I just found a tattered old box stuffed full of memorabilia from my days in the ad agency business. The best part of those days was working alongside so many remarkably talented, funny, quick-witted people.
We had an office in San Francisco. I got into the habit of spending two days a week in the city by the bay because my girlfriend lived there, and because I thought my presence might help build a common culture between the two offices, but mostly because it got me away from my lunatic business partner.
One of our San Francisco copywriters, a kid named Larry Chin, had a brain that was severely mis-wired. In a good way. Larry was five foot four and Chinese, but he thought he was black. He listened to rap music back when it was in its infancy, lusted after bosomy black women twice his size, and dreamed of playing in the NBA. He was hilarious and I always enjoyed the time I spent with him.
Each week when I arrived in the San Francisco office, I’d find on my desk a stack of Larry’s latest doodles. I thought he was a genius, an artist able to capture the essence of his subjects’ personalities with minimal strokes of the pen. Although much of his commentary took aim at me, he did cartoons about all his co-workers, and his output was so voluminous that I sometimes wondered how he got any real work done. You know, the stuff we were paying him to do.
Here are some of my favorite Chin originals.
A lot of people doodle during meetings. Some people do faces. Some do shapes. Some do flowers. I did alphabets inside word balloons. When people asked why I told them that everything they needed to be a copywriter was right there in that doodle. At every stop I made in both offices I accidentally left behind yellow legal pads covered with alphabets and word balloons. Everyone knew who they belonged to and dutifully returned them to my office. Larry did a whole series of cartoons based on my alphabet obsession.
I did some ads in our Irvine office for a Japanese client named CIE. Next time I visited our San Francisco office, Larry was effusive in his praise for the new campaign.
I don’t remember the story on this one. I must have made some comments that improved an ad Larry was working on.
Here are a couple Chin-toons comparing San Francisco’s De Young Museum to a fictional deYong Museum that existed only in his mind.
Once a farmboy, always a farmboy. I would come back to the office shocked by things I’d seen on the streets of San Francisco.
Larry came up with a prototype for the first issue of my own comic, deYong and The Restless.
Finally, years later, long after Larry had left us to work for another great little agency on the east coast, he heard that I was retiring. He sent me this cartoon.
I lost touch with the talented Mr Chin many years ago. If anyone reading this knows where he is and has his contact info, I’d love to talk to him again.