My meeting with Gary Varvel

Meeting with Gary Varvel was awesome. The way it came about was kind of unnecessary if it weren’t for my own timidity, though. I had talked with Gary Varvel on the phone once after I had sent him some of my cartoons, and I had met him briefly in person at one of the High School Press Association conventions where he gave a keynote speech, which is definitely worth a listen. After that speech, he gave me his business card and told me to get in touch with him that summer.

I didn’t.

I think I can chalk that all up to nerves. I’ve been afraid to put myself out there, despite my willingness to allow my cartoons to be seen by a large audience. I have trouble feeling competent and “good enough” to take risks, even when those “risks” aren’t risky at all. What would getting in touch with Gary Varvel have hurt?

When an opportunity to get back in touch with Gary Varvel presented itself again, I was determined not to let it pass me by. An old friend of my mom who works for Channel 6 knew Gary Varvel, and offered to put me in touch with him for a possible internship. He didn’t know that I had already met Gary Varvel, but I accepted his offer anyway. To make a long story short, I got back in touch with Gary Varvel about an internship. While an official internship wasn’t possible given internal rules and budget matters with the Indianapolis Star (I would have had to get paid), we were able to set it up so that I could be a shadow. I could meet with him and show him my stuff, and he could show me what he did and offer some insight into how an editorial cartoonist does his job. For all intents and purposes, I had an internship!

I met with Gary Varvel Wednesday, May 26. We talked about a lot of things from my cartoons to different types of cartooning styles to how he became a cartoonist for the Indianapolis Star. I showed him how I did my cartoons in Illustrator and he showed me how he did his in Photoshop. I picked up on some good ideas that I’d like to try out. I got to see him make a cartoon from start to finish, too.

He wanted my help choosing a new cartoon for the “Reader Toon” section of the editorial page out of all the submitted cartoons, but there weren’t that many sent in that were from artists that hadn’t been published recently. He decided to use one of my cartoons that I had finished that morning! I’m posting it as well as the cartoon as it appeared in the paper.

I think this cartoon turned out really well. I was really peeved (and still am) about the way the Obama administration was handling the BP oil spill. Obviously I don’t blame Obama for the spill itself, but it seems like every action he has taken has been impeding anything actually getting done. Investigations and populist crusades from the federal government should wait until AFTER the leak is stopped, and in the meantime the focus should be on doing everything possible to mitigate damage and to aid BP in solving the problem. I wasn’t seeing that, so I felt like it would be a good cartoon to make for Gary Varvel before I saw him that day. It sure worked out well for me!

We said that we would get back in touch a little later in the summer after I had drawn some more, and I won’t be procrastinating or wimping out this time. Meeting with Gary Varvel was one of the coolest things I have ever done, and I hope I’ll be keeping in touch with him long after this summer. Hopefully I’ll be able to get published in the Indiana Daily Student, and I’ll have more to show than just some ink drawings on computer paper!

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