I used to work on ‘The Simpsons.’ Now I draw sloth cartoons.
How I created a viral web-comic with over 600 million views on Giphy
Several years ago I created an online comic series as a side project outside of my day job. Little did I know, my animated work would later become a viral sensation shared by millions of people around the world.
Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to have worked as a professional animator on shows like The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad, Disenchantment, and The Cosmos.
While working in the entertainment business can be fun, as an employee you rarely get to work on your own unfiltered designs, jokes, or stories. The main objective is to assist in shaping a show-runner’s particular vision on his/her production.
In 2013 I was inspired to work on my own project, complete with characters and humor originating from my own imagination.
One animal I always dreamt of seeing in cartoon form was a sloth. With a penchant for sleeping, eating, and solitary lounging, sloths are animals I’ve always felt a kindred connection to.
Thus, my idea for a quirky cartoon character named Slothilda was conceived.
Slothilda originally started as a children’s book idea— a story about an awkward little sloth who yearned for more out of life, refusing to conform with society. As a result, she faced ridicule from her fellow sloth peers.
Every aspect of Slothilda, including her name, appearance, and personality, was designed to make her different and imperfect.
The original idea was meant to be a metaphor for embracing your uniqueness and following your heart.
However, Slothilda’s initial story didn’t quite match up with my reality, nor personal experience. Growing up with over-achieving immigrant parents I always did my best to assimilate and please — constantly striving for “perfection” at the expense of my own needs.
That internal conflict I experienced as a child still creeps up on me even as an adult. To this day I constantly struggle between doing the things I want to do versus the things I “should” do.
Hence I shifted my focus away from the children’s book idea and onto an online comic series that explored those feelings.
Over the years Slothilda began to take on new themes rooted in brutal honesty, rather than ones rooted in the ideal — drawing inspiration from flawed characters like Garfield, Homer Simpson, and Tina from Bob’s Burgers.
Slowly but surely, I began posting comics online that parodied my own daily struggles at work, home, and in my personal-life.
Like Slothilda, I can relate to being ambitious and doing the things I “should” be doing like eating right, exercising, saving money, and working late.
But admittedly, there’s also nothing I love more than sitting in a quiet living room with my dog, slouched on the couch, ipad in one hand, and a handful of doughnut holes in the other.
Truthfully, I’m an introverted sloth on the inside.
Slothilda became a comic that parodied and illuminated this internal struggle in a modern day, social-media obsessed world.
Just like us, Slothilda has goals and dreams, but she also deals with failure, temptation, insecurity, sluggishness, and guilt just like we do.
Slothilda isn’t perfect; she gives us permission to feel unashamed and reminds us that we’re not alone in our aspiring, yet slothy ways.
Today Slothilda is a fulfilling form of creative expression outside of my former day job, and an honest depiction of my sloth-like daily struggles.
Through authentic self-reflection came Slothilda — a relatable mascot for the ambitious sleepy-head in us all.
To see more Slothilda comics visit my website.
Also, here’s the animated trailer for my upcoming book! (1-minute)