'One page a day until I die': Victoria man draws daily comic for 17 years
VICTORIA -- Gareth started washing dishes as a child after his brother stopped doing the chore because he got a job as a dishwasher.
“‘I wash dishes all day so I don’t want to do it when I get home,” Gareth recalls his brother saying. “‘It’s your job, Gareth!’”
So you can image how excited young Gareth felt when he finally got his first job doing the same thing.
“So I come home and my brother’s like, ‘Now that you’re a professional dishwasher you can do them at home too,’” Gareth smiles. “That stuck with me.”
Fast-forward to the time that Gareth (now a professional artist) felt stuck creatively.
“I remember feeling less than inspired in July of 2004,” he says.
Gareth wondered if doing a different sort of daily chore might help.
“So I sat down and wrote ‘Day One’ and committed myself to do one page a day until I die,” he says.
On July 27, 2004, Gareth challenged himself to draw a single-page comic every day for the rest of his life. The first 100 days were filled with bad ideas.
“I thought if I got rid of them, fresh ideas would show up,” he says. “And that certainly was the case.”
For 17 years, Gareth has chronicled the major moments in his life: getting married, travelling Europe, and raising children.
“I started saying yes to things,” Gareth explains.
He began taking extra jobs that sparked his curiosity. “I took a job picking up dead bodies for a morgue once because it came my way and I thought that will make a good cartoon idea.”
But most of Gareth’s 6,133 (and counting) daily drawings showcase the small things he’s encountered or considered during the day, from Julius Caesar playing Battleship (he asks “A-2?”), to one of his daughters misreading the title of Modern Dog magazine during the pandemic (“I’ve been involved with COVID so long I thought this said Moderna Dog”).
Gareth is persevering his dailies in archival binders, publishing them in comic books, and sharing them on social media.
He’s also preparing for potential peril. “I carry a piece of chalk in my bag in case I get run over by a car,” he smiles. “My last cartoon will be my chalk outline.”
Those days when inspiration is elusive, when his creative chore feels like a household one, Gareth washes dishes.
“I put my hands in the water and an idea shows up,” he says.
Which is why there’s often a pen and paper by the kitchen sink, possibly a people-eating patty comic in the future (he wrote a soapy note saying “hamburger eats you” when I was there), and no doubt Gareth will end his day feeling creatively satisfied.
“At this point, it’s second nature,” Gareth smiles. “Every day I look forward to the last thing I do in the day and that’s draw my cartoon.”