and I can’t stay.

(via iPod Shuffle)


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