Friday, January 18, 2008

Mike Lynch Cartoon in January 2008 Harvard Business Review

The gang at Harvard Business Review has a great selection of cartoons in its January issue by Tom Cheney, P.C. Vey, Pat Hardin, John Caldwell, Scott Arthur Masear and myself.

One of the nice things about cartoons is that you can sneak in something personal that only you will know about. In this case, it's Rufus.

Please allow for a big digression here where I tell you about Rufus, and how I was wrong and my wife was right.

Above: our beloved Rufus, snuggled in Stacy's fiddle case.

Rufus, or "Roo" for short, is a big, lumbering orange, stripy cat that is built like a bull. Although seemingly bred for combat, he lives for love. He's a very large sweetheart of a feline that loves to be talked to, and receive copious pats upon his huge head and his thick, fleecy tummy.

He was, like all of our three cats, a rescue. Rufus was found, tied to a broken down building with a urine-soaked string. A woman who was passing by, snipped the string and took him away from that building in Red Hook. She took him to our vet's, where he was fed, cleaned up, and put in a cage in the back room. Around his time, we were looking for a new kitty, and we'd gone to the vet's.

"Have you seen the orange cat with the large head?" a vet tech asked.

So we sat in one of the exam rooms with the cat that they all called "Big Head." His head was rather large, but not abnormally so (i.e., none of that the-front-part-of-the-cat-tips-over kinda physics here). He sat motionless on wife Stacy's lap. We talked and patted him a bit. He stayed motionless. After 5-10 minutes, he pooped. Right there on her lap, he pooped. Enter vet tech with towels, apologies and an offer to whisk the cat away.

"Oh, no,"said my wife.

I think she started loving the cat right then and there. I was not in favor of the cat who had obviously never been properly socialized. Stacy theorized that he was near feral and scared (shitless). This was a cat who needed a good home to become a good kitty.

So, we adopted Bighead. We brought the problem cat to our home, where he hid behind a bookcase (living room) or under the bed (bedroom). He would only come out in the dead of night, making his presence known at3am by knocking over the garbage. Garbage, he thought, was where the food was. Amazingly, he used the litter box right off.

Well, after a couple of weeks of us talking to him under the bed, and him just staring, staring, staring back at us, Roo began to walk out a little bit. And he watched us with our other kitties back then: Bertie and Max. He watched us talking to them, playing with them. Bighead stared. He was taking it all in. It took a while, but he began to perceive that our place was a place where kitties were patted and no one was beaten or hit or tied up with a string -- well -- then he relaxed.

One of the first things he did was begin to sleep. He slept like the dead, for what seemed like a month. I guess he had never really relaxed before. Heaven knows what life was like in Red Hook.

Anyway, so I like to draw Rufus. From time to time he makes it into a cartoon and from time to time that cartoon will sell. One of the reasons I like him is his stripes. Rufus has those stripes on his face that makes him look worried, regardless of his mood.

One of the things that he had to "learn" was playing. I don't think he ever played before. Thanks to our guys (especially Max), Rufus learned to play -- that it's OK to swat, run & wrestle in fun.

Hence, the cartoon. I told you we'd get to the cartoon!

This cartoon was drawn nearly three years ago. It was submitted 15 times to other markets and other clients. It sold this past fall to Harvard.

Although, sadly, our kitties Bertie and Max have passed away, Rufus has two new playmates -- both rescues -- named Sam and Trout. I better sell some cartoons featuring them or jealousy will read its big head!

Today's Factoid: Some of the cartoons are in B&W, some are in color. The editor will ask for color. It's not up to us cartoonists.


laurie said...

Hi Mike, Hope all is well with you. And that you and Stacy had a great New Years. I love your kitty stories! And your cartoons!

mamafrog said...

Oh, yes, rescue kitties--a breed apart! We have a big, fat, white, shorthair male that came to live with us when we moved into our current house. Actually, my kids who were still living at home at the time, snuck him into the house and he sort of just stayed. All the kids have moved out and he's decided my husband is his sleeping spot now, when he isn't sleeping in one of his other spots, of course! He doesn't seem to have been played with much as a kitten either, so he doesn't really get that. We used to let him go in and out until he came back with a horribly broken leg one time. No clue how it happened, but he is now an indoor cat, to his ever lasting disgust when there is another animal in the yard.


Mike, Congrata on yur sale to HBR.

Mark Anderson said...

That's a great story! AND a great cartoon! I don't understand why it took so long to sell! That's one of those sold-almost-before-you're-done-drawing-it cartoons.

Mike Lynch said...

Glad you liked the kitty story, Laurie!

Mamafrog, good for you for going the rescue kitty route!

Don, thanks for the congrats.

I think part of selling a cartoon is just plain good timing, Mark.