Saturday, May 5, 2012


Posted in loving memory of my father who passed away on the Cinco de Mayo, 2006. A hugely talented and funny artist, cartoonist, writer, inventor and renaissance man who gave me his warped sense of humor and so much more. -Stilton Jarlsberg

Update: Okay, just for fun (and by popular demand) here are a handful of cartoons done by my Dad. Note that this isn't his "good" stuff (he was a professional illustrator among other things) - these are the doodles he would turn out as fast as he could draw. Hope you enjoy them!


Pete(Detroit) said...

A fine, fitting tribute! Is any of his work available on line where we could share and appreciate it?

Chuck said...

And we owe your Dad a great deal of gratitude ... at least I know I do!

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Pete(Detroit)- Currently, none of his stuff is posted on the web, though I'll be looking to rectify that soon. I have a boatload of it, waiting to be scanned. But for now, if you go to this Father's Day cartoon on Hope n' Change, you'll see a piece of his art in the cartoon, get to read a little more about him, and even see a picture of the great man himself!

@Chuck- Thank you for such a nice sentiment - it means a lot. My Dad would have loved Johnny Optimism and the people who visit here.

SC said...

Thanks for sharing some of your Dad's stuff. I enjoyed it a lot.
Talk about the apple not falling too far from the tree! I'm sure he was very proud of you and with good reason.
No matter how long they've been gone, Nov 2005 for my Dad, who also had a great sense of humor (that my brother got), we still really miss them.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@SC- Glad you liked my Dad's stuff. I'm going to try to find a way to share a lot more of it (and his writing, too). I'm glad to say that he liked my sense of humor, and took pride in the professional successes I've enjoyed in various creative fields.

My Dad has been gone for 6 years now, and my Mom will have been gone for 2 very shortly. I feel like the world's oldest orphan sometimes - wanting to share with them the good things and tough things happening in my life.

And I've mentioned it here before, but in case you hadn't heard, "Johnny Optimism" came about as a direct result of my Mom's death. I'd created the character as a little joke that I shared with a good friend...and later that evening my Mom passed away suddenly. I was heartbroken, but my family upbringing was always about laughter - very conflicting emotions. And there at my desk, Johnny was waiting patiently: a little guy who endures all of life's pains...and then has things get so much worse that they're painfully funny.

That's exactly how I felt...and in the days following my Mom's death, I rather obsessively kept banging out Johnny cartoons. A couple hundred of them, in fact. And Johnny helped me a lot, for which I'll always be grateful. Together, we learned to acknowledge pain and laugh at the same time.

Granted, sometimes it's a really creepy laugh...but hey, we do what we can.

SC said...

Stilt, So, so sorry about your Mom. I didn't know that's where "Johnny" came from. Sounds like he was there for you & was so helpful. And look at him today, everybody can enjoy him, I love the cartoon. Sometimes we need the creepy laugh to keep things in perspective.

I’ve decided the very worst thing about getting older (there’s so many) is losing our loved ones. But, I really believe that they are still with us. One night, several months after my Dad died, I was walking to my car after work (late & in the dimly lit parking lot) and just as clear as day, I heard his voice call my name. It sounded just like he always did & it was so real. I can hardly type this without getting teary eyed.

Take care, looking forward to seeing more of your Dad’s stuff.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@SC- Thanks for the nice note. I certainly wouldn't want anyone to be creeped out or saddened by the story behind Johnny, because it's actually optimistic and positive (like Johnny himself). And my parents would have both loved the cartoon and understood the heart of it immediately.

I share the story from time to time only so people will understand that Johnny Optimism isn't in ANY way about laughing at people who get bad news and face bad circumstances, but rather is about laughing with them and realizing that in our own way, all of us are in the same boat - and could do well to move through our troubles with the odd grace and humor that Johnny does.