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Drawing to an end

USPS cartoonist to retire after 33 years

Man holding a drawn cartoon.
Earl Musick, a 33-year USPS employee who’ll retire this month, displays his recent illustration for Engage Weekly.

Earl Musick has just about done it all.

Since joining the Postal Service as a retail associate in 1987, Musick has held several jobs, including serving as a letter carrier, a Postmaster, an engagement ambassador and an Eastern Area human resources specialist, his current position.

He probably is best known, though, for his role as a USPS cartoonist.

Musick has drawn illustrations for many local and national postal publications through the years, including the Engage Weekly newsletter and an annual coloring page that employees hand out to children at Post Offices across the nation during the holidays.

Now, after 33 years, Musick plans to retire at the end of May to pursue a full-time career in media and entertainment.

“The Postal Service has allowed me to chase my dreams. It has been wonderful to me, provided me with a steady paycheck and helped me to raise my two kids,” he said. “It’s the best job in the world.”

Musick has been drawing most of his life, inspired by childhood heroes like “Beetle Bailey” cartoonist Mort Walker and “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz, who Musick eventually met and counted as a friend and mentor.

“We talked over the phone often and would see each other once or twice a year and exchange letters through the mail,” Musick said. “He was really good to me.”

Through his membership in the National Cartoonists Society, Musick has also gotten to know other cartoonists.

“It’s a great group. We share tips with one another,” he said.

When he is off the clock from USPS, Musick works as a freelance artist. He recently designed the cover for “Retirement: Twice the Time, Half the Money,” a book by Gene Perret, an Emmy-winning comedy writer for Bob Hope, Carol Burnett and others.

It’s not uncommon for Musick’s other clients — which have included the FBI, ABC television and the Walt Disney Co. — to call him with a late-night, last-minute request.

“They’ll say, ‘We need a drawing of an elephant dancing.’ So you do it,” he said.

Musick also works as a motivational speaker and stand-up comic, entertaining audiences at state and county fairs, corporate meetings and other venues. His comedy routines are “clean,” he said, reflecting his Christian faith.

For his final drawing projects for the Postal Service, Musick created a coloring page to honor the letter carriers who are continuing to deliver mail and packages during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as an Engage Weekly illustration that depicts the variety of postal workers who are stepping up to the plate during the health crisis.

Mark Wahl, an organizational development analyst at USPS headquarters who previously worked with Musick in Eastern Area, praised his drawings and his ability to connect with people.

“Earl has that gift to find someone in an audience that needs a hug or a smile,” Wahl said, adding that Musick is his “Q10,” a shorthand term for an employee’s best friend in the workplace. “He was my Q10 at work, and now he’s my Q10 outside of work.”

In his post-postal life, Musick plans to spend more time with his family, including his wife, Debbie, and their sons and daughters-in-law: Matt and Miranda, and Mark and Meghan.

Musick lives in Ohio and plans to stay there, noting that he can work on comedy and cartoons anywhere.

“I’m not trying to be famous,” he said. “I’m just trying to make them laugh.”