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Friday, October 24, 2014

Meet David Skidmore, Lyme Patient and Cartoonist. Part 1 - The Evolution of Lyme Loonies

Part 1: Interview with Lyme Loonies creator, David Skidmore.
The Evolution of Lyme Loonies

Lyme Disease has a humorous side and cartoonist David Skidmore has found it. Through his Lyme Loonies cartoons he helps us smile and poke fun at the buggars, ourselves, and the political/medical players who turn a blind eye the reality of Tick Borne Diseases. David also helps us feel united and his work reminds us that we are not alone. It is my pleasure to introduce you to David via an interview in two parts which he graciously provided via e-mail. 

Part 1 will give you a peek into this cartoonist’s artful expression. Stop back next week for Part 2 and learn about David Skidmore’s Lyme story.

(Pictured left, David and Winnie)

Hi David.  How did you become interested in cartooning?

I can remember, from an early age, passing notes with cartoons on them and leaving a few cartoons on school desktops for my teachers to admire. One might say that I was trying to get attention. I’d like to think I was trying to elicit laughter…perhaps the same thing?

Why did you choose cartooning to express yourself and your feelings about the Lyme Disease situation?

I know some have gone undiagnosed much longer, but it was two years before I was diagnosed with Lyme. The disease, at that point, had already had plenty of time to make its way around my body and even visit upstairs causing cognitive and neurological issues. I was elated to finally be given an answer, to say the least. It took some time to get that answer, and I had much to express given my experiences to that point. Being a cartoonist, this was natural for me. As I learned about Lyme, and as people responded to my work, my passion grew.

Do you have a favorite drawing, Lyme related?

To this day, one of my favorite Lyme cartoons was done by John McPherson, a cartoonist whose series (Close to Home) has found world fame. You can see my favorite featured in a 2013 story on -- TOUCHED BY LYME: “When the story of Lyme disease is written, it will be the story of patients standing up and being heard." John, a Lyme patient, activist and friend, saw my early work and told me I had to get the cartoons on Twitter. I don't think I even knew what Twitter was back then.

As for favorites among my own work, now approaching two hundred Lyme cartoons, that is not easy to answer! Not that I love my own work, but there are many to choose from. I recently did a cartoon, however, that not only speaks to the Lyme community but would give anyone without Lyme an idea as to our struggle regarding the lack of funding, testing, and overall needed attention politically and in the medical field.

I won’t get into the Federal funding and or lack of, but it is shameful given the fact that the numbers of those infected with Lyme have far surpassed both AIDS and breast cancer patients.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Upon posting a cartoon depicting the suffering caused by Lyme, someone asked me “Do you feel like this?” My answer was a resounding “Yes!” And, therein lies the inspiration. Cartooning has allowed me to connect with others that are going through the same things. I would add that the very first laugh I got from a Lyme patient was, and continues to be, very gratifying. As the saying goes, it’s better to give than to receive.

What do your fans really respond to in your work?

That’s easy! They connect mostly to what they are feeling and what this disease can do. People like to see things they can relate to. This disease is “multi-symptomatic” and so has given me plenty to draw from. In addition, and not always as popular, I continue to take swipes (politically) at those I feel have kept us where we are today.

Have you ever had people criticize you for your work because they feel offended, like you are making fun of a serious situation? How do you respond?

I'm happy to say there have only been a couple along the way (that I know of) that have not liked my approach. I would say that laughter is good medicine. 

Much like Lyme disease itself, Lyme Loonies has had its share of controversy beginning with the name. I was told by a major organization that someone had come forward to say the name was making fun of Lyme patients. I chose the name after reading about a high ranking doctor who wrote an internal e-mail bidding goodbye to his co-workers. He wrote: “I will certainly miss all of you--the scientists, but not the Lyme Loonies.” I chose the name in all of its irony, hoping that when and if this particular doctor ever sees a cartoon, he will be reminded of what a shameful and harmful statement he made.

I know all too well what this disease can do and the collateral damage regarding families, jobs, money and overall suffering. Making fun of this community is not my agenda, and I think most know that. 

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to share comments or questions. 

Stop back next week for Part 2: Driving the Lyme Road

All photos and cartoons used with permission of David Skidmore and Lyme Loonies.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Haiku - Autumn Wings

Monarch fine'ly came
one late October, winging
Burnt orange leaf in flight
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