Somewhere mixed in with an array of doodled-on sketch books, scattered markers and crumpled-up drawings, you'll find an expressive artist diligently trying to hone his craft.
Aspiring cartoonist Daniel Boris, a Leesburg, Va., native, has been drawing cartoons "ever since (he) could hold a pencil," he said.
Boris's reason for wanting to be a cartoonist was quite simple: "I always wanted to be an artist, but I could never learn how to draw hands or feet. I thought to myself, 'How can I be an artist and not draw hands and feet?' So, I decided to draw cartoons."
Hoxwinder Hall, his comic strip about two boys and an unlikely alligator named Dozi, has been getting rave reviews from local readers, the media and was even a finalist in the Washington Post's "America's Next Great Cartoonist" contest in 2010. Industry judges, including the great Stan Lee (creator of Spider Man, X-Men, and Marvel Comics), selected Hoxwinder Hall to be in the top 10.
Boris's goal is to become a syndicated cartoonist, but he said "sometimes I feel as though I'm late to the party" due to the hardships being faced by the newspaper industry.
"It was always a tough field to break into, but now it's even tougher," he said. "Can you make the kind of living that you could once make doing this? Everything is going to the web. Maybe that's a good thing. It could be a renaissance for comic strips."
Hoxwinder has been 10 years in the making, and Boris said the writing in a comic strip is sometimes the most important part.
"It is hard to be funny," he said. "My wife and children are my own litmus test, so to speak. If they laugh at my gags I know it's good," Boris said.
"I have also been in contact with a few well-known cartoonists," he said. "They are really friendly people. How can you not be when you're drawing cartoons all day? You don't see too many cartoonists in prison."
Daniel really started to pursue his goal of becoming a syndicated cartoonist after all the good feedback from the Washington Post contest. He is currently registered in another contest as an amateur cartoonist on the Cartoonist Studio website, where the public votes for the best cartoonist. The winner receives a development contract from Creators Syndicate. Voting began February 28 and runs until 6 a.m. March 6.
Boris has high hopes that Hoxwinder Hall will be a huge hit with readers. He even has an idea for an animated film featuring character Dozi and the gang that he thinks will be entertaining.
His advice for artists or anyone hoping to turn passion into reality: "Anybody wanting to succeed at a goal must persevere. If you truly believe in what you want to do, don’t ever give up. Success is never going to come to YOU, you definitely have to go to IT."