Why is Spork a Cartoon?
I wanted to make a site about a mentally ill person going through all the troubles with the system and with the illness that mentally ill folks have to endure -- hospitalizations, trouble with Social Security and Medicaid/Medicare, voices, depression, mania, paranoia, stigma from friends, employment discrimination, etc., but then it seemed that the story would be either horrendously depressing (not in the clinical sense, of course) or nastily uplifting (if the character successfully surmounted all difficulties). I wanted humor in my website, and yet needed a place from which to launch serious ideas. Also, I didn't know how I would get a non-mentally ill audience to read the story.
Then I hit on the idea of using a funny-looking, appealing cartoon bird as my hero instead of a person. This gave automatic humor, a character mentally ill folks could see as a mascot, and a way to write fiction that is naturalistic without being distressing because people won't identify too intimately with a cartoon character.
I also chose the cartoon medium because I am interested in the new wave of comic books for adults on serious subjects. This trend was started most famously with Spiegelman's "Maus" series about the holocaust and includes writers such as Joe Sacco (who wrote about Bosnia and Palestine), Sean Tobocman (for his "War In The Neighborhood" about the homeless squatters in Tompkins Square Park), Peter Kuper (for "The System," and "New York, New York"), Ben Katchor (for "The Jew of New York" and "Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer"), Howard Cruse (for "Stuck Rubber Boy," a story about race relations and coming out as gay in the sixties), and of course Will Eisner, perhaps the grandfather of them all, for his New York book and stories about Jewish immigrants to Manhattan such as "A Contract With God."