Creator Spotlight: Lance Ward

“Creator spotlight” is a recurring feature of this blog where I introduce you to the biography and creative work of some of my best friends and colleagues. Please take a moment to learn about them!

This spotlight is on friend Lance Ward. In Lance’s own words…

“My name is Lance Ward. I am a cartoonist living in Minnesota. I never went to college or art school. In fact, I spent most of my twenties in and out of group homes and psychiatric wards. Kitchen work helped get me out of the system and gave me a handful of good friends. Other than the occasional newspaper cartoon, I was not a ‘cartoonist.’ I was a line cook, and I was okay with that. Then I met my future wife, and my whole outlook changed. I had something to live for; to strive for. Suddenly, my talent became a commodity that I could trade for the promise of a better future. It wasn’t until I met my wife that I had any focus on my artwork or cartooning, other than ‘Someday, when I’m ready, I am going to become a cartoonist.’ She became my motivation and my inspiration. That was back in 1997. I was 28 years old.”

“Flash forward to 2004. I was now a husband and a Father of three, and I was no closer to a cartooning career than I was back in 1997. But that was about to change. And that change came in the form a major heart attack that would actually kill me as I lay waiting for surgery. I saw the portal and everything. It profoundly changed my life. The subsequent diagnosis of only five years left to live changed my life as well. It sent me into a morose depression that crippled me as much as the three angioplasties crippled my right leg with nerve damage and constant neuropathic pain. The last year of that five year sentence I tried to kill myself, and when that didn’t work, I just lay in bed waiting for my heart to stop.”

Comics by Lance Ward

“Five years came and went. I was now 41 years of age, and it didn’t look like I was going to die any time soon, although it is in the back of my mind every day that my heart could stop at any time. My kids were getting older, and I felt bad for them as I saw other Fathers with their kids playing outside and having fun, while I could do none of that. Fuck it. It was time to use cartooning to tell my story. It was time to use the talent God gave me for something that my children could be proud of. Huge gamble starting a new career at age 41, but I had nothing to lose. I started with one page a day. Three months later I had an autobiographical account of my misery I called ‘Raw Dog’. I could do this. I was capable of following through and finishing a book. It was time to start another. That second book became ‘Klonko’. I shopped ‘Klonko’ around to publishers and was rejected every single time. But I kept going. I would eventually self publish that title. My third book, ‘Stovetop’, was completed three months later. One page a day until I had a solid one-hundred pages. That one would not get rejected, and would lead to much greater things.”

Comics by Lance Ward

“I have since been in ‘The Best American Comics’ twice. In 2014, I was granted an in-print notable mention for my book ‘Kmart Shoes’. In the 2016 edition, they gave me twenty-five pages. It debuted on the NY Times bestseller list at No. 1, and remained on the list for seventeen weeks. I could mention many more accolades, but the milestone I am most proud of is the completion of thirty books; a legacy of ambition for my children to look back on when they feel like life is wearing thin. My latest book, ‘Blood and Drugs’, will debut in September at the Small Press Expo (SPX) in Bethesda, Maryland.”

“Don’t give up. Great things can be accomplished even late in life. There is always time for change. I say ‘One page a day,’ but you can apply that to anything. Above all, keep going. Stay positive. Change is a given, and eventually things will go your way if you keep at it.”

Jin’s Note: Through Saturday, March 20th, 2019, Lance’s newest book “Blood and Drugs” is available with incentives through a Kickstarter campaign.

Blood and Drugs by Lance Ward

Learn more:
Lance Ward: Award-Winning Artist, Painter, and Comic
Lance Ward @ Facebook

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