How did we arrange to meet before cell phones?

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Bethesda Fountain, Central Park, NYC (photo by me)

I’m gonna miss New York this summer. But I think I needed a kick in the pants to get out of my rut, or maybe not a rut, let’s call it a habit. I do things twice and that’s it – it’s my habit. I go to the same restaurants all the time. I watch the same tv shows. I told you about my cousin who does a concert on Facebook every few Saturday nights, now that’s a thing for me and I have to text him and ask him if this is the week for the show. The world isn’t right (in my head) until the show goes on.

My habit was going to NYC for a large part of the summer for most of my adult life, or maybe even starting in high school. I would go most summers, but many years I didn’t, but it was a habit. I put off doing other things and going other places for this. But now I am open to do anything. I feel very free this summer by “being released” of my NY summer obligation, which is an obligation only in my own head.

I was thinking of all the times I would arrange to meet Miami friends who were visiting the city at the same time.

What I was finding interesting that years ago, before cell phones and email and all the communication we have now, I would meet friends and I am wondering how we did it and how they even knew I was going to be there. I mean, we didn’t announce things on Facebook back then, so I must have told people separately – “I’m going to NY next week or next month or whatever.” And the amazing thing is that we met up if they were going to be there at the same time.

I remember meeting my friend Albert a few times in the summer when he was up there visiting and my friend Vincent during Thanksgiving week and so on. But how did we know to meet? Did I tell them on November 1st “Let’s meet in front of the Empire State Building on November 23 at noon,” or “Let’s meet at the Bethesda Foundation at 1 pm on July 5,” and that’s how it happened?

They were always there at the place and time. But how did we communicate? We were all out of town, did we call each other at our cousin’s houses or hotels we were at?

I would always show up at such and such time on such and such date and there was the person I was supposed to meet. Talk about reliability. Now with all the communication abilities we have it is worse. “Text me when you are near,” “text me when you are there,” “text me tomorrow.” And still they don’t show up.

A couple of drawing styles

I have a couple of drawing styles. Why? Who knows, maybe the Gemini in me – duel personality; duel drawing styles.

clubbing-printI noticed that I got a lot of likes and shares when I posted this silly caveman and woman comic the other day. I have been getting lots of shares with most of the comics, but this one seemed to be one of the the most liked, along with the SpaceX one, which was number one so far.

I will go back and forth because I draw differently depending on the subject matter. I guess the New Yorker-style drawings are more esoteric subjects where you have to think about the gag for a minute like this one with the oranges and apple pay and the “Empty When Full” one.

But the silly ones where they are right in your face, along with the drawing style, I call, “Flintstones-style,” are a fast, easy gag.

Peaceful protest

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I went to a protest march in our town yesterday, I live in a small village and it was a small crowd. They marched from one end of town to City Hall at the other end. There were thousands of people in downtown Miami, a few miles away, but this was our own thing.

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It was nice and peaceful with all locals, people who know each other.

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I was a bit perturbed at some businesses who felt the need to board up, I found it insulting to the neighbors and the village.

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That’s me perturbed.

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I did laugh that the one photo shows a bar/restaurant boarded up and next door is an expensive jewelry store which is not boarded up. I guess old fish sandwiches are more in demand than diamonds. But I know – the jewelry store has special bullet proof glass that cannot be penetrated, but it just looked funny side-by-side.

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Drawing with a game cube controller

As I try making my way to 1 million followers on Instagram and Facebook I find it interesting that cartoonists that draw stick figures have a million followers or more. One guy does his comic using a game cube controller, I believe he has 2 million followers!

I don’t like to put down other cartoonists or artists, because I believe anything creative and created is art. But it makes you think. Drawing with a game cube controller.

But I remember years ago seeing a famous cartoonist who used toothpicks. He would dip them in the inkwell and use that as a pen nib. I guess it’s all about the finished product.

The grass is always greener

north-carolinaIt’s interesting in this time of self isolation, people are reinventing themselves or at least living their dreams or trying to.

I have a friend who is a tv producer and editor. His tv shows are household names. He started out as a tv cameraman on reality shows. And his passion – making pies! While he is still working in the tv biz, his dream is to bake pies full time. He’s looking for a larger kitchen to work in and he is working on getting regular customers like restaurants and such. It’s so interesting how the grass is always greener. How many people would love to produce tv shows that are known and seen by millions of people?

The other day we were at lunch and he told me that he had to edit a commercial, which was for a major retailer, and he said, “This is going to take time from my pie making.” I had to laugh.

He loves taking advantage of this down time to explore his passion and I feel the same. After deadlines and pressures for so many years, I am living my dream cartooning. When I did the daily news I was pressured daily.

I remember one time we had an event in town and it was early in the morning. I was walking in town with my friend and she said to me, “Tom, you’re so lucky, you are at every event and in the middle of everything!” She said,  “I have to go to work now.”

The ironic thing is as she was saying that, I was thinking, “Is it 6 pm yet? Is the day over?” I didn’t want to be there and it seemed like so much fun to her. The grass is always greener.

I may end up canceling my trip to New York for the summer, it doesn’t seem like the time to go, but in the end I may end up living my dream – going to the Carolinas and checking them out. My goal has always been to live on a lake in North Carolina, near the mountains. Now I may have the time to do it – to explore the area which I always wanted to do – to just get in the car and go. We’ll see.

Image by Clay Banks

Sundays are for ‘Breaking Bad’

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Ever since we’ve been cooped up in self isolation, I’ve been finding myself watching Breaking Bad on Sundays. Usually in the afternoon I’ll watch two or three episodes. I don’t know why I’m so attracted to the show. I’ve talked about it before.

Sure the stories and acting are superb, but it’s more than that. It’s the location – the desert and Albuquerque and the darkness of their house and the dynamic between the characters – the family, I mean – the Whites and the Schraders. I love the family scenes, especially when they are all together at a backyard bbq or whatever. Of course Jesse and Walt’s relationship is special, too. And then there is all that crime and drugs thrown in.

I’ve never been to ABQ – short for Albuquerque, but it seems almost as if the place stopped in time. Like for instance if you go into a bar it may be a throwback from the 1970s, that’s what I get from watching this and Better Call Saul, also filmed on location in ABQ. I love that. Even the airport looks small and quaint and the gas stations look like 1960-70s throwbacks. The houses look to be from that period, too.

Here in Miami, everything is chrome and glass, there is no reverence for history, if it’s 20 years old, it’s knocked down for something bigger and shinier. It doesn’t look like that in ABQ. I would like to visit there real soon.

George Herriman, of Krazy Kat fame loved that area of the country. While he lived in New York and Los Angeles throughout his life, he spent a lot of time in ABQ – it’s obvious in his drawings and Krazy Kat backgrounds. I don’t know if I lived there in another life or what, but I’m always drawn to the area.

Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Ray Donovan and Shameless. All my favorite shows at the moment. And the weird part of this is that for all except for Saul, I started watching after their run or toward the end – you know, not from the beginning from when they first went on the air.

Back to work after zooming

This cartoon was published today. I kept going back and forth between the two images. At first I liked the boxers, then the jockeys (wide fronts in England), then back to the boxers. What do you think? I was going to run both at the same time, but then I thought people would dwell on the boxers or briefs subject rather than the comic itself.

At the last minute I added the mask. You may not be wearing pants, but in public, please don’t forget your mask.

I think the smaller underwear almost makes the guy look naked, less clothing seems funny in this instance but the hearts boxers are funny, as well.

One last thing, in the finished comic, I removed the garbage can, it made it a bit cleaner.

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My first fan art

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How do you like it? Andrei Limko did fan art of me!

I don’t have regular comic characters which are usually what fan art is drawn from, so he did it of me. I love it. I really do. I’ve always been called a character. And now I am one.

Andrei has a lot of great art at his Instagram page here: instagram.com/andrei.limko

Kids making and selling comics

comicsNext time I am in Brooklyn, I’d like to check out this comic book store called “Loot.” I saw a segment about it on the Today Show recently.

It’s not just a comic book store, but it’s a place where kids can sit around and create their own comics and the store will sell them! The kids keep 90% of the proceeds from the sale which is “loot” for them in the shop. It looks as if the place opened last summer.

There are over 3000 comics, mostly personal comics of owner Joe Einhorn, that can be bought or borrowed, like a library.

There are tables where kids can sit around and create. There are workshops, too where kids can learn the craft and where they are teamed up to create comic books.

The store has white walls and looks a lot like a gallery.

I would love to go and buy some of the kids’ work, I think it’s such a great way to encourage them to continue with their art. I’ll take you along when I get there.

My earliest memory involved a cartoon

fredflintstoneOver the years when I’ve been interviewed, I have been asked who my cartooning influences are. The first is Hanna-Barbera and next is Charles Schulz. I remember drawing Fred Flintstone as a little kid, maybe I was five years old or younger.

I think, because The Flintstones seems like it was for adults, so I am not sure why I would love it so much.

But I do know that my earliest memory of all time, you know, in my whole life, my earliest memory was me, at two or three years old, running around our Brooklyn apartment – naked – trying to get away from my mother, who was trying to get me in the bathtub and Huckleberry Hound was coming on the tv – the theme song was playing! I can sort of picture that.

huckleberryhoundI don’t think I have an earlier memory, so it’s quite interesting that a Hanna-Barbera cartoon is my earliest memory. Is that crazy? I’m surprised I didn’t draw Huckleberry all the time. But I do know I used to love those Hanna-Barbera cartoons – along with The Flintstones it was Huckleberry and Yogi Bear and Quick Draw McGraw and so on.

I’m trying to not change the subject of what’s happening in our country these days, but need to post here daily and don’t wish to repeat what you see on the news every day. It almost reminds me of Al Roker and the weather – the news people show murder, rape, riots and then, “Here’s Al with the weather!, which I’ve always found stupid.