17 January 1993

4 page cartoon assignment


This was one of four pages (the rest are no longer available) of cartoon continuity that I did for an article in a Zillions magazine in January (a children's edition of Consumer Reports). This one was a lot of fun, and I was able to jam pack the thing with lots of little details. One of my enduring goals since I was around ten years old was to have my work appear in the pages of 'Mad Magazine', and as silly as it sounds, I suppose I'll never quite consider myself a success as an illustrator until I make it into those pages, even though the magazine isn't quite what it was back in the late 60s and early 70s (when I was still reading it). I still haven't made it (as of '08, when this is written), but I did receive an encouraging response from the editor sometime around '01 or '02. This project was the closest thing that I ever got to working in that sort of format, and it was both a lot of work, and a lot of fun to put together.

Also this month marked the first assignments from another children's publisher who would keep me very busy for the next ten years or so. My first assignment for Cobblestone Publishing was a black and white cartoon of a large pie with lots of kids running around it with large forks. (I remember the image pretty well, but the artwork, unfortunately hasn't survived). Later in the month I had a map assignment regarding the world's religions, and an astronomy illustration for another of their magazines. This publisher specialized in various kids specialty educational magazines (Calliope, Faces, Cobblestone, Oddysey, etc etc), and I would find myself in the future doing work for two or three of them at the same time in any given month. They usually published in a schedule based on the school year, so there would be a three month lull sometime during the year where no work would be forthcoming. At first I was quite happy with the work, but as the years wore on, I became disenchanted with the maddeningly slow payment schedules, stagnant fees and rights grabbing contract terms. A shame, because the work was frequently interesting, and the people I worked with very friendly.

01 January 1993

1992 Year in Review

My fourth year in business, and starting to make a living wage at this job. Scratchboard seems to be taking over as the primary style of choice, with cartooning a close second. Pastels are getting phased out, except for the rare assignment. Starting to work with a local midwest 'Artist Agent' (although the workload from the Agent will never occupy much more than 10% of my overall workload even at its highpoint). Picking up more national clients, including the Chronicle of Higher Education (who would be a steady client for the next two decades) and local client the Christian Reformed Church (who would be a big volume client off and on throughout my career).

Still working from a spare bedroom in our house, which is convenient, as my son is usually playing around my ankles while I work (he'd be around 2-3 years old this year). We got our first 'color' computer around this time, but it doesn't really get used for much other than experimenting with and doing bills (and was probably the year we discovered 'the Internet' courtesy of one of those free "AOL" promo discs).

I did 418 illustrations this year, almost doubling last year's output, with a grand total of 931 illustrations since I started in 1989.

Not much work has survived, like many of these early years, but a few projects here and there still haunt the flat files. Anyhow, these are what I consider the 'best work' of 1992: