But first, let me give you some back-story on it.
In the world of cartooning, I'm sort of a hold-out: A cartoonist who still uses ink-on-paper to create a comic strip. And what that's meant, for the last decade, is that I sit down at a big ol' Mayline drafting table to draw. Here's an old picture of that much-loved desk:
But a few years ago, I started to have repetitive posture problems (I'm sure increasing age and weight didn't help). My back and right shoulder start to hurt, and I had to go through physical therapy for two years to take care of Costoclavicular Syndrome. My drawing hand would go ice cold, numb, and lose it's grip…as a result of circulatory and nervous-system pinching near my shoulder.
Anyway: My thoughts started to turn toward drawing at a stand-up desk. I had read article after article on the health benefits of standing (Short version: we ain't built to sit for endless hours). And at the same time, my memory kept bringing up one of my favorite cartoonists: David Low, who always drew standing up, and raved about it to anyone who'd ask.
So I set out to build myself the ideal standing drafting table: One designed just for cartooning. Or, more specifically, one designed just for my cartooning. One that I would use for the rest of my career. Here's what I sketched out:
You can see from the sketch that the desk has a split level surface, with the left section inclining at various heights, and the right section staying flat for inks, drinks, spillable stuff, stackable stuff, etc. I designed the drawing surface with a clip for paper references, and a "bar" to keep things from rolling down on me. Overhead, I designed a bookshelf hutch for easy-reach books and reference materials. Underneath, I put a storage shelf for larger items; three drawers for art supply storage; three lights for direct, indirect, and lightbox lighting; and a "step" bar like you'd see at a, well, bar -- to shift weight off my hips from time to time. It was gonna be great. I was super excited to build it.
But I realized pretty quickly into it that, while I'm an OK amateur carpenter at building a basic deck or a fence, I was no where near good enough to build this the way I wanted it to look. So I called my brother Thom.
Thom's a master carpenter who's been building homes in San Diego for decades. He's fantastic. And when I showed him the plans, he totally ran with it. He and his associate Kent McGarry built an absolutely stunning desk -- far, far better than I ever could have dreamed, with touches and details that are fantastic for a cartoonist. I don't exaggerate. It's gorgeous.
Here are some pics during construction:
And here's the completed desk:
So allow me to publicly thank Thom and Kent for bringing my sketches to life: This is a desk I will use for the rest of my cartooning life. I could not be more impressed by the craftsmanship with which it was built.
Post-script: I've had a few cartoonists ask if Thom would be willing to build another one…and he says he is. So! Iff you're a cartoonist in North America, feel free to drop him a line to inquire. Obviously, it'd be preferable if you're within delivery distance of San Diego, but I'm sure heavy-freight shipping can be worked out to points in the US and Canada. Just a friendly forewarning, though: This isn't a mass-produced desk at IKEA prices. This is as custom-made as custom gets, being built by two master craftsmen. So even though my brother wouldn't say it, I'll say it for him: Serious inquiries only, please.