In college I had a journalism professor who joked that the only reason people bought the newspaper was for the comics. She then would say that it doesn’t matter what gets them to open the paper just as long as they do.
That lesson always stayed with me and it’s why I suggested we run a cartoon based on the chemical industry. I wanted to give you another good reason to visit our website — aside from all the award-winning content. So, in April 2009, we launched Comical Processing featuring cartoons created by artist Jerry King.
King’s first cartoon was published in his high school newspaper. “When I was younger I didn't say, ‘I'm going to be a cartoonist.’ I was just bored in class.”
He credits a kind teacher who realized he didn’t have a knack for the electrical engineering coursework he was taking at the time. “He knew I was struggling but he also knew I was good at drawing. He said ‘Maybe we can get you in a class about art because that's where you belong,’” recalls King.
From there, a career was launched. He’s illustrated children’s books, worked at numerous greeting card companies, spent 20 years as a cartoonist for Playboy magazine and currently creates between 200–300 cartoons per month for myriad publications including Chemical Processing. He credits the diversity to his longevity in the business.
“I wanted to be a political cartoonist when I first started out,” says King. “They had one gig. Now, the dangers about having one gig, if you lose that gig, you're in trouble.”
A lot has changed since he started his career. “In the old days, I'd have to go to a bookstore and look up magazines and write down the addresses to the editor, send them cartoons and pray that they would get back to me,” explains King. “Back then you sent your cartoons in on a piece of paper. Those days were brutal on me. The internet has really saved me.”
While all the artwork is still hand drawn, King scans in the outline to his computer and applies the color digitally. His overhead is super low — he uses typing paper bought in bulk and regular pens. “I buy them 20 in a pack for $3. It’s great day-to-day but I suffer come tax time,” he jokes.
In a world of serious news and day-to-day stress at work, cartoons are a welcome distraction. “I think it gives people an opportunity to be creative. It gives them a little break,” says King. The popularity of Comical Processing proves his point. Each new cartoon gathers dozens of captions from our readers.
“The cartoons are a nice way to think about something other than looming deadlines or the latest ‘crisis,’” notes Larry Shade, senior production engineer, Chemtrade Logistics. “I generally look at them over lunch." Shade is a regular contributor to Comical Processing. “I became hooked with the first cartoon I saw, ‘I think you forgot to carry the 1.’ It is still my favorite.”
Agreeing with the pleasant distraction aspect of the cartoon is Jatin D. Shah, technical director, Finornic Chemicals (India) Pvt. Ltd. "Jerry has brought humor to a subject that is pretty serious. It gives [us] a chance to put across our take on the serious nature of our work.”
At one point in his life, King wanted to be a professional boxer. In fact, he fought during his tour in the Army. He even won the Golden Gloves in Akron, Ohio. “I love boxing but I'm old and, you know, I'm a cartoonist. I need to stay in my own lane where I belong. I'm going to stick with the cartoons.”
We are certainly glad he will continue to knock out cartoons for us. To celebrate his decade of cartoons, King created a special Comical Processing featuring himself. We are asking readers to submit congratulatory captions. You can do so here.
Traci Purdum is Chemical Processing's Senior Digital Editor and a big fan of cartoons and Jerry King. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.