A long time ago -- ten years ago -- when I was in my last year as a career college administrator (although I didn't KNOW it was my last year just then), I went to a professional college administrator conference. It was like all those conferences: you get a folder of papers, you say hi to your colleagues, grab a bagel & coffee, and then you sit and listen in a big auditorium to people talking about higher education all the live long day. Ho hum.
And it just didn't feel right. I looked around at everyone there -- all smartly dressed and pretty smart people to boot -- and I felt upset. The feeling increased during the day.
By the end of the conference I knew that I didn't feel at home with any of these people. Heck, I flat out didn't like any of these people -- despite the good looks and smartness I mentioned in the second paragraph. I also knew that I wanted to cartoon for a living.
So -- long story short -- I quit.
So now it's 2006. I've gone from full-time administrator to full-time freelance cartoonist. My cartoons are in media all over the world. I'm an active member of the National Cartoonists Society, a group of people I had only read about when I was younger.
Today, I look around at a gathering of my cartoonist colleagues -- and I feel very much at home. A lot of these people are like family now.
One of the nicest, most sweet things that has happened to me - as well as my wife -- is this cover of the current issue of Archie, pencilled by my fellow Berndt Toaster Stan Goldberg.
Stan's been drawing Archie for over 200 issues. He is considered the seminal Archie artist. If you wanna know how to draw Archie, he's your go-to guy.
When I first met Stan, I called him "Mr. Goldberg." To which, he replied, "Don't call me Mr. Goldberg. 'Mr. Goldberg" is my father's name. Call me Stan."
Since then, we've become friends and he's invited me to his studio, which overlooks Eastchester Bay. He showed me some of his originals, all set to be mailed to Archie. He's let me look at his amazing collection of original cartoon art. Basically, I was a kid in a candy store and he let me behave like one.
On the cover of the current issue of Archie, to my surprise, he put my wife's name near the end of Santa's list. I thought maybe it was a fluke. "Stacy" is a common name. But when I asked him if that was "MY Stacy" on Santa's list, he grinned slyly and added that, yes, it was her. (The first couple of names are his grandkids, by the way.)
This is the second time that her name's been used by a writer or artist. There's one of those FEAR STREET books with her name in it as well. But that's another story.
Anyway, such a sweet thing for Stan to do.