Each year I tell myself I’m not going to get excited about anniversaries and other such milestones (except my wedding one to my beloved wife Lee). Londons Times Cartoons will be 18 years old Thursday, March 19th. As most know, I launched it after several false starts in an abandoned aluminum warehouse. It was not an easy time for me. But I’ve discussed that often in my blog.
It seems like every year I end up writing a blog about some of the (what I consider) unique experiences in the founding and eventual launching of Londons Times Cartoons. That’s fun for me and it reminds me of all the “street education” that occurred (and still occurs) in the management and growth of such a project.
This time I’m going to take a risk and talk about something a bit more personal. For some, it may scare them away, for others, it might help them understand; and, hopefully, begin a new growth process, similar to one on which I’m embarking. It’s not what I expected but, that’s life, and I find every day to be a blessing.
I consider it a compliment when people ask me “How did you know how to do that?”, or “How did you learn that business?”
Truth be told, there isn’t a degree in cartooning unless one attends Ohio State (which also has the largest cartoon collection in the world), and I think a few other colleges now. I didn’t have that luxury. In fact I was a dismal student in my younger days and got a bit better when I went back to school at age 47. But even then I didn’t study cartooning, but learned business and Internet skills that came in handy in the design and marketing of the Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons and consequential funny gifts and collectibles.
I did not learn until about a month or two ago that what most likely helped me a great deal (besides the motivation of my wife Lee) was that I discovered I “most likely” have highly-functional Aspergers”, a form of autism (which I’ve had all my life, but didn’t know it). To be sure, I took yet another test from the top autism testing centers such as at Psych Central and my score was in the “more than likely has high functioning Aspergers.”
The reason for the “most likely” is that it is impossible to diagnose any form of autism without the help of a trained professional M.D. specializing in the brain sciences. However, the test will give you a clue if one should see such a trained professional, and also even if it turns out that one “most likely” or “more than likely” has basic autism or another form such as highly-functional Aspergers, they nevertheless may want to see a professional as there are a myriad of other disorders that can be obstructive that may not fall technically into that spectrum, but have similar symptoms and can create issues in ones life that can be less than comfortable.
At first this scared (and embarrassed me). Then I learned that often people with this type of autism spectrum can often focus in ways that others cannot. To me, that kind of focus is “normal” or at times it feels odd that others (unless they have this spectrum) don’t often have that kind of focus).
Oddly it didn’t surprise Lee. She knew from my vagus nerve stimulator that for my system to function properly, I need “mechanical assistance” (and no, not like Lee Majors). Her guess was, in fact, high-functioning Aspergers because of my “High level focusing abilities”. I took that as a compliment.
My embarrassment diminished when I started researching it and learned that the very man who gave me the most advice about the business and world of cartooning, Charles “Sparky” Schulz also had it, as did Alfred Hitchcock according to reports from autism/Asperger’s Asperger’s support sites.
Upon further research I also learned some other notable names who most likely have or had it during their lives are/were Stephen Spielberg, Bill Gates, Dan Aykroyd, Thomas Jefferson, Jane Austen, and Isaac Newton Albert Lim Kok Hooi, M.D. Doctor of Oncology reported in the Feb. 24, 2011 issue of The New York Times that most historians believe others who had it were Beethoven, Mozart, Mark Twain, Isaac Newton, Michaelangelo, and Darwin.
Also on that list is Jim Henson, Isaac Asimov and Bob Dylan and many others. It’s worth a view of the list. If you find you have it, I believe you’ll realize you’re in good company.
At this point, I can only imagine you thinking, “Is Rick so delusional he thinks he is in the categories of those master craftsmen and women?”
No, and that is the reason I am writing this blog instead of one of my gratuitous ones that repeatedly notes the most “fascinating history in my mind” of my story of entering the world of cartooning and product designing.
Not in the least. But I take the time to document them, to remind myself that the disease is not just a disease, but a blessing/gift as well, and, anyone can have it, and it is should cause no shame, in fact, if anything, one might even say it is something in which to take pride.
In 1995 or so, I read a best-selling nonfiction book titled “EQ – Emotional Quotient” by Dr. Daniel Goleman.
He was diagnosed with autism back in the days when those diagnosed with it were kept out of school, I guess so as “not to infect others with it”.
When he reached adulthood, given his own research, he was able to prove IQ was not the only measurement of intelligence, and in fact EQ was not only another, but much more important than IQ in making ones way in the world. It is the emotional process of using ones intelligence.
He took the GED with no education at all and aced it. He later went to Yale and Amherst and finally received his PhD.
Goleman co-founded the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning at Yale University’s Child Studies Center which then moved to the University Of Illinois at Chicago where he co-directs the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations at Rutgers. He sits on the board of the Mind & Life Institute. Here is a very interesting TED Talk he gave on EQ not long ago.
After reading “EQ”, I took a chance and called him and explained my life and fear of education because I was so dismal at it. He chuckled and told me (in a nutshell) that it is possible in adulthood to work on one’s EQ and raise it to the level.
I stumbled through much of his direction and programs as I possibly could over the years and returned to college at age 47. I did fairly well on scholarship and even aced advanced math (I had failed all math growing up and in early college days.
I also had launched Londons Times Cartoons Gifts and later Rick London Quote Gifts, but several serious health issues hit (seemingly all at once) and I was forced to stop college as I was falling behind. That was heartbreaking as I was finally enjoying the learning process. By the same token, the college (and I) were a very good match, and I learned a great deal about running a business using the Internet. I even learned how to digitally design products (which I still do on a daily basis).
I then got married to my wonderful wife, and we both spend days doing what we love, hiking, nature and wildlife photography (she’s teaching me) and growing our business. I am what you might consider a happy person as is Lee.
Finally, there is a common thread, I can see, in all my “anniversary blogs”. That thread is, “It is never too late to begin chasing ones dream”; and “it’s a shame if you don’t when you really can”. I don’t mean necessarily “quit the day job” and jump in. I found great pleasure in chatting with various masters including Charles Schulz learning how the cartoon business works. I got joy in reading books on the topic and as the Internet grew, reading websites that “taught” various aspects of it.
With the advent of the Internet, we can all chase our dreams, beginning as hobbies, as most of them do, and enjoy the ride and the path as it becomes more clear on a daily basis. It grows and changes and so do we. I wish you the greatest success in whatever journey you decide to choose (or have chosen). Nothing, really, can stand in your way, if you choose not to let it.
Rick London is an animal and nature-lover and supports both causes. He is a writer, musician, cartoonist, and designer. He is best known for his offbeat comic Londons Times Offbeat Comics & humor gifts. He is married to nature wildlife photographer Lee Hiller-London who operates the highly-visited nature blog Hike Our Planet and designs her own line of designer gifts.
Here are a few of our Londons Times Cartoons created over the past 18 years. Hope you enjoy. Sincerely, Rick