This building on the corner of Shattuck and University is like a ghost to me.
In 1986 it was the office of the Daily Californian, the campus newspaper. And every semester the staff voted on what comic strips they’d run for the semester. And in 1986 I won the election. And it turned out to be a big break for me. Because I was able to quit my day job and spend the next 9 years working full-time as a cartoonist.
Then, 10 years later in 1996, I flamed out. Ran out of comic strip punchlines. Ended up homeless.
As fate would have it, this church group hired me to coordinate this art project making Christmas cards on a linoleum press. As fate would have it, their work space for the project was this little office in the basement of this building
So I set up shop down there for a couple months. And it was a great gig. I was a fairly renowned local Berkeley artist at that point. And most of my friends were brilliant artists. So we produced a beautiful batch of linoleum press Christmas cards. And they all sold like hot cakes. I had my vending table on Telegraph and they sold really well.
We would put 4 of the card designs on this tray. Run the paint over them with this paint roller. And then run the cards through the linoleum press. Then we’d hang all the cards on a clothes line so the paint could dry. Then we’d package the Christmas cards in sets of 10 which we’d sell for 10 bucks.
And they all sold. Because they were beautiful cards. And it was an amazing gig. It was literally like printing up money. Every time we printed a card we made a dollar.
And me and my co-worker Zach got really good at cranking out those Christmas cards as quickly as we could. We cranked them out like a machine on an assembly line.
The town of Berkeley has so many ghosts for me. I can’t walk by a building without flashing back to a zillion weird memories from the ethers of the past.
That was probably my greatest period as an adult. 1996, 1997, 1998. That was probably as close as I would come to being happy.