From the get go, I've aspired to be a cartoonist. Probably from about age 3 or 4. I saw those Max Fleisher cartoons from the Thirties in reruns on TV when I was a wee little shaver in the early Sixties, and I was sold. We are talking about very cool buggy characters, boppin' and dancing for all they're worth, essentially rapping over a funky swing soundtrack. Upon seeing the likes of that, my career choice was finalized. Why waste time on anything that does not completely captivate your imagination?
Now, I realize in the course of spilling my guts in this blog, I've gone on at length about my successful run as a self employed screen printer. True enough, starting in early '78, while still an undergrad at UMass Amherst, I got into freelancing custom printed T Shirts and have done quite well with it. But the fact is, the shirt biz has always been secondary to my focus on creating and publishing comics.
So it is that I begin a whole new phase of memoir in Self Employment For Bohemians. Having covered the salient points of running a small scale Custom T Shirt printing operation, it's time to ruminate on the other half of my life, that as a cartoonist & publisher.
Right up front, I'm going to admit that, in a strict business sense, I've needed the T Shirt business in order to pay the bills most of the time. However, the beauty of it is, the successful Shirt biz provided me with capital with which to publish, and gave me both the time and freedom to pursue my art career completely on my own terms—I've been able to create and publish cartoons straight from my heart and psyche with absolutely no concessions to the commercial sphere. Again, I may not have made millions off my comics (yet!), but in point of fact, I have sold over 100,000 comic books, magazines and graphic novels since releasing my first book, Benb & Gerald, in 1980.
So—the stage is set, in my next post I'll serve up the story of my swashbuckling leap into publishing in March, 1980 with Benb & Gerald.