Bad Trip

My latest illustration is slated to run this weekend in the travel section. A few times a year the editors call upon the readers to submit content, which might sound like a crap-shoot but it's very popular and there are always some real gems (sometimes they're unprintable, but those provide extra entertainment around the newsroom.) This time we asked for tales of what went wrong on vacation; this is my humble effort to illustrate that theme.
...This piece was done entirely in Photoshop. I spent some time working up ideas with paper and pencil, filling a few pages with funny characters, cartoon airplanes, Eiffel Tower doodles, and so on; but when I scribbled a palm tree it looked very "Ukiyo-e" and I liked it.
...With that style in mind, I doodled a little kid with a shovel, pail and raincoat; and I liked that, too. The deadline was approaching so, for expediency's sake, I shifted to digital and improvised the rest of it.

A personal aside (boring! You can probably skip it.)
...I've probably mentioned it before but the newspaper business is in bad shape, and the past few months have been particularly severe. I've seen an large number of colleagues squeezed out, bought out, laid off. A couple of very talented and long-time friends have recently been let go. There are rumors of even more cutbacks to come.
...Now, as a member of a staff so decimated that we struggle simply to cover the shifts, there is less creativity in what I do and much less joy in the environment I work in. The people who remain are stellar; committed, professional, a pleasure to work under fire -- and I'm proud to work with them -- but the burdens are much greater and the rewards have diminished to the point where I wonder, "why am I doing this?"
...When I manage to score an illustration, or another assignment that gives me a more personal sense of satisfaction and a stronger sense of contribution, I really appreciate this aspect of what I've done for the past 7 or 8 years. What fun it can be to create something from start to finish, sign my name to it, and then, the next morning, 350,000 people are looking at it.*
...I'm also aware that each enjoyable project might be my last, and I try to find the extra time and the extra oomph to make sure it isn't something I'll be embarrassed of. I did have fun with this one and I kind of like it, but it makes me miss the good old days.
...Not a bad one to go out on if this is it.
The End
p.s. Just in case it isn't clear, the headline will probably go across the very top and the story will flow in a box, something like this:



*That's a guesstimate; might be a little less, might be a lot more. I looked up the circulation numbers of five of our papers (from a couple of years ago) added them together and rounded down. There are 11 papers that my stuff appears in, but circulation is down everywhere and, if what I've heard is true, numbers are often overestimated just to fluff things up. I'll fix this later if I can find the right numbers.