history and me…

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throughout high school and undergrad, i couldn’t be bothered with history.  it just never really clicked with me: why would you want to look at things that have already happened?  that last statement is bordering on ironic considering that at one point i wanted to be a philosophy major.

as i got older i started to understand history more…not the dates and the places but the CONCEPT of history.   it was simple: knowing what was done directs what you’re going to do.  okay, i get that… as i got deeper and deeper though, i realized that history puts only a few names in bold print:  washington, jefferson, adams… but they’re not the only ones making history.  in fact, history; the creation of a nation, an economic entity, is all about the names that you never hear…names and faces that in some cases are never even recorded.  what excited me the most was that history is all about stories.  i get more perspective from a corporal in a muddy field who jotted notes in his journal than his commanding general in a dry tent on a hill.

it’s about the faceless, nameless masses.  they’re the ones that make history real.

maybe one of these days i’ll work on my phd.  for now, i’ll let a cartoon squirrel let me know how blind i can sometimes be.

before anything, read this…


i guess you can surmise by reading today’s strip that the end is on my mind.  it’s been on my mind since last year…knowing that the 10th anniversary of bob was approaching in 2012.  i don’t think many people know what really goes into making this strip…both physically, mentally and any other words that end with the suffix -ly.

when i started this strip back in 2002, i did it for two reasons.  i wanted to draw a comic strip that i could dedicate myself to… not a comic that i did 24 samples of and mailed off to a syndicate, a strip that was me.  up to that point in my life/career, i didn’t have that.  i said i wanted to do that, but i didn’t have that.  maybe the dedication wasn’t there, maybe i just wasn’t ready–either way, i was determined to create something that i could continue to draw no matter what… a strip that would grow with me and shape itself into whatever i wanted to do.

the second reason was…i wanted a friend.  now, i don’t mean i was lonely, i just mean that i was alone an awful lot…some of my own doing, some out of my control.  i wanted someone to talk to, someone i could bounce ideas off of… in other words, i wanted to create a solid character… one that would be set in motion and go his/her own way.  in 2002, bob was a just a bunch of sketchbook scratchings…that changed once i gave him a voice.  once he had a voice, he came alive…the first time anything like that ever happened to me.  i knew that i would draw this guy for a long time.

only problem is, i didn’t know how long “a long time” would be.  fast forward 10 years.  life was rolling me like a pair of dice.  engagement, marriage, separation, divorce…abandoning my life in search of who knows what…moving, studying for my master’s degree, buying a house, falling in love, learning how to fix things…both real and emotional, becoming a father figure and example…and just plain living… all that…through all that, bob was there with me.  there in my highest highs and lowest lows. during the process of getting my MFA,  through constant explanation and defense of every line i’ve ever drawn, i realized that being a cartoonist is who i am.  i’m not anything else but that.

that’s when it hit me.

is there something i missed in the last 10 years?  no doubt.  can i go back to see what that may have been?  not without doc brown and a flux capacitor.  is the strip everything it could be?  who knows?  financially it could be better, but the revenue was always a secondary thing to me.  i have a day job.  would i like bob to be my day job?  sure.  can i afford to spend more time trying to see if that is possible?  i don’t know.

do i love drawing this strip?  words have yet to be devised that can accurately measure how much i love this strip.  it’s in my dna.  it’s everything and then some.  it has even literally saved my life once.

if you have love, if you have passion, the rest will follow.  it’s that rest that i want to try and figure out.  do i need to end a long time love affair in order to find that?  i don’t know.  that’s where i am at this point.  over the course of the next month, you will be an observer in my thought process, my thinking, my meditations over this huge decision.


i made an attempt and clutter busting this weekend… currently, i have SIX reasonably large, reasonably complex projects in addition to my daily life that wrestle for my complete attention. anyone out there that knows me will know that nothing ever really gets my FULL attention… i apologize in advance for that. but anyway…

in the midst of dancing from one project to the other… getting a little done on each…i decided to take a break (which my doctor said i NEED to do) and organize my garage…which has become a de facto depot of things i shuffle from closet, to room, to shelf, to floor etc. among the artifacts are bins of old cartoons… some of the cartoons are over a decade old… some are good, some are not so good. but, in moving those bins, those thousands of pieces of bristol board, blue pencil, white-out and india ink, i had a moment. another moment. at some point in my career, now moving into its 15th professional year, each piece of bristol in those bins was the most important thing in my life. nothing else mattered so long as the drawing in front of me got done. once it was done, it didn’t matter as much… or at all. it then became a question of where to put it… now that i had my way and was moving on. thousands of moments. thousands of moments in rubbermaid containers.


you don’t realize it when you’re working on it that you’re spending a part of your life with it. then that’s it. some of the cartoons i can’t even remember doing… and if they weren’t dated, i couldn’t remember WHEN i did it… although i could reasonably judge the date by the style.

does anyone else think about this when they clean out their garage?

rechargeable frank


i’m writing this while listening to a song that i listened to in 1999— 10 long and tumultuous years ago. it’s the next to last song on an album that was with me everywhere i went. it was purchased when mp3s were in their infancy.

the first time i heard the first single from this disc was on a sunny april morning, 6:30am. My clock radio went off and i heard it. just like that. it was new music from my favorite band. it was on the radio! the first time i heard it was on the radio. can anyone say that today? today you hear everything on the net. stuff just doesn’t happen. you’re not surprised. you go to look for it or it’s emailed to you. you don’t wake up to it. hearing something for the first time like this is special, exciting. you can’t hit the back button again, you can’t reload the page, you can’t take it with you wherever you go—you have one shot, one specific moment to get it. after that, you just wait for the radio to play it again.

in fact, i specifically remember driving across town to a mom and pop music shop (remember those?) to get this cd on my 25 minute lunch break.

i put the over priced disc (i think it was $16.99) on the sticker covered counter, ready to fork over what was the equivalent of about two hours pay (after taxes, maybe three), hoping that what was on that light blue and pink disc would do something to me… if not increase my consciousness of my oneness of the universe at least let me bob my head to a familiar, yet unfamiliar beat.

the clerk said, “wow, i didn’t know we had more than one of these…”
not sure what he meant by that. but whatever.

i didn’t have a disc player in my car at the time. hell, i didn’t even have a horn— and the floors in the back seat area were completely rotted out… the only thing between my passengers feet and 55mph asphalt was a thin, red, dirty, factory installed piece of carpet. good times.

my friend dave and i listened to that entire cd that night… from beginning to end. never skipped a track…in fact, i think i may have recorded a copy of the album on audio tape for him. no burning, no file transfer— just some not-so-hi-speed dubbing.

that was a time where i thought i wanted to be a musician…that the art thing would be a side thing to my spotlight aspirations. we learned how to play at least half the songs on that album. just acoustic guitar, bass and voice. it felt good to play those songs… even if we weren‘t the best or even average…it made us feel good.

my friend and i ended up seeing this band play three times that year. drove 100 miles to see them in a smoky dive in albany, were willing to streak down a busy street to get tickets to see them a second time, and paid way too much for tickets to see them in a showroom. they were the band we’d form if we were to ever form a band.

i think about all that stuff when i listen to this music… of course that cd i bought that april day is missing…lost in the moving boxes that constituted the last two years of my life…i’ve mentioned this before but it’s worth saying again… earbuds pumping electronic files from a laptop will never be the same as listening to an audio tape in your car stereo, driving with all your windows down on a sunny, 65 degree late spring day. the quality of the sound is not audiophile level, but the experience is uplifting—wind blowing through the car, the smell of fresh cut grass, every cloud in the sky is fluffy white and following you down the highway.

it’s ten years later and i don’t do that nearly as much as i used to. i pick up my guitars every now and then to play those songs we learned that summer of 1999, but lately all i seem to pick up is a pen. or a pencil.

ten years is a long time. i wish it was 65 degrees out today… i think i need to drive.