Rick Hotton & The Mindful Art of Holy Mole

Hole Molé Cartoon

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.”

Hotton never set out to be a cartoonist or advocate for social change. The art form found him in 2005; first as a relaxing outlet and eventually as a creative way to encourage mindfulness and compassion. Holy Mole caught on quickly with early fans that began collecting and sharing Rick’s doodles. Today, he draws new strips each week with a sense of focus that would impress any sage.

The central theme of Holy Mole is the hero’s journey to understanding and self-acceptance. It’s a familiar path of hope and courage that resonates with people of all ages. Why am I here? What is my purpose? Which path is right for me? The woodland critters in Holy Mole mirror our human tendency of stumbling forward in spite of our misunderstandings about ourselves and our changing circumstances.

Mole, the endearing star of Holy Mole, is the archetypal seeker, which is ironic given that moles are blind. It’s an intentional irony reminding us that our spiritual instincts provide us with clarity as long as we pay attention. Kool Kat, Mole’s laid back friend, personifies living life in the moment without being overwhelmed with questions and self-judgment.

Other Holy Mole characters include an old turtle representing wisdom, cute little penguins representing conformity and innocence, and snails representing whimsy as they encounter the challenges of daily living.

Hotton finds fulfillment in knowing that Holy Mole and martial arts teach mindfulness.
“I’m one of many people that long for a kinder world,” he added. “Although the path can be difficult, we make our greatest progress when we share our journey with others. I feel that sense of connection when I’m training in the dojo or drawing a new cartoon strip. It’s a good feeling that gives me hope.”

Please visit www.holymolecartoon.com.