There are a couple of things, even as a young child, that I knew I wanted to accomplish in my life. The first was, I wanted to be an artist. The other; I wanted to be a dad. By the time I turned 25, I was both an artist and had my first son Alex. A couple of years later, my daughter Kathy was born. In the year 2000 I moved from Wisconsin and began drawing caricatures at THE major theme park in Florida. During the next tumultuous decade, I developed my artistic skills, began my freelance career, divorced, spent some time being single, and remarried.
The story behind
Father of the Brood.
In 2010, my wife Andi and I had our first child, Jett. Soon after he was born, we were informed that he had Down Syndrome. We immediately implemented an action plan that included various therapies, supplements, a custom dietary menu, and bio-medical intervention. When he was six months old, he had open heart surgery due to a heart defect. He survived healthy and happy, but we knew as soon as he healed fully, that we would need to continue his physical therapy. One of the activities he was involved with was swimming lessons. After a few sessions, it was clear that Jett was not responding in a particularly positive way (he screamed the whole time) and it became a highly stressful and emotional period for all of us.
One day, to break the tension I made this cartoon:
Andi loved it, and it was a great therapeutic tool for both of us. So I kept drawing these cartoons as a commentary on the funny, day-to-day antics of Jett and the amusing anecdotes that come from parenting. I began to share them online, calling them "Durkin's Droppings". They were received well, and I ended up doing around 50 of them. The main goal for me was to create a strip that captured the humor of our experiences and how those funny things that happen are universal for all families, whether or not we had a special needs child. I also wanted to portray the typical family in the early 21st century, with second marriages and children that didn't have the same mom and had a wide difference in age. I wanted a family who grew and aged together, who adapted and changed with the times. Finally, I wanted to show a seasoned father who although he made mistakes like any good parent, didn't follow the stereotype of a bumbling dad who didn't know which end of the kid to put the diaper on.
Then life got in the way, and the comic took a hiatus. Andi was pregnant with our second child and we needed to move from Florida back to Wisconsin. Our new baby Oliver had a rough start. He stopped breathing an hour after he was born and took three weeks in the hospital to recover. As a result, he has mild Cerebral Palsy and PTSD. Things got pretty dark and We NEEDED the strip to return.
By this time I was a full-time freelance artist and was trying to grow my business while working on projects and helping both Jett and Oliver with their therapies and appointments. But I while I was unable to draw the strip, I continued to write it and would scribble down notes in a journal or enter them on my phone. It wasn't long before I reached a point where I was ready to start the strip back up, but not without some reworking. I renamed it to something more modest and less... scatalogical. I redesigned the characters to a tighter, more appealing design. And finally, I created this website and the connected social media platforms.
I have no idea where this strip fits into my journey, but for now, it's a therapeutic instrument and comedic release for me and my family. I hope you enjoy viewing it as much as I do creating it.