Ryan Chartrand

Being an artist runs in Kelly Ferguson’s family. His grandfather and great-grandfather were painters, and Ferguson, 32, also paints, but what really makes his face light up is cartoons.

“Growing up, I loved going straight to the comic section in the newspaper, and my dad used to cut out cartoons and put them on the fridge, which I really loved,” Ferguson said.

Even a permanent disability and limited dexterity won’t stop Ferguson from providing comics to the world. At the age of 19, a work accident left Ferguson in a wheelchair with limited motor skills.

“I used to work construction to help pay for tuition and books, and during the summer in between freshman and sophomore year while on the job, a board was wind-blown and struck me in the C5 vertebrae and here I am. I had to relearn everything from eating to drawing,” Ferguson said.

The accident left him with limited use of his arms. Ferguson can control his wrist for the most part, and uses his shoulder muscles to move his arm and hand.

“It’s like using a Ouija board to draw with,” Ferguson laughs.

Ferguson grew up in Bakersfield, attending high school and taking art classes through the local community college. What really propelled his desire to draw was taking an English class in high school where the students had to sketch out a cartoon of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.”

“Funny ideas just pop into my head, and I sketch as much as I can right away because I know I will kick myself if I forget it,” Ferguson said.

After his accident, Ferguson started sophomore year late, but he was determined to get back to school.

“My biggest motivation was I didn’t want to get left behind,” Ferguson said. “I was in rehab for five months, and it still takes me awhile to do what I want, but I just keep going.”

He graduated in 2000 with a degree in mechanical engineering.

After moving to the San Diego area to be a consultant, Ferguson ultimately decided that being an artist is what he was supposed to do. He draws from home in his office by first drawing on 8.5 by 11 inch paper in pencil, then going over the work with a permanent marker. He then scans the comic into his computer before shrinking it down.

“I am completely devoted to becoming syndicated. So far I only have my work in the Mustang Daily, but I hope to be in a national newspaper one day,” Ferguson said.

On top of having a humor column, Ferguson also has a political side and posts political cartoons on his Web site www.liberalangst.com.

“I separated my two columns about a year ago because I didn’t want to alienate anyone who looked at either of my strips,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson lives in Los Osos with his wife Karen, who is an interior designer. You can see his comic every day in the Mustang Daily or just visit his Web site, www.basketcasecomix.com, to see more of his work.

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