From 1982 to 1988, I was in the United States Army Reserve. My Basic Training was at Fort Dix, New Jersey. My clearest memory of Basic Training (I blocked all the others) is my black male drill sergeant yelling, "MOVE like you got a PURPOSE in LIFE!!" That's Eighties drill instructor talk for "Look alive!" My military experience inspired some of my cartoons: I have a character named Marty (the cafe owner from "Lizanne's Cafe") who's an Army Reservist and the Gang of 3's late father Pedro Rodriguez was a drill sergeant.
That line "MOVE like you got a PURPOSE in LIFE!!" has new meaning for me now. My purpose in life is to work as a cartoonist and run my own cartoon business, Ladytooner. And its purpose is to make people happy in many ways. My animations and comics make people laugh at life (and maybe at themselves). They also give people an alternative to snarky, R-rated fare--it has its place but not everyone wants to be in it. And lately, my purpose with Ladytooner is to inspire and make dreams come true--at least for two women.
My teacher friend Diana is still mourning the loss of her husband last year and her son years before. As you can imagine, life is tough for her, especially teaching high school students who can be insensitive sometimes and just don't get it. Diana asked me to design and print 300 business cards for her; besides being an educator, she's a notary public, high school newspaper and yearbook sponsor and grant writer. I went out of my way to visit her in her classroom during her prep period to discuss the design and deliver the cards. She paid me well.
Diana wants to write a book of original poetry, and she would like for me to illustrate it. I'm encouraging her to write it, not just for the illustration job for me, but pursuing her dream will give her something special of her own to do and help ease the pain of loss. I'm searching for places online where she can self-publish her book.
The second woman is Bertha, a relative of an in-law whose first children's book I illustrated and who wants me now to illustrate two more. All the books are Christian in content and the one I am doing now is a "love letter" about her church in Gary, Indiana. I'm not only drawing, I'm proofreading, breaking the story down into pages and designing the cover. I can tell she really loves writing these books and I'm glad to help her bring them to life.
So Bertha and Diana are my current "purposes in life" for Ladytooner. And that's what business today is all about--people.