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.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • 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.

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“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.”

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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:

Kickstarter

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.

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.

But

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.

In case you missed it… Boy Wonder

By Heidi Coryell Williams
SEPTEMBER 30, 2011

Hillcrest High School junior Zack Hix, creator of Good Boy Roy, draws on real-life inspiration

In his Simpsonville art studio, also known as the kitchen table, 16-year-old Zack Hix sits among stacks of well-worn sketch diaries, which his mother buys from Walmart. He seems subdued and focused, even though he is running a little late today—the baseball coach had a meeting after school. He is trying out for the team.

This is Zack’s life of late—juggling school and home life and a dynamic graphic design business, which includes stocking a Web store full of merchandise bearing his catchy gang of cartoon characters and their animated, adolescent expressions—from “Rock on Dude” to “Must Have Ice Cream.”

Web sales aren’t great, says Kim, his mother and Chief “Everything” Officer of Zack’s design company, Good Boy Roy. The good news is, his work has recently taken him in a new direction: creating custom designs. In the past few months, he’s drawn logos for a Zumba teacher in Oklahoma, a marching band in Chicago, and a beauty salon (Salon Beverly)  in Greer. (Check out the Custom Design Page)

Custom design for Salon Beverly

If Zack’s accomplishments seem to belie his age, the adversity he has endured downright defies it. “Nobody can have it worse than anybody else. It’s just a matter of how you look at it,” Zack says, slightly monotone, eyes diverted—as they often are—his hand firmly tapping the seat of his wooden chair.

In a few years, folks will likely chalk up his mannerisms to artistic eccentricities. But the tapping, knocking, and pacing actually stem from various impulse control disorders, including Tourette’s Syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity.

The truth is, the happy, vibrant characters that Zack creates are more like alter egos. He is content for now, but with little warning he could fly into a screaming rage or an anxious, tearful fit that might last for hours.

Zack’s differences have made him a target for bullying. But drawing has always offered an opportunity for escape and reconciliation, especially following some of his more violent outbursts. He often told his family, “I really am a good boy,” after an episode had ended, and the name Good Boy Roy was born.

About two years ago, Kim surprised Zack by putting one of the characters, Good Boy Roy, on a T-shirt. The gratification he got—not only seeing one of his sketches brought to life, but also from folks who saw and admired his work—turned out to be the beginning of the most healing season in his adolescence. At times, perfecting his drawings becomes something to obsess over, but mostly it’s an outlet for his anxiety. “It’s just helped me to cope sometimes,” Zack offers simply.

Marvelous Manic Monday Giveaway

Happy Monday.

I woke up and thought we would do a Giveaway today.

So, this one is pretty easy. This week we will giveaway one of the original, now retired, Good Boy Roy Designs. Starting today and ending Friday September 28th. Don’t fret,because if you don’t win, you can buy one of your own for only $10 from the Sales page of the Good Boy Roy website.

Requirements:

  1. Go to the T-shirt page come back and tell us which design is your favorite and why.
  2. Then Follow Good Boy Roy on Twitter
  3. Like us on FaceBook

Extra points:

  • Sign up for the newsletter, sent out once a month with updates, new design releases and coupon codes. (sign up is on the homepage)
  • Check out the creator of all Good Boy Roy designs, 17 y.o. Zack, getting his goofy Groove on here from YouTube, and while your’re there, go ahead and subscribe to the Good Boy Roy Channel

Good Luck !!!

Meet the Gang

We thought it was time for our friends and fans to meet the Good Boy Roy Gang, the cast of characters that make up the line of Good Boy Roy. All of these characters were created by Zack, who is 17 and the creator of everything you see on the website.

When you here the word Gang, most people automatically have a negative, frightening vision. That is NOT the case with the Good Boy Roy Gang. These are fun, good kids, characters, that each have their own personality, imagined by Zack.

Over the next few days we will feature each Gang member along with a description, in Zack’s words of who they really are and what his inspiration was when drawing them.

First up, of course would have to be Roy, the first character brought to life and the #Instigator of this whole world that is Good Boy Roy. But first here is a quick YouTube vid from Zack.

 I now have the great pleasure of introducing you to Roy.

Roy, or Good Boy Roy

“is the original guy, the ring leader of the whole gang. He is a good boy, but does some things that kids may do, mischievous or getting into trouble not knowing they are getting into trouble. Or just everyday things kids do growing up that seem to get off course. He is a good boy in his heart, he is funny, like me, he is my alter ego, kind of. Good Boy Roy will do things every now and then as he goes through life and I will bring them to life and color on some shirts. Like the other day I , (I mean Good Boy Roy), was cutting the grass, I’m not so good at it, and ran over moms flowers. So we thought that would be a funny design, I drew it, now just waiting to print it on a shirt.”

The first design is Roy holding a cat by the tail. Now, some people see that and get angry, but they miss the humor and meaning of the drawing. Roy is not trying to be mean to the cat, he is trying to hold it and love it, in doing so he grabs the cat by the tail. Now how many times have you seen a kid do that???

Next was Roy loving , playing with his sister, and ummmmm, not in a great way.

So, that is just a brief peek into the history of the Gang. Join us tomorrow when I continue Roy’s story and his adventures. That boy is always up to something.

Today’s Interview with #TeamGoodBoyRoy

Short video from the interview today on Your Greenville, WSPA channel 7, unfortunately some of our time was interrupted by the news and the decision of the Health Care Ruling. Oh well, short but sweet.

#GOODBOYROY | Your-Carolina – Local Entertainment for Greenville, Spartanburg, Anderson S.C. and Asheville N.C. http://shar.es/sOm54