Mr. Fitz’s Artist Couldn’t Stay Away From Comics

PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVID FINKLE GROUP PHOTO – Mr. Fitz’s characters pose for a “photo” for this article. The comic is an edit by a comic artist that David Finkle drew for the 10th anniversary of the comic.

They say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. Well, you’ll never really retire either.

Earlier this year, DeLand High School teacher and cartoonist David Finkle pulled his comic Mr. Fitz after 22 years. The tape followed Fitz, an educator, through the ups and downs of teaching. A lot has changed in education since Finkle started Mr. Fitz in 2000, and he couldn’t resist making comic strips commenting on the news.

Now he publishes his comics once a week on his website.

“If it’s just online, I don’t have to worry about newspaper deadlines,” Finkle said. The tag. “If I want to do more, or do less, or take time, I can.”

Addressing difficult subjects with humor has always been the hallmark of Mr. Fitz. As public schools continue to become highly politicized, Finkle said, he finds value in the occasional joke.

“Part of the conclusion I come to is that people are yelling at each other online,” Finkle said. “Unless it can make people stop and think, it may not be effective. I try to do things that are humorous enough to surprise people.

Another reason he started making comics again was the support he received from readers. When he first retired Mr. Fitz, Finkle continued to post old comics on his website. The support never quite stopped.

Finkle has a number of fans on the Patreon website, which allows people to pay creators monthly in exchange for exclusive perks. Its “patrons” donate from $1 to $20 per month and receive perks, including personalized postcards with original artwork.

“Almost no one gives up [supporting] when I stopped drawing,” Finkle said. “They were willing to support blogs and reposts for a long time.”

COMIC COURTESY OF DAVID FINKLE
COULDN’T STAY AWAY – Above is one of the latest Mr. Fitz comics from cartoonist, teacher and writer David Finkle. Finkle only managed to stay in retirement for a few months before he started making new comics again. There was too much going on in the world of education not to talk about it, he said.

The added flexibility of online publishing allows Finkle to better juggle his comics, his 30-year teaching career, and working on the novel he’s writing, Reform the school.

The novel, a fictional period piece, follows a teacher through four school years in the 1990s as he juggles a tidal wave of education reforms like the advent of standardized testing.

“The premise is that if you did all the reforms of the past 30 years in two years in a school district on a trial basis, what would it look like?” Finkel explained. “I don’t think people realize what schools were like – what teaching was like – and how much it has transformed.”

Rather than a traditional novel, Reform the school will be told through lesson plans, journals, and emails between teachers learning how to use the new method of communication.

Finkle has “worked his way” with the novel, he said, and he hopes to have a finished draft of the book by the end of the year.

Public school teachers can get a bad rap sometimes, Finkle said, but his teaching career and his work as an author and cartoonist show how much he loves his job.

“Done well, teaching is magic,” Finkle said. “I don’t have – knock on wood – complaints from parents. I’m having a good time.”

Finckle shares the latest Mr. Fitz comics on his website, www.mrfitz.com. Readers can expect new comics on Sundays and sometimes other days. Finkle’s website, www.mrfitz.com, also includes links to his blog on Patreon.

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