Good Boy Roy on CNN online

Zack Hix, 18, is the creator of the Good Boy Roy cartoon characters. Zack was diagnosed with a range of mental disorders, and his family believes his drawings provide an important outlet. Zack Hix, 18, is the creator of the Good Boy Roy cartoon characters. Zack was diagnosed with a range of mental disorders, and his family believes his drawings provide an important outlet.

Zack's family hopes his cartoons might provide a way for him to make a living down the road. Although his family lives in Simpsonville, South Carolina, Zack and his father are avid Georgia Bulldog fans.

Zack’s family hopes his cartoons might provide a way for him to make a living down the road. Although his family lives in Simpsonville, South Carolina, Zack and his father are avid Georgia Bulldog fans.

The Good Boy Roy characters are based on Zack's experiences and the people in his life. Zack's younger sister Kelsie, shown above, inspired the Volleyball Girl character. The Good Boy Roy characters are based on Zack’s experiences and the people in his life. Zack’s younger sister Kelsie, shown above, inspired the Volleyball Girl character.
Zack's psychiatrist, Dr. Robert Richards, says the Good Boy Roy characters could represent Zack's belief that everyone should be nice to one another. Zack’s psychiatrist, Dr. Robert Richards, says the Good Boy Roy characters could represent Zack’s belief that everyone should be nice to one another.
The Hix family together for a family photo. From the left: Kim, Kelsie, Zack and Doug. Zack is the creator of Good Boy Roy, and Kim is the president. The Hix family together for a family photo. From the left: Kim, Kelsie, Zack and Doug. Zack is the creator of Good Boy Roy, and Kim is the president.
Zack will soon begin working on a children's book about bullying, something he experienced during middle school. Zack will soon begin working on a children’s book about bullying, something he experienced during middle school.

  • Zack Hix is the creator of the cartoon characters in Good Boy Roy
  • He is diagnosed with a laundry list of mental health disorders
  • Art has always been his avenue for self-expression
  • His family wants to turn his artwork into a career so he can support himself

Editor’s note: This story is part of CNN’s American Journey series, showing how people are turning passions into jobs. Share your story with CNN iReport, and you could be featured in a CNN story.

(CNN) — On the surface, Zack Hix is like many 18-year-olds.

The Simpsonville, South Carolina, teen’s favorite foods are cheeseburgers and pizza. He listens to rock and punk music. He loves to race mountain bikes, play video games, watch Georgia Bulldogs football with his dad and — perhaps most importantly — draw.

But Zack also suffers from a laundry list of mental health issues, including both intermittent explosive- and obsessive-compulsive disorders, which make him different from other kids his age and threaten to inhibit his ability to function as an independent adult.

Zack is diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, in addition to the IED and OCD. He also has Tourette syndrome and tics that are the result of a Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infection in the fifth grade.

Artistic self-expression through drawing helps to balance Zack’s struggles. Together, the Hix family is on a journey to turn a series of Zack’s characters into a career as a cartoonist.

“If we can make a go of this and he can work for himself doing what he loves to do — chances are he is not going to be able to work in a traditional setting; they’re so up and down with how they function — maybe he can support himself after high school and not have to sit back and collect disability as a person who cannot hold a job,” his mother, Kim Hix, said.

The Good Boy Roy crew — including Roy, Zman and Rocker Rick — are charismatic, athletic and musically talented. They are likenesses of Zack and those close to him. Life’s joys and tribulations also inspire Zack’s art, whether it’s expressing his faith in God, standing up to bullies or maintaining a positive outlook on life.

Stay in touch!

Don’t miss out on the conversation we’re having at CNN Living. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest stories and tell us what’s influencing your life.

“The images come to my head,” he says. “I just capture them and put them on paper.”

‘I know that it is the illness’

Kim Hix, 46, is the president of Good Boy Roy, in addition to her roles as part-time personal trainer, an advocate for children in court proceedings and, of course, full-time mother.

“When Zack does awful things, I know that is the illness,” she says. “He is so loving and sweet and thinks of others.”

She knew early on that Zack was different, she says. He wouldn’t sleep alone, screamed to the point where she thought he was going to hurt himself and had trouble processing the reasons he was disciplined.

The family had no history of mental disorders, so Kim Hix started taking Zack to doctors.

“We didn’t know what to think,” she says. “We were kind of bewildered.”

Zack’s father, Doug Hix, says it sometimes feels like they are isolated and on an island, but points out that many people have it worse.

Kim Hix says Zack’s struggles continue to affect the family, especially Kelsie, 14.

“None of this is in your control really,” says Kim. “You can’t fix these things. If it’s a bad day, if it’s chaotic, you pray a lot and when you wake up you hope the next day is better.”

No broad brush on his symptoms

Zack has seen psychiatrist Dr. Robert Richards since elementary school.

Richards doesn’t use a broad brush to describe Zack’s symptoms, he says, because the disorders manifest themselves differently according to the individual, the responsiveness to treatment and the resources available. But Richards did classify Zack’s problems as severe.

Still, the teen has a “high-level of sensitivity and intuitiveness,” Richards said. His drawings could be a way for him to express his view that people should be treated with kindness.

“If you look at other aspects of personality growth and development, he has a strong capacity for empathy,” says Richards.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, a psychiatrist and the medical director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, says the two most important variables in treating mental disorders and illness are family support and the patient’s willingness to accept help from loved ones.

Kim says Zack is family-oriented, always wanting to be near and spend time with his parents.

“I can’t tell them how much I love them in words,” says Zack.

Doug Hix, who has been married to Kim for 21 years, works for an engineering company. At times, his work puts him on the road for two or three weeks a month. When he is home, Doug says he makes spending time with his children a priority. He and Zack race mountain bikes, follow the Atlanta Braves and never miss a University of Georgia football game.

“When he’s at a calm state, when he’s the Zack that we know and love, he’s a great kid,” Doug Hix says. “If his med levels are where they need to be, he can focus. Interaction with faculty and student body, it’s spot on. You’d never expect anything.”

It’s those other times — when he can’t remain calm — that trouble his parents.

Zack’s OCD can cause him to grasp onto single thoughts. He’ll want to do things perfectly and not being able to can sometimes propel him into a rage that can last for hours, his mother says. The episodes have occurred since Zack was a child.

Enter Good Boy Roy

Zack has drawn pictures since he was old enough to hold a pen. He has always gravitated toward cartoons, Japanimation characters and superheroes, his parents say. Drawing seems to provide Zack the context his compulsions won’t allow, and his mother says he’s always used artistic expression to apologize after acting out.

The characters are based on Zack and those close to him. Volleyball Girl was inspired by his younger sister, Kelsie, and Handsome Hen takes after the man who introduced Zack to “The Simpsons,” his uncle Henry.

In 2009, Zack took a stack of Good Boy Roy drawings to his mother and asked what she thought. She liked them enough to have one printed on a red T-shirt, his favorite color.

Zack wore the shirt everywhere. Kim Hix had already considered making Good Boy Roy a business, but when she saw how proud the T-shirt made Zack, she wondered if it might be a way for Zack to support himself after high school if his mental health issues prove to be barriers to employment.

“I have always been a fixer,” she said. “That has been my job since Zack was born, trying to get him help and get him the resources that can help him progress.”

Since 2010, Zack’s mother says he has made about $12,000 from merchandise and custom design sales, so the business is very much part-time. He has also illustrated a children’s book, “A World Without Circles.” The book’s publisher has asked Zack to work on a children’s book about bullying, something he experienced during middle school related to his Tourette’s syndrome, his mother says.

Zack plans to graduate from high school in 2014 and hopes to continue spreading Good Boy Roy’s message. He wants Roy, Zman and Rocker Rick to be known worldwide so they can inspire others with disabilities to find work.

Meanwhile, Kim Hix is learning how to juggle building a business with her own career and being a mother and wife. It’s still very much a work in progress, but she hopes Good Boy Roy will reach other families dealing with mental health disorders and let them know they’re not alone.

“Good Boy Roy, the business and brand, was launched to share with the world this story of hope, determination and overcoming challenges; [to] reach parents of children like Zack, to let them know they are not alone in their heartache and uncertainty; [to] let the kids know that anything is possible, and being different is OK.”


Is Crowdfunding for you ??

What is Crowdfunding??

Crowdfunding,  is a funding method where common people like you and me, “the crowd”, fund your personal or business project with their own money. Or, just call it  a donation 🙂 It is a great way to bring awareness to your “project”, idea or whatever it is you are trying to raise funds for.

Most people, causes, organizations, businesses using the crowdfunding platform offer something as a token to those that contribute. We, at Good Boy Roy, decided to give this (crowdfunding) a try. Our choice was a newcomer to the game, Crowdtilt.

They may vary a bit, but for the most part are free, but charge a fee IF you are successful at meeting your goal.

You can view our Campaign HERE

Some of the top Crowdfunding sites are:


Image representing Kickstarter as depicted in ...

Image via CrunchBase

Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. Everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. Kickstarter is full of ambitious, innovative, and imaginative projects that are brought to life through the direct support of others.

IndieGoGo        Image representing IndieGoGo as depicted in Cr...

Indiegogo is a Crunchie Finalist for 2012’s “Biggest Social Impact.”

Rockethub        RocketHub

Those are just a few of many.

If you have a dream, a project, a good idea or invention maybe you should give it a try. You have NOTHING to loose.

Shout out from Zman, whats happening

This is Zack…Good Boy Roy.  Just letting you all know what is happening around here.

Today we went to Art on the Trail in Travelers Rest. It was a lot of artisans set up selling the things the make. Mom and I went for a little bit to make a showing for Good Boy Roy. It was ok, not a whole lot of people, but the weather was good and I got to meet some nice people. One couple stopped by to talk to me, they had heard about me and the business, they have a grandson with Autism. They talked to mom and I for a while. It’s nice to meet people especially when they tell me that I am an inspiration, that’s always nice. I get a lot of encouragement from people.

I finally finished the illustrations for the Children’s book, A World without Circles. It was a fun thing to do, and good pay too 🙂 The book should be out in November, that is what the Publisher said. Here is just one of the illustrations.

I also finished a custom shirt design for the Greenville Road Warriors, they gave me certain things to include like recycling, exercise, reading…and this is what I came up with. It was for a contest they did for kids.

The next thing I finished was a design for a 4k that is coming up called Colors 4 Hope, they call it a color run because the runners where white t-shirts, and as they run during the course people throw colored stuff on them. I think they said it is corn starch dyed different colors. So by the end of the run your shirt has all kinds of color on it. It is put on by Mental Health America. I think this is my favorite drawing of mine in a long time.

So I have been busy, but that’s good. Dont forget about us at Christmas time for shippong. Sign up for the newsletter for discounts and stuff. By Zman

Mental Health America…Run 4 Hope

How do you like the newest Custom design from Good Boy Roy for Mental Health America, Colors 4 Hope 4 mi run/walk? Find a “Run 4 Hope” near you and come join the fun ,run through a Kaleidoscope of colors support Mental wellness. Our Greenville Chapter has a Facebook page with more information.

Some Mental Health Facts:

1 in 4 adults experience a mental health disorder in a given year.

1 in 17 adults lives with a serious mental illness.

1 in 10 children lives with a serious mental or emotional disorder.

Major depressive disorder is the LEADING cause of disability in the US and Canada in ages 15-44.

one  half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14.

Adults living with serious mental illness die 25 years earlier than other Americans.

What is it ?? Branding experts unite

I have been posed the question several times over the past few days

What IS Good Boy Roy

What is Good Boy Roy

Should be easy to answer, should be simple, should come spilling out.


It’s complicated.

Good Boy Roy Is my son, Zack. The creator of it all. Most of the characters he draws have some aspect of his personality in them.

It use to be easy for me to say exactly what the business, Good Boy Roy is.

It is a journey, a mission of hope, faith, determination and overcoming. That’s what it is !! This story we are telling via the characters my son draws. Because this is his story, his life, his passion and dream. It’s a story about a boy who has suffered lifelong with debilitating, crippling disorders, challenges, disabilities, mental illness.

Whatever you want to call it. Whatever you want to call this daily roller coaster, this uncertainty he lives with. What we live with as a family. Because challenges like his do not affect 1 person. They affect everyone.

It’s the story that this kid, my kid, can be charming, delightful, smiling one minute and the next be reduced to someone I don’t even recognize. To a raging wild animal, or a crying, sobbing, helpless shell of a person. And again, back to a cool kid, creating and drawing these wonderfully fun and cute characters he imagines in his mind.

It’s a story and message we want to share and send to say “Hey, I have all these things that I can’t help, that make me act and feel ways I don’t like and can’t control, but I can still be a great asset to the world, I have talent, I am cool, I make people laugh and smile. I am awesome and yes, I have Mental illness. So what” and that millions of other people in the world are the same, they are talented, brilliant, kind, AND have mental illness. Doesn’t make them less than, doesn’t make them unworthy, doesn’t make them unproductive or unsuccessful. It just is.

Rethink Mental Illness

So, we thought to bring the characters to life, on shirts as a way to share Zack’s story and his love of drawing, but people are missing the story. They are missing the years of tears, of chaos, of uncertainty, of feeling like this child may not grow up, or may have to live somewhere in a residential facility, of days on end of raging, throwing things, hurting himself, being bullied, teased and picked on, reactions to medications, blood drawn every 6 weeks, trips to the ER…all of it somehow brought us to creating this business of Good Boy Roy. For him, to share. And for us to give back, to make a difference in the world somehow, to do good and help others, to spread hope.

Without hope, what do we have?

Some people say, just tell the story, forget the characters and the shirts, just tell the story and the rest will follow, “your story if Powerful and what you have managed to survive, and intact as a family is inspiring. The level of accomplishment and progress your son has made is a miracle” and accomplishments he continues to make…may I brag..he just finished illustrating a children’s book he was hired for, designed shirts for The Greenville Road Warriors among many, won a National t-shirt design contest for NAMI, multiple TV and print media stories .  Forget the shirts, tell the story.

Ok. I like that

Then someone says….seperate the characters FROM your son. Make them their own entity. Like P-nuts and Charles Schultz. And that is what Zack has in mind, for his “Good Boy Roy Gang” to be a group of characters like P-Nuts, The Simpsons, South Park….and the shirts and merchandise to follow along.

What we envision is really a mix, kind of like The Simpsons meet Life is Good.

So, from a business, branding, marketing stand point, which angle is the best to make this grow and be successful for Zack. For his future?

I just keep waiting on a sign..waiting, waiting

Thank goodness I’m a patient person.

What is Good Boy Roy? A story of Hope, Faith, Determination and overcoming

People ask, so I am telling, what is Good Boy Roy?

A new Dog food??? No

A dog training program?? No

Millions of families and children live as we do…in a life and home ruled by mental illness. We know the feeling of helplessness, hopelessness and searching for answers. For us, that is our son, Zack, now 17. Zack IS Good Boy Roy, the business and the brand. We are sharing our story through the designs and characters of the Good Boy Roy line. It is more than fun t-shirts, it is more than cute characters.

It is about hope, faith, love, determination and overcoming.

Find your gift, follow your dream. Never loose Hope



Working it…

Just an update on recent “Happenings” here at Good Boy Roy. As I sit here and write, this is Zack’s first day back to school after the summer break and I am enjoying my first day of silence. He is always so excited the first day, he was up at 5:30 a.m. ready to go. This year he is a Senior, well, kinda sorta.

Heading off to school

     You see he has been in a self-contained LD Neuroscience classroom since 8th grade. That means Learning Disabilities with neurological challenges. This is due to his numerous neurologically based challenges and learning disabilities that he struggles with. Anywhooo…last year he was mainstreamed into regular education classes to work towards his SC High School Diploma. In doing so, it set him back about 1.5 years in credits, but he wanted to make this transition, knowing it would put him in High School much longer. A brave and admirable decision I think. He has always wanted to go to College, in some form or fashion, so this move will enable him to follow that goal.

The summer  has been busy for us and Good Boy Roy. Most recently a great article was written on him in our local Greenville Newspaper. This has brought to him other offers and projects. One very exciting one is that of illustrating a children’s story. The owner of Ledge Press happens to live in our neck of the woods, saw the write-up in the newspaper and gave us a call. This will be new to Zack, but a good and fun opportunity.

He has also been asked to partner with Mental Health America and the Color Run, to do a design for their 4k event. Did I mention that his NAMI walk t-shirt design WON the NATIONAL t-shirt design contest ??  We are so excited and thrilled about that honor.

Next up, our proposal to the Greenville County Schools to partner with Good Boy Roy for a Anti-Bullying campaign and contest was accepted and gets started we hope in September. Since Zack has unfortunately been the target of so much bullying 😦 during his middle school years, we wanted to bring more awareness to this issue and how it affects the kids on the receiving end of the bullying. Zack created his own version of a Anti-bully character in Angry Allen, so we decided to let other kids in the elementary and middle schools do the same. The winner will win a cash prize, and have their design added to the Good Boy Roy line, and sales of the shirt will be donated to their school. We are excited and think it will be a fun and informative project. We really hope to make a difference in this world, do some good, help some people, send a good message of hope and faith.

I also put together this little power point/slide show if you care to view and see our models having some fun.

We are making progress and want to thank you all who have supported us along the way with your encouragement and kindness.

                   And let me not forget the Big Catch while in Florida.