Friday, September 5, 2014
A change of plans
So ends the 20-year experiment. By the time that you read this, I will no longer be working for the Bureau County Republican. As they say, all good things must come to an end.
When I was just about to turn 28, I was working in my hometown at a local construction business that builds prefabricated housing. At the time, I was in the part of the plant that cut the pieces used for flooring support. Basically, I was just a helper guy that spent most of his time doing what real carpenters told me to do and trying not to cut off too many body parts.
Being an art/illustration major in college, this was not part of the plan. According to my college instructors, by that time in my life, I was supposed to be in a big city somewhere painting covers for magazines like Norman Rockwell or drawing comic strips like Charles Schulz. Unfortunately, big cities make me twitchy. Sometimes plans don't work out.
I spent most of my free time, which usually occurred from 10:30 at night until 2 in the morning, doodling on a drawing board down in the basement. I would work on various art projects that people asked me to do, painted signs and even developed an idea for a comic strip that I would send out to all the newspaper syndicates periodically. I have a collection of the nicest rejection letters you've ever seen. I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that my career was going to involve hammers and nails. This was my new plan.
In January of 1994, I just happened to notice a job opening at the Bureau County Republican in their job printing shop. Knowing next to nothing about the print process, I put in my application. For some strange reason, they hired me. My first day on the job was February 1. I really thought that they were smarter than that.
I came up with a new plan. Now that I had my foot in the door at a print publication, I told my wife that if I hung around the editorial department long enough, and showed them my delightful little drawings and exposed them to my innate humor and wit, before long, they would have to accept me into their fold, take me as one of their own. After that they would pay me to create artwork and draw my silly little cartoons. Yep, that's what I told her.
Five and a half years later, I was right.
When I moved from the press room to the editorial department, I had the joy of learning what a computer was. I also got to learn font styles and point sizes and kerning and leading. I learned the difference between RGB and CMYK color modes. I got acquainted with Quark, Photoshop and Illustrator. The command Apple "S" became my best friend. I even started writing this silly little column. I suppose that I could tell you that I learned to type the proper way but that would be a lie. After 15 years at a keyboard, I couldn't tell you what makes up the "home row." It drives my wife crazy. She teaches keyboarding.
I also learned that it's hard to be a political cartoonist when you feel totally apathetic toward anything political. To this day, I have no clue if I'm a Democrat or Republican. I cover my bases by just not trusting any of them.
Over the years, I've experienced some success and learned some new things. I've won some awards, had my cartoons subpoenaed, had a couple of interviews on a local television station, and that comic strip that I had all but given up on years earlier, won a contest and got me a deal with Universal Press Syndicate. Wow, what do you know, in the end, my plan actually worked out.
On Monday, I'm going into business with a lifelong friend of mine. He has an established cabinet-making and woodworking business. I've been bugging him for a couple of years about how much fun it would be if we pooled his talent with … well … whatever it is that I have to offer. I guess that he got tired of hearing it because he recently took me up on the whole idea. I really thought he was smarter than that.
When I told my wife of his offer, I fully expected to be shot down before I got it out of my mouth. Instead, she smiled and told me that if I didn't try this, I'd regret it forever. I really thought that she was smarter than that.
Here's our detailed business plan. I'm going to help him do stuff and try not to cut off too many body parts. With any luck, hopefully any creativity that I might still possess will surface at some point. We'll be dabbling in sign work, some airbrushing, even some artsy-fartsy retail items that we'll be looking to sell. Well, at least that's the plan anyway. Hopefully that will be a story for another day.
I feel like I should say something smart right now, so here are my parting words of wisdom: You'll kick yourself the rest of your life for the things you never try. If you screw up, your wife gets to do the kicking.
See you in the funny papers. Maybe.
You can contact Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on his blog at http://gregwallaceink.blogspot.com.
Please be sure to check out my comic strip "Nothing is not Something" on the Go Comics website. You can find it by clicking here. The more subscribers I get, the better. Thank-you in advance.
If you get a chance, please check out some of the other stuff I've got going:
"Nothing is not Something" on GO Comics.
"Nothing is not Something" on Facebook.
"Nothing is not Something" on Twitter.
Greg Wallace Ink on Facebook
Greg Wallace Ink on Twitter.
Sawdust & Paint on Facebook