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Flying Solo initiative reaches new heights - EMC

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Rebecca Rotenberg shows off her new book of cartoons and desk calendar Flying Solo outside her Hunt Club home.

Photo: Sheena Bolton, Ottawa South EMC; Rebecca Rotenberg shows off her new book of cartoons and desk calendar Flying Solo outside her Hunt Club home.

EMC Entertainment Twenty years ago, then newly single parent Rebecca Rotenberg decided to take the initiative and develop something to let other single parents know they are not alone.

And so she launched Flying Solo, creating clothing with the logo of one parent and children flying in a plane and an inspirational saying so single parents could recognize each other and feel supported.

At the beginning of June, Ms. Rotenberg brought the Flying Solo name back in her new book of cartoons and desk calendar, aptly titled Flying Solo.

"I'm so proud of these cartoons, I've never been so certain of anything in my life as these cartoons," she said. "That really says a lot, we doubt ourselves a lot in our lives but these cartoons are completely positive."

Ms. Rotenberg said that her main goal when developing the cartoons was to make people laugh and to not offend anyone.

"It's extremely hard to do a cartoon illustrating divorce, separation, being widowed, being single with kids, without kids and not insult (anyone)," said the Hunt Club resident. "You have a one panel opportunity, you don't have strips, and it has to be funny. (The cartoons) catch you by surprise, you can't believe what you are reading but they are full of empathy, they must never be mistaken for anger or that I promote divorce."

She uses her cartoons as a sort of therapy session in hopes that when people read them they have a greater sense of understanding and feel better about themselves.

"The whole idea ... has always been to upscale the image of the single parent ... even though it's become trendy to be a single parent, Hollywood has made it trendy. I think that we still carry a little stigma of 'failed marriage,' a term I hate," explained Ms. Rotenberg.

Her latest book consists of 101 cartoons. None of the ideas for the cartoons are taken from personal experiences with divorce and being a single parent, rather they are generated out of her ability to be empathetic.

"I had a very, very amicable relationship with my ex, it's not to say we didn't have divorce issues, but for the children we stayed together as much as we could," she said. "You can't help but see things on TV, you can't help but see friends talking ... when people divorce they are by themselves very much, they don't have friends because their partner is mostly their friend. I'm empathetic, you take these situations you see and hear and somehow it just came out in this strong way."

One neat element to the book, Ms. Rotenberg pointed out, is that half of the cartoons are done from "the man's" perspective.

"...It's not only moms, even though the dads sometimes have only visitation, they are still single fathers, still the dads," said Ms. Rotenberg. "They are often asking 'Can I keep the child an extra hour,' and they are still shelling out the child support. They are very much the father but we are all thinking single mothers."

For the illustrations Ms. Rotenberg contacted a PIP Animation Services Inc. and was put in touch with Gord Coulthart.

"We went back and forth a lot, I had to relate (ideas) to this guy who is not a single parent. So I had to tell this guy exactly the nonchalant, very matter-of-fact expression how this was going to be," she said. "He's brilliant, he captured the essence of what I wanted to do."

The entire book took only a matter of months to complete and Ms. Rotenberg, who works full-time, came up with her cartoon ideas in random locations.

She decided to offer a desk calendar along with the book to give readers something more.

"A spin off will be greeting cards as well and I would love to do a second book," she added.

She explained it's expensive to produce a book, but when she turned 50 the ideas started coming. Ms. Rotenberg said she has always loved to laugh, making cartoons and comedy a natural extension from the Flying Solo clothing line for her.

"I had a cartoon in the Ottawa Citizen 20 years ago so some of them were refined a bit for this and then it took me some months to come up with (others) so I made it my mission to fill the book," she said.

Copies of Flying Solo can be purchased for less than $20 by e-mailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

A percentage of the proceeds will go towards the Youth Services Bureau.

The Web site, www.flyingsoloagain.com, is currently under construction but will be up shortly.