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My Dream

Comic relief

Josh Sullivan, 21, has found steady inspiration for his off-the-wall style of art since leaving Saginaw, Mich., for St. Petersburg.

Published June 14, 2003

[Times photo: Lara Cerri]
Josh Sullivan, left, prepares to show roommate Zack Tomlin his latest creation. “My goal is just to make people laugh,” says Sullivan, who has been drawing since age 2.


I don't know where I get the drive to draw comics.

All I know is that I'm so glad I have it. I started drawing when I was 2, but it wasn't until I got to high school that I got into cartooning. Now I have exactly 16,686 Xerox copies of my books in circulation, and I've mailed them to 50 states and 20 countries.

I put them all together myself; drew them, copied them, stapled them together and signed them. I still have all the originals 'cause I'm going to a big comic book convention in San Diego in July.

I'm making a best-of book so I can hand it out to all the publishers and stuff. I'd love to get a real publisher. Actually, my hands would love that, 'cause they end up hurting after a while from all the copying and stapling.

My biggest dream is to someday have an animated cartoon TV show like the Simpsons, because that's what really got me started. I was at the convention in San Diego two years ago, and I looked over, and there was Matt Groening. I went over to him and gave him one of my buttons, and he's like, "Oh, I'll check that out.' And I was like, "THANK YOU! Thank you for giving me the inspiration.' "

People say they see a lot of different influences in my work. I think I've developed my own little style. I focus on the goofy, silly things in life. I'm never bored. I can come up with 15 ideas for new strips in 10 minutes. It usually takes me a week to do a full strip, from idea to pencil to ink to final drawing.

My goal is just to make people laugh. Two people had stuff I designed tattooed on their butts. It sounds funny, but that's the first time I felt accomplished.

In the photo, I'm in the process of making one of my daily sketches for my Web site. I'm in my apartment, and one of my two roommates, Zack, is checking out what I'm working on. That's Slap the cat on the floor, checking things out, too.

Our rent is $900 a month, and we split it three ways. I could use money from my job at the Globe Coffee Shop in St. Pete. But I was like, "I'm going to try to make that $300 a month off my art." And for the last few months, I've been able to do that, selling my strips and the paintings I've started to make.

I really feel lucky that I ended up down here, since the art scene has really blown up since I arrived three years ago. I'd been working in a comic shop in my hometown of Saginaw, Mich., selling some of my stuff but mostly Marvel and D.C. Comics.

Then, my best friend comes in one day and says, "Hey, you want to move to Florida?" I'm like, "Okay." So he's like, "Okay, we'll move a month from today." We went and bought a map, and we circled all the cool areas. We decided on this place because of all the different cities like St. Pete, Tampa and Clearwater.

We were staying in a hotel on 34th Street. I had no money. I didn't know anybody, and mostly all I was eating was popcorn and jelly. But I wasn't going to give up. I got a job at a restaurant, which was the one thing I swore I wouldn't do. And I made enough money to pay off my hotel bill.

That was the turning point. I really wanted to prove to everybody back in Saginaw that I could make it down here. And I feel really proud that I am.

[Last modified June 13, 2003, 09:19:37]

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