My first cartoon that I recall drawing was in the kindergarten class of my teacher, Sister Proxetta. She wore a black-and-white outfit, so I guess my first cartoon was in black-and-white. She was a sweet lady and encouraged drawing and painting, so it's her fault that I'm an artist. Or that I think that I'm an artist.
I can't help myself, I must cartoon all the time! Better than eating ice cream all the time (or something worse), right? If I'm not thinking about wordplay or copy for cartoons, I'm doodling or painting.
I'm inspired by everything around me. Pop culture plays a big part in my cartoons, but when researching for this blog, I noticed that I do a lot of food cartoons ... so my cartooning makes me hungry. Both Cowtown and FatCats feature enough conspicuous consumption to make Falstaff blush.
FatCats began in 1998, but I think the concept is timeless. There will always be FatCats, and before my nine lives are up, my dream is to get Leo and James and MomCat and BobCat on the small screen. Check out this 3D demo produced in Kansas City by Trinity Animation for my pitch (maybe to Shark Tank?).
Cowtown has been running nonstop since 1984. It was a weekly comic in The Kansas City Star until February of this year. When the magazine ceased publishing (darn newspaper budget cuts), Joe's Kansas City Barbecue commissioned me to continue the feature for their Facebook, Twitter and website. Might I be the first cartoonist to be syndicated by a restaurant? Cowtown has also been a line of BBQ products since the turn of the century (1999). We are partnered with the aforementioned Joe's, hence the connection. If you have the time, check out this "marriage of the condiments" video also produced by Trinity Animation.
It's an honor to be a part of GoComics, and I'm not just blowing smoke in Kansas City. Who said a prophet in his own land is without honor? (Oh, yeah, the Bible.) Born and raised in Kansas City, I like to toot the Cowtown horn since we are often referred to as a "flyover" city. Besides all the cool things in our town, we happen to have a hulking load of artists per capita, due in part to the fact that Hallmark is located here. Do GoComics and AMUniversal make it the "Cartoon Capital of the World," too? Yes! The feedback from around the country and the world is refreshingly awesome, and I have made many new fans on this GoComics platform. Plus, I like the ability to edit both strips on the fly. With print, you don't get that option to be so nimble.
OK, I need to focus. Besides my gig on GoComics, I've been syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group (Smart Alex), had two Cowtown book collections published (St. Martin's Press, The Kansas City Star Books), three e-books (GoComics, YAY!) and have been featured in magazines such as Business Law Today, Nickelodeon, Playboy, The New York Times Book Review, The University of Kansas alumni magazine and Veterinary Medicine.
In addition, I've produced thousands of greeting cards, calendars and promotions for companies such as Hallmark, American Greetings, Paramount, Current, the Kansas City Chiefs, Black & Veatch, Polsinelli, Boulevard Beer, WireCo WorldGroup, the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and the City Market.
I've paid the bills creating advertising art for clients including Sprint, MasterCard, Book of the Month Club, Westar, Kansas City International Airport, the Las Vegas International Airport, MetLife, SkiBikeFun and MaggieMoo's Ice Cream Treateries.
In 2013, Charlie (I love referring to myself in the third person) was chosen to produce a mural for the Kansas City Chiefs' Arts Program, which is displayed at Arrowhead Stadium. In 2014, Sporting Kansas City commissioned three mural paintings celebrating Graham Zusi and Matt Besler playing in the World Cup and Sporting Kansas City victory in the MLS Championship.
Here are some action photos of a live drawing I produced during the Chiefs' draft party. I performed like a trained seal! Or monkey.
Sporting Kansas City mural in progress: 4 feet wide by 6 feet tall by 4 inches deep (YIKES!):
This past month, Union Station unveiled a grand piano painted by me for the Pianos on Parade program that will take place through the fall in KC.
Did I mention that I got a new gig cartooning for the Independent, Kansas City's Journal of Society? I have business cards!
This new feature is called OurTown and, though it is KC-centric, I hope to post them in GoComics in the future.
Here is a taste:
I also show my art at fairs. Mostly in KC, but I've traveled to St. Louis, Dallas and Vail, Colorado, as well. Here is my tent office:
I hate to get on my soapbox, mostly because it's too small:
A snap of my muse and my wife, Alicia, at The Kansas City Jazzoo fundraiser this last month:
Alicia appears in Cowtown, often brushing aside my recurring character, Bob.
My influences are:
The late, great Charlie Barsotti from Kansas City
Upcoming projects include a video for a construction union in Kansas City called MCA. They are celebrating their 125 anniversary and I'm producing an animated short that will be shown at their big party. I hope I get an invitation! The rest of the summer will be spent prepping for the Plaza Art Fair, drawing Cowtown, OurTown, Fatcats and fulfilling dog portraits. Yes, dog portraits! Here are a few:
My studio is in my house and it's usually a disaster, especially after I've finished a mural or an art fair. This GoComics blog made me clean it out of tremendous shame. I must destroy the studio in order to rebuild it.