A cartoonist, musician and volunteer, today we hear from Guy Gilchrist!
Greetings from my cabin studio in the beautiful, green rolling hills of Tennessee just outside Nashville, Music City! I moved to Nashville from Connecticut about nine years ago. I really love it here. As a writer of comics, books and songs, I can't think of a better place to be.
Being a cartoonist is a pretty solitary profession. So, it's a lot of fun for me to get out into the music community here in Nashville every once in a while. I've had the chance to appear on the Grand Ole Opry several times. That's certainly been a dream come true. Just like this incredible life that I've had in cartooning.
I know it's really corny to say something like that. But I'm a corny person. If you read the Nancy comic strip, then you will certainly agree with me on that.
I really have been incredibly blessed. Since I was 20 years old, I've made my living writing and drawing. The last 19 years I've had the pleasure to work on Nancy.
My first big break was when I was about 20 and I got a job with Weekly Reader Books. I wrote and drew a comic book called Superkernel. That publisher also let me create game books and joke books and gave me my first taste of writing for children.
The great Mort Walker saw my work for Weekly Reader and gave my name to Bill Yates, comics editor at King Features, when Bill told Mort they were having trouble finding someone that Jim Henson liked for a proposed comic strip version of his hit show.
I submitted samples and worked for free for one year before finally getting that job. Of course, that completely changed my life. I still have absolutely no idea how I was so blessed to be picked for The Muppets.
I worked with Jim for about seven years. He was everything you ever hoped he would be. You know, when you really idolize someone and you hope that if you ever met them that they would be all that you hoped that they would be? Well, Jim Henson was everything I could've ever dreamed of and so, so much more. I was pretty young, about 24, and he really became my creative father. He gave me a lot of leeway and allowed me to make decisions about the characters and about the project that I worked on. He gave me the chance to work on Fraggle Rock, and was in on the creation of the Muppet Babies. After that, I went on to a career of writing and illustrating a bunch of children's books, and handling the creative chores behind many of the world's biggest cartoon licenses.
I don't know how other people who have found success feel, but as for me, whenever I sort of step back and really think about it, I keep thinking that day I'm going to get a knock on the door and it will be the "Art Police" and I'll be under arrest for impersonating someone who knew what they were doing!
These days, my days and nights are a jumbled-up mix of writing and drawing the comic strip, writing and performing music, and traveling all over the United States doing motivational speaking and creative workshops.
When I was a kid, my mom was a single mom and she used to take me to work with her when she worked in a diner. She used to grab some paper placemats and pencils and open the newspaper to the comics section. She would sit me at a table over in the corner where I wouldn't bother anybody and tell me to draw everything that I saw on those comic pages. I did. I could've never dreamed that almost six decades later, all that drawing would turn into such a cool, blessed life. If you ever read anything that I've done over the years, I want to thank you. I owe everything to the folks who have read my cartoons and put up with me all these years. Thanks so much. See you in the Funny Papers!