Wow, this is a hero article you probably aren’t expecting. It is about a cartoonist. Cartoonists are not generally thought of as heroes. In fact, the words “cartoonist” and “heroes” rarely appear in the same sentence.

Cartoonists have the reputation of being flaky, quirky, oddball introverts who sit in a dark room all day drawing funny little pictures. They can’t hold a normal conversation. They don’t get out much, and if they do, they dress in goofy outfits and often mumble.

As a cartoonist, I take exception to that reputation, because my room isn’t dark.

Over the years I have written about a few cartoonists who break the mold. They go way beyond artistic talent to contribute in other ways. Todd Clark is one of them.

Todd Clark and Lola

Todd draws the cartoon “Lola“, which follows the adventures of a crotchety old WWII veteran who has moved in with her adult son and his family (based on an actual person). It is a wildly successful strip that appears in well over a hundred papers.

What people don’t know about Todd is that he has a strong tie to the military. He grew up an Air Force brat and for several years drew a cartoon called “Military Brats” for Air Force Times. I didn’t like him because his strip was funnier than mine.

As fate would have it, we ended up living in the same town. When we met, I was hoping to discover that he was conceited and surly.

To my disappointment he was likable and as funny in real life as he was on paper. So funny that he regularly writes jokes for several other cartoonists around the country. He is a gag machine. I was having a real difficult time disliking him.

Quite frankly, the guy is just too likable to dislike. As our friendship grew, I asked him if he would be interested in drawing for the troops one day. Not only did he say yes, he volunteered to draw for veterans at the VA hospital as well (and has done so ever since, year after year). Then he began traveling to active duty military hospitals to visit the wounded troops and cheer them up as they recovered. Eventually he traveled to the Middle East to entertain the troops there too.

When he heard that a local program had been created to assist severely wounded veterans through education, professional development and job placement, he asked what he could do. Mentoring is a big part of the program and he and his wife jumped at the opportunity. Now they both advise a severely wounded veteran as he navigates his way from military life toward a satisfying civilian career. Then…he asked what ELSE he could do.

Don’t you hate guys like that?

Todd Clark is our hero of the week.


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