On Cartooning

On Cartooning

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!

  • Gerry
    Posted at 16:49h, 01 January Reply

    I for one, look forward to your so relevant cartoons. No doubt, not the only one who feels this way. All the best as you go on your merry way.

  • Rokhl
    Posted at 16:54h, 01 January Reply

    First, I want to say congratulations on making such an important resolution and sticking to it. I love your cartoons and, obviously, hope you’ll keep drawing and keep sharing them with us.
    Second, as a person who has gone from self-publishing to ‘publishing-publishing’, I cannot imagine doing what I do if I had to wait for some editor to ask me to write this or that. Self-publishing is where you develop your vision and your voice. Publishers and editors will eventually come looking for you (if that’s what you want) because you’ve already got a signature style, a body of work, and an audience.
    If you love creating and reaching people with your work (which it seems you do), then you owe it to yourself to keep on. zol zayn mit hatslokhe un brokhe!

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 16:55h, 01 January Reply

    Find yourself a sugar daddy who will enable you to travel the world, learn new languages, and continue with your doodling at the same time. Its the 2013 way of doing things. oh yeah.

  • Shragi
    Posted at 16:56h, 01 January Reply

    Wow! Thanks for sharing your practice doodles with us for the past year.
    I guess you could say this year’s resolution is to find a sugar daddy? But that would sound too much like a request from Santa and not enough like a resolution…oh well, I don’t have any ideas.
    Best of luck though!

  • Shulem
    Posted at 18:40h, 01 January Reply

    Extra points for being a Bill Watterson fan. Let us hope, though, that unlike him, you will keep going….
    Cheers to a doodley new year.

  • Shragi
    Posted at 19:01h, 01 January Reply

    Your uncertainty about where you go from here reminded me of this post by the developer of the WordPress theme you use on this site. Completely unrelated, I know, but the idea of having invested heavily in a project and then for one reason or another choosing to abandon it is similar.

  • Shpitzle/Frieda
    Posted at 21:44h, 01 January Reply

    And hey, thank you all for reading (and sharing!) and commenting event when I haven’t been very good with engaging in reader commentary.
    And thank you Shpitzig for running this thing and putting up with what it takes!
    You’re all real friends.

  • Leo
    Posted at 11:04h, 02 January Reply

    Frieda, Sugar daddy or not, we at least have an obligation to, at the very least, click away on the yellow “donate” button at the top of the page in reciprocation to the very same wires that deliver us the occasional doddle and commentary which we so look forward to!
    We’re all envious of your achievements, and cheer you on in the sidelines and as you reach your milestones. There are no finish-lines, though. There’s no reaching the top; it’s about the climb itself. And, pickle or not, you’re one hell of a climber!
    Keep it up – your shoulders and the good work, that is.

  • Leapa
    Posted at 14:45h, 16 January Reply

    You OK, Shpitz?
    Pursuing other interests?

  • S.
    Posted at 13:47h, 31 January Reply

    We’re waiting!

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