From class clown to editorial cartoonist
LORIMOR – It may be easy for an onlooker to see how Rick Friday may have gone from being voted to class clown to hired as a cartoonist for the Farm News.
But the artist himself, who raises a cow-calf operation in north eastern Union Township, tends to identify himself more with a cattleman.
This is the 15th year that Friday has been selling his artwork exclusively to Farm News – drawing close to 800 cartoons during that span. He is the only cartoonist whose work has appeared on Farm News’ editorial pages.
Creating a weekly cartooncan be difficult. The weeks go by quickly. Even during what would seem to be a ready-made source of ideas -calving, planting, haying, harvesting – raises its own set of challenges.
“The drawing comes very easy for me,”?Friday said, “it’s getting the complete message in a single frame that is the real challenge.
“Finding the time (to draw) is not easy, but working with my wife on the farm offers many opportunities for a cartoon. I actually did purchase my wife leather gloves for her birthday (the subject of his Sept. 24 cartoon) and she absolutely hates to build fences.”
Another cartoon subject sprouted from when he took Juanita to the Beef Expo on Valentine’s Day.
Over the 15 years, Friday said he thinks his work has improved, even though material for cartoons in farming “has changed very little.
“George Bush was easy to draw, he himself was a cartoon character, however, politics in agricultural seemed to be highlighted more during the Bush Era.
“Obama is totally unaware of a rural agricultural population and does not see it as this country’s priority. If history repeats itself, it is usually agriculture that pulls this country out of a recession.”
Friday is the fourth generation to work his family’s farm, which was established in 1894 with a herd of registered Hereford cattle.
Today, Friday and his wife, Juanita Friday, farm 550 acres, mostly in hay and pasture for their 100-head Angus breed. “It’s a relatively small operation in today’s world,”?he said.
After graduation in 1978 Friday worked for a local elevator and operated a sow farrowing operation with his father. When the farm crisis hit in the 1980s his father told him there was no longer room for both of them and Rick was the junior partner.
Two jobs later he found work at the Winnebago Industries Stitchcraft sewing operation in Lorimor as a janitor and truck driver in 1984. He was promoted in 1993 to plant manager and served the company until the operation shut down in 2006.
“The company offered me a position in Forest City, but I chose to stay on the farm”, by now a partner again with his parents.
“Raising cattle has been a struggle since I began working on the farm full time.
Friday said he’s always drawn cartoons, even as a small boy on the school bus, where other children would gather around him to watch.
He said he often sold his cartoons for nickels and dimes or “money for chick-o-sticks and orange pop.
“I refused a $1,000 scholarship in art when I graduated. I was one of those individuals that had no plans after graduation, namely because I think a part of me always knew I had to raise cattle.
“A true cattleman can not explain his connection to the animal, however, at times a cartoonist must explain his creations.
“I am thankful to Farm News for giving me this opportunity.”
Friday’s first published cartoon was with a local paper in 1993. It was farm related, a venue that suited him.
Afterward, he published in several other paperss including Wallace’s Farmer. Farm News contacted Wallace Farmer to inquire about a cartoonist for its new paper in 1995 “and I have been drawing for Farm News exclusively since,”?Friday said.
Friday said he is not a politically-motivated person, prefering more “off the wall” topics and situations.
In 1995, he acquired the trademark It’s Friday!, through which he’s marketed humorous t-shirts and greeting cards.
“They did fairly well,” he said, “but then, this passion of farming seems to trump all escapades.”
Contact Larry Kershner at (515) 573-2141, Ext. 453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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