Today’s strip hits more closer to home than usual.
Back in the old days ( the early/mid 1990s) when I truly figured out what I wanted to do with my life, art school was a much different animal. Marketing yourself as an artist was lightly touched upon, but it wasn’t really stressed. I mean, we were students still learning our craft… why learn how to market something you’re not exactly sure you’re good at?
So. I suck at marketing myself. I said it. I finished my undergrad in 1997. In the 23 years since that cold day in May, I’ve gotten about 10% better at it. Which explains a lot.
It doesn’t matter how great something is if no one knows it exists. That much I do know.
I’ve never had a huge problem with public speaking. Give me a room with 1,000 people in it and I’ll talk with no problem. Some butterflies of course, but nothing that would paralyze me. I actually prefer that to one-on-one speaking. I never shook my childhood shyness. I’ve gotten much better of course… because it was necessary. But, if I have an opportunity to avoid it, 96.432% of the time I will.
Bob is not, or will ever be as big as even the dot on the letter ‘i’ in “GARFIELD”. Some of that could be from the art. Some of that could be from the writing. But I would bet that MOST of it is from my inability overcome that crippling fear of nothing. The inability to be bold. The inability to… insert your own idea.
It’s all me. The work speaks for itself… but no one hears it in an empty room.
I was finishing up my next-last semester in Graduate school
Lez and I were going on three years as a couple
I was still trying to maneuver through the ups, downs and completely don’t knows associated with being a dad to Lauren
I had been homeowner for a little under two years… with the financial and physical scars to prove it.
Eight years of Bob… and agonizing over whether or not I should continue the strip
I was in very preliminary talks with a producer on the “Rachael Ray Show” to possibly be a guest on their Valentine’s Day show… and propose to Lez. That didn’t work out because I refused to have my beard and mustache shaved off for a makeover. (True and very sad story)
Had absolutely no plan or idea of what I was going to do moving forward
Fast forward a decade… that last point remains true. I thought with age comes wisdom. For some, that may be true… but for me age just brings more jadedness and confusion. Especially coming off one of the worst years of my life personally. Professionally, my work was on fire. The History Bob series, Art history/cartoon series breathed new life into my process… holy hell, I can’t believe I just used the work “process” like that.
So, I don’t know what 2020 has in store for me… or for my work or my family. Why try and make plans? Why try and predict? Just go with it and hope it doesn’t hurt too much. And draw a few hundred squirrels along the way.
You can come along if you like… been with me so far, might as well see how it works out.
Ever have one of those mornings … when you impress the hell out of yourself?
That’s the morning I’m having. The rest of the day can be utter trash… but knowing that between the hours of 3:40am and 5:58am, I put this homage to Amedeo Modigliani out. This came out of me, through his eyes.
I am the last person to ever toot a horn… my horn or any other horn…
But damn, Frank.
Never underestimate yourself… because cool stuff can happen when you least expect it.
I’ve always had bad timing. Maybe I’m being dramatic, but I don’t think I am.
Either I’ve been in the right place at the wrong time or the wrong place at the right time… at least 85% of the time.
2019 has been a historic year for me and my family in many ways… but mostly it’s for losses.
In January, I had to say goodbye to my dog Lucy. It’s true what the clichès say about the bond between a boy and his dog… and it’s true even if that boy was in his 30s.
In February my Aunt Pauline passed away
My Grandmother passed away in April
My Aunt Josephine in May
And my friend of almost 27 years passed away at the beginning of November.
I’m not going to lie…it’s been difficult for me to keep it together. And even if I did lie, I think the struggle is super clear in the work I’ve produced… produced at a feverish pace I might add.
See, that’s what I do to cope. I get all manic about certain things. When I was living in Utica and unhappy, I chose to get manic about buying dvds. Every Tuesday when the new releases came out I was at Best Buy buying two, three sometimes five or six discs. I was unhappy with my life, so I coped with movies. By the time I left Utica and essentially my first marriage, I had amassed at least a thousand dvds. Many of those disc had only been viewed one time… while others were still in the shrink wrap. I left most of them behind…because I was starting over.
ROCK BOBS kicked off my coping… I didn’t realize what it was, but that’s what it was. One-hundred images after that, HISTORY BOBS took over. And WHILE I was doing HISTORY BOBS the FAMILY STYLE series happened… so, lots of coping and avoiding.
And this is where the bad timing comes into play.
Albert Einstein – the first HISTORY BOB
The first HISTORY BOB was posted on June 24, 2019. Unlike ROCK BOBS, I planned out the entire one-hundred image history series, making sure equal and diverse representation was present. I did that. It wasn’t easy cranking out this on top of
Chris Cornell… ROCK BOB favorite of mine.
everything else… I know the strip suffered because of it. I will be the first to claim that the stories this year are not that good…some weeks the art was marginal at best. There were moments, ask my wife, when I just wanted to say, “F–k it. I’m done. It’s not working and we need something else to bring in more income.” And either she knew I was full of it and would talk myself out of it, or I was just tired and I’d change my mind. The one thing she didn’t say was, “Okay honey, just quit.” I’m to far in at this point to give up. Against all logical judgement, I still believe the comic strip is good… and could be great. It’s like breathing now.
So, the plan was that the last HISTORY BOB would post on Friday, November 8, 2019. I wanted to do a big thing for it.
My wife had to go in for surgery. By having this surgery, she could come off one of her post-breast cancer medications (which has its own not-too-nice potential side effects). The surgery was scheduled for… you guessed it: Friday, November 8, 2019.
So, no big send off for the series. My wife’s health comes first. It’s not that I NEEDED to do something big. The series ended.
Lez is recovering nicely. She’s a tough chick. This should be it for a while. I’ve roughly calculated that in the last few years, I’ve spent the equivalent of 11 straight days in medical waiting rooms… my earlier estimate of 8 days was off a little.
Unfortunately, there won’t be a 2020 Bob the Squirrel Calendar. I mean, I COULD throw something together with previously used art, but I don’t want to re-hash anything… New year, new art – that’s the way that it should be.
I was thinking that the FAMILY SERIES would end at 50 images… but that has gained new life with my dipping into my old art history textbooks. Besides, I still need a series to cope, right.
Finally, the 2019 Bob the Squirrel collections will be announced in the next few weeks…. a little late this year, but they will be available.
Thanks for your patience… art is funny. Squirrels are funnier.