My first cartooning job

4 Oct

I was young, naive and fueled on Mt. Dew and Hot Pockets.

I was entered in at Wright State University, in Dayton, Ohio.

I thought “this is it”.  My big break.

I was about to become the newspaper staff cartoonist at the biggest paper on campus, The Guardian.  Actually, they preferred the term graphic artist (although, graphics is very loosely defined considering my work was pretty non-graphic).  And it was the biggest paper on campus – well – because it had only one paper.

But what did it matter?

Boy, was I excited!  A rock star – in my own mind.  I mean, here I would be exposed to the entire college.  My work – in print and online.  What an accomplishment.  What a thrill.  And I would be paid about $127 every two weeks!

That was then.


Fast forward to now.  I look back at my early days and wonder how the hell I got into the paper to begin with.  Listen, my work stunk.  And I’m not being modest – it’s true.  At this time of my cartooning career, I was a rookie.  I thought I was good because I became cocky.  Why?  Well, my whole life growing up, people told me I was good.  And I was – to a level.  But you see, I confused being good to a point and being professional.  I thought I was a pro back when I landed the gig at the paper.  But as you will soon see, I was anything but.

My work was very, let’s just say, poorly written, poorly drawn and amateur.  And it’s really crazy to me how I thought it was good back then.  Even the writing basically falls flat on numerous occasions.  Now I know why I used to receive hate mail from other students.

This post is one of many to come.  I plan on putting my entire college years collection online at some point.  That is very brave of me, I must add.  You ever see those artist or cartoonist that were doing amazing work at a young age – or early 20’s?  Well, that’s not me.

So, the date was Wednesday September 10th, 2003.  Not terribly long ago – but long enough (in fact, it’s coming on ten years here soon).  This was the debut.  The first paper – publication – anything of any high magnitude I was in.  (I did illustrate the cover to my elementary school yearbook in fifth grade, but that’s a different story.)

I remember grabbing stacks of these papers.  In fact, I believe I had my parents and friends go to the college and smuggle even more stacks out so I wouldn’t look obvious.

Click Image for Larger View

Above:  The first Guardian that I appeared in.  Note on the top of the page it mentions ‘New Cartoonist Debut’.  Yes, I liked that.

It was a big day for me.  I walked the campus trying to eye ANYONE catching my cartoons.  And yes, notice how I said ‘cartoons’.  I was responsible for two cartoons each issue.  One being a political or opinionated one that would appear in the Opinions section.  And the second one just being something funny.

This is where my syndicated series,  Break of Day, originated as well.  Yes, that’s right.  It’s been around for that long.

The editors messed up the first issue though by naming my political and my funny cartoon both Break of Day – probably confusing my whole two or three readers at the time.

At any rate, here was my first opinionated comic.  At the time, there were blackouts going around, so I made a loose-attempt and getting a jab in on-then president Bush.

Above:  My first political comic.  Cringe now, if you would like.

For this particular Bush comic, I actually used a dip pen and ink.  But boy, that didn’t last long.  I quickly switched to a marker once I realized how much quicker I could get them done.  Professional, huh?

Okay, if you flipped through the pages further, you’ll then run across Break of Day.

Break of Day was atrocious at the time, as I mentioned.  I had several decent jokes, but the drawing – the awful, awful drawing – I still can’t believe.

I will say this about my work in the Guardian – it landed me my internship at MAD Magazine in New York.  But, that’s a different story and that’s after I somewhat improved them throughout my Guardian years.

But back to the very first, original, uncut, poorly composed Break of Day.  Behold….

Above:  Yikes!

Again, how did I land the job?  Not too sure.  But, here’s more proof that I did.

Above:  The masthead.  Why am I the graphic artist?  Not sure still.  I did no other graphics my whole time at the paper except two comics per issue.

So, there you have it folks – the beginning!  Well, part of it.  I did start with crayons and chalk, but that’s going back to before preschool and I don’t think I have many drawings from that era to share.  However, they were probably slightly better than these.

Hope you enjoyed.  And please feel free to make fun of me all you want.  Sharing these is like sharing my drivers license photo with you – or an old yearbook picture – pretty bad.  But, times have changed.  I’ve learned a bit more, and now I’m fueled more on Coffee and Pop-Tarts than my previous vending machine options at Wright State, so I’d say it’s an improvement.

Oh, and I ditched the markers.


7 Responses to “My first cartooning job”

  1. Tyson Cole October 4, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

    Hey, not bad! I’ve been doing mine for the school newspaper for only about a year and a half and I already but I already cringe at my early work. And I’m still not on the payroll… This was my first one ->

    • w101njf October 4, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

      Actually, yours is quite good for a start! At least you have the gesture, posture, gag, etc. in good form. Mine? Well, you saw. You do however need to hop on that payroll.

      • Tyson Cole October 4, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

        Working on it! I think everyone can be overly critical of themselves.

  2. gardenfreshtomatoes October 5, 2012 at 5:55 am #

    You’re a brave boy…I burned all my early stories.
    Ok, not really. But they’re buried somewhere in an attic, and with any luck the mice will eat them before I die and my children are forced to read them…

    • w101njf October 5, 2012 at 7:39 am #

      Well, I came close. Everything from high school was luckily tossed in a trash bin. Although, I fear copies are still roaming the halls!

  3. Bearman Cartoons October 8, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

    I remember our editorial cartoonist sucked at Miami so I submitted some stuff I drew up. My favorite was based on the fact that they were talking about putting condom vending machines in the dorms and the controversy behind it. So I drew a coke machine next to a condom machine and added the words “Have a Coke and a Smile”

    They said my work might be too controversial…haha

    • w101njf October 8, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

      “Too controversial” Ha! My how times have changed. They have those at middle schools, I believe.

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