My name is Ian Stigliani and I’m the cartoonist who is documenting Our Absurd Life.
I grew up in New York City — definitely a place bursting with absurd cartoon material for an impressionable mind and psyche like my own.
As a kid I read lots of Charlie Brown and Snoopy cartoons, as well as gads of comic books. When I was 13 years old I discovered Tom Armstrong’s Marvin cartoons and was immediately smitten with the idea of being a cartoonist. I ran home and created a couple 2-panel cartoons starring my favorite cat. But I was a beginner and my artistic skill was very basic. I unfortunately became critical of myself, and gave up the cartooning dream. Over the years I would instead become more involved with other forms of creativity like writing, acting, and directing. I got the opportunity to work in community theater in Northern California and also teach acting at Mendocino College. I wrote theatrical stage plays, short stories, and even scripts for comic books. But I alway found myself drifting back to the cartoon characters I created as a kid. I never could shake the part of me that wanted to draw.
About 6 years ago I got back into the cartoon game, taking the time to practice drawing my characters, creating scripts for them, lettering and inking them up. I would then photo copy my creations at the local library and eagerly send them off via snail-mail to friends and family. But again, my firm resolve to keep this part of my creative life alive slowly fell away. I again became overly critical and perfectionistic, and my resolve to create a cartoon a week became a cartoon a month, then a cartoon every 6 months, and then nothing.
Flash-forward to 2020, Year of the Pandemic! It is May and I am stuck at home, like the rest of the world. I had been having whirlwind conversations and debates in my head, trying to figure out how to get back into the cartooning routine. I had lots of ideas to go about it, but couldn’t settle on anything clear. Then one night I drew a cartoon of 2 people walking side-by-side wearing masks. I penned in a snippet of dialog and titled it “Our Absurd Life with CV-19 1/2.” Then on a wild impulse, I emailed it out to friends and family, announcing that I had undertaken a 90-cartoons in 90-days challenge.
Well, it’s still going. I surpassed my 90-days 3 times, and am now working towards a year, one cartoon a day. And what a year it’s been! I got the opportunity to have 2 of my cartoons published in a local free newspaper, the Monterey County Weekly, along with a short piece about my challenge. And then my next door neighbor George started including my cartoons in the Active Seniors, Inc weekly newsletter he wrote, edited and emailed — the newsletter is sent out to over 700 subscribers. And then my friend Lee built this awesome website to store and showcase my cartoons. Eventually my cartoons moved away from primarily Covid 19 related ideas (or my humourous CV-19 1/2 pocket universe), and began to explore other fun and new directions under the title “Our Absurd Life.”
What I learned most from this challenge, is that the cartoons don’t have to be perfect. I am still a beginner and use a lot of basics to get my cartoon messages across. But by sticking to my resolve to get a cartoon done everyday — no matter what — I’ve learned a lot about myself, about the craft of cartooning, and about how doing something just a little bit every day can literally make dreams come true.
And like I tell all my friends and family who get my daily Essential Cartoon emails —
Thank you all for your support!!!