First, a disclaimer: this isn’t a Laurel and Hardy blog. My apologies.
Another Fine Mess refers to my desk, my office, my brain. It’s the chaos I live in.
I’m Mark Heath, a so-so successful freelance cartoonist. For years I’ve thought I was lazy, scatter-brained, irresponsible. And I was, and am. But it turns out there’s a reason for it. I’m writing this blog to join the ADHD community, to better understand myself, and to give myself another distraction when I should be working on my cartoons.
You can see my work here.
I’m also the creator of Spot the Frog, a comic strip that posts daily at comics.com. Every strip is informed by ADHD, though it’s not obvious. I had to draw six daily strips and one Sunday every week. Friday was my deadline. Picture my nose pressed flat to a plate glass door. The door is the deadline, with the syndicate on the other side.
Obsessed with the need to make my strips perfect (ADHD), and the likelihood that I wasn’t especially efficient Monday through Wednesday (ADHD), made Thursday and Friday a mad race for the deadline that was mostly my face smooshed to the metaphorical glass, unable to open the door, needing first the extra hour, then the extra minute, and then the extra second, to push my strips to perfection.
This is also known as Zeno’s Paradox.
When Spot the Frog ended its print run, it took months for that Deadline pressure to lift from me. As sad as I was at letting Spot go, I was finally free to relax. To return to freelance cartooning.
I still bump my face on that glass door. And worse, I often don’t. Now I look back on syndication with fondness. As hard as it was, every week I drew six dailies and one Sunday. I got the job done, thanks to a signed contract that said I would get it done.
As a freelancer, I don’t have a contract. With a few exceptions — American Scientist, for example — no one is waiting for my work. Most of my deadlines are self-imposed. My schedule is my own.
Heaven for some, Hell for me.*
A few months ago I was diagnosed as ADD.
It’s the punchline to my career so far.
I’m laughing on the inside.
*Relatively speaking, being an atheist; yet another perk.