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Night of the Wookiee The Chromosome Planets
Being Normal

I grew up in Normal, Illinois. It was a nice town with a funny name. Normal was the smaller town of the Bloomington-Normal twin cities. We had a vacuum factory, State Farm Headquarters, GTE, Illinois Agriculture Association and ISU. Okay, actually all Normal had was the University. Bloomington always seemed to be the more successful brother.

Locals knew that if you were going uptown you were headed toward Normal; downtown meant you were on your way to Bloomington. The mall wiped out Bloomington's downtown. They even tried to put in those landscaped pedestrian streets. But since no one was down there anyway, it really didn't matter. Because of the university, Normal really never got that gloomy. Things are much better there now since the whole country decided they like brick buildings again.

Self Portrait Some of Normal's famous sons included McLean Stevenson and Doug Collins. You know, Doug Collins, the basketball player. He went to the Olympics and rammed his head into a goal post. It hurt a lot and he didn't get to play again. I have a basketball that he signed when my dad and I test drove a new Ford Station Wagon at Don Stone Ford. When my younger brother first learned to write his name, he crossed out my name and wrote his on the ball. It now says: To Mike Chris, Doug Collins. Needless to say, I don't have that piece-of-crap ball anymore. We all know what happened to McLean Stevenson, he rammed his head into a metaphoric goal post and left the TV show M*A*S*H.

I left Normal to attend Goshen College, returned for a summer fling at Illinois State University and somehow graduated from California State University, Northridge. I drew editorial cartoons for all three campus newspapers mainly because I thought I'd score some dates. I had a lot to learn about the magnetism of drawing comics. College was okay. I was a normal student with normal ideas. I even named my comic strip NORMAL STATE.

After college, I freelanced in film for a few years, almost getting a couple of good jobs. Then I took a corporate job as an art director. The title sounded good, the job wasn't. Basically I was in charge of the copier. It was in those dark years I began creating comics for weekly newspapers and published NORMAL u.s.a., the continuation of my college strip. I did some other stuff too. I went to Disneyland at least ten times, just in case I couldn't get there when I hit the big time.

While waiting politely to get syndicated, I worked for three daily newspapers, PC World magazine and freelanced Web design. When my comic strip was picked up for syndication, I got an offer to work as an Art Director of Special Effects at Industrial Light + Magic. Great, huh? Two dream jobs and a brand new baby at the same time. You see, that's how life works. Even when you're winning you're losing. That's the Midwestern creed.

I currently live and work in San Anselmo, California. You'll find me at Hilda's on Monday morning writing my strips over a plate of eggs or at the library catching up on television and buffalo wings. And if you're looking for a place to grab a bite, try Comforts for the Chinese Chicken Salad, Cucina's for the Italian, LoCoco's or Bubba's for comfort food, Fork for their small plate menu or the San Anselmo Winery for Steve's very nice wines. And Insalatas? It's still the best food in town. And no, the library doesn't have television or buffalo wings, I was just seeing if you were still reading.

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