What am I doing?

I’m not entirely sure, to be honest. I know I’m having a wonderful time making books and I have many more to make. But this might very well change. I know because it already has changed. In fact six years ago I had set out to do something very different. Six years ago I decided to make a syndicated cartoon.

The idea of making a cartoon didn’t come out of the blue. In eighth grade, my teacher Mrs. Volkwijn asked the class to do a research project on “what I want to be when I grow up”. That’s when I decided to look at “Cartoonist” as a legitimate profession. I wanted to interview one of the most prominent Toronto cartoonists, Ben Wicks.

Ben Wicks, a much-loved cartoonist who was also a TV host, broadcaster and humanitarian, is shown working in his home. (Courtesy of the Wicks family)

Ben Wicks, a much-loved cartoonist who was also a TV host, broadcaster and humanitarian, is shown working in his home. (Courtesy of the Wicks family, sourced from cbc.ca)

He had a little square cartoon on the bottom corner of Toronto Star’s front page every weekday and Saturday. I figured, if anybody knows what it  takes to be a cartoonist, Ben Wicks is my man. Besides he was on tv so he must have been doing something right. He was involved in a nationwide public service ad campaign on television during the winter that asked viewers to clear snow and ice from sidewalks. The campaign carried the catchy slogan “be nice, clear your ice”. Ben Wicks lent his signature drawings to the ads and his recognizable voiceover. So, I looked up Ben Wicks in the white pages and called him. Mr. Wicks answered in his famous Cockney accent and graciously agreed to a fifteen minute interview and asked me to bring a tape recorder so he didn’t have to stop talking while I wrote down his answers. My mom chaperoned an outing with my research partner, Kris. Kris was an avid artist like myself but I’m pretty sure I talked him into sharing my future ambitions. wicks_judge-714052We drove to the Yorkdale Mall and took the subway to College station. Wicks had an office above The Red Lion at 449 Jarvis Street. I pressed the buzzer and he let us in. The space was a warm and lived-in office with a computer in the corner by the window and a lounge area with a couch and chairs around a coffee table. After introductions we sat down and I pulled out my enormous tape recorder and plunked it on the coffee table between us. Kris and I took turns asking our prepared questions.

I’m back. You didn’t know that I was gone but I was. Anyway, I just took a break from writing to scour my house for a couple things. One of them is a photo my mom took of Ben Wicks, Kris and myself. Found it! I also ransacked my studio to find the dusty old cassette with the actual interview and a Sony walkman to play it. Found those too. It has been a very, very long time since I heard this and I’m actually pretty stoked! I’ll listen to the interview tomorrow. I’ll post the photo and my reaction to the interview in the next post. Stay tuned!


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