In the fall of ’86.I left D.I.C., moving to Kushner-Locke where I worked on “Spiral Zone”. D.I.C. wouldn’t give me a raise to $850 a week. Kushner-Locke was paying the amazing-for-the-time sum of $1300, but they wanted half an episode in 2 weeks. The director, Warren Greenwood, let us work at home if we wanted. I got into the bad habit of procrastinating most of week 1, getting into gear in week 2, and doing the bulk of the board in the last 2 days. I’d start in Sunday morning and work around the clock without sleeping to meet the late Monday afternoon deadline. I liked it in a lot of ways; the work would flow from my pencil, as Alex Toth once said, “like water”.
However, it ended up giving me carpal tunnel syndrome at the age of 27, and I’ve been struggling with the condition ever since. Typically, my hand would start to bug me in the last couple of hours before deadline. On that fateful Monday morning in the spring of ’87, my hand started to hurt around 8:00 am. By the time I handed in at 5:00pm, I could barely hold a pencil, and I didn’t snap back the next day. I had to go on Disability, in fact, unable to work for over 2 months. I wasn’t fully recovered by the time I started at Bakshi Productions on the first season of “Mighty Mouse”.
Since then, I’ve had to gradually change my working style. I can no longer afford to blow off when uninspired, since I know I won’t be able to make it up on the back end. I have to put in the pencil mileage, 8 hours a day, whether I like it or not, whether I think it’s good or not. Actually, it’s turned out pretty well; I’ve done most of my best work since then. What I hate at the time turns out to be mostly usable in retrospect.
Following the advice of a chiropractor, I got a timer; every 20 minutes I would stop and do some form of exercise or stretch. This keeps me functioning. I also avoid doing free-lance while I have a day job. I use my spare time to do my own projects; when I do overtime freelance I risk relapsing my hands. It seems weird, by I’m certain there’s a psychological component to over-use syndrome, at least for me.
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