Wednesday, April 2, 2008

'Sad Feelings' & How I Came to be What I Am Today

Have you ever been really sad, but you don't know why you are sad in the first place? I have it all the time. When I was younger, I used to call them 'sad feelings'. I had one almost every day since I was about 5, & like a cold there's no real cure for it. You just gotta wait 'til it goes away on it's own. Every once in a while, I'm at a point where it feels like I'm bombarded with 'em & it lasts for days, even weeks. I'm having one of those as I write this post.

I've been really down lately. A lot of things have been going on in my life, with college work, registering classes for next year, my jobs & my life at home, & it feels that my drawing has suffered because of all that's been happening. Half the days I'm here, I'm alone in my room drawing &/or listening to music. I'm not quite 'depressed', but close enough.

Still, sadness can be somewhat inspiring. I don't know why I'm gonna tell you guys this, but I feel like I was gonna let you guys know about some time or another. Here's the reason why I draw cartoons:

-From birth to about the age of 10, I lived in the town of Freeport NY, which in some ways wasn't quite the ideal place to live. Although the part of town I lived in wasn't the most dangerous part, it had it's issues.

Like many children, I was teased & ridiculed in school (many artists & cartoonists experience this). Although I had several friends (some I still speak to), I still felt very alone. I have to admit, I was a sensitive child.

Even in my own home I felt isolated. Although my mother was there to cheer me up most of the time while working around the house, my father was always at the auto shop working. He used to come home early each night & stay home on Sundays, but as time went on he started coming home later & later 'til eventually he wouldn't come home at all. Not even on Sundays. He became a devoted workaholic. I'd barely see him 2 or 3 times a week.

I was never abused or neglected as a child, but I did feel left out a majority of the time. My slightly-older sister would completely ignore me, unless she needed somebody to do stuff for her (being the older sister, she felt that she was above me, mentally, socially & literally). Being the 'baby' sibling, I had nobody to look down at, only up. My sisters didn't care & my parents were both busy all the time. I was incredibly lonely, where all I could do was sit by myself & pretend that I wasn't alone. I was even at the point of questioning my existence, thinking that it probably wouldn't even matter if I just disappeared off the face of the Earth.

To help ease my sadness & loneliness, I would sit for hours in front of the TV & watch cartoons. I had a plethora of VHS tapes of movies & classic cartoons (mostly Disney). To me, Donald Duck & Goofy were my friends. If my mom wasn't there, they'd be the only ones who could cheer me up when I was down & make me laugh when all I could do was cry.

Besides coloring & drawing little pictures in my textbooks when I was bored in school, I never really was crazy about it. Still, if I was alone, & all there was was a crayon & a sheet or two of paper, I'd sit down & draw as much as I could as fast as I could. I would draw occasionally, but at that time I wasn't considering it as something I wanted to do when I grew up. That idea came a little while later-

When my grandma used to come visit during the summertime, we used to watch the old Disneyland shows at 8 o'clock on weekends. At 8, she'd give me two After Eight mints & we'd watch & listen to Walt on TV. When something we weren't interested in came on, like Zorro, Davy Crockett or something we've already seen before, we'd pop out a VHS from our movie cabinet & watch that instead.

One night, when nothing good was on, we rustled through the closet looking for something to watch. While scavenging around, I came across an old, dusty purple VHS case with big, gold letters at the top: FANTASIA. Never seeing it before, I asked grandma what it was. Having not seen it in years, she was excited to see it again & popped the tape into the VCR. The child in me was bored with the film, what with all the classical music & no words, but somewhere else in my head, something just clicked. After listening to Walt talk about animation, my grandmother explaining how & what animation really was, & now after watching this film, I finally got it.

"You mean that somebody had to DRAW all those Mickeys?! Whoooaaaa..."

The concept of it completely blew me away. After the film was over, I turned to my grandmother, pointed at the TV & said: "I wanna do THAT when I grow up!"

& since then, it's been history. I've studied countless books/articles about animation, I came up with my own characters & stories, I tried making flipbooks, I took animation classes & now I'm majoring it in college! It's been a long & somewhat successful journey, & it's still early in the game for me.

I still get sad from time to time. But you gotta take the good with the bad. Steve-O, Randy & Cannibal Chicken probably wouldn't be in my life right now if I wasn't alone. I guess in a strange way, they're like my imaginary friends/guardian angels. No matter what I'm feeling or going through, they're always at my side to be there when I need somebody.

-This post is definitely a departure from my semi-humorous banter & cartoony stuff I usually do, but I promise to get back that way as soon as possible. 'Til then, just keep looking up.


Anonymous said...

Hey Mike.
dont make it bad
take a sad song!
and make it better!

I'm sorry you feel sad =(
=D maybe its just the rainy weather =)


Bitter Animator said...

Mr.R, you may well have depression even if you don't feel "depressed". Perhaps might be worth looking at other symptoms. Though, if you can deal with it and get yourself out of those mysterious sad feelings, then maybe you're doing okay with it.

But it sounds familiar.

mike r baker said...

Hey, Michael. I popped over here because of the Drawn! thing (your work was great - thanks for that!), and I saw this entry on your being sad. I totally relate - but for me it turns out to have just been a mix of regular old teenage angst and not fitting in with societal norm. Sounds like it's the same for you. You love cartoons - you've discovered that and you're lucky. Now geek it up. You have something to focus on and time to do it. That's a recipe for success. And you won't be lonely for long. The more you delve into your passion, the more people like you you'll meet. Just consider it payin' your dues.

Anonymous said...

I came here to see your Disney getting lazy videos and read this blog too. I identify so much with so much of what you've said. I know about the loneliness, the being picked on, and escaping through Disney. I think there are a surprising amount of folks out there who can say the same.

I'm now 30, teach film, and feel blessed in my marriage. Faith in Christ, age, children, and a job I love have helped me. I pray the same will happen with you too. Sometimes youth can be a dark blur, but for me and the people I really connect with, life gets better each day, week, month, and year after eighteen.