Noel would like to tell people how he was expelled from kindergarten for drawing funny pictures of his teachers on the blackboard, and making weird caricatures of the other kids in the class because he had this compelling obsession to draw cartoons from the time he was born. But this is not true. He only started drawing and cartooning four years ago after going through two other careers. He has always enjoyed joking around with friends, and alas, was exposed to puns from a tender age. He apparently became afflicted with witzelsucht during his early childhood. This is a technical term found in Stedman's Medical Dictionary, 26th edition, the definition of which is:
A morbid tendency to pun, make poor jokes and tell pointless stories, while being oneself inordinately entertained thereby.
He became aware of his condition only recently when a good friend brought this to his attention while analyzing his current career change. Prior to becoming a cartoonist he led a fairly normal life; born in California, grew up in New Zealand and traveled the world in an attempt to change it. When he finally realized he couldn't he decided to take up cartooning.
His first career started when he got out of UC Berkeley and joined the US Department of State, working as a Foreign Service Officer with the Agency for International Development. Over a span of 25 years he lived and worked in Asia, Latin America and Africa. He came into the agency as an overseas management intern and from that time on he was often selected to address the classes of new interns (an assignment which he admits to enjoying). When talking to these groups of young people he recalls trying to keep up their excitement about joining the Foreign Service by explaining that it really was a great job because they got to travel around the world, change jobs every 2 to 4 years and their résumé still looked good Ñ it sort of legitimized drifting. In this way he was also able to rationalize his own gypsy-like existence while maintaining an air of respectability and the appearance of being a hardworking and stable member of society.
He views the years spent in the Foreign Service as both exciting (surviving two coups d'état) and interesting, especially during the latter years when he became deeply involved in a public health program in Africa to combat childhood diseases. This turned out to be a very successful program going from $16 million to more than $200 million over the life of the project and saving countless numbers of kids along the way. Retiring on this high note seemed like a good idea, so he did. But this led him right into his next career, as an international health management consultant. And guess what? He got to travel all over again but this time he was in the private sector, flying business class and enjoying all the privileges afforded consultants.
After ten or so years bouncing around Africa, Egypt and the former Soviet Union, he decided to give it up and yield to his imaginary secret kindergarten temptation to draw funny pictures and make people laugh. He has published his cartoons on his web page for a number of years and now has put the best of these into Irreverent Ink For the Laughing Crowd.
Visit the book's official website at Irreverent-Ink.com