I’ve been asked a couple of times about my second job, the one where I draw cartoons.
So, let me explain this in greater detail.
I work for the Northeastern College of Computer and Information Science. There’s a professor there (more accurately, he’s a PhD, so I refer to him as “doctor”) who is running a joint study with Duke University. They research the interactions between people and technology.
Their goal is to develop a mobile phone application that will help people lose weight. They’ve developed the app. Now, they’re running a two-year study where overweight people use this app to test its effectiveness. In the app, participants input the food they eat and the exercise they do into their phones every day. To make sure that people don’t forget, the phone will prompt them a couple times a day to record their dietary activities.
Food diaries like this are extremely effective in helping people lose weight. (I’ve tried it, and I can attest!) However, they are extremely tedious to upkeep day after day after day. My boss, one of the leaders of the study, would like to make the phone app more exciting. He wants it to be edgier, more fun, more interactive. He wants people to have an incentive to use their phone.
And what’s a better incentive than poorly drawn comics?
I was called in and offered this job. Since there’s a year left in the study, I’ll be drawing a year’s worth of comics. And since the participants use their phones every day, this is not a once-a-week strip– it’s a full-blown, daily, 365-comic strip project that I have to create. Hopefully, the participants will like the comic enough to actually check their phones when it beeps.
The other side of this project is that the comic has to be informative. It has to disguise diet and exercise tips in a palatable form. It’s supposed to highlight some of the challenges of a long-term lifestyle change, and how to deal with it. The best way to do this, my boss and I agreed, was for me to write a comic about a character actually in the study using the the actual app.
It’s a bit of an undertaking. But I can do it.
Admittedly, I don’t have much free time to work on it. At this point, I’ve outlined the entire storyline and have about a third of the comics scripted, but not drawn. For the sake of showing what I “have to do,” though, I have here seven “pilot” comics I created at the start of the project. (They had to be sent to Duke to get this whole “comic” idea approved, which, thankfully, it was.)
Enjoy! Apologies for the text-heavy post.
And that’s what my job looks like! Until next time!