When I began the "In the Box" series, it was during a time when my stress levels were at an all time high. In short, my wife and I were caring for a very sick and dying child.
Living in the hospital setting, surrounded by the 'beeps' and 'bings' of electronic-life-saving devices, eating cafeteria and restaurant food, and living mostly from car to overnight-bag, while wrestling with the deepest questions a parent could ever be forced to try'n answer, I found that humor was an amazing way to maintain my sanity.
My logic was, and is, thus: "In order to maintain sanity, one must remain objective...,"
And what better way to remain objective than through humor? Or, to put it another way, by looking for the humor in the midst of the crisis, the Intellect is trained to practice 'the-thought-of-no-thought' (an ancient Oriental principle wherein you learn to 'respond' without 'reacting'.)
During that period of time, I found myself thinking, and over-thinking, about a lot of heady stuff. (Life, death, suffering, the Human Soul, and so on . . . ) The kind of stuff that can make you a little crazy if you're not careful. Especially when there are still a lot of important decisions to be made.
So I began the "In the Box" cartoon. Its main character is 'the philosopher', a thoughtful little fellow, who lives in the question and rarely ever gets anything done. His cohort is 'the world' who seems to have a great many answers, until you consider them.
The title "In the Box" is a play on several themes:
1) problem solving means thinking outside-the-box, more often than not.
2) its a dark comedic reference to death (i.e. a coffin)
3) nothing in the cartoon is ever actually 'in-the-box', in as much as the characters are always drawn 'out-of-bounds' as it were . . .
I figured that if I could find humor in life, death, philosophy, religion, logic, reason, and so forth- then I'm still thinking objectively. And if I'm still thinking objectively, then I'm still a candidate for this thing called sanity.
The truth is, we define our own stressors- how big, how small, and to what degree they matter. In the end, its not what you have to deal with that defines you, but rather, how you deal with it.