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Getting to Know You
Harold Feder, Cub Reporter | Crest Road


Lulu (lower left), Cal (lower right) and Steve.
Courtesy Steve Crothers.
Click on image to enlarge.

Many Del Martians have achieved occupational success in life. What is more interesting to me is how many of our neighbors have been willing to go in a completely different direction after such success. A prime example of this phenomena is Steve Crothers, an experienced and successful businessman, now pursuing a new life venture as the author of the cartoon strip, Cal and Lulu, involving dog characters. As a disclosure of bias, our dog Mo has made an occasional appearance in the strip.

Cartoon Steve Crothers.
Click on image to enlarge.

Q. Give me the broad strokes of your background.
A. I was born and lived in Beverly Hills for 13 years. My childhood friends included the sons of Les Brown, the band leader, and Vincent Price, the actor. My business career lasted over five decades and covered the gamut from selling, marketing, organizational management, consulting and becoming involved in corporate turnaround efforts. I worked with many international companies including Gucci, 3M and Anheuser Busch.

Q. Throughout the breadth of this career, what was the best advice you received?
A. Once, when I was upset about something, my boss responded “in the perspective of a lifetime, how important is this particular issue?”. That thought has stayed with me.

Q. What was the worst advice?
A. I can’t think of one as I think I made all of my mistakes on my own.

Q. You have transcended from this extensive business career to the pursuit of a cartoon strip artist. How did this start?

A. It has evolved. About five years ago, I started putting a post it note on our bathroom mirror that said something nice in a positive way. My wife would then wake up to this note. Then, I started adding a drawing to the note. This led to me telling a story by putting four post it notes together. Then, I started drawing a character with the story. At this point, Melissa(wife) suggested that I draw cartoons and so it started.

Q. Then…
A. I drew cartoons and began emailing them to friends who in turn responded with a lot of positive feedback and the concept expanded. I began to do research on the business of cartoons and learned of the need for a web site which I initiated(www.caninecartoons.com ).

Q. Did you have any prior training?
A. Not formal, but my grandfather was an artist and painter, my father drew cartoons for fun and I was an art major for two years of college. I never thought about doing this before the messages to Melissa.

Q. When do you draw?
A. Typically, between 1:30 and 4:30 a.m.

Q. Tell me about Cal and Lulu and their friend.
A. I used to take my dog Callaway to dog park. The characters came from my viewing of the dogs at the park. The genesis of the strip derives from observing the people and their interface with the dogs…seeing what the dogs mean in the scheme of things. I never know what the dog characters are going to say. They have their own independent views and do not reflect my thoughts. I am simply a channeler of the thoughts for those who cannot speak. Mostly, while not political, they expose hypocrisy. Lulu is the femme fatale and Cal the laid-back guy.

Q. Is the language in Cal and Lulu important to you?
A. From a language standpoint, it was harder to graduate from high school in the 1890s than from college today. In our world, we are dumbing down vocabulary. So I take a different approach opposite less is better. Rather than using a smaller more precise word, we use a bigger word which is usually defined on the bottom of the strip.

Q. Many would assume that a cartoon involving dogs is trying for cuteness. Is that your goal?
A. No. This is satire - a message. The goal is to make people think not necessarily laugh.

Q. How does Del Mar fit into your life.
A. Well, I live in this beautiful place and it reminds me of how I felt as a kid. I feel lucky to live here.


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