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Talent, tenaciousness and coffee fuel cartoonist

A self-described coffee addict, Douglas Laubacher accurately captures himself in this self portrait.

Douglas Laubacher illustration

"I came out of college thinking I'd get some kind of day job and be a starving artist on the side," cartoonist Douglas Laubacher said. With a lot of talent, tenaciousness and coffee, it appears that instead he's on the way to being a nearly full-time cartoonist.
 
His father may have unknowingly planted the seed for his love of cartoons. "I remember when I was very young, every Sunday my dad would take the Sunday paper and read comic strips out loud to us."
 
There also was Calvin and Hobbs. "One Easter morning I got this Calvin and Hobbs book," he said. "I remember just sitting there on the floor Easter morning laughing out loud. I had never laughed so hard in my life."
 
It wasn't just the humor that drew him into the world of cartooning. "[In Calvin and Hobbs] there were T. rexes and F-14 fighter jets, and for some reason that just blew my mind."
 
Having enjoyed drawing for as long as he can remember, Laubacher began drawing cartoons around age 11 or 12. Recognizing his interest and talent, Laubacher's mother signed him up for private art lessons. Similar to the way in which many kids would walk to a neighbor’s house for piano lessons, Laubacher walked over to a neighboring artist for art lessons.
 
"As much as I liked to draw, at first I didn't want to go because my mom had signed me up."
 
He did go, and he kept going for seven or eight years. "I took lessons from grade school all through high school," Laubacher said. "It got me a college scholarship."
 
The scholarship with University of Mount Union took Laubacher to a school with a very traditional fine arts program. "One of the things in my portfolio was my cartoons," Laubacher said. "Everyone was supportive of it, but they wouldn't let me do it in the classroom."
 
One of Laubacher's current passions is going to libraries to teach kids cartooning. It was a natural jump for him to use these experiences in his upcoming strip.
 
"A library is this melting pot of people and ideas," Laubacher said, "so it seemed like the perfect vehicle to do whatever I wanted."
 
In Laubacher's new cartoon strip all the main characters will be animals. "I like the idea of a cast of animals. To me that's more interesting than people. Having animal characters is a tool you have in your tool belt for cartoons," he said. "All my closest friends make fun of me and say I only ever draw birds, so in keeping with that theme, my two main characters are a blue jay and a cardinal."
 
Despite his love of animals Laubacher does not have a house full of animal companions. "I don't have any cats and dogs," he said, "and I'm pretty much allergic to all of them."
 
Beyond the new cartoon strip and the teaching he is already doing, Laubacher is approaching a brand new teaching opportunity. He will teach a course in cartoons, comics and graphic novels at Malone University.
 
"This is a unique opportunity for me. I'm going to have a comic strip running in a paper, and I'm going to be teaching comics at the same time. I'm super excited. I never understood people who banked on overnight success. I've always looked at it long term. I've been able to grow and do more every single year, and this is another one of those growth spurts," Laubacher said.
 
Laubacher pointed out that it's also really nice to get paid for his art. "Things in life are not free," he said, "like food."
 
Caffeine is another daily need that must be met for the artist to keep up his creativity. "I just drink one pot of coffee every day," he said before quietly adding, "with various shots of espresso throughout the day."
 
Follow Laubacher on Twitter and Instagram @duggler657. Find him online at www.inkwits.com and on Facebook @inkwits. To get in touch with the artist, message him on any social media platform or email dug@inkwits.com.
 

Published: July 12, 2017
New Article ID: 2017170719991