Precocious, a comic by Christopher J Paulsen The *other* art of Christopher J Paulsen

So why did a fine artist like myself toss aside his elaborate drawings, complex prints and new wave/futurist abstract styling to to draw a COMIC STRIP? (Click on the image above to see my fine art website.)

How to stalk Chrispy:

I love getting feedback about the comic and this site's design, so feel free to e-mail me.

Visit my fine art site see what I do when not drawing cute cartoon animals. Wouldn't you want to have an original Chrispy painting on your wall?

My daily sketch blog provides commentary on the artistic process, previews, Precocious sketches and shares random doodles of fun.

To keep track of when I update everything, check out my Twitter page. I assure you it's *mostly* interesting and not "I'm walking to the post office. I see a bird." tripe. (Mostly.)

My DeviantArt page is the only current way you can grab a Precocious print. (I have a Precocious mug through it!) If there's a specific strip you want to see added, let me know.

It all started when I was five or six years old. A babysitter gave me a Peanuts collection, which I read over and over. Raiding my school's library, I read all the Peanuts collections I could. Hooked, I would tear the Washington Post apart every day to read the comics section – discovering classics such as The Far Side, Bloom County and, my favorite, Calvin and Hobbes. When it came time for college, I abandoned the newspaper and turned to the internet, with Ozy and Millie becoming my new obsession. Discovering the world of webcomics gave me new hope for cartooning. Faced with a world where more cartoonists are fighting for less page space in newspapers, the internet gives artists a venue to share their talents. Some of the best online cartoonists were even able to make their living from their craft.

At that point, cartooning was still but a dream. I was always a fairly skilled artist, yet I couldn't cartoon worth a damn. As I went through art school, I was able to find moderate success in any medium I tried… except cartooning! I thought having my own comic strip would forever be my secret desire and nothing more.

But then my life was ruined! Everything around me, most of which was beyond my control, went wrong. I was beaten, broken and left completely confused as to what had happened. Even when I tried again, my brain just shut down. My mind was so scrambled that I wasn't able to focus on anything. Day could go by without my noticing. I didn't do any art at all for over two and half years.

So I got help. My doctor diagnosed me with ADHD and (after months of trial and error misery) I was prescribed Ritalin. A few days later, I started drawing again – and I never stopped after that. Seems I had only made it that far in life by force of will and intelligence – but all the defenses I had built up had been lost when life curb-stomped me. Armed with knowledge and the joys of chemistry, I was ready to re-enter the world and be an artist. To celebrate, I decided that I would *teach* myself to cartoon. For 15 years, I had tried to draw comics and given up over and over in frustration. I was not giving up this time. I had a new lease on life and I was going to follow my dreams.

With new hope, I set about becoming a cartoonist again. I read my comic collections over and over, absorbing commentary and notations from the cartoonists as gospel. It took a long, long time for me to develop my drawing style. Cartooning requires a completely different skill set than that of fine art drawing. This is what sidelined me so many times before: I was a master at drawing, yet I couldn't draw a cartoon character to save my life! Always a fan of the "philosophizing animal" strips (Calvin and Hobbes, Bloom County, Over the Hedge, Mutts, Kevin & Kell, Ozy and Millie, Pearls Before Swine, etc.) I knew I wanted to draw cute critters when I took up cartooning again. Armed with research and ambition, this abstract fine artist set about drawing the perfect cartoon kitty cat.

Reading the words of my heroes as they described their own developments as cartoonists, I had enough strength to push through the ugly early years. I owe a lot to D.C. Simpson for sharing early sketches and providing commentary about the art side of cartooning in the Ozy and Millie collections (I suppose that influence is obvious) and Stephan Pastis for his insights into the business end of cartooning in his Pearls Before Swine treasuries.

I am thrilled to (finally) be able to offer Precocious for your reading pleasure. It took a lot of hard work and a lot of life lessons to get this far, and I hope this strip will grow into something that gives readers as much joy as it gives me.

- Christopher J Paulsen