Today is the Greatest Day I’ve Ever Known

I am in a fog this week. My beloved aunt, Nancy, passed away from this world on Sunday. My motivation to work has suffered the last few days. Whenever I sit down to draw, my mind is wrapped in static…the defense mechanisms of grief enshroud me.

So, to help process my thoughts around loss, I will draw and write about it. Working through it the best way I know.

Nancy always supported my dream to be a cartoonist. She enjoyed the silly “comics” I drew as a boy and encouraged me to keep improving. She was there the day I graduated from the Center for Cartoon Studies and she championed some of the first books I illustrated.

I was taught, through her example, to love every moment I am given. Life is too short to worry about tomorrow. I should express love every chance I get to those around me, not overburden them with my regrets or fears. Nancy lived like this until the end. The day before she passed, when the medicine and pain restricted her ability to speak, she struggled to say what she knew I needed to hear, “I love you.”

If I can learn to live my life by some of her examples, I hope to be a blessing to my friends and loved ones as much as she was. I want to live each day concentrating on the blessings in my life and blessing those around me.

A friend of mine in High School introduced me to the wonderful Smashing Pumpkins album, Siamese Dream. I had never listened to it before she gave me a burned version of the album; I, like many others, had only listened to their double-album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. I didn’t listen to much radio back then and had never heard the song, “Today.” It is clearly one of the most masterful songs on Siamese Dream. While the song’s lyrics can be heard as overwhelmingly dark, I take away a feeling of hope cutting through the darkness.

Today, I feel sadness, depression, joy, and hope. Today is all I have and a gift I have been given. All I have is this short period of time to do what I can to leave something of worth in this world. I have to believe and live like today, and everyday, is the greatest I have ever known.

A comic about my emotional experiences this week will be coming shortly.

Banjos and Manuscripts

I am late to my posting today for two good reasons. First and foremost, I am working hard on the manuscript for my upcoming activity book, Comics: The history and technology of American cartooning. With one chapter and ten activities yet to write, I am in the home stretch. It’s hard to keep focused on writing about comics when I am easily distracted by the research I am doing. Well, honestly, I get distracted by the comics themselves. Yesterday, for example, I fell into the worlds of Chester Gould and Walt Kelly…and found myself hours later trying to catch up with the word count I needed to hit before I finished for the day.

The second good reason for my late posting has to do with a new love of mine: the tenor banjo. This afternoon I traded an old guitar I had for a vintage Gretsch 1964 jazz banjo. I fell in love with the tenor banjo three years ago and prefer the bright, springy tones it makes to the twang of the 5-string banjo. Lately I have been listening to a lot of old 1920s jazz and ragtime while I work. Anyone who has watched HBO’s Boardwalk Empire knowns the sounds of the tenor banjo bopping away behind horns, drums and wind instruments. It has a great energy, something to keep you going while you plug away at whatever it is you are doing. I have a 17 fret tenor, but I always wanted a proper 19 fret model. Now that I am in the possession of an American made, classic tenor, I can’t wait to be done with some of my bigger projects to get playing around with it.

So, that’s it for today. I will be back next week with a more in-depth update on my book. I may even show you the cover.


Good News, Everyone!

Page one from Climate Comics #4.

Page one from Climate Comics #4.

In 2013 I began working with the Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratories (CRREL) and the Montshire Museum. Dr. Zoe Courville contacted me late in 2012 for some possible illustration work for presentations she would do for classrooms. One of the projects was to create a poster about ice cores and how the deeper you drill, the older the ice gets.

Ice Core Timeline

After working on these illustrations, Zoe and I brainstormed the idea to do a series of mini-comics about some of the scientific research done by researchers at CRREL. The mini-comics would be kid friendly and available online and printed.

We partnered with the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, VT to have the comics produced. Greg DeFrancis and Rachel Donegan of the Montshire helped to brainstorm the design, edit the comics, and provided an activity for kids in the back of the comic. We titled the series Climate Comics.

The first comic, Sea Ice Buoys, was illustrated by the talented Bill Bedard. I wrote the whole series and illustrated all but the first comic. It has been a crazy fun experience and I am enjoying working on the final comic.

Stay tuned for more science comics and illustrations this year. A few more mini-comics are coming…and maybe a graphic novel…

The Prodigal Returns

Hello world! Again. I seem to do this often. I come and go from the internet, never staying to keep everyone updated on my work. Well, since it’s the end of the year, and people tend to do such things at times like this, I am making a resolution.

My resolution for 2014, is to post something everyday except for weekends. Meaning, a new post or drawing every weekday. Keep me honest. Keep me on my toes. I promise you won’t regret it!

Tomorrow, I will post a retrospective of the work I have done in 2013!


Sam Carbaugh