This isn't something I stumbled upon at a high school Career Day. It's who I am. I do this because I can't not do it. I create.
Mostly I'm known for my cartoons in The New Yorker. That was the biggest of my big dreams, so everything else is gravy. But it's good gravy. I also draw cartoons for other magazines and illustrations for ads, books and a variety of other publications. I even won a National Cartoonists Society "Silver Reuben" Award for ad illustration back in 2001. That's not exactly bragging, given that it's my only win out of 9 nominations—4 for gag cartoons (1999, 2000, 2005, 2008), three for advertising (2000, 2001, 2003), and two for greeting cards (2005, 2006). Still, I'm plenty grateful for it.
I have published two anthologies of my gag cartoons. The first is What Would Satan Do? (Abrams Books), a book of cartoons about right, wrong, and very, very wrong, which you can still find at Amazon, and Because I'm the Child Here and I Said So (Andrews McMeel), a book of parenting cartoons, useful to any expectant, new, or not so new parent.
A couple favorite illustration projects have included another book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves Illustrated Edition, and a mural for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. It covered three sides of a building along the Kennedy Expressway, which millions of people pass each week.
I wrote and illustrated the book Captain Dad—the manly art of stay-at-home parenting, and the blog of the same name, which the New York Times praised as “a blog with a voice that is part Dave Barry, part Erma Bombeck and all Pat Byrnes, illustrator, cartoonist and social commentator.”.
I've also taken to inventing in recent years, probably as residue of my rocket scientist origins. I won my first patent for Smurks®, an emotional index and app that makes emotional response quantifiable and which a leading tech analyst says "is going to change the way the world reviews anything, and change the way market research is collected and shared." For now, however, I'm more pleased that it is helping people with autism and other emotional recognition difficulties. A more recent invention is the Shark Tooth™ eyeglass holder, which I won't say as much about, as it involves an embarrassing story of mowing my glasses.
What do I write when not cartooning, writing or inventing? Musicals, of course. Or plain old songs. I used to do quite a bit of performing, too, as a voiceover actor (which was my primary income for a decade or so) and avant garde comic on the stage. I also had a respectable career in advertising, with fancy awards and all that, and an even more respectable career, however brief, as an aerospace engineer. Even then, I was in the Preliminary Design department, which was essentially the creative department of a major corporation, the team charged with dreaming up flying machines. Literally.
And I have done quite a bit of other, random stuff along the way (teaching corporate workers how to make silly sound effects, directing radio commercials, gag writing, etc.) that's just too hard to classify in any tidy fashion. But it was all creating things, in one way or another.
Somehow, I managed to create an actual life as well, with two beautiful, endlessly curious daughters, and a truly extraordinary wife, who just happens to be beloved by more than just me.
And that's about it, really. If you are an aspiring cartoonist, you probably want to know all the nuts-and-bolts stuff I wanted to know about actual working cartoonists when I was just starting out. So you may be interested in the longer history of my career, which answers many of those questions. If you are anyone else, however, it may bore you to tears. You have been warned.