Sitting at the picnic table as a kid during summer vacations as my mom taught me to draw, never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that my art be published along with many renowned cartoonists and artists. Nor would I have imagined that my mother end up with Parkinson’s disease.
When a friend of mine sent me a link to a call for entries for cartoonists across the country to submit art to raise awareness for Parkinson’s research, I thought to myself “how cool.” Cartoonists and artists were asked to donate original artwork that included characters from the “Cul de Sac” cartoon. You see, Richard Thompson (creator of the cartoon) has Parkinson’s and his friend Chris Sparks came up with the idea to raise funds as tribute. Boy, what an idea it turned out to be.
So, I sat down to create a cartoon, but was blocked. Totally. What did I really know about the disease? How to incorporate the concept and other characters into my cartoon? Not until I saw Mort Walker’s “Beetle Bailey” submission did it finally click. I was inspired. And I got to work.
When drawing my cartoon, I kept my mother in mind all the while. Parkinson’s. It starts out with hardly a notice. With something like the gradual loss of smell. Slowing down of motor skills. Noticing that things aren’t quite right. As time went on, and after spending much time in the doctor’s offices, it turns out that my mom did indeed have Parkinson’s.
Since she doesn’t drive anymore (neither does my father who suffers from Alzheimer’s) my sister and I are trying to do the best we can to keep them comfy in their own home. You know. Take them to doctor’s appointments, hair cuts, the grocery, or get their terrier out from under the sofa. Always needing to help make decisions and be re-assuring. And most importantly, fix that remote just one more time.
Sometimes it’s a bit of a challenge, but it works out nicely that I get to live behind the house I grew up in where my parents still live. The biggest benefit is the comfort of just being there for them and being able to help out with day to day activities and household chores. It also gives my mom a sense of peace having me near by “just in case.” Besides, borrowing a cup of sugar is always convenient.
After turning in my “Just Bea” Cartoon submission I had no idea that I would be included in a publication with so many of the “who’s who” in the cartooning world. Inside you'll find amazing illustrations and cartoons from the likes of Gary Trudeau (Doonesbury), Bill Amend (Fox Trot), R. Skoryak (comic book artist), Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine), Patrick McDonnell (Mutts), Sergio Aragones (cartoonist/writer), Jim Borgman (Puliter prize winning cartoonist), and Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes)! And then there’s me. I’m absolutely humbled and honored.
You can purchase "Team Cul de Sac: Cartoonists Draw the Line at Parkinson's" (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2012. edited by Chris Sparks) at local booksellers or online.
A portion of the proceeds of the book go to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s research.
And, from now until June 10 you can bid on original art by your favorite cartoonists!
100% of those proceeds go to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s research.
And here’s a link to the auction
...or you can bid on mine