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Why am I cartooning?

There's a reason for all of this. I don't have all of the answers, but I did contemplate a few.

Have you ever thought, ‘Why am I doing this?’ Is there a reason for creating comics? Or am I just wasting ink (or a perfectly good drawing tablet)?

I’ve asked this question to myself before (quietly – when no one is looking). Maybe I’m weird, but I’d like to think there’s a bigger purpose behind being a cartoonist.

Come to find out, with some staring at the ceiling, a few cups of coffee and deep thoughts, I came up with a few things. I could be totally wrong, but c’mon – there’s something to this, right?

But what exactly?

This is my take.

It’s one of those professions, or hobbies (if you’re in it just for entertainment) that can really spark a conversation, make a person laugh, intrigue an individual or possibly even inspire. I like that (patting myself on back).

Of course, there are other creative mediums that do the same thing. Produce a song, paint a masterpiece, write an amazing novel or sing at Radio City Music Hall. Hell, the arts have been around awhile. Talk about inspiring; check out The Colosseum in Rome, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor or even the latest act from Carrot Top, if that’s your thing.

So, what separates cartooning from those other amazing arts (especially Carrot Top)?

Not that one creative outlet is better than the other, but there are a few things.

One is, it takes several skillsets to really “nail it” in these panels. Challenging stuff. Not that creating a musical masterpiece, painting or singing isn’t challenging, but it’s not easy to get someone’s attention in small, tiny frames. And doing it well.

Cartooning is interesting because it’s never typical. Unlike most jobs where you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you’re getting into, with cartooning, it can vary. I’ve done gobs of cartooning projects I never imagined I’d ever do.

And then there’s passion.

I don’t know exactly when I got the cartooning bug for this line of work. It was early for me. How did I get it? I’m guessing a lot of it was thumbing through newspaper comics (or imprinted Huggies with cartoons on them), watching Disney animations and scribbling on things. There’s no easy answer. Like eating pepperoni pizza, I’ve always enjoyed it.

Let’s talk freedom, shall we?

The freedom in cartooning is pretty amazing. You can create a comic about ANYTHING. And, if all goes well as a profession, you can work from anywhere if you become an independent cartoonist. Nice!


You add up leaving a mark, being unique, keeping life interesting, a touch of passion and throw in some freedom – well – it adds up to cartooning. There’s a ‘why.’

Plus, it can be fun (seriously).

We need humor. We need art. We need to have a meaning. We need to have an outlet that includes drawings and words. That’s why comics exist, right? There’s probably a much deeper understanding behind it all that I can’t surely explain. Can someone text God and get me a more detailed explanation?

If you ever find yourself asking, ‘Why am I doing this?’, like I have, just know it has meaning and is important. Even if your work just ends up on the fridge. Maybe it will crack-up your buddy who stops by for a cold one. Or, it might be personally just for you to enjoy when reaching in there for those leftover nachos. Either way…

I just know that there is a reason for all of this. If you’re doing it, there’s a purpose for that. Cartooning is good stuff. Really, it is. We’re doing important work here, whether it end up in a major publication or as a sticky note on a coworker’s desk.

And no, I’m not trying to talk myself into this. The proof is on paper.

Surely, the only wasted ink is ink that’s unused. See why?


  1. Daniel Brian Mobley says:

    Very good thoughts on the WHY, Nate! Thank you for sharing. For me, allegory has long been an intriguing concept to explore since I was very young. A story within a story…layered storytelling…art illuminating life and vice versa! Cartooning…definitely one of the most exhilarating ways to process the rawest aspects/emotions/ponderings of life.

    1. Anonymous says:

      I’m sure we all have had doubts if it’s worth it. But then someone will publish your cartoon and you say, hey, I’m a cartoonist! When I get a check from CartoonStock, or sell a greeting card, or even see one of my cartoons in print or a card in a store, I think, I did that! And someone liked it!
      Doug Hill
      Laughing Hippo Studio

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