Dear Mr. Larson,
I grew up in New Hope, Indiana, a "town" consisting of one house (ours), a church, and a stop sign.
I don't honestly remember where or when I first encountered your work, although my best guess is that I was 10 years old, opened up a newspaper, and found a comic that actually made me laugh.
I do know is that your whimsical, deranged work was a welcome retreat from the banality of rural life.
Your imagination ignited my own, as I began seeing animals, insects, and objects living lives not dissimilar from my own.
I grew older, and dreamed of using my sense of humor to entertain and engage others, before settling on more "sensible" pursuits. What followed was a string of increasingly responsible (i.e. miserable) choices, culminating in a nine year stretch of factory work soldering small pieces of metal together for 8-10 hour stretches. The people were great, the job was not.
I had found security, but also malaise, and -over time- depression.
Many moons later, in an effort to escape a personal crisis, I sat down and doodled a penguin puking an armless skeleton.
As a joke, I posted it to the free section of Craigslist and went to bed.
When I woke up, thirty people had requested it.
I began drawing and giving away more sketches, finding camaraderie, acceptance, and validation in myself through these early fans.
A street artist convinced me to sell my work, and to my surprise and delight, I found financial success.
And occasionally, complimentary comparisons to your work.
When asked who inspires me, I proudly name you as a source of both influence and reverence. I've sold thousands of pieces, and have had the pleasure of watching innumerable people laugh and smile from a sense of humor that you (however vicariously) helped form.
You've delighted millions through your decades of incredible work, but for me you have offered even greater:
the belief that success can be found from doing something you love.
Without you, I may very well have retired from that factory without discovering the pride, joy, and peace I feel today.
You have left an indelible impact on both my work, and my life.
So thank you, Mr. Larson.
For giving me not just humor, but hope.