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New Momentum

Whether it’s the whitish-grey curtain (sky) hanging over our frozen city, the medical issues I’ve been grappling with recently, or the latest work aspirations I’ve thrown into the mix…I’ve been feeling pretty darn reflective and melancholy lately.

I don’t think this is a bad thing. Notice I didn’t say “malaise” or “depressed.” I’m actually oddly excited and enthused on top of everything. Let me provide some context.

I have a blood disorder called Essential Thrombocytosis. If you’re a regular PD reader, you’ve probably noticed a strip or two referencing this. It basically means that my bone marrow produces too many platelets (I liken it to gooey cake batter). Anyway, I was diagnosed with ET in 2009…even ran a story line about it in 2010 (here’s the blog post). My only symptoms were migraines and occasional fatigue, which I thankfully got under control. My lone treatment was a daily baby aspirin to keep my blood thinned.

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Unfortunately, my platelet count has been rising, slowly and steadily, over the past 5 years. When the count reaches a certain level, more aggressive medication is recommended. I’ve finally crossed that threshold, and last week I started taking meds to lower the count.

I knew there could be side effects. And dosage experiments. And even a mental slump as the reality of this disease hits home. That’s exactly what happened this week. As far as side effects go, I think I finally have it under control, so that’s a relief. In a few weeks I’ll see if the meds are doing what they’re supposed to.

In the meantime, I’m embarking on some new side work endeavors — which I won’t reveal in case they don’t pan out (c’mon, I’m a little superstitious). As with all new things, this means I’m excited, enthused, nervous, worried, and fearful at once. It also requires a fair amount of research, so throw “consumed” in the mix. It’s amazing I haven’t added a new medicinal cocktail to my regimen:

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The reason all this isn’t bad is because I’m starting to feel, well, repurposed.  It’s funny. So much has happened in my professional life this past decade, I kept telling everyone I needed a break. Last year, after the extensive planning of my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah, I told everyone I needed a break. After years of publishing books, doing signings, presenting, and meeting deadlines, I told everyone I needed a break.

Yet…

This month, after all the dust settled, after some reflecting and talking with colleagues, and looking into the uncharted future, I’ve come to terms with something about myself:

I hate inertia.

I like momentum. I like new challenges. I’m even starting to like the excitement of the unknown. I’ve always been ambitious, but I thought once I hit my stride in my field, I’d relax a little. Boy, was I wrong.

What I actually get is bored.

So that is why, dear readers, I’m happy to embrace this period of reflection and even the melancholy wake-up call of a blood disorder. This is why I’m aiming to try new things (alongside planning the next Bat Mitzvah – hey, I didn’t say I was sane). I don’t think it’s an accident that new aspirations have collided with a physical stumbling block. I think things happen for a reason.

So wish me luck. And happy adventures.

 

 

 

In-house editors

Recently, a reader asked me how my family reacts to my strips and their opinion of my work. I get asked this a lot.

Here it is in a nutshell:

I run every strip by my family. My husband helps me select the strongest ideas. He also offers suggestions sometimes.

My kids read them, too. They’ll only offer feedback if there’s something they strongly object to. Also, my younger daughter has a good eye — she’s actually caught quite a few mistakes that have slipped by us.

I try and be sensitive to my children and not write strips that could embarrass them. Some may have slipped through the cracks, but for the most part, I’m hyper-aware. I did NOT write a story line about one of the girls getting her period. I did NOT write any strips about the umpteenth boyfriend (or flavor of the week) my 6th grader has. I sure as hell did NOT write a strip about one of the kids walking into the bedroom while the parents were having sex.

Oh wait, I did. Scratch that.

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Overall, my kids are very blase and indifferent about what I do. Once in a while they’ll tell me they really like a strip or (gasp) even laugh out loud. But I’ve been writing PD for almost all of their little lives. They don’t know any better because this is what they’ve grown up with. So they’re used to my work and think I’m totally uncool (remember, 14 and 12 years old).

My husband is rather a good sport. He honestly doesn’t care if I poke fun of Rob, his alter ego. He’s taken a lot of ribbing at work, poor guy, but he has a thicker skin than a rhinoceros. Then again, Rob is usually the straight man in the strip. Maybe the person whose reaction I should worry about is my own.

The only other family member I try to be aware of is my mom. The character, Judy, is based on her, so I’m pretty sensitive to how she comes across. Thankfully, my mom loves me, the character, and the strip (not necessarily in that order), so she doesn’t mind when Judy gets a little brassy.

Overall, my clan has a pretty wicked sense of humor. Thank goodness…otherwise I couldn’t get away with half of what I do.

 

 

JCC Local Author Day

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I’m very excited to be part of the Cleveland Mandel JCC Jewish Book Festival’s “Local Author Day” on Sunday, November 16, 2:00 pm -3:30 pm. You can purchase tickets here. I’ll speak briefly about my two latest books, “The Pajama Diaries: Having It All” and “The Pajama Diaries: Bat-Zilla.” There will also be a book signing following the panel (psst, great gifts for the holidays!)

Hope you can make it!

Kenosha!

Just returned from a five-day stint (including travel time) to the Kenosha Festival of Cartooning. It did not disappoint.

Rather than rehash the great things that have been posted, I’ll just provide some links, plus add some photos of my own.

Click for “Comic Strip of the Day” by Mike Peterson for all the day-by-day festival updates. By the way, Mike’s blog is a must-read for every type of comics fan.

Click for the podcast by Tom Racine of “Tall Tale Radio” from the festival gallery show. Tom’s podcasts are always top-notch and entertaining. My interview is the second one, and — I promise — it’s short.

And here are some miscellaneous photos for your viewing pleasure:

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Sunrise view from our hotel. The one time a picture does it justice.

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WGTD radio interview with many of the guest cartoonists.

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At Andrea’s Cigars and Gift Shop, one of the festival’s sponsors.

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At Bjorn’s Clothing Emporium, another fun, quirky sponsor store.

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At a high school for a presentation and drawing session with a few hundred (very) enthusiastic students.

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I had the privilege of drawing for this very sweet student a “Jill at a pajama party” pic.

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Demonstrating my character drawing at a cartooning class for kids of all ages.

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Signing away after many fine guest presentations.

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Just a little something we signed to show our appreciation for a fine meal.

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OK, this image I stole from Mike Peterson’s blog. It’s our last night, whilst relaxing. And yes, I smoked it. Am I proud? You betcha. (And I blame the guy sitting next to me who taught me — the wonderful Scott Stantis.)

A hearty thanks to Anne Hambrock for organizing this incredible event. For everyone who loves comics, I recommend that you make it to Kenosha next year!

 

 

Kenosha Festival of Cartooning

I’ll be presenting next Saturday, September 27, at the Kenosha Festival of Cartooning. If you live near the area (yes, I’m also talking to you, Chicagoans), come join us! There’s an incredible lineup of speakers among other great events, like a live charity auction, comics exhibits, receptions, panel discussions, and kids’ cartooning classes. Best of all, the events are FREE. Check it out here.

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Benched, Part 2

It pains me — really pains me — that I can’t publish this rough strip. But I pretty much knew it as soon as I wrote it.

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As my editor and I talked, he pointed out that the first two panels are fine. Same-sex parenting can (and should, in my opinion) be discussed. It’s the third panel that kind of reduces the whole thing. I get that.

But, dammit, it’s still funny. And that’s what pains me the most.

Thank goddness for the blog. At least I have a platform for this. I’m sure more benched ones will be coming. Maybe even enough to start a web comic.

Hmm…

A cupple of things…

Two exciting events to throw your way: The first is the upcoming Kenosha Festival of Cartooning, Sept 25-27, 2014. There will be a lineup of great speakers, including yours truly. There is also a wonderful gallery exhibit happening now (see below):

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In addition, I’m pleased to be part of the collective narrative, “Bullying Is No Laughing Matter,” which promotes an ever-important anti-bullying message. More than 30 comics artists are involved. Buy your copy today!

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Benched.

So not every strip I write makes it to print. Each month, I write for about a week straight, with the goal of accumulating 45-50 strips. I then edit carefully, narrowing them down to the 30 or so funniest or most pertinent ones. These get published for a particular month (for example, I just wrote my December comics).

Once in a while, I write one that I like, but it might cross the line. Don’t get me wrong — some cross the line and I still publish them. But others might be, well, too disgusting for someone’s morning coffee and comics ritual.

Here’s a rough cartoon from the December batch that I particularly like. Unfortunately, my editor and I decided it crossed the “gross-out” line. Fortunately, it’s not too gross to stick up on my much-less-censored blog. So enjoy!

Oh, and if you’re eating in front of the computer screen…sorry.

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