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We’re going to have a little storyline, this week, called “Undeveloped”. It’s been a good while since we’ve had a storyline of length around here! Time to correct that. 🙂

My Standing Drafting Table

Guys, I want to talk to you about my new standing drafting table. It’s my favoritest thing in the world. Here’s a pic:

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.

Our Heroes Re-Emerge, Stage Left

We’re back into it! Back into the guts of Slaughter’s marketplace, back with the Machito crew as they look for pilots. I, for one, have missed this tremendously.

My project schedule is finally — finally — starting to lighten back up, and it looks like I can slowwwwly start returning to DRIVE. This means the world to me…as this story is one I’m very much writing as a gift to myself. And I’ve missed it.

The big detour, these past five months, has been the documentary film I’m making, STRIPPED. Turns out, feature-length films are immensely complex undertakings that require tons of time. Who could’ve guessed. WHO COULD’VE GUESSED. 🙂

Fred Schroeder and I have been pouring all our spare time into it, trying to get it ready for all our Kickstarter backers, and in time for the film festival season. Thankfully, we’re nearing the promised land, and I’m proud of how the film is turning out.

Anyway! Over the next 2-3 months, as the post-production work on STRIPPED winds down, I should be able to slowwwly increase the number of DRIVEs I can produce, until we return to our once-a-week schedule.

As I have in the past, I’d recommend adding DRIVE to your RSS feed, or signing up for e-mail delivery, as that’ll save you from having to check the site. The updates will be irregular for a few more months, so that’s the least stressful option.

Thank you for your kindness and patience during these past few months! Even though DRIVE is a strip I’m drawing as a gift to myself, I know a lotta-lotta folks are getting into it, and have missed it as much as I have. So thankfully our long national nightmare is drawing to a close.