It doesn't take a rocket scientist to draw cartoons. But I wanted to be a cartoonist so bad, I didn't want to take chances. So I got my degree in aerospace engineering. It may sound crazy, but it was truly part of my plan to become a cartoonist. If I had fewer pages to turn every night after class, I'd have time to draw for the campus paper. What can I say? The plan worked. It took a while—I mean, I did have to go off and design cruise missiles for a while, right out of college—but it worked.
And as an unexpected benefit, if I have an idea for something that requires more than pen and paper to make real, I have the technical chops to do it.
Here are a couple inventions I actually did something with. I mean, other than scrawl in a sketchbook somewhere and forget about.
Smurks® is a patented system for graphically indexing and statistically processing emotional responses.
It all started with a cartoon gag I couldn't make funny enough to draw up as a rough. If I had succeeded in making it funny, it would have eaten up another ten minutes of my life.
But as I was letting the gag die, I saw it from a serious angle and realized there was an idea there. I contacted a friend about it. Six years later—and untold hours of skull-splitting labor, we have a patent to show for our efforts. It's been billed by Daily Research News Online as "the new face for mood measurement" for market research. That may yet prove to be. But something more wonderful has happened in the near term. Smurks has been embraced by neuropsychologists as a tool to help their patients with emotional recognition difficulties.
The Shark Tooth® eyeglass holder (also patented) earned its name by virtue of the fact that it doesn't let go.
So I had these wonderful new reading glasses that I loved. Yes, they were expensive. No, I did not want to wear them on my face all the time. So I tucked them in my collar, like normal people do.
And there I was, merrily whistling a tune while mowing the lawn, when I heard a CRUNCH. Curious, I looked down. I wept.
Then I did something about it. After a couple months of tinkering, even I was amazed at how well it worked. And how cool it looked.
And, yes, I am wearing it this very minute.