Laughing Through Lyme's--Guest Post by my favorite cartoonist John McPherson!

Note: I was supposed to blog today about Job's friends and what not to do when a friend is suffering. However, I'm having a pretty yucky day, and thus have decided to take my own advice and admit it, and give myself a break. We'll get to Job later. =)

Today, instead, let's talk about something more cheerful! I'm so excited to introduce you to...

John McPherson, award-winning creator of Close to Home comics, my favorite book therapy when I’m sick or recovering. When I started working on the Sick & Tired series, I remember thinking it would be so neat to have his comics in my book. Since they helped cheer me up when I was feeling lousy, they could help others too! So, not expecting to hear back really, I looked him up and sent an e-mail, and was shocked when he replied that same day. Not only was he interested in being part of Sick & Tired, but he shared that he suffers with Lyme disease, so understands how it is to have a chronic illness. No wonder his comics about hospitals and medicine are so true-to-life!

If you, like me, are curious as to how someone becomes a cartoonist, here’s John’s story of how he got started…

How I got into cartooning:
People always want to know how you get into a profession like cartooning.  And for obvious reasons; we get to hang out on tropical beaches while we draw, scan the stuff into our syndicates and then tool around the world in leer jets until the next batch of cartoons is due in a month.  Ah, if only it were so (jet fuel has become too expensive for me to tool around much anymore).

My cartooning career began by accident in Bayonne NJ, in a squalid little apartment where three of my friends lived.  We were up one Sunday morning and were looking at the comic pages.  We were smart-alecky college kids and generally made fun of the comics at the time, being too foolish to see their true wisdom.  At any rate, one of my friends dared me to draw a cartoon, which I did.  I had no art background, but I scrawled out something inane and he laughed, so that’s what counted.   In the weeks that followed, I started tooling around a bit more with cartooning, merely to mail to my friends and entertain them (this was back in the days before cable TV, so good entertainment was hard to come by).

As I sat in college classes I started jotting down ideas for single panel cartoons until I had quite a stash of them.  

I got out of school with a degree in mechanical engineering, at a time when it was actually hard to find a job as an engineer.  It was really during this period of part-time jobs, living with my parents that I truly got into cartooning.  I started drawing up the ideas that I had, keeping them in a little drawing book.  At the same time, I finally got an engineering job near Albany, NY and settled in the quaint little town of Saratoga Springs. I sent some of my cartoons off to a little semi-monthly paper called The Glens Falls Chronicle, and oddly enough, the editor there, Mark Frost, liked my cartoons!  He was willing the pay me five buck a cartoon, which meant ten bucks a month for me.  Nothing like cold, hard cash to put a fire under one's feet.  I started drawing more cartoons, this time with an eye on the magazine market, where cartoonists could get paid $35 or $40, and be able to buy socks and groceries and deodorant.  
I began sending batches of cartoons off to magazines. I'd put together a batch of 8 or 10 cartoons and send them off to a particular magazine.  When they rejected my stuff (which of course they did!), then I'd send those same toons off to another magazine, and so on.  I would try to keep as many batches out in circulation as possible, thereby greatly enhancing my chances of getting more rejection letters.  My technique worked.  Rejection letters just poured in.  Fortunately, I was enjoying drawing cartoons so much that getting published wasn't that big a deal to me.

But then something very strange happened.  I got a letter from Campus Life magazine saying that they liked my stuff.  What I sent wasn't quite right, but could I send more?  So I sent off a batch of cartoons that was more school oriented, and amazingly, they bought 2 cartoons for $50 each.  It was so cool to get $100 for drawing some cartoons.

Face-lift clip

Now, years later, I’m making a little more than $100. I'm working on deadline these days, which is basically how I do it most of the time.  I have to submit work at a minimum of 11 days ahead of when they appear, and draw one week at a time.  I know some people have the notion that we cartoonists draw one cartoon a day and walk it down to their individual newspaper offices.  This of, of course, would be impossible, since Close To Home is now carried in over 291,000 papers around the world and I would have to walk to all those places and I cannot because I have a bad ankle.

Thanks, John, for joining us today! 

Feel free to leave a note for John below, or share what helps you when you're feeling down.

Be sure to get your copy of Sick & Tired: Empathy, Encouragement, and Practical Help for those Suffering from Chronic Health Problems, to see more of John’s hilarious medical comics! (Now available on Amazon for pre-order, or sign up at for the newsletter so you can get exclusive offers for launch day.)


  1. An interesting post. John's humor shows through in his writing as well as his cartoons.

  2. I love the story behind the story! Thank you John, for that day long ago, when you decided to submit your cartoons and not give up!


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