On Cartooning

 Posted by on January 1, 2013
Jan 012013

A Hasidic man is angry that someone is cartooning him

It feels like it’s been longer, but it’s been only a year since I took pencil to sharpener and began doodling. It was a New Year’s resolution on the first day of 2012, a particularly warm day; rather unusual weather for the first day of January. I packed hot coffee in a thermos, sandwiches and a shriveling helium balloon that said ‘Happy Chanukah’ from two weeks before. My son and I took off to the trailhead of Kakiat Mountain in Rockland County. We went up the white trail but after getting lost, passed the orange trail and a dinosaur skull look-alike, then found ourselves on the blue trail, then arrived to an unmarked rock on the top of the mountain where we could see all the world and all the fog. His feet hurt. I piggy-backed him onto the rock and unpacked our stuff. As we ate our picnic I talked to my son about the concept of goals, and ways to think about ones we may want to make for ourselves.
I asked him to try to think of a goal for this year.

After some thought, he made up his mind on his goals. I inscribed them under the menorah in a black marker.

‘Get biggest set new legos and learn to read.’

Of course I had helped him think of the second part. I didn’t think a resolution should look like a letter to Santa.

On the other side I wrote my own. “Drink more water, walk straight/don’t get a pickle, learn doodling”. For good measure, I added a smiley face with a tongue stuck out at the mysterious person in whose hands the balloon will land. My son held the string, opened his fist and let it go. We cheered. The balloon flew up, then fluttered, and then went down on a tree a few feet away. We ate our chips.

When we got back home I took the sharpie back out and drew some faces on a piece of college-ruled paper, bringing the eyebrows down to express some emotions. I was excited about learning cartooning because it was something I really wanted to do for a long time now.

I put my silly doodles on Facebook and it got like four likes, which I took as a sign that I’ll be the next Bill Watterson. A friend who goes by the name Shpitzig in mafia circles said I should put whatever I do on a blog, but I said I don’t have time or energy and blogs tend to be short-lived and a waste of time. So Shpitzig said he’ll do it. We agreed that I should just save my doodles into a shared dropbox folder and he’ll post it regularly. It was a good arrangement. At some point, I decided to add commentary to the cartoons because I thought it could perhaps get my poor doodles the eyeballs any Watterson should get.

And so I penciled the year away. At night, if I had a particularly exhausting day, I’d unwind by doodling while listening to music, and then already in bed with the laptop, I’d try to dedicate my half unconscious thoughts to commentary. I threw everything I did down the dropbox shoot.

Hallelujah 2012.

As the year comes to an end, I have mixed feelings about my resolution. I feel like I put in the work, that I had fun and I learned many things, including how to work well with Photoshop. I feel like I improved as the year progressed, but I still have a long way to go for publishing cartoons. I’m glad that I was able to continuously share with you my thoughts and ideas without this hobby taking a toll on my family, work or schooling. This is the first time I kept putting my work up for scrutiny without prematurely giving in to stage fright or discouragement. Blogs don’t have a good life expectancy because there is no publishing medium to get your thoughts out, and without readers it is easy to get discouraged. There’s also no money in it. I often don’t know why I’m doing it, but I’m one of these people who don’t quit. I had to pull through with the resolution. And I did. I suppose I did well.

I’m ambivalent about where to go from here into 2013. On one hand, there are other things to try, languages to learn, book clubs to run, people to see, countries to visit, sugar daddies to hunt, treasures under bridges to find. On the other hand, I don’t want to stop cartooning, ever. It’s time consuming and takes energy but it’s so so much fun. So here I am. In a pickle after all. Perhaps one of you has suggestions. Or perhaps you know someone who knows someone who knows someone who is looking to pay a big fortune to an amateur artist with a well sharpened number two pencil. Yes, that would work.

While I wait to strike it rich, I’ll be wishing you all the same good fortune for 2013 and much much more. Happy New Year!