With trepidation, I left my job at Norton Simon. I’d been afraid to quit previously, and averaged 4 hours of sleep per night for the past 2 months. Also, my relationship with Denys was on the skids. I broke up with him in October, right after my father died of his third heart attack. I moved to Silverlake, and my life truly began.
At D.I.C., I realized I could DO this, that I actually had the stuff to make it as a cartoonist. During my 8-month layoff, I’d come to doubt it. One of my fellow new-hirees at Ruby-Spears was a character designer the crew nicknamed “Scruffy” behind his back; he was clearly self-deluded about his abilities as an artist and the question was why he got hired in the first place. Was I self-deluded like Scruffy? What was MY secret nickname? My self-esteem was so low that, at D.I.C., when anyone complemented my boards, I wondered if they were playing a game on me.
I became Bernard’s fair-haired boy; he was my mentor. He saved my life, even if he didn’t know it.I also acquired a work ethic; eight months of no work put the fear of God in me. Before the layoff, I would step away from projects when I ran up against something I didn’t know how to draw. It took me forever to accomplish anything. Now my attitude was, “Tough, draw it anyway”. I worked 60-hour weeks, grateful for the chance to prove myself.