Nelson began his artistic career by illustrating his English assignments and drawing Pogo comic strip characters in the back of his History class while he was in elementary school in Phoenix. Neither went over very well with his English and History teachers. But his art teacher saw something in his drawings and encouraged him. He hasn’t stopped scribbling ever since.
A few years later, in grade 11, he wrote and illustrated a short story about a dysfunctional car club and submitted it to Hot Rod Magazine. A few weeks later, a check for $50 arrived in the mail, and his career choice was decided!
His next sale didn’t happen for another year — in spite of sending cartoons and stories to a variety of publications. But eventually he began selling a few. He wrote a technical article about a race car that ran on compressed air for Hot Rod, and sold gag cartoons to Car Craft, Rod & Custom, and Motor Trend magazines.
A move to Los Angeles to attend art school brought him closer to the markets, and sales increased. He took a part-time job as a copy boy at The New York Times’ Western Edition, and soon persuaded them to hire him full-time as a staff artist and assistant to the picture editor.
Marriage followed… and the newspaper eventually folded. He quickly found work with a publisher of boating magazines, and contributed writing, illustrations, cartoons, and photos. All the while, also continuing to sell freelance cartoons to several new comic book publications. For a time, he even had a steady series of cartoons in National Dragster… and a couple car cartoons in the short-lived “Wham-O Giant Comic”.
Nelson’s bride, Charlotte, encouraged his creative side, and he left the boating magazines to enter the world of full-time freelancing. A friendly editor — and then a few more — bought enough cartoons to support them and their growing family for the next few decades. Because freelancing allowed freedom to travel, they decided to explore the world, and for the first step, they started with a move to western Canada to experience life there for a year or so. The “year or so” turned into 45.
The comic book market eventually died off, and Nelson moved through a few more careers: ghost-writing a comic strip – illustrating most of the comic book series “Back To The Future” (based on an animated TV series that was based on the movies) – Illustrating 30-plus books on a variety of subjects… several of them best-sellers. Followed by some advertising copywriting and layout for the local newspaper – editorial cartooning to numerous community papers – animating sequences for TV programs and internet – art direction, illustration, and 2D and 3D animation for several computer game companies, including Electronic Arts. And then most recently, creating storyboards for many major motion pictures and TV shows like Scary Movie 3, Scary Movie 4, Good Luck Chuck, Reefer Madness, Stargate Atlantis, Men in Trees, and the soon to be released Case 39.
The storyboarding work gradually evaporated after the Hollywood writers’ strike about a year ago, so Nelson decided to go back to his roots — cartooning about cars. No one could be happier with this “twist of fate” than Motorburg, and of course the many fans of this fabulous CARtoon’s legend. He’s started a blog about the old car comics and is documenting those good ol’ days as well as continuing to create new works in that unique “Dewey style”.
Motorburg is proud to include Nelson as an associate artist and you can browse his print gallery HERE.