4:The Humorist’s Mind at Work

The Humorist’s Mind at Work

Your blog Freelancer’s Lament highlights the world’s first multi-tasker in the banner drawing. Are you a multi-tasker? Do you write, draw, and woodwork on any given day?

Yes. In my case I’m juggling writing gigs, trying to get a movie off the ground and eeking out a living illustrating for magazines. And I’m editor for two online magazines including the world’s only online snowman magazine. But, as with everyone else, I run out of time and something suffers. Today I did three cartoons, wrote answers to this interview, did some work on the house but never did anything on my book. Even Shakespeare mowed his lawn.

In your cartoons you have lampooned everything from popular culture’s obsession with vampires to the life and death of your own career. Where does your inspiration derive from? People? Geography? Books? That famous book artist you co-habitate with? The prize in this morning’s cereal box?

Inspiration is overrated, often used as a crutch, and sharing mine just comes off as narcissistic. Think I covered enough tooting my own horn earlier! The one source of inspiration I’ll admit to is that I’m writing my next book, the ship diary, in a room that was transformed into a ship’s quarters and that’s cool.

There is simply no time to wait to be inspired and I’ll go one further and say one need not be “gifted.” Practice is the key to any skill including writing and humor. The first 500 cartoons I did were crap (any early ones I sold was luck). But I’m getting better. The great cartoonist Jack Ziegler said you have to do 1,000 cartoons before you know what you’re doing. How long did Hemingway write until he was decent? I threw out the manuscript of my new book and I’m starting over – I had to get that out of my system to get to the good stuff. You have to be careful not to fall in love with your first draft.

I’ve read books on this subject and what I’ve learned is it’s not about inspiration, it’s about distractions. At some point you have to turn off the iPod, the TV, and get back to your friends another time. Believe me, I’ve been there, and at some point you have to have that conversation in your head and allow yourself a minute to figure things out.

In your blog Smartass Ideas for the Home you explore interior design and encourage your readers to do the same. Is your home improvement a metaphor for your own soulful exploration? Is this representative of a profoundly smartass restructuring of your own interior? How did the idea for this blog originate, and what does it really mean?

I can’t claim it’s any of those lofty meanings… but it IS an exercise in thinking out of the box and seeing anything differently. A helpful view to writing or cartoon making.

The idea for the blog came after my wife and I got asked frequently about our place. There was a feature of it in Mac Life magazine and our apartment in Manhattan with the mini golf living room got some press as well – it’s off-beat and instead of explaining everything at some point I decided to show it off online with pictures. In an ideal world I’d be a full-time interior designer but I’m too invested to turn my back on cartooning and writing.

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