One of the least likely developments at BIOSIS was the arrival of Tracey Everson, a friend who had been two years behind me at Drew. Tracey was an outdoorsy, nature-loving sort, and the mean (filthy) streets of Philadelphia always seemed a poor match for her.
I enjoyed having a fellow New Englander to commiserate with, but–alas–Tracey didn’t stick around all that long.
Comic-wise, it’s surprising to me how careless I was with the sketch lines: it looks like I made no effort to erase them after I inked in everything. That’s an indicator that I was taking some pains to not take this comic strip seriously.
I don’t remember why I drew the first Cubicle Count strip (and I suppose at this point it didn’t yet have that name), and I REALLY don’t know why I followed it up with another one. I’d love to imagine that an adoring audience DEMANDED it, but I suppose what really happened is that I simply enjoyed drawing it and kept going.
What I find interesting here is that the first panel continues with the large “Love Is” heads from the first strip, but over the course of the rest of the panels my typical drawing style starts to emerge (most evident in the presence of necks and t-shirt collars).
I like this one. I have always been terrible at coming up with ideas that will work over 3-5 comic panels, and my pacing is also usually pretty bad. But I think this one works OK. I love that the payoff (literally!) involves no dialogue.
The “Love Is” drawing style, the weak tea subject, the insipid dialogue—everything about this comic says “one off.”
Reading it again, I get the impression that this was the result of a conversation about comic strips. If so, it’s almost certain that a tirade from me about the crappiness of newspaper comic strips figured into things, because tirading is what Tiggers do best.
If I manage to keep up with this little undertaking, it will become quite clear that my work life has always been a major inspiration for cartooning. I imagine that the job-cartooning connection works in much the same way that negative feelings have always been the power that resulted in my most prolific and best journal entries.
Anyway, way back in the early 90s I worked at a place called BIOSIS (don’t look for it; it went out of business a long time ago). BIOSIS didn’t have a lot to recommend it as a career stop, but what it lacked in salary, engagement, relevance, skill-development, training, guidance, support, benefits, flexibility, quality management,….um, where was I? Oh yes. I worked alongside a LOT of very cool, very funny people, most of whom were (like me) very recently out of college. In a lot of ways, working at BIOSIS was like working in a coed dorm.
I’m not sure why I started drawing Cubicle Count (named after some petty “Office Space”-esque administrative obligation), but “to give me something interesting to do” is a pretty good guess. I know I never intended it to be an ongoing thing, but it wound up being something I did every week. A few coworkers actually got in the habit of ASKING for new ones (which, believe me, is more a testament to the monotony of the job than a tribute to my cartooning), so I posted them on my cubicle walls. This had the unfortunate effect of keeping the strips and my portrayal of some people a bit tamer (lamer) and more sanitized than I might have done otherwise.
I guess I’ll start off the ol’ blog by scanning and uploading the old Cubicle Counts. For better or worse, Cubicle Count–and George Tomezsko’s book, Fully Occupied Years: The Rise and Fall of a Company Called BIOSIS (missing subtitle: An Excruciatingly Arid Account of a Company Nobody Ever Cared About)–are pretty much the only surviving records of BIOSIS culture.
I’ve wanted to get a blog going for a while now. Years ago, I used Comcast’s primitive web page creator to create a few cartoon- and Maia-themed web pages, but somewhere along the way Comcast deleted everything (because nothing says “customer service” quite like trashing hours of your customers’ work), and I’ve been blogless ever since.
Because I need a project, and because I want to collect the random and various cartoons I’ve drawn over the years (and, who knows, maybe even share them), it’s time to get a move on. So here we go.