On December 26th 2012 at about 11am, I started to slip away as my brain and body both began to gradually shut down. A tiny blood vessel had ruptured in the left thalamus of my brain like a bomb blast in my head, and 4 years later I’m still living in the ruins of that explosion. Every day gives me ample illustration of all that I’ve lost, but today, on the anniversary of what could easily have been my death, I prefer to ponder all that I still have, and any advancements that I’ve made. Boxing Day has become my very own personal day of thanksgiving.
A major goal of my rehabilitation has been somehow getting back to work in a body that no longer operates properly. Having a useless drawing arm has been very challenging for a cartoonist, but despite this I’m happy to say that 2016 was a work milestone. Firstly, Thanks to the recommendations of old friends ED BELL & STEVE LEE, I had three months teaching 3 seperate classes of 2D animation at Academy of Art University. I had never tried teaching before, but settled into it when I saw each class as a creative team with a creative goal that we worked towards together; a process that I have a great deal of experience with.
I’ve been retraining to draw with my LEFT hand ever since losing dexterity in my trusty RIGHT drawing hand, and those efforts recently paid off when I landed a 7 month storyboarding gig just after my teaching assignment finished. My old friend JIM CAPOBIANCO took a chance on me, and I storyboarded on an animated sequence within a live action film (the new MARY POPPINS) under Jim’s direction. I had to make up for my lack of left-handed drawing speed by working long hours each week, but I was happy to do it. The chance to make myself useful as a professional cartoonist again was an absolute joy.
Since waking up in a hospital bed 4 years ago, half paralysed and 220k in debt (due to an insurance SNAFU) I had a powerful motivation to think of some new way to make a living, but although I wracked my damaged brain as hard as I might, I simply could not think of a viable PLAN-B career. Being a cartoonist is all I’ve ever wanted to do, or been half way good at. There is still a lot of uncertainty, but that has always been the life of a freelance cartoonist. My recent medical travails have highlighted it perhaps, but adapting to change was always a big part of this career I chose for myself at the age of 17.
Like living in a half ruined house, some things still work in this ramshackle body of mine but many things don’t. Some damage may be repaired one day, some damage may be permanent, and it’s often hard to know the difference. But with the help of dear colleagues & friends believing in a slightly shop-soiled cartoonist, I’m extraordinarily thankful that, professionally at least, I’M BACK.