Bob Eckstein

Bob Eckstein
New York City, New York,
February 27
Publisher of Today's
Snowman expert, author of The History of the Snowman and cartoonist for the New Yorker, Reader's Digest, Wall Street Journal and others. Twitter; snowmanexpert


Editor’s Pick
JULY 1, 2009 10:04AM

The Death of My Brilliant Career (1980-2009)

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  Freelancing is for chumps

NEW YORK – “It’s over,” stated a brief two-word statement released over the weekend finally pulling the plug on what has been a promising, yet ultimately, mediocre freelancing career. The immediate cause of death is undetermined but, according to experts (my art rep and my accountant), it was time for me to "throw in the towel." Things had taken a turn for the worse on last Thursday when Spanky’s Diner took a cartoon of mine from the Reader’s Digest website, using it without my permission for their place-mats. Typical of the many ways my work now has an intrinsic value of zero and how I’ve gotten screwed over in recent years, I did not receive any monies for the piognant and mildly amusing cartoon.


 Corner of the actual place-mat from Spanky's in Hazleton, Pennsylvania sent to me by a friend who lives in that area. Original below. The owner says he will continue to steal my cartoons but has offered me a free dinner. 


Reader's Digest 2009 © Bob Eckstein All rights reserved.

I guess I should at least be lucky I wasn't SUED by the establishment (One cartoonist was recently threatened with a lawsuit for not posting any more images for others to steal.


Early Years

My first taste of occupational rejection was my high school paper. I pitched my early humor to a corrupt teacher named Charles Boote who drew the line to his open door policy for all student submissions with me. For years I would mail him tearsheets of my published pieces.

Despite no encouragement from the school paper or my guidance counselor, I decided to go to art school anyway following the advise of the one person I trusted at the time, Father Guido Sarducci.

I attended Cooper Union for three hours before transferring to Pratt Institute. Later I went to F.I.T. (Fashion Institute Technology) to snap out of a dating slump to enjoy a more favorable woman-to-man ratio. But I continued being shunned from school papers well into college and began even sending submissions to other school newspapers I didn't attend.

1980 © Bob Eckstein All rights reserved.

 As a little kid I used oil crayons & dyes and drew photo-realistically.


1982 © Bob Eckstein All rights reserved.

By college I decided I would stop drawing realistically for good. This early piece on cardboard is only 3” x 8”.

At Pratt Institute I finally had teachers happy with my work. They talked to my parents about me leaving school and trying to go pro. Conversely, my parents insisted I stay and get a Masters so I could teach (I didn't get a Masters. But I did teach for years at Pratt & S.V.A.).


Anyhoo, I did the sensible thing and as a sophomore I decided to start from scratch and taught myself to draw lefty. This new style included rejecting the use of traditional implements. Instead I used sticks I could find.

I unlearned everything I knew. I remember this going over like a fart in church. Seeing this for the first time in a long time I think, "Wow, this is really crap."





I returned to oil crayons but with my new primitive style. All work was executed in a few minutes. This was the piece mentioned below for a contest and went on display at the Smithsonian. The entries had to illustrate charity.



1984 © Bob Eckstein

New York Times magazine

All rights reserved.




Big Break

As a junior in college I won an illustration contest with the drawing above. The prize was a full page in The New York Times magazine and it convinced me that I was on track with this drawing lefty business. An underground fanzine called, ironically, The Bob took a liking to me, too.


I was paid (or rather thanked) in records by ’80s new wave groups groups like Let’s Active and Echo & the Bunnymen


My first job out of school for hard cash was for the NY Time’s Book Review. My relationship with The Gray Lady would last another 25 years...until recently. I just learned was one of the recent victims of budget cuts and, sadly, this is my last piece for them. It's been an honor to be a part of this great publication.

The top piece was about how poets spoke to each other and the other drawing is on secret identities. (All the work here can be enlarged.)



Detail of a piece for The Village Voice where I later also worked as a sports reporter for short time...for reasons no one knows.


When the first computers came around I was convinced by a high school buddy that one day everybody would be working on them. So I set-up one of the first websites ever. Of course, only pioneers ever saw it–nobody had computers yet. Starting over yet again, I learned to draw on the Mac. I threw out my art supplies and have been paperless since. Today my friend is a leader in Silicon Valley and very wealthy from inventing video-conferencing. I'll buy his apps one day when I scrap up enough to get an iPhone.
This was for Entertainment Weekly, I think, when Pee Wee was arrested in a porn theater.


Wow Moment

While eloping in Reykjavik I saw this Icelandic cartoon below that caught my eye and would become a revelation for me. I never did find out the translation of the punch-line, but it spoke to me and I knew then-and-there that I wanted to switch away from illustration and join the ranks of professional cartoonists.






The last cartoon Spy magazine ever published. At this point I was considered the Andy Dick of publishing for being quite the jinx. Too frequently I was the last cartoonist to have a cartoon published before the place went under.



newyork carton


© The New Yorker Collection 2007

Bob Eckstein from

All rights reserved.

The first cartoon I pitched the New Yorker. 
 And the last one of mine they published.


Low Points

My journey in freelancing has been a long one but I would just like to add that, if given the chance to do it all over again today, I would, in a heartbeat, be in pharmaceutical sales. There were so many bad moments it's hard to narrow it down but excluding lawsuits (including one pending with the NYC Saniation Dept for use of my talking garbage cans), here's three that come to mind;


1) Kobe Earthquake. While I really never made it big in my homeland, but I was big in Japan...that is until the 1995 Kobe earthquake. It flattened my agent and her office (my portfolio was never recovered from the rubble).

This was one of dozens of covers I did there where large department stores have their own magazines. Top illustrators are celebrities, appearing in fashion layouts and such. I would get paid a lot just for an interview. After the earthquake, nothing.



2) Mickey Mantle's death.

This one was a real kick in the groin. I was just about to fulfill a childhood fantasy, the cover of Sports Illustrated–the job was right up my alley, too–create two parody football teams, designing their logos. S.I. loved what I came up with and a company was quickly commissioned to manufacture these original  helmets for the cover. The night before it went to press Mickey Mantle passed away and bumped me off the cover. The $2,500 kill fee was a tiny fraction of what I was to get. It would have been the last time artwork was ever used for an S.I. cover.

The Mick. Pretty bad week for both of us.


3) In recent years I went into denial as print media went into it's slow demise. Living in a fantasy world, I began creating make-believe publications for make-believe assignments for myself. This was a scary period for those around me who watched me get excited over jobs that didn't exist. It goes without saying, the checks were make-believe, too.




I would combine bankrupt magazines I worked for to create new ones. I then provided artwork and pithy editorials. Like this one; a hybrid of National Lampoon and Trader Monthly. At the peak of my creativity (and insanity), I was publishing eighteen titles. Maximum Walking, Popular Working Women, Rosie Digesting, etc. Below is a cartoon which appeared in the last issue of National Harpoon, jinxing yet again another magazine.








I’ve recently signed a contract with Google Adsense in hopes of correcting my current negative cash flow situation. Each time someone clicks on this page Bill O'Reilly's website, 1/18 of a penny goes to me.

This is just a stopgap until my new business venture is established. As leader of a creative team I've collected called The Penguins of Madness, our first project is to present the public with a brand new style of interior design I like to call Smartass Ideas For the Home. I sincerely look forward to this new challenge which, incidentally, (along with aforementioned story above) is all true.

 2009 © Bob Eckstein All rights reserved.
And since it's all hands on deck and there's ads down here now anyway I might as well hock myself. Hey, Amazon picked it Best Book of the Season (2008)–they're not all bad.
Click on my book to purchase and thanks for your support.

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Bob, you have been and remain my hero. What a wonderful piece. The Mick thing makes me think of Dave Cullen's Oprah show being bumped for "humanitarian" reasons. I respect her decision, but even though the book still has succeeded wildly, it would have meant many, many thousand more book sales for him.

You are too talented to give up the ship. And too generous.
Rated with love to my friend.
I am humbled by your trajectory - hang in there... you're really good.
In a word: fascinating
In a word: fascinating
In a word: fascinating
Your career has been brilliant. (I know you are using the word facetiously in the title, but it is a correct description). The Spanky's imbroglio shows how easy and common it is to violate copyrights with impunity. What a great story, though I'm saddened by the recent news. You're a good man -- and a marvelous wit. Don't ever leave OS.
Heh. Hey, wait a minute. Is that Charlie Brown in the wind turbine?
Thank you for the art, sir, and for sharing this wonderful essay.
Bittersweet much? Listen up, my favorite palindrome, you're just getting started. You have a brilliant career in paper menu design ahead of you.

Seriously, your talent is endless. Everyone is weathering the death of print but those of you with true moxie and artsense will come through ahead and that means you.

Don't make me come back to Pennsylvania and kick some sense into you. On second thought...

I love your work.
In three words: fascinating, fascinating, fascinating.
Bob don’t give up your day job. You are too talented… so be it, if you have to take a night job doing ‘hallmark’ illustrations from 8 PM to 10 PM… MSNBC’s Countdown & Rachel Maddow shows are repeated later in the evening.

All kidding aside; Bob, your creativity has brought so many of your fans great joy & appreciation for the work you do. All the best…
Bob, you are such a talent. Your career speaks volumes about how difficult it is to be an artist these days.
Bob, you are such a talent. Your career speaks volumes about how difficult it is to be an artist these days.
Great piece, so good I can't tell fact from friction. Puts me in mind of one of my song lyrics:

I don't need you to remind me
I got a bright future behind me
I know you're kidding. Your career isn't over. Someone with a talent and sense of humor as fabulous as yours has only begun.

Print media is struggling but can never die completely (you can't exactly curl up with a computer) and of course, the internet is still an evolving opportunity for artists and writers alike. You've done it before. You'll reinvent yourself again. Your resiliency will continue to serve you well.

Allow me a moment to gush, though: the placemat at SPANKY'S? OMG, really?! Can I have your autograph?
This was one of the most heavy-handed plugs for a book I've ever seen!

But I loved it.

The Mickey Mantle story was particularly touching!
I'll be clicking for you.
LIFE AND Society are at a very low ebb. Paris Hilton gets all kinds of deals yet where is her talent and skill. And here you are - talented, published and overlooked. All of us "Unknowns" should get together and rise up. It is time to dump the Celebs and acknowledge the Talented but Overlooked.
I think you are one of the most talented cartoonists I've seen, Bob. I'm truly sorry I couldn't drum up any leads for you. I will admit to not-so-secretly being glad you're here - you never fail to make a point, you never fail to make me think, and you've never failed to make me laugh. Those things I truly appreciate.
I Love those photo realistic pieces up there. Are they available as prints? I'd buy them. I know you're spread across genres, and across your body, as it were (R-L), but you can catalogue these, be your own agent, and sell them.

I also love your wry wit in your day-in-the-life pieces. Hang in there. You're amazing.
The world is not working the way it's supposed to. People with smarts, talent and creativity should be leading society. Their considerable gifts and contributions should not mariginalized and taken for granted.
This is a tremendous post, Bob, and belongs as a feature article in a glossy magazine. I'm impressed and saddened. I'll second Steve in say that you really are brilliant.
Even at $9.95 the all you can eat shrimp ain't bad...but free !!! Their generousity is astounding.
Bob, I have a copy of your Snowman book and love it.

Thank you for the look at your entire range of portfolio pieces; I am in awe.

I am thumbing, not the loss of your career, but your frankness and gentle wit in the wake of everything you've chronicled here.
exquisite bob, just wonderful
You know, I sense that you wouldn't have gone into pharmaceutical sales, if you had it to do all over again.
I like your quirky mind.
lolol...tidal wave dos and don'ts...lolol...
Bob, say it ain't so!!! You are such a talented, witty, smart person. I know you've been there and back. I'm clicking on as many ads as I can!!! You always retain that warm sense of humor and way to look at everything in your life in ways that not only help you, but others as well. Thank you!
That was a thought-provoking way to start my day...thanks.
Love the National Harpoon cover. Very Rockwell Kent.

You need some kind of time machine, my friend. When Kent was at his peak, he was so popular Random House forgot to put Melville's name on classic edition he illustrated. Imagine, it was just Moby Dick illustrated by Rockwell Kent.

Now illustrators AND writers are practically extinct.

I hear Estonia's doing pretty good. Maybe we could find some work there?
And thank God Google Adsense has all these places you can click on to find out about how to start a freelance career!
I feel your pain, Bob. I've had similar experiences and know the trajectory. I remember one time chasing HBO for several months for a stupid check and the art director (who was supposedly my friend) would never take my calls or help me get paid. Finally, four months later her assistant picked up her line and congratulated me and told me that my artwork had won. I was like, WTF? She called me at 9pm and begged me to get her a finished ad by 9am. I ended up re-art directing, re-writing and drawing the piece and she got the three days in LA, and the accolades and a trophy I learned she kept on her was still another month before I got paid.

A few years later she was found dead on her sofa with a a glass of vodka still in her hand. And in a private conversation I'll tell you about how United Media approached me and convinced me to do a syndicated cartoon strip...for months our lawyers were negotiating contracts and licensing percentages and was in development meetings and then I met a bitter older woman in syndication who thought I was too young and hadn't worked long enough to get the great deal they were offering me...and killed the whole thing - just like that.

I could go on about bad contracts I signed and thieving business partners and law suits too. I totally relate to this piece and yearn for the glory days of the Mercedes 80's. People really don't understand the life of a professional freelance artist. They think they do, but there's no way they can. Love the piece and your twisted humor.
Is it true that Mantle was murdered by a rival cartoonist?
I was sad to read you've hit hard times but loved seeing all your art work and hearing of its history. I hope that (as others have said) this is mostly tongue-in-cheek and that you soon find new outlets for your work....
Ah, Bob, that was simply fascinating. What a career you've had. It sure isn't to stop here. I love your work - and not in the Hollywood way. I love it! Not to mention that you're a pretty great guy to boot!

Click, click, click...
I'd suggest you look for part time work at Starbucks, but sadly, I don't think they are hiring.
I'm sorry for your stressful times. Good luck with your Madnessing.
Hilarious, sardonic wit in both writing and cartoons. So, uh, doesn't Big Salon need a resident cartoonist? And isn't Japan back up and functioning again? Not to mention, there must be a huge market for Jacko art, which will only grow larger as he remains dead.

I have a great, true groupie story about Mickey Mantle if that might help cheer you up.
I likewise feel your pain! Ah, the awesomeness of a creative career. And as someone who interned at Melody Maker in the eighties, I too have been paid in Echo and Bunnymen.

You're a tremendous talent. And we all see better days.
Bob, I'm so impressed by the breadth of your talent. And your story hits home for me too - as a graphic designer who did corporate magazines in the 80's, who had Milton Glaser and Seymour Chwast as role models coming up, and who had, at one time, a $50,000 per issue illustration budget for a quarterly corporate employee magazine. Those days are long gone too. Not many of their employees speak English anyway.
The web hasn't been a good thing for us. But I believe that there's a place for your work, and I believe you'll find it. Books, galleries, subscriptions, there's something that will fit. Just don't stop doing it.
This almost makes me feel better about my own writing career's trajectory. ALMOST:)

Beautifully done and amazingly illustrated.

Don't give up the ship.
Artists are always misunderstood and underappreciated in their time. (Except that self-promoter Picasso, but what can one do?)
As an almost professional musician and now a not-quite professional writer, I can profoundly sympathize. I can only assume that places like this one are for the nourishing part and maybe we can also send some pennies your way.

BTW, I just bought the book (first for me, then for my niece; she won't notice;-).
PS - please lose the "ex" in your bio. You're not an ex anything and I, for one of many, LOVE your work.
It's a really amazing post, and it's an honor to have it on Open.

Every day, I hear about someone else who has lost a publishing job, or is struggling to find work, and am chilled by it. People as brilliant as anyone gainfully employed anywhere, people I humbly accept as vastly more talented than I am, suddenly struggling. I hope others are right, that there will be a turnaround soon. But the question remains whether this is short-term or a permanent shakeout. I just don't know -- I don't think anyone does.

But I'm Redditing this so Bob gets as much traffic as he possibly can!
If this can happen so someone of your prodigious talent and wit, surely there is no hope at all for the rest of us.
to be an artist or musician is a privilege and a life style
money is in second place by our own choice

most of us have to combine teaching and creation - myself with playing bassoon and conducting - so stop moaning and be thankful for your life so far

every ten years or so you neeed to reinvent yourself

remember you are lucky to be alive
at least 63 ECKSTEIN are listed in the JewishGen Yizkor Book Necrology Database

When my first wife was depressed she always said "Remember the Jews in Belsen"
and I remember the sounds of the german bombs falling on England when I was 5 to 8 years of age - so I know that I am lucky to be 73 years old and to have lived as a professional musician for 30 years ;-)
Wow. Good luck. It's a sucky time for a lot of talented people these days.
My "brilliant" career in journalism ended about 15 years ago. But here's the good news: most of us will have at least FIVE careers, not jobs, in our lifetimes. So all is not lost. :)
Bob, I am so thrilled you decided to publish this piece on Open. You are a great guy in many ways. The depth of your wit and humor amazes me......and your writing is some of the best I have read and I continually strive to achieve a level even close to yours.

In spite of your difficulties in this unforgiving media, you find the kindness and grace to encourage me along our journey on Open Salon. I knew this would have an honored, featured place.....

BTW, bittersweet on the Mickey Mantle thing...many of us had the pleasure of seeing him play.....I saw him and Maris in the early 60's
LJ waited on Mantle in Chicago and got his signature for me! .........but in retrospect, I would have rather seen your cover.....absolutely!!!
Your work is fabulous and I wish you well.
I can relate to your hardship vicariously through my best friend Graham Sale. Graham is a fellow "cartoonist" on the Open Salon and has endured heart wrenching similarities for years. Like you Graham's wealth of humor, knowledge and talent are prolific but as we know the job capacities for these "prequisites" are obsolete....
I was in the design field for years (interior designer) and with the current economic crisis I have chosen to return to college and follow the "yellow brick road"....and presently I'm in Emerald City acquiring new skills and enjoying the journey....
What I tell Graham every day as he feverishly works on his new cartoons and pursues his dreams...Stay positive and sit back and watch the show! Don't look back...Don't look forward....Enjoy today!
....and I FEEL THE OS WOULD BENEFIT WITH a cartoon every day on the OS and include all the CONTRIBUTING cartoonists! Have CARTOON STRIPS from all the cartoonists...wouldn't that be LUUUUVERLY!!!
:) Lolly
That whole "I'll sue over removal of images I stole from you" bit was absolutely priceless. You've made my day. Perhaps even my month!

Your beautiful ladder drawing takes on a whole new meaning if you look at it from the perspective of where you now stand. Thanks for sharing your journey up the ladder - hold on tight, hopefully help is on the way!
Bob - you can't give up cartooning; I don't think you are capable of putting down your pen and paper, metaphorically speaking. You may however need a new agent in Japan. I suggest you take a well-deserved trip over there and interview a few. Your humor and skill are not lost on anyone, not Orientals nor Occidentals. You just keep learning that new foreign language and your right brain will make a breakthrough, I am confident. Note I wrote right "brain" not right "mind" which may be 2 totally different things.
I enjoy your cartoons and your writing, and am saddened about your "forced" retirement. The world is such a crazy place now, so many people think talent like yours doesn't come at a price, we know better.

I hope you will continue to regale us from time to time, and to the restaurant...RASPBERRIES to you.

Thanks for the overview, and yes, I'll buy the book.
You are just writhing with talent. You'd probably LIKE it all to be over . . . but it's clear you'll never be done. Something will remind you of something else and then that will strike you as odd or funny, and you'll be off again. Unless you could arrange for a brain transplant. Let me know if you find out how to get that done. I could use one myself.
Dude. 29 years is a great run in any line of work. So, what's next?
what a great tour. i just wanted to say, i'm sorry that you're struggling. but i think one of my favorite pieces you shared was the whaling fantasy magazine. it's awesome. you obviously have a very fertile mind. i would buy a book of those.

i would buy that as a print. you may have a very lucrative retirement ahead. i hope so.
Sitting here in the public library smearing tears all over my face. It got uncontrollable @ Bad Moment 3)- imaginary checks (look on the bright side, you were able to curtail that progression b/4 it assumed Madoff proportions).
"Laughter is medicine to the bones." and I REALLY needed it today. I've been domiciled at the county homeless shelter for a while and night before last I almost picked a fight... with a 20-something moonlighting Corrections Officer (he showed me his badge, just like on tv) who was harrassing a soft-spoken fella just back from 19 yrs. in a gated community upstate and, then, intimidating a 19 y.o. sex offender [I have authority issues] but the piece-de-resistence [sp?] was finding homo-erotic graffiti in the handicap toilet at 2a.m. today. Arrrrrrrrrghhh.......
Your image of charity is PERFECT! Guy in pit of despair [me] reaches up to fellow hanging from ladder [you] who is dropping hilariously hope sustaining messages.
"No man is a failure who has friends." (Wonderful Life)
Keep up the gooid work, ol' boy.
In a word: fascinating

Sorry, I couldn't resist. Great stuff, Bob. That story about SI killed me - I remember buying that one just for the Mick. I'm sure he would've held on if he knew how important that cover was to you.
I laughed. I cried. This is sure a tough time for people who work/worked in print. To see someone with your immense talent and experience struggling is hard, especially because I am working through the loss of a 20-year newspaper career. There is an upside, though: I am happy to be able to enjoy your work on OS, and, like Father Guido said, we get to sleep in!
Bob - since joining OS, I have rarely been so thoroughly engaged by a post as I was with this. There's a canny synergy to it.
I have high hopes of publishing a novel (high is the key word here), but just in case I'm learning how to make cheese.

You captured my heart with this history of your art and career. I love computers as much as the next person but, the collateral damage is adding up.
A great post. Bob. You will always be finding a way to showcase your great talent. Better times are ahead.
And that wasn't my son's Trader Monthly was it?
A great post, Bob. You will always be finding a way to showcase your great talent. Better times are ahead.
And that wasn't my son's Trader Monthly was it?
This is probably kooky advice, but I think you should pursue the nautical themes for $$. I was at Mystic Seaport this weekend - good god, do they have quite the need for nautical illustration!
anyhoo, every single thing you put on this post is amazing - your left handed drawings are astounding - and you're a great writer!
I read through most of the snowman book at B&N but didn't buy it because I want to buy it from you. Big check coming next week (for an aspect of my job supporting survivors of sexual assault that pays quarterly - not "big check for creative work.") - which I will use to buy several books from your website as Christmas gifts for many, many people. It benefits you - and I will be less panicked on Christmas Eve, when I usually do Christmas shopping.
Keep up all your good work - you have many devoted fans.
I forgot to mention, but this ex film student laughed UPROARIOUSLY at the Father Sarducci clip.

I remember my Tyler School of Art boyfriend lamenting, why couldn't they have classes at like, midnight?
This is amazing! Thanks so much for sharing your own personal retrospective with us. I always wished for artistic talent - alas, I have none.

"One cartoonist was recently threatened with a lawsuit for not posting any more images for others to steal." I don't know if I should laugh or cry about this, but I did think, fleetingly, "I hate people."
Love the Pee Wee Herman. The theatre where he was busted was blocks from where I grew up in Sarasota. Before its incarnation as a porn theatre it showed mainstream Hollywood fare it and was known in those parts as the Jerry Lewis Theatre as I think he owned a small chain of them. And Pee Wee went to Sarasota High where they had an actual circus with a big top and three rings. Thanks Bob, really enjoy your style.
Self-important much? Yawn.
I can relate to your ups and downs even though I have no artistic talent at all. This was a very funny read and like you, I'm glad that Adsense came along at the right time for me. I haven't checked today yet, but in think I may be up to about thirty-one cents before the taxman comes to visit. With a creative investment strategy I should be able to retire by the time I'm 1023 years old or about the same time Bernie Madoff gets out of jail.
Bob is indeed a class act, a good guy and a true talent. Although I still do not regret biting him on the arm, as he genuinely deserved it.
Well said (and drawn.) Reminds me of those years when I had to relearn to design on a computer - and then relearn how to design for screens not print. But I'm still designing and you should please keep on drawing!
Hmmm. Not to be a jerk, but if you put the same amount of effort into your career that you did writing and editing this piece, I can see the problem...

"I'll buy his apps one day when I scrap up enough to get an iPhone one day."

"my portfolio was never recovered from the rumble"

"I would get paid alot"

"a company was quickly cmmissioned"

and those were just the ones that stood out as I skimmed the piece. Come on... I know it's Open Salon and all, but really?
Bob, your work is far too smile-inducing for you to hang up your virtual pen and inks. You are one of the people who has made me smile and think on the worst days of my unemployment.
Dude, HazLEton...not HazELton.
"Not to be a jerk..." Um, yes. That was rude. I'm going to pretend I'm not from Texas now.
dude I totally appropriated some of the imagery I found in your Snowman book, you know so it was like "found imagery". Anyway I put a cool filter on it in photoshop (posterized so now you can't sue me and I don't have to give you credit) and now I'm using it to sell my herbal laxative made from vegetation I found growing in my basement.
And I'm selling it all on the internets which when the mad scrum currently under way ends will be the salvation of us all.
Holy cats! What a story. It mirrors mine in terms of hellacious tales of artistic misses and rejections, however you've had a damn sight more success than I have--so imagine that! I've had people steal from me as well--"high level" steals I maybe ought to write about--like a famous Independent Film company lifting tw o fmy scripts that were supposedly in "development" with them. Without my name on them or renumeration for me, of course. So I feel your pain. But, as your work testifies, you're a genius at what you do, and you are officially MY HERO.
Jeez'm H. Crackers - I knew you were good, real good. Turns out I was underrating you.

I'd rate it twice if they'd let me.
"Rated"- whatever that means.
Well, well, well. You may recall that in the Big 80s, Francoise Mouly and Art Spiegelman ran a cartoon magazine, RAW- "The Graphix Magazine of Postponed Suicides". That bit of existentialist philosophy has actually kept me going, several decades on.
i still hold the record as the writer who had the most contributions accepted by publications before they went under, and the most manuscripts written and not accepted in his lifetime. Looks to me like a cartoonist's life is an easy life. How did you get so lucky?
You are my new hero.

I've been needing a new one, so thanks.
Phenomenal. I hope you weren't joking about sending your jerk high school teacher tear sheets of your published work.

I'm clicking and ordering the Snowman book, too.
Don't give up... if you do, we all should.

By the way, I can relate to the "big in Japan" thing.
Gad, you're talented. And despite what seems to be the case right now, for you, for the country; talent eventually finds its way (although it takes a lot of self-promotion). You are about to turn a corner into a lucrative new opportunity. (I just read that in a fortune cookie, but it's true). I won't print this three times, like most of your readers, but you can still assume I'm sincere.
I want to thank everyone very much for the compliments and any feedback. I am just getting onto my computer now (I was working at a friend's on a pitch to get a job where there's no internet) and I didn't see the comments until now nor did I expect as much (I did fix some typos not appreciating it would be seen by this many). Reading the comments has been amazing-some really funny ones, some very touching and a couple were gut-wrenching.

To those going through some bumps in the road, I want to wish you luck–I consider myself the one who's been very lucky. I encourage you to keep your creative goals going. I wish instead I could be helpful or insightful–OS has been TREMENDOUSLY supportive to me–my writing has improved (I've learned from writers here), I got encouragement and I've used this forum to advertise my book (thank you for helping me sell books).

I DO appreciate the fact I'm in a field no one forced me to be in and I could have been doing manual labor all this time. Nobody owed me anything and there are so many talented people. Thanks.
Gosh, Bob, you come across as such a humble man, hard-working and truly talented.

I hope our economy picks up sooner rather than later, allowing your insightful work to get picked up again, widely, and delight us all. ['That Hecklers on Poetry Night' is penetrating, working on multiple levels, like poetry itself!]

Wait a minute -- your work IS poetry itself...
Bob, I only this past minute took note of your Banner.. . Hah! [See, I just KNEW you were a poet!]
I'm so impressed that going lefty had such a big effect on your work. Great stuff, great post. Your not dead yet, but it's not easy for arts these days. For some reason, the general public seems to think everything should all be free on the internet and creatives hurt as a result.
here's one fer y'all...'specially for all those (moi included) who have fallen prey to "spec" work bs...yuh...
my fav is the lady at the hairdresser.:)
Does this mean Salon will now have to pay for an artist? I wonder if they can find a good one anywhere. Shall we put you on the list of people to hit up for a donation just in case it's hard for them to come up with the money to hire one? We do need a cartoonist around these parts. I'm sure you'll at least agree with that. ;)
Bob, simply fantastic journey with you and your autobiographical look at your diverse career path. You know I love your book and have given as gifts to other appreciative recipients. I wish you continued success with all you create and with all of us boomers needing more and more RX drugs, your new venture into pharma sales should prove rewarding and frequent trips to the bank! Much success to you, Bob!
yow. sad to see the struggles, but uplifting to see all the accomplishments.

i'm hurtling back into freelancing and very nervous. it was painful the last time, and it's gotten ridiculously worse. what a way to make a living.

i wonder how long this whole media crash will take, and when a new way(s) to support us will emerge. another five years would be tough. if it's fifty years, that would be bad for everyone here. i'm hoping for the five.
Brilliant post! Lauren was hysterical. Laughing. Not the other kind of hysterical.
Great post! And you're a good artist too! Seriously, Bob, you are a VERY good artist! Maybe you need to try very dark humor, that seems to be so popular, i.e., Mark Ryden, Camille Rose Garcia, and Todd Schorr, just to name a few. But hey, you're the artist
Rated for talent
Glass Half Full called and left a message: You're free do do what you're supposed to be doing.
I actually lived in Hazelton, PA for 3 torturous long months. I predict the rumors of your death are greatly exaggerated.
My good man ~ you certainly get around, don't you? With a wonderful history like this, no way your career is over.
Thanks for the kind words.

I got a real interesting private email which I consider somewhat of an amendment (I'm leaving out the source). It was tongue in cheek. I'd like to share a tiny excerpt (as it was a few pages);

"My deepest condolances on your career's passing...

...Had you bothered to translate the caption in the Icelandic cartoon, you could have saved yourself 25 years of struggle. Literal translation of the column's title is "Listen and Laugh", however, it is well known among native Icelandic speakers that it actually refers back to a Viking curse. The idiomatic use relates more to "Steal something from me and I will listen and laugh at the sound of your bones being crushed under my long boat". When you took the clipping out of the country, you triggered the Norse curse associated with the column title.

[The Viking boats are in line and ready to land. The commander addresses his men, "You men in the first boat, burn all the villages. You men in the second boat, kill all the men." A man in the third boat turns to his friend and says "Not us again!"] Few know of the famous Viking historian/prognosticator Norsetredamus, who wrote many ambiguous predictions, among the two most prescient:

"And a man in the land of frogs will write drivel that people will believe predicts the future and steal all my thunder, all because Swen couldn't make the right boat assignments"

"A man shall with a pen shall visit here in the dark of the year and shall be cursed by a drawing"

A literal translation of the cartoon's caption is "I have listened to you with my looks I hitchhiked to be the cause of to work". Some might be tempted to clean this up to something like "I took your advice and used these babies to help me hitchhike to work", but that doesn't convey the entire tragic meaning. Any attempt at an accurate translation would no doubt trigger a sexual harrassment law suit, and possibly subject the translator and any readers to actions under Title IX. You may have accidentally created an approximate caption in your own mind that triggered these consequences.

Think of this cartoon as yet another manifestation of the corrupted Monte Python English phrase book for foreigners."
the last comment is funny enough to power a small city........
(Gary, was that tip to Price's papers any help?)

I got some email wondering why I would really switch to lefty to draw. The reason below was a bit too serious to include in the post but to properly respond for the record;

I saw the appeal of things that still had the "piss in them" as Joe Strummer of the Clash once said when "they" tried to correct his singing. That really hit me when he said that and I realized that "bad" art felt more personal to a viewer than slick art.
You have, and will continue to make people think and smile. You have a great way to make people look at life, think about themselves and be happy.
Never saw your take on MJ's passing!
Don't stop now. All of your fans are pulling for you.
Keep drawing and flossing.
Dr. Bob
PS - Maybe make a bathroom-sized version of the snowman book with the highlights for reading during short periods of time. You know, like a corset book or a bed book!
To Dave Cullen: "new ways to support us" how about a revival of the WPA--the WPA supported the likes of William Faulkner and many others. We need government support for the arts--I see no problem with it--it's a damn site better than what we have now. Life and society ARE at a low ebb and what gets supported is basically mediocrity. I had an editor from HarperCollins once tell me that I had a real talent and that my writing was terrific but it was going to be a "hard sell" and that I had better gear up for the "long haul." I didn't know exactly what the 'long haul meant (that was ten years, 2 novels, 2 short story collections, 3 plays and about 100 essays and poems ago) but I am beginning to understand that the long haul could be writing to stand the test of time--meaning writing work that will outlast your own puny little life! Some find this depressing! I do too. But it's what keeps me writing, essentially--the fantasy that I will be celebrated posthumously! That, and Open Salon.
I'd like the Snowman banner heading on your page back now. You aren't dead and neither is your work. Or maybe just put a black armband on one of the snowmen. In a MJ reference, sort of. Maybe a glitter glove somewhere?

Poet of Logan . . .

That works for me. I would be very happy for someone to endow me.
Poet & Dave;
No one's ever accused me of being endowed.
What wonderful, uplifting, encouraging, supportive responses you have received! But do what you think is best. You made a mark no matter what you think right now. LOTS of people really care about you and enjoy your work. Bravo.
Now live in the moment. Give Tammy an extra hug, hang out on your deck with a cold one in your hand and soak it all up. " It" being
the feedback, the memories, the laughs, the life you have lived thus far.
You are at a fork in the road and it doesn't really matter which way you go; you will get there.
Your pal, Susan ECC
Ouch! Well, there's always the cartoonist's last resort:
Bob,google "The Bindle" and see
my new reading device called, yes, The Bindle. You might even want to
do a cartoon on this and i hereby give you permission to borrow the word BINDLE or even steal, i purposely did not copyright it so anyone can use it and credit not needed. Here is photo of the
new "reading" device:
Bob, you are so incredibly talented. I'm trying to read through your greatest hits.

It's All Souls Day. You will rise again on the last day! :)

I almost studied at Pratt too. That's another story for another day.

Speaking as one who has lost four careers, I feel your pain. But, don't worry - you'll find another! They are all over the place.
Speaking as one who has lost four careers, I feel your pain. But, don't worry - you'll find another! They are all over the place.