Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Packing It up

Well, looks like my time here in NYC is almost up. In a few days I'll head back to Tampa Bay and begin working again as a full-time graphic artist (and part-time cartoonist). This experiment was great. I have pushed both of my cartoons ahead both in content and production. I had a very hectic pace, but it was completely worth it. And, hey, I even now have a few of my cartoons in the general collection of the MoCCA museum. I get defined the characters of Cafe con Leche and now feel really good about that strip. It has been a great month. I hope to continue at that pace in Tampa, where I will open up a studio specifically for the purpose of drawing cartoons.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Productive week

End of the week, a most productive week at the. So far, I've managed to draw about 40 cartoons this week, a record for me. Doing 2 syndicated daily cartoons can be diffult at times, but this month's sabbatical in NYC has really helped. Productivity is way high, and I'm starting to define the characters in "Cafe con Leche." Plus, I think its making the folks at Creators Syndicate happy (now that I'm ahead of schedule). In the words of the great poet Ice Cube, "today was a good day." Its gonna suck to have to go back to the day job in 2 weeks, but at least I'll have a good head start.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Cross polination

Very soon, you will see Trey from "Cafe Con Leche" make and appearance on "Working It Out" as one of Mr. Jamison's stable of peons. I've been tossing that idea around for a while, but now seems like a good time to do it. I don't think that you'll see Mr. Jamison in "Cafe con Leche," but his name will be mentioned by Trey.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Its hard out there for a 'toonist.

Well, I've been drawing my brains out the last 25 days or so, and done a little marketing of the stip on the side. What I've come to realize is that marketing is a full time job. I've sent out hundreds of postcard mailers, flyers (english and Spanish), sent bunches of emails and made a ton of phone calls to potential clients of my strip this month. The result: Nada. Not one new client this month. I'd be pretty bummed right now if I didn't realize that this is just par for the course. Most cartoonists go through it, and now its just my time. The secret is just getting the word out, by any means necessary.
Basically, to use the metaphore, I've planted the seeds of my cartoon "Cafe con Leche" to hundreds of comic editors around the country. I guess I'll have to wait for the harvest in the coming months. The marketing side of the biz is quite unpleasant, but I guess its a necessary evil.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Uptown vs. Downtown

Over the last few day, I've been spending some time up in Harlem, mostly doing research for my cartoon Cafe con Leche. I have to admit, I mostly avoided the neighborhood when I used to live here long ago. What I discovered is a vibrant, afro-centric community filled with wonderful architecture and open, welcoming people. Contrast that with the cold, distant feel of my downtown neighborhood of Battery Park City. Not saying that all of Manhattan is cold (most NYers are quite nice), but downtowners are generally about as cold as a block of ice.
Case in point: this morning, a woman cut me in line at the coffee shop in the World Financial Center in my neighborhood. I kinda lost it at that point. I gave her a piece of my mind, and she didn't seem to care. So, I took my coffee (and two packets of Equal) and walked off. Just then, I realized that I might be able to use this incident in my cartoon. I couldn't wait to get home and write about it. So, I guess living downtown has been great from a cartooning standpoint, but I definitely wouldn't want to live here on a permanent basis. Give me Astoria, Williamsburg, or Harlem anyday.

Friday, July 20, 2007

MoCCA visit

Today I made my first visit to the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) in New York's SoHo neighborhood. I must say that I was quite impressed with what I saw. Though the space was smallish, they had quite an impressive collection of origional cartoon art. I liked the Stan Lee exhibit, but what stood out most was their collection from African American cartoonists. Its always good to check out other artist's work to see where you stand as a cartoonist. And, believe me, there were some phenominal cartoonist work there. I was so impressed with their collection, that I even decided to donate a couple of pieces of my own work to the museum.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Drawing cartoons about racism

It's a very touchy subject, yet one that is hard to ignore, especially for an African-American cartoonist. I try not to even touch on the subject with my cartoon "Working It Out" because it focuses on business and office politics. However, "Cafe Con Leche" is a cartoon about an African-American and a Latina who are married and live in a mostly white affluent neighborhood. I've thought about this a lot can I'm still not sure about it.
Aaron MacGruder used to tackle this subject a lot with his "Boondocks" cartoon. I've also seen the subject in "La Cucaracha" by Lalo Alcaraz and in "Candorville" by Darrin Bell. I do know that its a topic that the syndicates would rather not touch due to alienating certain readership groups. I prefer to take a more sublte approach. I will be incorporating racism themes in the future for CCL, but mostly poking fun at its ignorance. Just a heads-up.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Rainy, nasty New York morning

Had to cut my run short this morning due to heavy rain and lightning. The good news is that it gives me an early jump on cartooning. Just have 1 cartoon left to draw and that's it for the week.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Cafe con Leche in NYC

Yesterday, my friend Kevin surprised me and took me to this place on the Upper West side of Manhattan called Cafe Con Leche. It was kinda hoping the this restaurant would inspire some ideas for my cartoon of the same name. Didn't happen. Though they did serve empanadas and Ropa Vieja (Cuban dish). I'll be going out to Queens later this week (Jackson Heights to be precise) to do more research for my cartoon.

Jerry Craft book signing

Friend and fellow African-American cartoonist Jerry Craft, creator of the "Mama's Boyz" comic strip, will be making an appearance at the 9th annual Harlem Book fair in New York City Saturday July 21st. Jerry is the author of the books "Home Schoolin'" and "Mama's Boyz: As American as apple pie." I have the later, its a fun read.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Supplies and Stuff

Wow! I can't believe that I've already blown through a whole Bristol pad in a week. 30 cartoons per week will to that to you supply count. I'm also running low on pens and, thus, I must soon make the trek to Chinatown (Canal at Broadway to be precise) to fill up on supplies. Which will probably run out next week. I don't know about you, but I just can't deal with pens when they start to split. My pens of choice are the Micron Pigma brand, sizes 005 to 0.5. Good stuff. I feel like that actually glide on the paper. Though I am starting to play with the Copic pens, particularly the 0.03 tip. Very precise. Well, off I go. I hope that the number 2 subway isn't too packed today. Nobody wants to be stuck on a packed train next to a person who forgot to put on his/her deodorant. Not a pleasant sight.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The "Jamison" boss

A lot of people that the main character of my cartoon "Working It Out" is based on one mean boss that I had back in Chicago. Truth is, while this manager was a great inspiration in the beginning, Mr. Jamison is really a product of my experiences with several bosses, along with boss stories from some dear friends. Yes, the Mr. Jamison character did get his start in Chicago, but the character has grown so much since those days. Each time that a friend or associate tells me a bad boss story I'm mentally taking notes to apply to my cartoon. Granted, had a few bad bosses in my day. Mean ones, sadistic ones, backstabbbing ones, even flat-out racists ones. All of that has fueled the fire for my cartoon. I used to get upset when an unreasonable boss terrorized various newsrooms that I worked for, but now its something that I seek out. On the flip side, research for the Jamison character can be difficult if the boss is...dare I say...competent. Strangely enough, my current boss is actually quite good. Nice, thourough, fair and understanding. Basically everything Mr. Jamison is not. I had to find other avenues for my reasearch. Luckly, though good bosses exist in corporate America, they are vastly outnumbered by the Jamison types. I just hope they keep the material coming.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Moving ahead

So, after 12 days in New York City I've managed to get a little breathing room for my cartoons. I was barely meeting the deadlines when I arrived here, now I've almost a full month ahead on my dailies. Its amazing what a little change in focus will do. I hope to be a full 2 months ahead on my dailies at the end of July. But that's gonna take a lot of hard work, along with several trips to Starbucks.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

R.I.P. Doug Marlette

Just got the news that editorial cartoonist Doug Marlette passed away today. I remember reading Doug's stuff when he was working at Newsday.


AAEC Convention in full swing

The annual American Association of Editorial Cartoonists convention is in full effect down in D.C. With the number of full time editorial cartoonists shrinking at an alarming rate, this convention should be good. Even at the newspaper I work for (The St. Pete Times) we've been without a cartoonist for for years. This trend doesn't look like its going to stop anytime soon.

Hot, muggy day.

Just came back inside to start my cartooning day. Man, it is hot and humid out there! Almost Miami-style humid...in New York.
Its gonna be tough to draw today. All I want to do is lay in bed with the AC on. But the cartoons aren't gonna draw themselves.

Monday, July 9, 2007

New cartoon polls: Are they really necessary?

A couple of weeks ago I found out that my cartoon "Cafe con Leche" was among several cartoons that were placed in an online reader poll. According to the newspaper, which ever cartoon that garnered the most votes from 'readers' would be added to their comics section. These cartoon polls are a growing trend with daily newspapers and it seems that feature editors are unwilling to just make the decision for themselves. I've worked in the newspaper industry for 12 years and I know the challenges that newspapers face each day. Still, it just seems like a double-standard. I have never seen a reader poll for selecting a syndicated columnist. Also, these 'reader polls' can be manipulated. If its an online poll, and most are, that leaves the decision of selecting a new feature up to those in cyberspace. Basically, a cartoonist can simply forward emails to freinds, family, and coworkers to vote for him/her. Kudos to the smaller circulation papers, though. I don't remember the last time I've seen a cartoon reader poll in a newspaper with a circulation less than 50,000.

Friday, July 6, 2007

A Flurry of Ideas

I did my ususal routine this morning: took my morning run up the West Side Hwy., ran into Starbucks (sweating heavily) for my morning coffee and muffin, took a shower. Then, suddenly in the middle of the shower, cartoon ideas came flowing like the stream from the shower head. Ridiculous as it sounds, I hopped out of the shower and jotted down as many as I could. All of these ideas were for my cartoon Cafe con Leche. I guess after being here for almost a week ideas are starting to come at a fast rate. I can't give you details about these ideas, but I can tell you that they're good! And constroversial. But not the Aaron MacGruder definition of controversial. Good stuff though. I think.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Black cartoonists (revisited)

Thanks a reply from dd dreg (good looking out, yo) I was finally able to get a partial list of the black cartoonists out there. Here's what I have so far...

Morrie Turner
Robb Armstrong
Keith Knight
Stephen Bentley
Darrin Bell
Cory Thomas
Steve Watkins
Ray Billingsley
Barbara Brandon
Jerry Craft
Charles Boyce
And me, Charlos Gary

Thats 12 cartoonists. Of that those on that Iist, I only know Jerry Craft. Hopefully, I'll get to meet all of them some day.
Twelve is a small number, yet that's still more that the number of Latino, Asian and female cartoonist out there. In a country of such diversity why is that reflected in the funny pages?

Post-4th hangover

Well, I went out and saw the fireworks and took it easy on the cartooning for a day. All of us standing on an overpass of the FDR got completely soaked waiting for Mayor Bloomberg to get the party started. It was about a half hour late, but it happened. I saw a hot dog vendor from Egypt totally lose it at the sight of synchronized fireworks cascading back to earth. It made me realize how many of us gringos take that kind of stuff for granted.
Now I find myself trying to make up for lost time on the cartooning front. Back to business as usual I guess. Not that I'm complaining or anything. As I stood on that rain-soaked overpass, I hoped that I would get inspired by the mass of humanity to each direction of me. I got jack. Oh, well, back to the drawing board (literally).

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy 4th of July

Taking a break today. Enjoy the fireworks!!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Dissed by chat board

I was reading an internet message board a while back (February or so). Creators Syndicate was just introducing my cartoon "Cafe con Leche" to their website with a month-long sneak preview. I was appalled to read personal attacks on this message board. Most were cartoonists and they were dissin' my strip left and right. One of them was a recognizable cartoonist, though I won't mention names. I thought the whole thing was silly, though it did piss me off a bit. I guess what I'm asking is where is the unity among cartoonists, particulaly those of color? Boondocks goes off the shelf, and suddenly the rest of us go into diss-mode about the next cartoon. It kinda reminded me of the whole Biggie vs. Tupac thing. A lot a beef, but nothing else. Everybody is talented, otherwise do you think we'd be syndicated? As a cat who knows what its like to stay up till 3 am just not to miss a deadline, I sympathize with all of my fellow toonists.

Studying incognito

Just finished a couple of cartoons this morning and realized that all of my pens are worn down. Man, I really go through those things fast these days. I'm headed to the 1 train uptown to get some more later on.
Which reminds me. I was on the subway the other day watching people interact and took copious notes. Lots of subject matter for Cafe Con Leche on the train, so why not take notes? I tried my best not to offend anybody, but this stuff is good!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Where are the black cartoonists?

I was thinking the other day that there are only a handful of African-American syndicated cartoonists. I'm guessing that there are less than 10 of us currently syndicated, and the numbers keep getting smarter. I went to the reception of the National Cartoonist Society (NCS) Rubens Awards ceremony and didn't find another minority face. Pretty sad. I was hoping to bump into Morrie Turner or Robb Armstrong. Didn't find another brutha except the one in the mirror. It was a messed up situation. I have to do more research on the topic, but if anybody knows of the actual number I'd really like to know.

Missing the Comic Con

I regret to say that I will NOT be attending the annual ComicCon International convention in San Diego later this month. I went last year and had a blast! Lots of stuff to do and tons of people from the comic industry. Though it seems geared toward the comic book enthusiast its still a fun time. I fully planned to attend most of the forums there, especially the black cartoonist forum. I certainly hope that I can make next year. In case you're interested in hearing more about the event, here's their link....


About Trey

Today I'll attempt to draw at least 3 Cafe Con Leche comic strips. Since I don't have the daily gig in my way, I hope to get lots done. CCL is a really personal comic strip to me because much of its subject matter is based on actual events that have happened in my life, which often makes it difficult to draw. The lead character Trey is an African-American professional who grew up in the inner-city and is just realizing that his entire world has changed. Just having married his new South American wife, Trey is still trying to balance the corporate world and his inner city roots. Not to mention the challenges of a new marriage. Having live most of that scenario I can tell you that it can be quite stressful.

Starting my day

Just woke up this morning thinking about topics for my cartoons and I'm coming up with nada. I need to take a walk over to Starbucks with my new Starbucks card that was given to me by someone special. I'm hoping that walking the city streets can inspire me to create wonderful things for "Cafe con Leche." The cartoon is about a biracial couple, so what better place to examine multicultral life than New York?
I can't afford to park my car in my apartment building (I'm just not going to pay $450 per month), so I'm going to New Jersey to find a parking space. Much cheaper over there, but its just wierd to have my car in Jersey while I'm here in the city. Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Charlostoons store is now open

Hey, just in case you're interested in buying "Working It Out" or "Cafe con Leche" related items (mugs etc) the new Charlostoons store is now open on Cafe Press. Go ahead, buy some stuff.



Whew! I can't tell what a relief it is not to have to worry about doing double-duty as a graphic artist/cartoonist. This is my second day officially on sabattical from my day job at the St. Petersburg Times. In addition to that job, I also draw two daily cartoons, which leaves me with zero free time and absolutely no social life. Today I woke up and drew 3 "Working It Out" cartoons and still had time to enjoy the day. That's strange to me. Usually I spend my Sundays trapped in my studio from morning till midnight. Very, very cool. I managed to get three cartoons done today. I'll to do more tomorrow.

Profiled in NYC

As I start my 1-month long sojourn into full-time cartooning here in New York, I can't help to notice how many times I have been profiled in the last 24 hours. I'm staying in the apartment of a white associate, in one of most least diverse apartment buildings that in the city. All of the doormen seem to think that I don't belong in the building and always question my motives for even stepping foot in their locale. The most frustrating part of all of this is that ALL of these doormen are ethnic minorities, just like me. Clearly, these fellas don't have mirror in their own homes. Somehow I believe that this latest episode in my life will make its way into my comic strip "Cafe con Leche." I'll keep you posted.


Just took moved to New York to spend 1 month doing nothing but drawing cartoons. Very very exciting time. I had spent the last 5 years or so doing double-duty as a newspaper graphic artist and cartoonist. This is the first time in my life that I have ever dedicated myself entirely to drawing my two cartoons.