In 2007, though, when I received an e-mail with a subject line that read, "Greetings from Space," the journalist in me assumed the message was spam, and I nearly deleted it.
What I didn't know was that a cartoon I had drawn about Clayton Anderson, the only Nebraska-born astronaut, had been e-mailed to him on board the International Space Station by another Nebraska native, Jeff Raikes, at the time an executive with Microsoft. Anderson had e-mailed from orbit to tell me how much he had enjoyed the cartoon.
Then, last fall, Anderson asked if I would be willing to create two cartoons that he could transport on his next shuttle flight, certifying that the drawings had flown in orbit. "Why don't you draw one you can give your newspaper," he said, "and the other for yourself." I was thrilled with the opportunity, even though I had no idea what I would draw for myself.
In the 1990s, my parents uncovered some of my old drawings, including a few of Dogie, which they gave to me. Even though I hadn't thought about him much over the years, Dogie remained loyal, waiting for me to come back to him, to rediscover him.
It was time to repay Dogie for his patience. I would send him into space on board the shuttle Discovery. Then it occurred to me: even though Apollo 10's mission was a dry run for the Apollo 11 moon landing, Schulz's sketches only circled the moon. They didn't land.
I went to work, putting pen to paper, again dreaming of space, knowing that for now, Dogie still has a chance.
To read an excerpt of Koterba's memoir, "Inklings," click HERE.
Jeffrey Koterba is an award-winning syndicated political cartoonist. He is also the author of "Inklings," a memoir that traces his journey to become a cartoonist, and more so, to rediscover the love of his family that was there from the start.