My little VoyageMIA interview

VoyageMia, did a little interview with me regarding my comics, you can see it here.

It’s only a few questions. It reminds me of when I did my Ten With Tom column for the Huffington Post. I am thinking of getting back to that, I met so many interesting people through it.

You can see some of them posted here on this blog.

No a/c in the hot summer

So here is a funny and weird story – I didn’t have air conditioning for almost two weeks. Yup, summer in Miami – no a/c. Oddly enough, the way my condo building is situated, it doesn’t get so hot on my side of the building, so I managed without the sun beating down on me. But two weeks – no a/c!

The unit was working perfectly, I only had to have the a/c guys out to clean the coils, because there was a leak, but as for cold air, it was blowing ice cold as usual. Well, the guys came and cleaned the coils and it all went down hill from there. From that moment on, I had no cool air coming out.

They ended up coming over four times, three of those time to try and fix the problem after they cleaned the coils, each time leaving and feeling it was all perfect. In the end – after their fourth visit – the problem was solved. The thermostat was turned off! There’s a button that puts it on “hold” and that stops sending contact to the main unit on the roof, so only room temperature air would flow, when you “unhold” the thermostat – cold air returns!

It’s like having your tv or computer not work and someone says, “Well plug it in!”

I had a feeling something was wrong with the thermostat, but try and tell an expert that you solved the problem and you get an earful on how you don’t know what you are talking about, “leave it to the experts!”

There’s a cartoon in this story somewhere, I’m thinking it over.

Slap dash and energetic

I read a recent review of a cartoonist who worked around the turn of the century – last century, and it said the cartoonist had a “slap-dash, energetic style,” which today’s reviewer liked. It made me take notice because one of the cartoon syndicate heads said that I draw too fast.

Would he have liked my work better if I drew slower?

I was fascinated that he said that because he never saw me draw, but he’s right, I do draw fast. It’s just the way I work. I watch movies and documentaries on cartoonists, as I mentioned in a previous post, and I see how slow they work. They are so meticulous with every line and I wonder how they ever get anything done at that rate. But they are syndicated and I’m not. So maybe there is something to the speed at which one works.

But look at the photo above, that’s me working at home – see that John Lennon painting? That’s a large 4′ x 6′ piece of art I bought at a charity auction years ago. It’s by an artist named Michael Israel. He does those “art attack” things, where he paints the image upside down in about 20 minutes, he turns it around and there you have an incredible piece of art! He works fast and comes out with masterpieces, so there may be something to slap dash and energetic.

Menacing in the shadows

I don’t like to judge people when I first see them, but it’s human nature.

I go to this place in town for lunch often, maybe two or three times a week. You can’t eat inside, but you can eat out in the closed off street or you can take-out at the window. I’ve mostly go alone for take-out, but I’ve eaten there with friends sitting at tables, too.

From the first day I started going during the pandemic, months ago, I’ve seen these two guys there – every single time. No matter when I go, at lunchtime, there they are. Sort of near the take-out window, in the shadows, drinking beer. They usually have dark masks on or they are holding them and for some reason, they look at me and I look at them and no one says anything. I find them menacing.

I live in a small village, and everyone knows everyone else, but these two guys are strangers to me. But there they are, every single day at lunchtime, menacing in the corner, drinking beer.

Well, the other day as I parked my car nearby and got out, one of the guys was walking toward me on the sidewalk. I didn’t realize who it was until he said, “Hello.” When I looked up I realized he was one of the menacing ones.

But there he was, he was a harmless, skinny, gray haired guy in his 60s and didn’t look very menacing. I stopped him and said, “Tell me, what are you guys about? I see you every time I’m at the restaurant.”

He tells me he is a college professor and his friend is a computer IT guy or something like that. They are working from home these days (zooming as he called it) and they take a daily break to meet up for lunch/beer. He told me his name, so next time I go by, I’ll call out, “Hi so-and-so,” and I’m sure his friend will get a kick out it.

But it’s interesting how we judge people and how they are different in different locations and situations. They never said anything to me before, but I never said anything to them. We were just there. Seen but not heard.

Benilda is quite popular

benlidaThis particular cartoon which was posted Friday, got the most shares on Facebook of any of my recent work. I did have one of my comics shared on Facebook by George Takei once that got almost 100,000 shares. Can you imagine, 100,000 shares! The power of popularity and numbers.

This Benilda comic got about 2400 shares to date. Amazing. 2400 times an average of 400 friends for each person is 960,000 – almost 1 million potential readers! And that’s just Facebook, there are thousands of other readers on my TomFalco.com website and on Instagram, along with people sharing that I don’t know about.

It’s interesting what is popular and what isn’t. I’m not sure why this one struck popularity nerve with people but maybe it’s about driving or not knowing how to drive a stick shift, that is a popular subject I suppose.

A couple of people liked the name Benilda. So do I. I got it from a real person. A real person who I don’t actually know. It’s a customer. She purchases items from me online and has for years, but we’ve only dealt electronically, I’ve never seen or spoken to her, not even on the phone, but I love the name Benilda. I had another comic strip I was working on where the wife was named Benilda, but I never did publish that strip. While I did about 30 of them, I didn’t enjoy drawing the same characters and situations day after day, I much prefer the single panel where I can have different characters and scenes each day.

I have been posting short videos of me working on Instagram stories, I noticed that many of the popular and well read cartoonists do that, and they do even more – they constantly have videos of anything having to do with their life. One popular guy has videos today of him flying a kite with his son. It used to be “go fly a kite,” was a negative thing, but he made it fun positive thing to watch. I guess there are so many comics that it’s about the personality behind the comics, so I’ll post more of that and me, I suppose mostly on Instagram. I layout out my life here on the blog, too, of course.

Shark Week starts today. I’ll be posting a few shark related comics this week.

Hurricane Isaias

hurricane

So we dodged a bullet. Hurricane Isaias brushed by, we barely got any wind or rain.

I was traumatized by Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which did a number on Miami. Things were never the same after that – it was life changing for everyone who lived through it.

For years after that I would freak out with any sort of wind and rain but over time I got used to other hurricanes that came by and eventually in the last year or two, I’ve become a bit better about them and I don’t freak out so much. But it is a scary thing.

We get prepared and panic and worry and whether it comes through or not we are so relieved when it is over. And I look at that as sort of a good thing. The hurricane makes up stop and take notice, sort of like the caronavirus, and then when it’s over, we are happy with the status quo before it arrived, even if the status quo wasn’t great.

It’s weird. Now that we are over the danger of the hurricane, let’s get back to normal – dealing with caronavirus which isn’t so bad if you do the right things – wear a mask, social distance, etc. So it’s Monday and we’re back to work or staying home or whatever it is we did last Monday and in this case we are happy to do it.

Unfortunately, it is going to affect the Carolinas and possibly the Northeast. Hope not.

But for me, I opened my shutters and let the sun in.

Boredom is setting in

I’m having tea these days, rather than coffee. Green tea.

One issue I’m having is that I forget to put the teabag in the cup! I get the water boiling and add honey and lemon to the cup, but I then pour the water in and there is no tea! Not sure why that is, but I think I am starting to get stir crazy.

At the beginning of the pandemic I thought it wasn’t a problem being self quarantined. I felt that it was my usual schedule. But I guess it’s not. I miss my family and friends, I miss travel, I miss going places and doing things. I tend to go to the same restaurant if I want take out because I feel I can trust them for safety. I don’t get delivery. I have started going to the supermarket after a couple of months of getting Instacart deliveries.

But it’s time to get out and about again, only the covid numbers keep going up. I’m not sure why people can’t be safe. I see so many people without masks. I read that if everyone wore a mask when they are in public, the virus would be gone in a couple of months because it would have nowhere to go.

Let’s hope for change soon. Who would have thought 2020 would have been like this? One whole year – a strange year – 2020. Not 2019 or 2018 – unlucky 2020!

I love when people persevere

josh

My friend Josh

My friend Josh, a tv producer, is now the Key Lime Pie King around here. So from behind the camera to in front of it – he was featured on GMA yesterday. I remember one day he told me he wanted to get a cart to sell his pies around town. I didn’t know what he was talking about, but a week later he sent me a picture of his pink and green monster – he already had the cart and was selling pies from it around town.

Josh is a tv producer (you probably know so many of his shows) – who loves making and selling the best key lime pies! The grass is always greener, how many would rather be a tv producer (and cameraman), he filmed this whole thing himself since GMA was unable to send a crew out!

What I love about this story is the success of it. So many people are out of work due to the pandemic and this is the time to realize our dreams. It’s a time of change. And rather than sit around and mope, Josh started doing something he loves – baking!

Whenever I see one of these success stories on tv, I literally get up and touch the person on the tv. Seriously! If it’s a mom who started a million dollar business from her kitchen table, or a guy who saved the family farm or whatever, I am very interested in that. I thrive on that. I touch them so I can get a piece of them – a piece of their energy. I do that for people who also have come back from a bad illness or accident, too. And to know someone like Josh, who I would touch through the tv, is even better – especially since I can touch him in person!

josh-tom

Josh (right) and me selling pies last Sunday.

I voted by mail for the first time

voteI voted by mail, I sent in the ballot for the August primaries. I’ve never voted by mail before, but I don’t feel comfortable going to a polling station during the pandemic.

I was always hesitant about voting by mail. I thought there would be too much fraud, but I looked it up, did my research and it seems that there is really no fraud, or nothing to really worry about.

I read on the NPR website:

Amber McReynolds, a former Colorado election official and now the CEO of the National Vote at Home Institute, and Charles Stewart, director of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab, recently put the numbers in context in an op-ed in The Hill titled “Let’s put the vote-by-mail ‘fraud’ myth to rest.

Over the past 20 years, more than 250 million ballots have been cast by mail nationwide, while there have been just 143 criminal convictions for election fraud related to mail ballots. That averages out to about one case per state every six or seven years, or a fraud rate of 0.00006%.

That is one case per state every six or seven years! I’m sure there are more mistakes made at a polling station by the workers on the premises.

I see many people are against it. I’m not sure why. I guess they don’t want certain votes to count, I doubt it’s the other way around – having votes lost or not counted. Since this was a primary I tried it out. There is a website you go to which lets you know that your vote arrived.

To be honest, our local post office is bad, if my vote doesn’t make it, I would assume it is there ineptness, not the voting process. I would normally snail mail important things from another post office in the area, but this primary vote really was just a party thing where you vote for people in your own party to go up against others in the fall. So I was willing to risk it.

I’m sure I will vote at the actual polls in November. I want to be sure my vote is done on the premises.

It brings back weird memories

aspI have a friend who can’t read or write. He doesn’t know that I know, but I found out one day after showing him this, today’s comic. Lots of my comics are old comics that were never published before. This asp/snake one is one of those.

About 10 years ago or so I showed him this comic and he didn’t laugh. I said, “Don’t you get it?” And he said, “No,” with a straight face. I asked, “How can you not get it?” I was a bit upset, feeling that my comic was worthless. And we had a minor argument. It didn’t last but when I found out he couldn’t read months later, I felt awful.

Every time I see this comic I think of that. I haven’t seen him for awhile, but other than the literacy or lack of it, he is one of the most intelligent people I know. He can fix almost anything, he knows something about everything, but he has that one flaw which is a shame.

He owned a small business in town. For so long I tried to get him to take credit cards so he would get more sales. He lost so many when he told people he didn’t take credit cards. I told him about Square and how easy it is to use for vendors. But now I know it is because his lack of reading was probably a hindrance in him understanding how to operate the credit card processing system once it was set up. I guess there is some reading involved when people hand your their card. I’m assuming his wife handled the other business things – like the books and paying bills. She didn’t work with him, but I guess whenever she could she handled that stuff.

Anyway, I love this cartoon, but it always has that weird memory for me when I see it, even though it’s been redrawn and redone, it still has that affect on me.