My wife, Jill, is an encourager.
She is also an incredibly smart, creative, and attractive woman, but it is her encouragement I admire most of all.
I can not buy what Jill gives me for free.
Bejopi’s Beginnings and Cathy the Encourager
Bejopi was conceived in the fall of 1990. He was initially a lop-eared bunny which was modeled after a stuffed animal.
At the time I had just quit my job and was living in Cincinnati, Ohio. I had hopes of becoming a professional cartoonist.
It was a rough time. I wasn’t very good. (In fact, I still have a ways to go.)
I knew so little about the process of cartooning, and I knew I had a long road ahead of me.
I got wind that Cathy Guisewite, creator of the comic strip Cathy, was coming to town that October for a mall promotion. I just had to attend this event.
Cathy was a truly brilliant strip, with perhaps the best writing I have ever read, but I wasn’t prepared for how funny Guisewite would be in person. She’s absolutely hilarious. It’s no wonder she was a regular on the Tonight Show.
After she spoke, she waited around to sign autographs.
I had brought a cartoon I’d drawn of Bejopi (then named “Buttercup”) with his hand outstretched, asking for an autograph.
I kept moving to the back of the line, because I wanted to be the last to meet her. She patiently signed every autograph and on each one drew Cathy from the neck up.
Finally, my turn came. As I recall, it was past 9:00pm at that point. Cathy was only scheduled to stay until 9:00 but graciously agreed to stay.
I told her my name, told her I hoped to become a cartoonist, and handed her the cartoon I’d made. She smiled, said he was cute, offered some words of encouragement, and proceeded to draw a whole figure of Cathy with my name and a little heart above her (see below).
I was awestruck and moved at the same time. Her words gave me hope at a time when hope was what I needed the most.
Alas, I was a better programmer/designer than cartoonist, and would eventually return to the IT field, but I never forgot what Cathy Guisewite gave me that October day.
So in the autumn of last year, I quit my job (again) and am trying to create a new career, this time as an app developer.
Bejopi will help me chronicle my journey. Who knows, the little guy may make it into a game and end up paying for a few bills eventually.
I just want to say thank you to the encouragers of the world. Accomplishing big things is hard. When you are a sensitive, creative person, criticism can be debilitating.
Kind words can make a world of difference.
Sidenote: Bejopi’s Name
The name Bejopi is drawn from the first two letters of my son’s names — Benjamin Joseph Pingleton, BeJoPi. Coincidentally Ben was also conceived that autumn.