By Randy Moore
“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery from The Prince
Rick Hotton is stuck in time, but he’s not complaining. The 56-year-old cartoonist from Sarasota, Florida lives life with the kind of soulful deliberation more commonly associated with an ancient temple or monastery. Hotton would rather observe the flight of a mud wasp or study a turtle munching on grass than watch a popular television show or sporting event.
His reflective nature and reverence for life is the byproduct of practicing and teaching martial arts since he was 14. Hotton has trained thousands of students; 55 have earned their black belt under his skilled tutelage. Today, he travels the world teaching advanced karate techniques. Recent trips include Sweden, Norway, England, Ireland, and Canada.
It is Hotton’s regard for tradition and ritual that frames his outlook about life and the human experience. It’s also the essence of his award-winning cartoon Holy Mole, an original creation influenced by Eastern sensibilities and the etiquette of martial arts.
“Mindfulness is at the heart of my martial arts practice and Holy Mole,” he said. “Both involve an appreciation for the intrinsic spirit in everything and the deeper truths about living with focused awareness.”
Hotton hand draws each strip with an ink pen on a plain sheet of paper. He uses a simple water color set to color the strips; the same inexpensive brand found in many elementary schools. The Holy Mole collection features more than 1,800 strips and current customers include newspapers, magazines and websites. The Holy Mole Facebook page has more than 3,700 “likes” from fans from around the world.
Hotton describes Holy Mole as a crusader for mindful living in an era when people feel disconnected from the superficiality of modern times. His strips capture the angst, humor and hope people feel in a culture obsessed with celebrity worship, new gadgets and continuous hype presented as news.
“Holy Mole reminds people what’s real and important; things like compassion, honor and the regard for the sacredness of life,” he explained. “It’s an expression of the authenticity many people long for in their busy lives.”