Thursday, August 29, 2013

Silly, silly job

As I said in the last post, I love sketches for their liveliness and potential, as in this cartoon draft.
Wandering the desert of What the Hell do I do With the Rest of My Life?, between what I thought was the end of my freelance business and the beginning of what I thought would be a teaching career, I took some odd jobs.

One was in a Boy Scouts of America retail store. That might merit its own post someday, when I figure out just what to show and tell about it.

I think I retained much of the liveliness here, mostly by
reining in my desire to color everything. As for the message:
(shrug). This was the last 'toon I drew for CASBO, the people
in charge having been dismissed. This might have been
their siren song.
Another was Marketing and Communications Specialist for CASBO, which sounds like a clown that rents out to kids' birthday parties but really stands for the California Association of School Business Officials.

It's a trade and lobbying group representing just about everyone else in public education who's not a teacher. Superintendents, their assistants, business officials, accountants, secretaries, maintenance and operations managers, custodians, all fit under this umbrella. Most states have ASBOs, and a national group influences them all.

My job included writing and editing a weekly newsletter … wrestling with rudimentary Website software to shepherd and massage weekly box ads advertising for school business official jobs available statewide … and managing the organization's "library," by which it meant bookstore, by which it meant I would process mail orders for CASBO publications and ship them out.

The first CASBO cartoon I did portrays a universal truth:
Lawmakers, a long time after they've ever stepped foot
inside a classroom, make laws they think will make
schools work better. They don't offer any money to pay
for these great ideas; then they blame schools, teachers
specifically, for when these laws fail the children. Hmmm.
I got to run the bookstore during one of CASBO's conventions. Upside: Half-mile long San Diego Convention Center, Gaslight District, Petco Park, the extensive trolley system and the beautiful San Diego coastline. Downside: I got to run the bookstore during the convention.

Every three months or so I got to have a little fun.

Occasionally, for example, I'd get to write a profile about some CASBO official for the organization's slick quarterly magazine. It had been a long time since using my feature writing muscles, so it was a relief to put two words together in a sentence and feel like I was actually creating something people would read.

I had no problem toeing the company line here. CASBO didn't really represent anything objectionable to me; support for public education is good in most forms. Maybe some of the business officials get disproportionately more than teachers, but the running theme there was, "We're working toward a common goal here."

Charter schools are the answer; everyone says so. So it's
natural they get the resources, right? The strangest sight
is of a charter school nestled within a public school,
running concurrently. What's wrong with this picture?
At least CASBO was honest about its editorial objectives, unlike the California Farm Bureau's newspaper, for which I worked, where the editors pretended we were an actual independent newspaper. 

Many times there I'd dislocate my brain trying to balance a farmer's six-word sentence with a reasoned argument by the loyal opposition.

The most fun I had at CASBO was being able to draw a cartoon for its quarterly magazine. 

It was far from perfect. I was the draftsman for ideas generated by the CASBO executive director and my boss, who was also the magazine editor. With rare exception, they gave me the idea, the cast, the signage requests, and it was up to me to compose it all.

I frequently pushed an idea to certain limits, and the executive director and editor would pull me back in. Several cartoons went many rounds before we could all agree on the final version.

A variation on the theme above …
I didn't mind. The more I got to fuss with the cartoons, the less I had to mess with the job's other drudgeries. I got really mopey the minute I turned in final art for each 'toon, because it meant alphabetizing the CASBO library and feeling my eyeballs dry out.

With each 'toon I played with a different style, trying to be more blunt and immediate than in most of my other work.

These are kinda sorta editorial cartoons, and they beat the drum of a couple of distinct themes: (1) the state won't fund the rising mountain of laws and regulations with which it buries public schools; (2) the state pays more attention to public charter schools rather than solving public school problems; (3) the state government is going to hell in a handbasket; and (4) Arnold Schwarzenegger is a poopy pants.

Schwarzenegger was bad for education. Not that anyone has
really been
good for education …
A really big poopy pants. CASBO was not a fan of his leadership. I had to agree.

But lampooning the former governor every three months could not sustain me. I had to get out of that place and applied to teacher school. When I realized teacher school had falsely advertised its program was ideal for full-time workers (right, as long as your boss didn't mind frequent, sometimes lengthy and hastily scheduled days off to work in classrooms!) and had to leave CASBO to take up substitute teaching, I wasn't really all that sad.

I broke the news to my boss. "That's too bad," she said. Pause. "Can you still draw cartoons?"

Really, that was her concern? Oh, screw it, what did I care?! I still got to do the best part of the job.

…really bad for education
Her boss then admitted my job had been a mashup of a couple of other jobs; they had meant to put more more work into defining the creature they had created, but never got around to it. 

Somehow I kept drawing 'toons while studying — until the two bosses eventually left CASBO — and kept freelance clients even while teaching, so I could revive my business after teaching without a herculean effort.

These are just some of the cartoons I got to draw over that in-between time.

Enjoy over coffee.

… and bad for everything else.
Concept for a California-is-going-to-hell cartoon …

…which became this

CASBO smelled bias …
Stylistically different, conceptually puzzling: This was
simply my CASBO bosses' way of saying, "Can't
we all get along?" I guess.

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