Central New York is a place where the traditional four seasons do not exist. We have two, two-and-a-half seasons: Snow, Road Pre-Construction and Road Construction. We are hardened snow removers. Some get massive snow blowers, some get plow attachments for their riding lawnmowers and some just look up the phone number of someone who owns a plow.
Then there are people like me. I don’t own a snow blower. I don’t own a riding lawnmower. I don’t immediately call someone who plows snow. (I called someone twice… each time was after a few FEET had fallen.)
I just get my gloves, my hat and my shovel… and then I get to work.
My driveway is about 60 feet long. If you’re going from here to the moon that’s nothing…if you’re me and you’re trying to get the cars out… it’s still nothing.
Shoveling is a process. Each shovelful moved contributes to what your total picture ends up being.
Sometimes it doesn’t seem apparent what the result will be…other times is it’s clear from the beginning. Moving the snow slow and steady keeps you in breath and proceeding forward. Don’t lift more than you can carry, just do what you can. If you move too much, you wind up cold, out of breath, frustrated and tired. Move too little and you get nothing done.
I see a heavy snow on my driveway like I see my comic strip. The driveway needs clearing. A blank piece of bristol needs to be filled. I don’t necessarily see what the legacy will be while I’m doing it. Significance can only be determined truly after the moment has occurred. The bristol is the job that needs to be done. If I don’t clear the driveway, I can’t get my car out. If I don’t draw the strip, I can’t move on to the next strip.
I feel a weird sense of pride in knowing that every pound of snow on that driveway was moved with my own hands. I feel that same pride in knowing that every mistake and inked line on the last 3,824 Bob the Squirrel comic strips was also done by those hands.
Where do you start? Do you walk out to the middle and shovel your way out or do you start at the end and work your way back? Each type of snow requires a different approach. If it’s a heavy wet snow, you’re going to want to start at the end of the driveway, the part that’s closest to the road. This is where the snow is the heaviest– thanks to the city plows depositing an extra foot on the driveway from the road. You start there because that’s where most of your effort will be expelled. You’re fresh, you just got out there… get the heavy lifting out of the way. You don’t want to start with the easy and be spent by the time you get to the hard, right? Light fluffy snow, you can start anywhere. You know your effort will be the same from beginning to end.
When I was working on my MFA, I would often hear faculty stress the importance of an artist’s process. The steps you take to accomplish a goal, be it a comic strip, a painting or clearing a driveway are almost more important than the end result. I mean, sure, the process is what gets you there… but that end result had better be worth it. YOU have to get something out of every step, every move that you make…whether it’s tangible or intangible. Otherwise, you’re just wasting time and you’re not any closer to getting your car out of the driveway.
Where do you start with your comic? Start where the lifting is the heaviest. If your writing is weak, spend more time with that. If your rendering could use a tweak, spend more time with that. Just make sure you have the right shovel for the type of job you’re doing.
Don’t be discouraged by your lack of progress on your comic. If the idea is strong enough you’ll power through it…even if it’s only one shovelful at a time.
NOTE: My apologies to all those creators out there who live in non-snow falling climates. As much as I wracked my brain, I just couldn’t come up with a warm weather equivalent to shoveling snow. I guess you’ll have to take my word (and my sore back) for it
Frank Page Frank Page is a cartoonist. Throughout his life, that is one thing that has never been disputed. In 2002, he created the comic strip Bob the Squirrel. The strip has been syndicated online through Universal Uclick/GoComics.com since 2004. Page has been staff cartoonist/graphic designer at the Rome Daily Sentinel, Rome,NY. He holds a BFA in illustration from Cazenovia College, Cazenovia, NY and a MFA in Visual Art with emphasis on Sequential Art from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, Montpelier, VT.
His work is enjoyed all over the world. can be seen daily at bobthesquirrel.com and squirrelosophy.com. He currently resides in Rome, NY where he can regularly be seen chasing his Jack Russell Terrier, Lucy, through the streets.