My first meeting with Shannon established the pattern that we followed from then on. I’d show up on a Saturday morning with eight or nine cartoons for her to go through. Chuckling at the appropriate spots, she’d choose the cartoons for the next couple of weeks. It always seemed to me that a good editor was one who sought ways to identify what you were doing well and then challenge you to do more of the same, and this is how Shannon operated. She encouraged my best, and I, in turn, was eager to please. I needed that experience, and it became particularly important in my development, because, as it turned out, Shannon, for better or worse, would be the last true editor I would ever have. The weekly cartoon was a perfect way to break into the process of working with an editor and meeting a regular, but not oppressive, creative deadline. People would ask how I came up with the ideas, and I’d say that I didn’t really know, but I did know that I had all week.
The day my first cartoon was scheduled to run, I stopped at a drugstore after school and bought a stack of papers to take home, I suppose to reassure myself that my cartoon was actually in every copy of the paper. Plus, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to bump up the number of copies that were sold every Tuesday. I imagined the managing editor sitting there each week going over the circulation figures and smiling at the spike in sales as he congratulated himself on having had the foresight to hire that young cartoonist. As time went on, there was occasionally a week when the cartoon would get bumped by breaking teen news or advertising, so I quickly learned to check first to see that my cartoon was there before I bought my stack. There’s nothing quite as deflating as bringing home a stack of papers without your cartoon in them. The panel eventually acquired the name Rapping Around, and for the next year it became my home in the newspaper and my training ground.
*From the introduction to The Complete Funky Winkerbean Vol. One