1991-09-13 – “…and Tracey makes three”

Here debuts Tracey Beck, who I to this day continue to count as a treasured friend. It’s funny to see how she’s drawn here; she doesn’t look anything like this, and I don’t remember her looking anything like this. I think it’s the glasses.

I always misremember Tracey replacing Dawn, but in the third panel we see Dawn, Kilroy-like, watching the goings on here.

Not much to say drawing-wise. For some reason I edited in squarer panel borders, which I regret. I’m remembering how much I hated drawing those office chairs–I never feel like I got them quite right.

Check out the old-school rotary phone on Paul’s desk in the first panel!

(1991-09-13) and tracey makes three (panel edit)
…let’s call the whole thing off!

1991-09-06 – “Pulped fraction”

Inspired by a new recycling policy, this is one of my favorite Cubicle Counts. The gag (such as it is) unfolds well, the different perspective in the last panel provides a decent wrinkle, and (I just noticed this) I like that Paul (the boss, Paul Grecian) does different things with his hands in each panel.

It’s weird that, though I’m clearly taking the comic strip pretty seriously, I’m still leaving the pencil lines, even for the speech/thought balloons. The open-circle Little Orphan Annie eyes are also not typical of how I draw. It’s almost like I was consciously trying to break with my usual drawing style.

(1991-09-06) pulped fraction
Give a hoot, don’t pollute!



1991-08-30 – “Ice, ice, baby”

Is there a more universal office trope than the thermostat war? I certainly can’t think of one.

Nevertheless, there’s a lot I was pleased with in this one: the perspective in the first panel, the characters looking up at the vent in the third panel, and how ice-covered Dawn came out in the last one. I’m easily satisfied!

(1991-08-30) ice ice baby
That’s brisk, baby!

1991-08-23 – “Gone without a Trace(y)”

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.

(1991-08-23) gone without a Trace(y)
Abyssinia, Tracey…


1991-08-14 – “You better, you bettor, you bet”

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.

(1991-08-14) you better, you bettor, you bet
Maggots for the win!

1991-08-09 – “It begins”

(1991-08-09) it begins
Lunchtime for me, Dave Sturgill, and Dawn Latshaw!

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.

But, really, I have no idea why I drew this.

Cubicle Count (1991-1992)

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.

Cubicle Count character sheet (circa 1991): me (x5–yes, I had hair once), Dawn Latshaw Rabb (x2), Tracey Beck, David Sturgill (x2), Celia Winder (x3–I think these were drawn by Celia), Paul Grecian (x2), Beth Ahrens, Tracey Beck.