Humor and Hard Times
“If we can’t look at things in our life and find the humorous side, the joyful side of those things, we’re poorer for it.” – Brian Crane, creator of Pickles
I recently read an article highlighting Brian Crane, the creator of one of my favorite comic strips, Pickles. Pickles is a long running newspaper strip focusing on a cranky yet sweet retired couple, Earl and Opal Pickles. Brian is celebrating 30 years of his strip, which is an amazing achievement! Congratulations Brian!
In the article, Brian describes a very hard time in his life when his daughter was badly injured in a car accident. Professional newspaper cartoonists are responsible to produce daily comics, usually working two months ahead. Even when hard times come knocking, a cartoonist must go on. He describes how difficult it was to do that during his daughter’s hospital stay. Yet he realized later how helpful it was getting him through it. Being forced to think humorously actually saved him from more stress.
“If you can laugh at something, you can live with something,” he says. I completely agree. This isn’t to say Brian was laughing at his daughter’s situation, but rather finding humor in general. And to my knowledge, she is recovered and healthy.
After reading this article, I too realized just how helpful creating Jetlagged Comic has been for me in my own life. Heck, the main reason I started it was to help me cope with stress on the plane! Especially now with COVID-19 still the hot topic of the century, I find myself with the challenge of distilling our new world into a few pen strokes and a couple of (hopefully) punchy lines.
Needing to create weekly Jetlagged strips for my worldwide audience, I'm "forced" to find humor, even when I might not feel like it. Sometimes it's like pulling teeth, dragging myself to the drawing board! But after spending each part of my day drawing and writing, I come away happier, my conscious clearer, my heart a little lighter.
Should you rush out and start your own comic strip to deal with the stress? Well, you could (and please show me your work)! Or you could find daily reasons to laugh, like (shameless plug) reading my strip, or Pickles, watching a funny show (I’m re-watching The Office right now and it’s hilarious!), reading a funny book, Facetiming with that funny friend of yours, playing with your pet cat/dog/racoon…just find anything to make you smile and giggle and remember to do it daily (like taking a vitamin. Vitamin H, for Humor, preferably with food).
For Brian, it seems creating humor isn’t just a job, it’s a way of life—“It’s OK to laugh at the foibles of old age (Earl and Opal). It’s not that we’re making fun of them, it’s just that we’re finding the humor in life and dealing with life’s problems with a sense of humor.”
Watch this 3 minute interview with Brian from 2011. He seems like such a down to earth guy and I love how he talks about his strip and characters.