Things causing me annoyance:
— a cell phone that randomly freezes
— a draggy mouse that doesn’t respond well
— the noise of lawnmowers in the neighborhood

Things causing bursts of happy feelings:
— the “batch” function in Photoshop
— big thunderstorms yesterday

* * *

Cartoonist Scott Nickel sent me 20 questions to post as an interview on his blog, http://scottnickel.blogspot.com. There are other good interviews with cartoonists there, and more coming soon. I thought it would be a good idea to answer one or a few at a time and post them here too (being the super-efficient multi-tasker that I am).

1. When you were a kid, did you want to be a cartoonist? Did you draw?

My earliest drawing memory is from age three. I drew a stick figure with hands that were little circles with many long lines radiating from them. I proudly showed it to my dad at the breakfast table. He tried his best to be encouraging, but informed me that hands have only five fingers each.

When I was about 10, I fell in love with “Peanuts” and traced them over and over. I read comic books like “Richie Rich” and “Archie,” but it was “Peanuts” that I became obsessed with (an obsession that shaped the dreams and future careers of many of my generation of cartoonists — we were hopelessly brainwashed in our formative years).

I loved learning art in school, from finger-painting in pre-school through anatomy classes in college. In fifth grade my wonderful art teacher Mrs. Lihan taught us how shading works, and I still remember the thrill of learning that secret.

2. What was your first paying cartoon job?

In the late 1980s, when I was still in college, I got a job painting cels for short animated cartoon that was intended to motivate the sales team of Huggies diapers in their competition with Pampers. We got $4 an hour and worked 14-hour days. In 1992 I was offered a part-time job at a weekly paper, and the editor, Stephen Wissink, offered me the opportunity to draw a regular editorial cartoon. I did that for years before it ever occurred to me to try to self-syndicate.