Thursday, December 30, 2010

Starting Out

"Stickles" is a cartoon that began when the first strip was published in thursday, an MIT student newspaper, beginning in the Spring of  1975.  It continued off and on in print form until 1985, appearing in four different student newspapers on three different college campuses.  It also appeared briefly in DFW People, an in-house magazine for the employee community at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.  It was truly a labor of love - it's hard work being a cartoonist.  You have to learn how to be funny 365 days a year, and then you have to draw your humor with a practiced hand.  Those are not talents I possessed.  I could draw rudimentary cartoons, but my hand was very unsteady, and my results were sort of a cross between Peanuts and Dilbert (you want to see talented artists at work, check out Hal Foster, who drew the original Prince Valiant, or Stan Lynde, who drew the original Ric O'Shay).  And I had enough gags to create perhaps 400 cartoons.  But I soon learned I could not do it day in and day out, so I did not entertain thoughts of making a career out of it for long.  But for ten years, I drew enough cartoons to become notorious, though how notorious was not revealed to me until some of the original strips in The Tech were posted online.

I kept a scrapbook of all my cartoons, but did not try to save them in an electronic form until very recently.  These are not necessarily the first Stickles to get published, or even the first ones to be drawn (I think the first one was inked when I was 13 and was reprinted on mimeograph paper by a student newspaper at my high school).  But they are the first to get uploaded, and while some are classics, some are only now seeing the light of day).

Speaking of classics, this is probably the one that made Stickles a campus phenomenon.  In 1976, dormitory living was as spartan as it gets, and East Campus (my dorm) became the test kitchen for the Roach Motel ("they check in but they don't check out").  Roaches were everywhere, and they became the subject of more than one Stickles cartoon...
I hear life in the dorms has improved; even the Harvard Coop in the MIT Student Center has become Neiman Coop-us.

By the way, Happy New Year to all, and I'll try to post more of the old strips in 2011.  Enjoy!

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