The answer is no. I am currently an active web developer by trade.
After some mild success in high school art class in Santa Barbara, I got into photography, writing and graphic design, and started my zine which featured the drawings of Leeder O. Men, as well as my travels around the country. I dreamed of working at Thrasher Magazine in San Francisco, so I moved there in late 1987 and after a brief job working at Alcatraz, I achieved my goal and was the assistant art director for three great years. I had graduated to a real magazine, so Naughty Nomads was history at that point but I kept drawing Leeder for Thrasher Comics. I was also fortunate to be the team captain of the legendary company Independent Trucks, one of my early skate sponsors when I lived in Santa Barbara. Skateboarding has been a passion since I was 13-years-old. I moved from Wisconsin to California in hot pursuit of it. It brought me many great friendships along the way and helped keep me on a positive track as I was on my own at age 18. I still ride skateboards, but not as much.
As far as music goes, while I was working at Thrasher I was playing guitar in a group called Swell. We put out a few CDs that were well-received on college radio, enabling us to tour in Europe. After that, I moved back to Santa Barbara. At that point, I chose to make music by myself while making a living freelancing as a graphic designer. That went well for a few years and then I started building websites with the advent of the web. Creating websites has been a solid career move, both a joy and a steady challenge.
I’ve had a home recording studio setup most of my adult life and a large chunk of my all-original recordings can be found on Bandcamp.
Back in 1985, I was in an astronomy class with my friend Bapa where we collaborated on a sketchy drawing of a pretty wild-looking guy on a wheelchair in my notebook. This character lived in my notebook for a while. During that time I was an assistant in a weight training class for adaptive students at Santa Barbara City College. There were some students in that class that became my friends. When I discovered that drawing in my notebook again, I had a gut-feelin’ to develop the sketch into a character, naming him Leeder O. Men. At the time, I was the creator of my own small skateboard publication called Naughty Nomads and was soon drawing Leeder riding skateboard ramps and pools on his wheelchair. Some of these original drawings are now in the archive section of the site. When I moved to San Francisco and started working at Thrasher Magazine, I stopped making my zine and contributed to Thrasher Comics. After that, Leeder took a long nap. It took until September of 1997 to start again, and I did a strip every week I could. Leeder took another long nap in 2003. Now it’s 2020. Man O. Man… time flies.
Mostly… When I started the strip and put it online, I was warned that I might get negative reactions to you-know-what. Criticism is inevitable and anyone can be hostile. That’s easy. So I wrote to some folks in the field of therapeutic humor to get their opinions. Now, I just forward anyone who doesn’t approve of the strip, or me, to the site of the American Institute on Therapeutic Humor where they can get the facts on why they feel the way they do.
I don’t claim to be an expert about wheelchairs or those that use them, but I have very close friends that spend their lives on wheelchairs. Growing up as a skateboarder, I am drawn to the possibilities that are inherent with a set of wheels, no matter what the configuration is. The notion of riding a wheelchair similar to other wheeled sports was born in my brain in 1986. That’s a long time ago. Nobody gave me grief for it then, and I won’t let anyone give me grief for it now.
Leeder O. Men was conceived in 1985 in an astronomy class at Santa Barbara City College. He became a cartoon character in early 1986.
Leeder’s reality is innocent, unassuming, carefree and innovative. Leeder’s message: Just Live. Actions speak louder than words. The only competition is with himself. His heroes are the ones that live in his heart. He beats his own drum and will not be fettered by the expectations _or_ the ignorance, of others.
1. It sounds cool, right?
2. People with the name Leeder get hyped.
3. Joy Division’s first record had a song called Leaders of Men.
Paraxial Tibial Hemimelia… a case of leg deformity, if you will. The incidence rate is 1 in 1 million.
If you would like to publish the cartoons in your newsletters, my guidelines can be found on the publishing page along with how to reach me. It’s published in several newsletters now, and I send out original b/w copies of the strips. I have also done custom illustrations for various causes. There is no fee… I just like to know some details and to make it a formal interaction.