Monday, June 30, 2008

The LIC studio

Today I'm busy arranging things in my new studio in Long Island City, Queens NYC. It's actually a very cool studio space complete with a wonderful view of the Queensboro Bridge and Manhattan. The studio is actually bigger in size than my living space. That's New York for you. Every artist need to be inspired and views inspire me. I'm sure that I'll be drawing tons of cartoons with this kind of view, just not today.
Got my first freelance job interview. I guess that's good news. A manhattan company wants me to do some cartoon illustrations for them. We'll see how that goes.
Getting a bit hungry, so I'm headed down to Vernon Blvd. to look for a hot meal.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

New York morning

Well, It's Sunday morning and its hot as hell! Thought I'd left the heat and humidity back in Florida. I have about 12 cartoons to process this weekend, but I'll prolly get them done by Sunday morning. Got freelance job interview next week. Yay! If it wasn't for freelance gigs and my monthly cartoonist royalty I'd be done for. Life if kinda different now that I don't have a full-time gig. Fortunately the other "starving-artists" in and around the neighborhood remind me that I'm not alone in this. It's good to be a part of a movement, I guess.
I found a new art supply store yesterday. I used to go to Pearl on Canal St. but got tired of climbing 5 flights of stairs to get what I want, not to mention the mindless tourists hanging around. I'm now going to the oddly-named Blicks. Technically its in Village, but has more of a SoHo feel. Good stuff, cheap prices and no stairs! My kinda art store.

Friday, June 27, 2008

My Queens adventure

Well, I'm officially a starving artist now. Complete with my own art studio. I just rented a 400 sq. ft. art studio in the Long Island City (L.I.C.) neighborhood of Queens. I have a lovely view of the Queensboro Bridge and you can see the Manhattan skyline at night. It's a wonderful space filled with artists. The neighborhood is kinda cool too. I'm just 2 blocks from the Q'boro. On the other side of the bridge is New York's largest housing project called "The Queensbridge projects," home such hip-hoppers as Nas (new school) and Marley Marl (Old school). To the south of me, along Vernon Blvd. is the ultra-yuppie section of L.I.C called "Queens West." Lots of luxury hi-rise over there, but some fine eateries too. If you're ever in the area you can always find me drinking a pint of something at Domenies Hoek or L.I.C Bar, both on Vernon Blvd.
Around the corner from me along Jackson Ave. is the great "5 points" art studios. The place is recognizable from the subway due to all of the grafitti on the walls. Across the street from there is the PS1 museum of art. Good stuff there. Up Vernon (past the projects) is the Noguchi gardens museum. Also VERY cool.
I guess I lucked out on the neighborhood front. Now I just need to pay the rent.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Aching feet

Well, I finally got the nerve to stand in line at the NYC DMV to get my new license. Four hours later I had it. I must've walked 6 miles on the hard concrete today, in nice shoes. I'm here trying to come up with a cartoon Idea but all I want to do is soak my feet in water. I guess I'm becoming soft in my old age.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Scaring the piss out of Lou Dobbs

You know, the strangest things happen to me here in New York City. A few weeks back I ran into one of "America's Next Top Models" on the uptown "Q" train at 14th Street. Today a much different story. After a long day of running errands, I decided to go in the Whole Foods store in Columbus Circle. That's right, black people shop at Whole Foods too!
Anyways, I loaded my cart with three bags of good and readied myself for the long trip uptown. As I exited the store on 58th Street, I spotted Lou Dobbs fiddling with his Blackberry. It's hard to miss a tall, gray-haired dude in an expensive suit walking down 58th. I stopped for a moment just to make sure it was him. I ran to catch up with him, tapped him on the shoulder (like a dumbass) and said "Hey, aren't you Lou Dobbs?" I swear, based on his reaction he probably thought that I was trying to mug him. He seemed dazed, but snapped back into focus once he realized that I had no interest in snatching his wallet.
He replied "yes, yes I am." I didn't want to seem like a moron, so I tried to make it brief. I said "You're that "Mr. Independent" guy, right?" What I REALLY wanted to say was ", why do you hate Mexicans so much?" I didn't have the heart to tell him that I had already done a cartoon about his Mexican-hating antics in "Cafe con Leche" earlier this year.
He seemed like a cool guy, though. After realizing that I actually watched him on CNN he seemed to brighten up. There's gotta be a cartoon idea in all of this.

Settling In again

Well, I finally made it to New York City. I'm here looking outside of my apartment window uptown on a dreary New York morning thinking about planning my day. Tons of things to do, but I still need to get at least 3 cartoons done today, which will be difficult. I have to remember that alternate-side parking is still in effect city wide, otherwise get my car towed. Lots to do. I'll check back in later.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I spent much of the day packing my stuff for the move to the city. The moving van comes tomorrow and it seems like my whole life is sitting in boxes. I can't make a "straight" move just yet. Most of my stuff will be sitting at a storage facility in Pinellas Park, Florida until I can get everything moved up. I must have thrown away a third of my stuff today. I guess it was time.
I tried to get as caught up with my cartoons as possible. The next time that I'll get a chance to draw will be on Monday, so I think I'm fine.
On a different note, I just learned that the "Single and Looking" cartoon by Matt Janz has ended. I was really rooting for it because it was so different. It didn't look like anything else in the comics pages. I guess that's how things are going in the newspaper industry.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Morning Joe

Good morning. I'm sitting here at The Junction coffee house on the corner of MacDill & Bay View Ave. in South Tampa. You gotta try their egg crossoint (tasty). I'm just coming down from the euphoria of yesterday's "Mr. Media" interview. It feels really good to have your work validated by the guys who draw "Hagar the Horrible" and "Curtis."
More drawing ahead of me today but I gotta start thinking about closing things out for my upcoming move. I haven't yet forwarded my mail or closed out accounts. I guess I'm just lazy (or apathetic). I'm in the process of looking for an agent to represent my work. Freelancing can be tough unless you got somebody to watch your back (theoretically).
Well, back to the coffee....

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My "Mr Media" interview

What a blast! Just got off the phone with Bob Andelman (aka Mr. Media). The interview as a fantastic experience. Got to chat with some legends of the industry who actually said that they liked "Cafe con Leche." I learned so much about the industry just from that 30 minute conversation. Thanks a bunch, Bob.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Saluting Tampa Bay

As many of you know I am moving from Tampa to New York in the coming weeks. I have never been a huge fan of the Tampa Bay area, with it's lack of cultural events and a non-existent arts scene. However, I've grown to actually enjoy a few things about living here. Reflecting on things, here are a few things I'm gonna miss...

1.) The beaches (though I never went)
2.) Jogging along Bay Shore Blvd. Among my favorite places to run in the country.
3.) South Tampa.
4.) Outlet Malls.
5.) Old Hyde Park
6.) Cory the dog
7.) Publix supermarkets
8.) Hillsborough Bay

Things that I'm definitely NOT going to miss...

1.) Rednecks/confederate flags/pickup trucks
2.) Slowness.
3.) The heat (and humidity).
4.) Lack of diversity.
5.) Greasy southern food (fried this, deep fried that, batter-dipped....)
6.) Bugs, flying insects.
7.) Flip-flops
8.) The Gasparilla Parade (aka "the poor man's Mardi Gras")

That said, I've dedicated this week's "Cafe con Leche" to all-things Florida. The first installation is above.

Friday, June 6, 2008

100th blog entry

I'm sitting here at the Starbucks on 145th street in NYC on a chilly and dreary day. I'm supposed to go back and start drawing new stuff for my "Cafe con Leche" cartoon but I'm just not in the mood. That never stops me though, I'm probably still going to get about 4 cartoons done today. Today I'm going to take a break from the foot-pounding job search. I've applied for a ton of jobs online and registered with a bunch of creative employment services around the city. I only have a few more days here until I jet back to Tampa to start the process of packing things up. That means that I have to get a ton of cartoons done before my move 2 weeks from now. Whew! I think I'll get it done. I think.
This is going to be my home now. Though I do love the city and all of its trappings, there is still the a bit of uneasyness in the air. I'll essentially be a squatter for the next few months and I only have a limited amount of savings in the bank. Fortunately I can always rely on my monthly syndicate royalty check (such as it is), which is a good reason to continue with the cartooning.
Make no mistake, there is a very daunting challenge facing me here. Being thrown to the wolves can be a scary prospect, however I have some REALLY good friends who are helping me along the way. To tell the truth, though, I'm really excited about all of this. I've been in kind of a rut of late and this is a necessary change, albeit an unexpected one.
Well, I'm off to the local Duane Reade pharmacy to buy a few necessities.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Pounding the pavement and eating ice cream

I spent most of the day walking the mean streets of New York looking for dropping off resumes to potential employers. It's a tight job market out there, but strangely the New York market seems to be looking good. I must have walked 7 or 8 miles today. To make up for the exercise I treated myself to some Ben & Jerry's ice cream in Times Square. Not good for a guy who's lactose intolerant. Besides, it doesn't bode well for my fitness routine. Oh well, unemployment does the strangest things to people. I had fun though, I can't complain. Hopefully I'll get some bites from this, but until then I'll keep cartooning.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sneaking people into my comic strip

It's no secret to those close to me that I like to sneak friends and associates into my cartoons, particularly "Cafe con Leche." The whole premise of the cartoon was based on the first year of marriage with my wife, so it was very personal to begin with. However, in order to make the cartoon more authentic, I've added a few familiar faces and places into the strip.

A few examples now:

Rita: I met this sassy Puerto Rican lady named Rita at a bar a few years back. She always struck me as angry but proud. When started coming up with ideas for Maria's best friend naturally the name "Rita" (la boriqua) stuck out.

Ray-Ray: I have a cousin who used to spend tons of time in and out of prison named Raynard. I thought of him when coming up with the name for Trey's pathetic womanizing best friend and cousin. Besides, I don't know black person who doesn't have a cousin Ray-Ray.

Mama G: That's an easy one. I just mad a blog entry about her a few entrys back. Also know as my own mama.

Mel the barber: Trey occasionally gets wise advise from a recurring character named Mel. In reality, Mel was named after my own barber Melvin in St. Petersburg. Barbers tend to be like psychologists with clippers in the black community. But sometimes they can jack up your hair, like Mel the barber tends to do (not the actual guy, though).

Richmond Heights: The fictional gated community where Trey and Maria live is actually the name of the my old neighborhood in Orlando, though I based the actual neighborhood on New York's UWS (upper west side).

Tanya: Occasionally I'll throw in the name "Tanya" into my strips as one of Ray-Ray's many ex-girlfriends that he can't quite remember. That name is actually based on a friend of mine back in San Diego who works at the daily paper there.

Bob: Bob Thompson, also known as "the token white guy." When I think of Bob only one name comes to mind: Matt Waite. Matt is a "star" reporter of a place I refer to as the "St. Pete Crimes," but he's a really strange guy (like Bob). I describe both of them as "geeky-cool."

I'm sure there are a few people that I forgot, but I'll get back to you.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The adventure begins

Just got back from my 4-mile run along Bayshore Drive in hot and muggy Tampa (I must be crazy). Soon I'll trade Bayshore for Central Park as my permanent move to New York begins. I'm heading up there tomorrow to look for jobs and to settle in a bit before I put all my crap in storage 3 weeks from now. I gotta find time to squeeze in a little cartooning time, which is going to be difficult in the next few weeks. I'm starting to get ahead in both strips so maybe I can take a deep breath.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Visiting the orginal "Mama G"

So today is Sunday and I'm going up to Orlando to pay a visit to my very own mother, the inspiration behind the "Mama G" character of my comic strip "Cafe con Leche." Most of the characters I draw in "Cafe con Leche" are based on people that I know, but the "Mama G" character is a nearly correct interpretation of my very own 'mama' (Julia Gary).
I suspect that she'll give me the usual lectures on eating right and stuff, but I'm really going up there with pen in hand to hopefully include more of here ways into my strip. You see, it was my mother who really encouraged me to follow my dreams of being an artist. She didn't really complain when I would draw characters all over her walls at age 5. Actually she did, but she didn't discourage from being a professional artist like others did.
So, there's a special bond between my mother and I. Similar to the bond between my CCL characters "Trey" and "Mama G." If my head ever gets too big, I always think of one of my mother's favorite phrases...

"Boy, you ain't never too old for a butt whipping!"