by Sherif Awad
Here's a little background on me. Born and raised in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia, PA, I come from an artistic family, with both my mom and sister sharing a love for drawing and painting. I started cartooning around the age of ten. Charles M. Schulz, Gary Larson, Bil Keane and Bill Watterson were all major influences. My daily routine would consist of a chocolate milk, Tastykake Peanut Butter Kandykakes and the Philadelphia Daily News. LOVED reading The Far Side everyday.
As far as role models in cinema and TV I would say John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Tom Hanks, and Adam West of Batman, which was always on TV in the afternoons.
I attended the Art Institute of Philadelphia, graduating with a degree in visual communications. More or less, cartooning every chance I got. This lead to a career as an Art Director for JCPenney, which lead to a career in newspapers. While working for various newspapers, I started editorial cartooning and I've been at that for over 20 years now. The past 8 years nationally syndicated with Creators,com, based out of Los Angeles, CA. What a long strange trip it's been!
As for editorial cartooning in today's climate, it's been a rough go at it. Many publishers and editors are more concerned about offending readers, upsetting those who are easily upset. And I've lost a few papers this year, which is never good. Cancel Culture is real and swallows up the weak.
Comic books and graphic novels are very much alive and well! Fat Jacks in Philly is the place visit if you ever get the chance.
My greatest achievement by far is spending time with our troops overseas, traveling with the USO. The USO and The National Cartoonists Society have a long history of working together that dates back to 1946. It's a great way of entertaining our brave men and women and they can send cartoons to their young children back home. We also got to visit with our wounded soldiers, which can be a very humbling experience.
My advice to newcomers is to work hard and love what you're doing. Buckle up because you will hit some bumps along the way, but it's worth it. Being able to draw is a God-given ability that should be shared. Imagine a world without Cezanne, Matisse, DaVinci, Monet, Rockwell, Hopper, Blazek, Larson and Schulz. No thanks.