We began in San Francisco in 1967. I had been
a college teacher, but I wanted to be a writer. In order to increase
my chances of success, I decided (not all at once, but over a
period of time) to concentrate on a kind of writing which nobody
else was doing: very short expressions, which I eventually limited
to a maximum of 17 words. I illustrated them myself, and at first
called them "Unpoemed Titles," then "Pot-Shots,"
then eventually (when I realized the value of my name), "Brilliant
I started publishing them myself on postcards, and soon realized that I could make a better living that way than I could as a teacher. Over the years, I've published more and more of these expressions (the total is now 10,000) making it harder and harder to abide by my own self-imposed rule that each one must be as different as possible (both in words and in illustration) from every other one.
From postcards, which formed the basis of a unique mail-order business, they became a syndicated newspaper feature, a series of books, and all kinds of licensed products. Eventually, I had grounds for claiming to be one of the most widely-quoted living writers, and also the highest-paid (per word).
One very unusual aspect of this business is that protection of our copyright is extremely important. People often don't believe that you can claim "intellectual property" in a piece of writing as short as 17 words or less -- and sometimes it takes several lawyers to convince them otherwise.
Another point of note is that, despite all the hoopla, we've remained small in some important ways, e.g. still operating, as we have since 1973, out of a little house in Santa Barbara, California. Here I am waving to you from it:--