Living in L.A.

1 Nov

As some of you might be aware, I recently relocated to Los Angeles from Dayton, Ohio.  I was offered, and accepted, a position as a fulltime staff cartoonist for an advertising agency.  Anyhow, this was back in June.  I’ve been out here on the west coast now for going on five months.


How is it?


I get asked this frequently. What’s it like living in L.A.?  Or, How is it out there?  Maybe a Wait…you moved?


Well, thanks to the power of the internet, I can respond to some of these burning questions in one giant swoop in this blog post.


Let me start by saying I’m very happy.  I love L.A.


Like any place, I have likes and dislikes.  I’ll break it down, and I’d suggest reading all of the post to get into my exact thoughts, because I try to be as honest as possible and I think I describe what I think clearly.  I hope.




I wanted to shed some light on my initial impressions.  After all, I’m still a fairly new guy in town.  I can’t say five months hardly justifies knowing ANYTHING about the area (have you seen how big this city is?).  That being said, I’ll fill you in a bit on my own observations thus far.  I have a bit of California in my blood at this point (I haven’t had a doctor medically check that out, but I’m sure it’s true).


First off, it’s how I envisioned living out here was like before I moved, and then again, it isn’t.


I’ll begin with something that’s relatable to everyone:  traffic.


When I was in Ohio, and found out I was leaving, anyone I talked to that was familiar with the area mentioned the traffic.


“The traffic is bad.” “You’ll hate the traffic.” “Oh, Lordy, there’s soo much traffic!”  My response was, “Yeah, okay.  I get it.  And I don’t care.  I’ve seen cars before.”  Boy was I naïve.


I’ll admit it, there’s a ton of traffic.  GOBS.  Everyday. It was not what I expected.


I live a little over two miles away from work, and it still takes me sometimes 15 minutes to commute.  Luckily, I don’t even have to get on any interstates.  It’s just a lot of people in one area.  There is more traffic than I originally envisioned, and I’ve seen some bad traffic after living in Florida, around New York City and venturing into Chicago on a regular basis.  This place tops the cake.


The traffic part I don’t like.


One convenience I had in Ohio was, let’s say I wanted to hop in my car and go to the grocery store for a donut.  Well, it’s not that easy.  That trip can require being stuck in a traffic jam, and then fighting over a parking spot.  Worth the donut?  Probably (only if it’s chocolate, of course).  But, that’ll take a chunk of my day away.


My point is, in my own perfect world, yes – there wouldn’t be so much traffic and people around here. It’s crowded, it’s busy.


Where I live though (Marina Del Rey), it’s peaceful and there actually ISN’T a ton of cars hissing by regularly.  In fact, the streets are practically empty at night.  Venturing out a mile or two is where it all gets congested.  Also, weekends, the beach traffic (where I live) gets nuts.

Above:  This is actually my street.  As you can see, it’s pretty light right now.  It can get busy, but nothing too crazy (most of the time).  And look — palm trees!


One more point on traffic, there are Birds everywhere.


No, not the kind that fly off with your French fry on a picnic and crap on cars.  Bird scooters.  Oh, how I hate them.  I call them litter.


They’re everywhere.  People ride them on the roads, sidewalks, or any place imaginable (I’ve seen a few in my hallway of my apartment complex).  The worst thing about them is, when a person is done riding it, they can dump it anywhere.  So, they end up on streets, in the middle of the road, or – for those others that dislike them – tossed in the water.  That’s why I call them litter.


I think a lot of people love them, so this is all just my opinion.  You might find them, well, fun.


If you want to learn more about the marvelous nuisance – er, BIRDS, you can read on HERE.


Moving on…


The weather and climate threw me for a loop.  L.A. IS a desert.  It doesn’t seem that way because of all the vegetation, but it is. It rained for the first time last month. I guess I expected maybe a rainfall once a month or something.  That doesn’t happen here.  And that’s not totally a bad thing.  The weather is perfect!  I live on the coast (west L.A.), and it’s usually in the 70’s and breezy.  Comfortable, none the less.


Granted, I like a change of seasons.  California is great for that though.  All I have to do is venture an hour or two out of town, and there are fall leaves and snow in the wintertime.  It’s available.  It’s like having on-demand cable (or Netflix).  If you’re in the mood for something, it’s there.


What I’ve discovered that intrigues me the most is the vibe here.  EVERYONE is up to something.  You have a neighbor that wants to be the next Marilyn Monroe (well, except for an early death and everything), or a studio executive working on his first film across the street.  L.A. is a bustling city of creative entrepreneurs trying to make it. Lots of people have side hustles while they work towards that big break of whatever it is they’re doing.


The creativity and drive that people have out here helps me thrive!  It’s in the air and being absorbed regularly.  You’re around highly driven people (or just ‘high’ people, with pot being legalized).  Many quite successful folks around, which is nice.  Success breeds success, so they saying goes.


On the opposite end of that, look around, and you’ll see homelessness and humans deprived of about everything.  They’ll be sleeping next to a brand-new BMW driven by someone else on any given street in the area.  It’s sad to see.  I hope many of them find help, and it seems like there are more resources for them popping-up.


Sorry for the bad segue, but on to beaches


California has the most beautiful coastline in the world.



Above:  Santa Monica.  This is just a short stroll away from where I live.

I reside by Venice Beach (a ten minute walk away).  I spend many days out there and hopping in the ocean catching some waves.  It’s great.  I love this ocean much more than anything I’ve experienced in Florida, or the entire east coast. (We also have giant sharks!). Gnarly waves, water cool and it’s just perfect-o.

Above:  From the Venice Pier.  Look who else hangs out here.

Above:  And here’s me and this guy.  He used to live around Venice, too.


Plus, there are mountains in the background (you probably saw that in the picture).  It’s quite nice.  Those photos you see of California beaches are real and it’s amazing to be right here by them.


As for the rest of the city, I haven’t ventured out that much (yet).


I’ve been downtown L.A., and that’s cool, but not really much going on (at least from what I saw).  Nothing like a downtown Chicago or New York.  It’s just different.  But, it’s there.  And I know there IS a lot that happens, but I just haven’t been a part of it yet, so I can’t really say much about it.


I’ve driven through Hollywood.  It’s a great place to explore, which I intend on doing sometime. It’s about 30 minutes away, so that’s neat to have around.  I’m sure I’ll be there shooting my first movie any day now (okay, joking…).


In general, I like my little comfort zone around the marina and don’t have much of a reason to leave it. Everything is nestled close to me, and it’s been nice to just walk around where I’m at.  Venice, Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey– there’s always something happening and a lot to do.  All walkable.

Above:  The Venice canals.  Another local place I love to walk around.  They also have a floating hippo.


I do need to get a bike sometime.  There are bike paths everywhere.  I wouldn’t ride on the streets.  The drivers are fast.  Everyone around here is in a hurry for something.  You’ll discover that everyone that drives loves their horns.  I swear, sometimes they honk them just for the sheer enjoyment of listening to it honk.


Back to venturing out, I plan to do so, obviously.  I can’t wait to head up in the mountains and more.  It’s coming…


Now on to prices.


Just like the traffic, I was told how expensive everything is.


Okay, it’s expensive. I wouldn’t advise anyone to move out here on a whim.  Rent typically starts at over $2000 (bare minimum) for just a studio where I live.  Sure, there might be something cheaper, but I’d hate to see where it’s located at.


When I mention expensive though, it seems to be mostly about real estate and gasoline (typically four bucks a gallon or more).  Food, going out to eat, etc. isn’t horrible.  It might be a smidgen more than a lot of places, but the grocery bills and restaurants are comparable to Dayton, Ohio.  I don’t see a major difference there (unless, of course, you dine where all the celebs go in Beverly Hills or eat too much).


The most difficult thing about living here is family and friends.


It wasn’t easy just packing up and leaving everyone in Ohio.


Everyone will have a different situation, but I’m pretty far away from most of my family.  It’s important to have them visit, and to get out as much as possible (also FaceTime, anyone?).  As I write this, next month I’ll be heading to the Buckeye State for the holidays. Anyhow, it can be tough.  You might feel isolated and homesick.  I keep in perspective of why I’m here and what I’m doing.  It helps, and a supportive family and friends is great to have.  As far as I know, everyone is happy for us making the move here and for what this does for my cartooning career. (Sniff) I just have to know that I’ll see everyone soon.


New friends come along, too. A lot of likeminded friends.  This is a cartooning mecca, so I feel at home here with fellow collogues in the industry.  I’ve met some really great people.


I’m not going to talk about my job as a cartoonist, because that doesn’t have anything to do with this particular blog post.  I wanted this to be more geared to just living in the area.  I’ll say my job is great, and I believe most people come here aspiring to do what they love, which I am.  I’ll fill you in on this at another time.


Of course, I have my bigger goals and aspirations.  This city, as I mentioned, is a driving force.  It fuels ambitions.  If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere (yeah, that is said about New York, but I think L.A. has that beat).  I’m anxious to do a lot more with cartooning and my life.  Most importantly, I hope this is a perfect environment for my daughter to thrive at whatever it is she wants to do someday (if we’re still here).  She’s almost three now, so no major hurry here.


At any rate, I don’t take for granted being able to survive and live in L.A.


L.A. is also a tough city. It’s not all surfing, lovely weather and glamour.  This can be a desolate place, for sure.  Dreams can be shattered, and things don’t always work out in ones favor.


Bottom line:  it’s not for everyone.


A lot of people say it doesn’t feel like home.  My opinion is it’s home for now.  For how long? Who knows.  Maybe I’ll retire here!  I’m one to say never say never.  I could end up in Antarctica cartooning from there someday, as far as I know.  In the foreseeable future, Los Angeles is where my family and I are, and plan to be at for as long as it’ll have us (or we’ll have it).


This place grows on you.  You adapt to it quickly, fears of the unknown diminish and you start becoming a local (Dodgers gear is already bought at our household).  I’d say it’s a bit scary at first, but it gets better.  Trust me.


Again, I wouldn’t move out here on a whim, but if you can find your way out here, and your career or dreams consists of living out west, I’d say find a way to do it.


Now that I’ve been here five months, in my perfect world, I’m thinking someday I’d probably like to move into a less-populated area, probably in California, and continue cartooning until I can’t draw anymore.  I’d like a house, not an apartment.  I’d like to travel whenever I want, get out often to venture back to see family and friends and basically have absolute freedom.


For now though, I’m embracing L.A.


I feel great about my decision to make the move out west, and in general, everything is better than expected.  Every area of the country has its good and bad qualities, but I’m ranking L.A. with definitely more good.


So, this is how it is for now.  What do you think?


Maybe I’ll post an update after a year of being here.  For now though, it’s off to the beach (and maybe a drive to get that donut).

MAD in Columbus

7 May

This past Saturday, May 5th, while many were out chugging margaritas for Cinco De Mayo or losing pocket change betting on horses, I was in Columbus at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum attending Artistically MAD.


Being so close to this event (I live about an hour and fifteen minutes away in Dayton, Ohio) I couldn’t miss it.

As many of you know, I was a previous intern at MAD Magazine in New York in 2004.  Since then, I have contributed several short series’ and wrote a handful of articles as well.  Bottom line:  not only did I grow-up with MAD, but I’ve been involved with it for a little over a decade as one of “The Usual Gang of Idiots”.  So, besides the spiffy advertising they had to promote it, this event was very appealing to me in many ways.

The gallery features original MAD art by almost ALL of the greats (Drucker, Jaffee and on and on…).  During the event, a presentation at the beginning showcased art that didn’t make it onto the walls of the museum from several collectors.  And at the end of the presentation, Sergio Aragones drew.  He drew LIVE on the big screens for all to watch.  Pretty amazing.  (And if you don’t know who Sergio is, you should probably stop reading this and pull his name up on Google.)

Here’s some snapshots:



This was before the presentation started.  I took a photo now instead of the actual presentation, because I didn’t want to be “that guy” that’s interrupting everything with a bright camera phone.



I’m looking at something stupid here…




Sergio drawing!



Back to Sergio — I got a chance to actually meet him.  He’s definitely one of the coolest cartoonist out there, and I’ve always been a great admirer of his work.  (And I’m not alone.  There was a mob of people waiting to get his autograph afterwards. I think it took him over an hour to sign everything.)  Getting the chance to talk with him for a moment was something I’ve always wanted to do.  I’ve met many MAD cartoonists from my internship and elsewhere, but I’ve never had the chance to meet him until this event.  It was hard to wash my hand after he shook it.


I went with my 2-year old daughter and wife.  They had to leave the presentation early because, well, 2-year old.  But, afterwards we had a chance to mingle with several local NCS cartoonists that were in attendance, and also chatted briefly with Bill Morrison, the new editor at MAD in Burbank (MAD moved offices to the west coast recently).

With MAD in town, attendees (the first 100 or so) got a free copy of the newest issue #1.  We also got a preview of the upcoming issue #2 that will be released next month.  (Sorry, didn’t get any pictures of that, so no spoiler alerts here.)

I haven’t broke into the new issue(s) yet of MAD with any of my work, but I’m hoping to soon.  It has taken a new direction, and I’ve been observing what changes have taken place.  Now that I have a decent idea of what they want, I’m starting to pitch some ideas out there — even the incredibly stupid ones.  I was trying to explain to Bill a recent idea that I submitted that was incredibly stupid, and explaining it made it sound worse that it is.  I might be onto something there…

If you get a chance to go to the Billy and see this exhibit, do so.  These pictures don’t do it justice.  I’ve never seen so much MAD-ness in place.  You’ll walk out of it feeling as dumb-witted as ever.






I’ll be here awhile…

3 May

Throughout the years, I have jumped from blog platform to blog platform.  I’ve always struggled with thoughts of where to feature my blog.  On my main website?  On social media only?  On a roll of toilet paper?  It’s a tough decision.

I’ve decided that THIS is the place.

I’ve had this URL for this blog for close to a decade now.  It’s free, it doesn’t go anywhere, and it’s easily accessible.  Plus, I feel like the odds of the blogs getting erased aren’t as high as on other platforms.   (Case in point:  I had several blogs on my old website, but when I did my relaunch, they vanished and I don’t believe there is a way to retrieve them.  They’re gone.  Magic?  I’m not too sure.  Probably just someone that doesn’t know how to transfer blogs.  If not, it was a great magic trick.)

I’d like to start writing more.  I have a lot going on right now in my professional cartooning career, and some of it might be interesting to post.  Or it might be lame (who reads blogs anyway?), but I’ll give it a good shot.

Thanks for hanging in there, loyal readers.  I know I haven’t been the most consistent blogger throughout the past decade or so, but dammit, I try.





Cartoon Museum? Yes!

10 Dec

This past Thursday on a cold, windy day, my family and I decided to get out of town and take a trip east to Columbus, Ohio. It’s only about an hour away from our home in Dayton, so it’s a nice little getaway.

Though it’s always nice to take random road trips, on this one we had a mission: Go to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum at Ohio State University.


I get irritated at myself on the little things I miss out on. Here is a museum for cartoonists – and I NEVER went to it until this visit. I mean, a museum dedicated to my industry in my own backyard and – for some reason or another – it’s my first time going there. SMH



Turkey Day

24 Nov

It’s that time of year again.  A time to scarf-down loads of mashed potatoes, canned cranberry sauce and – of course – turkey (unless you’re a vegetarian).

Along with filling up with calories, I thought I’d stuff this blog post with a few Thanksgiving cartoons.  These are my Top 5 picks.

So…here you go!


Would You Like A Drink?

10 Nov

I know after this election, many people have turned to drinking.

Well, good news!  I can help.

I thought this was an opportune moment to shamelessly promote our new Cellar Another brands that have just arrived from Moldova and will be hitting the shelves all across Ohio.  Along with that, we have a new website for Cellar Another as well (which – keep in mind – is still a work in progress).


What Ever Happened To KOHD

3 Oct

KOHD.  Sounds like a television station, huh?  (Actually, to our discovery, it is one in central Oregon.)

So the FULL name of KOHD is Knocking on Heaven’s Door.  Some of you may know what I’m talking about – others may not.  It depends how long you’ve known me, I guess.

Knocking on Heaven’s Door was a comic series that I illustrated starting back in 2008.  It was a collaboration with actor/comedian, Tommy Blaze.  He wrote it – I drew it.


A Little Earlier…

29 Sep

I wrote awhile back about my routines.  You can go back and read it if you want (or don’t), but in it I talk about how I try to have a routine and it gets adjusted and so-forth.

My latest routine is waking up early.  Like, REALLY early.

I need to for work.  And that being said, I’m very happy with my new wake-up time.


The Slip

25 Sep

“I have a terrific idea for a comic!” I say to myself as I’m hopping out of the shower, slipping on the wet tile because I forgot to put a towel down.

I stagger a bit to the bathroom sink trying to keep my balance.  Desperately, I try to locate a pen and a piece of paper – ANY paper – so I can jot my idea down before I forget it or in case it’s lost from amnesia because I did eventually slip and bash my head into the countertop.

In a frenzy I manage to make it to the nearest cupboard, that wasn’t in the bathroom, but close.  I find a pencil, a piece of scrap paper and I write down the idea.


Clowning Around

18 Sep

It’s no laughing matter.  Sometimes, I have to draw a clown.  (Okay, I guess it’s laughable.)  But, since I clown around on the job all day anyway, I guess it’s suitable.

A major part of my cartooning is with the company I co-founded, BizComics.  I’m not sure how much you keep tabs on what I do, but if you’re not aware, over at BizComics we feature a blog and a cartoon every week.  The topics include obvious stuff like business.  But we feature a lot of sales, marketing, office, advertising, tech and other comics.  On top of that, we have a quarterly graphic novel that comes out, Max Impact.  Impact is about a marketing detective with new cases each issue.

The newest blog/cartoon for BizComics features a clown.  And pie (not the tasty kind).