A Cartoonist’s Diary

John Porcellino: Day One

Saturday-Sunday, March 3-4, 2012

So, I was going down to Gainesville to teach a five-day workshop at Tom Hart’s new school, SAW, or the Sequential Artists Workshop. When I left Beloit, it looked like this:

It’s fun to drive through Illinois, tip to tip, and at this point I’m getting to know the landmarks along the way, the places to get gas, eat ... the places to pull over and sleep.

I drove like crazy. The further south I got the lighter the snow, the clearer the skies, and the milder the wind. Pretty soon I was making good time. Through Bloomington, south at Champaign towards Memphis, which always gives me a little thrill, and then into the heart of the state: Effingham, Mt. Vernon, and Marion. In the far south the road splits, one way towards Memphis, one way towards Nashville. I took the Nashville fork. Drove past Metropolis, IL (Superman™’s Home Town) and crossed over into Kentucky. My goal was to make it to Nashville, but when I got there I was still flying high on Diet Cherry Pepsi™. So I had dinner at Jack’s BBQ, and got back on the road.

Giant cross outside Effingham, IL

Made it to Dalton, GA by 12:30 AM and decided to sleep. Found a Walmart parking lot* and eased the seat back. I was out like a light. When I woke up, this is what I saw:

Bought some postcards, walked around a bit, and did some sketches. Then the highway.

Before long I was in the Sunshine State for the first time since the last time. I got a little wistful. Found Tom and Leela’s house, which was full of people—students and friends. Ate two or four slices of Tim Kreider’s gluten-free, dairy-free key lime pie, and went to hide. I was too blasted from the road to feel social--that weird combination of exhaustion and adrenaline. I wandered around the neighborhood a bit, remembering Gainesville. The next morning the workshop would begin…

*Road Warrior Fun Fact: Walmart allows tired travelers to sleep in their vehicles, in all of their parking lots, no hassle.

John Porcellino
was born in Chicago, in 1968, and has been writing, drawing, and publishing minicomics, comics, and graphic novels for over twenty-five years. His celebrated self-published series
King-Cat Comics, begun in 1989, has inspired a generation of cartoonists.