March is almost here. It marks several anniversaries that usually only I remember because they were milestones in my life.
On March 10, 2007, my late dog “Thor” died in my arms on the floor. The vet believes (from his teeth) that he was approximately 22 years old. Some don’t believe me when I tell them but actually for dogs on the b.a.r.f. diet (biologically appropriate raw foods) that is about medium age. Many have reported having had dogs that lived to be close to thirty (human years) and cats that lived into their twenties. There is a lot on the Internet about the b.a.r.f. diet for pets. Thor went vet-free until nearly the end. And he was an extremely happy soul all the way until his final journey on this planet.
March 19th marks the 15th anniversary of Londons Times Cartoons. I announced that it was 15 years last year but I was mistaken. I started it on March 19, 1997, and this year marks the 15th. It had other names “London’s Bridge” and then “London’s Fawg” and finally I settled for “Londons Times”. I instinctively knew that might not be such a great idea by 1999, but we had so many cartoons with that credit at the top, I felt a bit silly trying to change it again. Some of the web analytics assured me that most people looking for it, type in London Times. I didn’t believe it at first until people would call or write or whatever and call it “London Times”.
I published our 15th anniversary book last year on Kindle, but it didn’t sell nearly as well as the 1st one, so maybe I’ll re-release it. Who knows. I usually don’t know until the day or the day before I decide to do something like that; that seems oh-so-important, but of course is not at all.
Occasionally people would ask me, “Won’t that big newspaper in London, England come after you for swiping their name?”. Actually no, since their name is The Times Of London and only those who are not aware of that call them The London Times. Other’s would say, “Are you strange? Isn’t your name Stetelman and ya’ll were part of that real estate group down in S. Mississippi?”
Yes, but nobody could remember, pronounce, nor spell Stetelman. That is, in fact, fine in a town with a pace as slow as the one in which I was raised. But, try living your life in New York City or Los Angeles or Washington, D.C. spending half your days spelling or pronouncing your name when you’re moving at warp speed, and you listen to advice.
I had an agent in Washington who was younger than me, but smarter, and he asked me, “Have you ever considered changing your name to something easier?” My first response was, “How does Floyd Stetelman sound”? He didn’t even smile. He said, “If you are going to ever make it, you better have a name someone can remember.”
I suggested “London”. He said that London is a great name and easy to remember but “why London”. Well that was my mom’s maiden name. He said “Go with it”. That was 1988 and I’ve used it ever since when doing cartoon, writing or design business.
One of the most interesting observations to me, after a lifetime of spelling my name for people, and how uncomfortable they feel for having to ask, is how comfortable they feel saying, “London, oh like the city”. My wife, Lee Hiller-London, more often than not uses her own last name “Hiller” in her work. I like her name. It’s easy to say and spell, and we get our business done rather quickly sans any spelling for anyone. Now maybe I’m making a mountain out of a mole Hiller. Or maybe just a bad pun. Sorry baby. It was there…in my head, so I typed it. X0x0 Sigh!
Rick London is a writer, designer, cartoonist and songwriter. He founded Londons Times Cartoons in 1997. It has been Google’s #1 ranked offbeat cartoons & funny gifts since 2005 and Bing’s #1 since 2008. He also founded Rick London Designs which is a wisdom/life/motivation/inspiration quote gift shop where he designs gifts of famous quotes with graphics of those who penned or said them. He is married to Lee Hiller-London founder of Lee Hiller Designs where she designs her own brand of unique gifts and home decor. Both enjoy hiking in Hot Springs National Park which is their home, and Lee Hiller-London is a professional wildlife and nature photographer. You can follow them on Twitter @RickLondon and @LeeHillerLondon.