Monthly Archives: June 2015

Depression Socks

Not pictured: Decompression Socks. Two styles available--"Scuba accident" and "Lying on the couch watching Netflix after Sunday brunch with the extended family"

Not pictured: Decompression Socks. Two styles available–“Scuba accident” and “Lying on the couch watching Netflix after Sunday brunch with the extended family”

I honestly couldn’t tell you where this stuff comes from. I mean, like most creatives, I suffer from depression, but that doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Socks are extremely meaningful to me. My grandfather was a hosier–he sold socks and underwear–and when I was little we regularly received shipments of same. My grandfather retired when I was in elementary school, and the stream of undergarments dried up. I don’t think my mother realized how often little kids require new socks and underwear, because for the rest of grade school I never felt that I had sufficient.

As an adult, naturally, I overcompensate in the other direction: 5 overstuffed drawers full of socks and underwear.

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Long Hair Kitties for the Fluff!

Soft kitty, crazy kitty, tangled ball of fur...

Soft kitty, crazy kitty, tangled ball of fur…

The problem with painting from live models when you want to paint a cat is that cats make terrible models. They have no trouble posing themselves; effortlessly, they assume all manner of provocative positions, seemingly begging to be capture for posterity. And then, just as you start to get the outline of a decent sketch, basically the moment they notice that you are looking at them, they move.

So I don’t know about this little painting. I did it about a month or so ago and of course it’s not quite right because the cat was done long before I was. You can sort of tell what it’s supposed to be…but it’s not great. Can’t recall my original motivation in using so much red in this painting. The cat in question, my current cat Lupin, is a real Halloween cat, almost completely black except for a few white hairs and a little charm on her throat. She does spend a lot of time lying splayed out in the sun, so her belly is bleached brown, but she’s generally hard to capture visually because she basically sucks light into herself like a black hole.

While I was working on my original painting and trying to make it into the one I published (and also covering up a lot of the red and some of the silver) the cat just randomly sat down in front of me in almost this exact post, but I decided to just ignore her, knowing that if I tried to make any serious study, she would immediately move.

Suna was a princess, or possibly a queen.

Suna was a princess, or possibly a queen.

Even though they look similar, this is a totally different cat, Suna, who passed away a couple years back. She was actually a tortoiseshell, even though here she looks entirely black. I knew Suna as a kitten, when the Bear and I went to school in Ohio, and then many years later as a mature cat when I came out to the Sonoran Desert. I can’t remember which moment in time this sketch is from, but it’s either 1997 or 2005. I suspect the former.

I was looking everywhere for this picture when I first started the blog; I wanted it for another post on cats last year, but it was just nowhere to be found. Friday night I ditched all my friends who wanted to go to a bar and randomly started cleaning some of the clutter in my office. This sketch was stuck in a transparent plastic report cover along with the design for my second tattoo and a bunch of Winsor McCay reproductions. Makes perfect sense.

Dragon Comics 109

Seriously, Dragon isn't ever even wearing pants.

Seriously, Dragon isn’t ever even wearing any pants to begin with.

Two things: first of all, it’s problematic when discourse surrounding gender focuses on genitals, because obviously, there is no other situation wherein reasonable people consider it polite to speculate about the appearance of a stranger’s pubic region; and second, it’s dangerous when gender dictates activities, areas of expression, and appearance, because limiting behavior means limiting freedom.

Dragon is more genderqueer than I am, but some of the worst reflections of my childhood come to me when I see kids shoved this way or that, told not to be who they are. My whole life I’ve bristled at the suggestion that my lack of a Y chromosome should mean that I’m meant to be demure, modest, or deferential. I have none of those qualities, and whenever I see a Buzzfeed list with a title like “69 Things All 80s/90s Girls Remember,” I never remember any of those things, despite being, ostensibly, a “girl” in the 80s and 90s. Between the ages of 5 and 15, the suggestion that I put on a dress for any reason would inspire a screaming match between my mother and me. People were constantly telling me to do things I couldn’t do, like lower my voice and act like a lady.

It’s taken a long time to come to a place of comfort with my gender expression and acceptance of my physical body, but I don’t forget how hard it was to get here, and my journey was much easier than others’.

So, however you feel about people being transgendered in any way, try to separate your feelings about it from the feelings of the person living it. Other people should get to do what they like with their bodies. The way you feel about their face, or their hair, or their pubic region has no bearing on their autonomy to live in a way that’s comfortable to them. You don’t get to tell other people how to be themselves.

And seriously, stop judging people’s genitals. Just stop.

On Thursdays We Get Mandalas

This mandala is on point.

This mandala is on point.

Yesterday was Monsoon Day, otherwise known as the Dia de San Juan. It’s a local holiday, I guess. Maybe it rains on June 24 in other parts of Arizona, but in 11 years in Tucson, I’ve never known a real storm to come down before the 5th of July. Instead, it just gets really hot and muggy. I went out to lay down some pre-emergent on the front yard to prevent the desert weeds from taking over the property when the rains do come, and I was dripping with sweat when I came in. Still, we haven’t swapped the swamp cooler over for the AC, which means the humidity still isn’t high enough. It’s not yet monsoon.

It was another ineffective day for me; mostly just reading. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get my act together.

Someday Never Comes

This is me, like, every night this week.

This is me, like, every night this week.

In real life I do not sleep in the middle of the bed, because I’m married, but otherwise this is pretty accurate. You probably know that feeling. You promise yourself you’ll get to all the stuff you need to get to, the stuff you didn’t get to today because you were having some kind of crisis of faith, or you were distracted by emergencies or other stuff that seemed more pressing, or you got overwhelmed and paralyzed by the enormity of what you meant to do, or you just forgot. For whatever reason, it remains undone, but tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow you’ll get up, meditate, exercise, eat healthy, and focus on what’s really important to you.

And then tomorrow is today and you get up and have the same influences and the same distractions and the same excuses and before you know it bedtime has rolled around again and you’re lying in bed promising yourself, “Tomorrow, tomorrow.” But even if you swear to yourself that it’s absolutely, positively, definitely tomorrow, deep down you know it’s maybe tomorrow, because everything’s maybe and nothing assured. There you are, covering your face with your hands (maybe just metaphorically; it doesn’t have to be physically) trying to forgive yourself for your shortcomings and forget your failure, except you don’t really want to forget because how are you going to remember how important this is tomorrow if you can’t recall how disappointed you are today.

Maybe tomorrow. It’s a gift of hope but it’s also a threat.

Upstream

I actually don't see what you did there.

I actually don’t see what you did there.

Another serving of strangeness out of my virtual sketchbook. A fish camouflaged as an eyeball with so many rippling little fins that it almost looks furry makes perfect sense. Also, it was fun to draw. The water effect for the background really did come out beautifully. Just yesterday I was watching the ripples of sunlight on the bottom of the swimming pool and thinking how difficult it would be to capture that effect in paint. But really it’s easy with basic Photoshop tools. The little tendrils look sweet, too.

Today was another non-starter for me, but my censorship article went up on Panels and got a great reception: retweets, comments, Facebook shares!. It’s called “I Expected Batman and Robin, Not Pornography” and it’s just a little rant about people who don’t get the concept of liberal arts education. Go on and click it you like comics, dislike censorship, or just enjoy stories about clueless people or straight up ranting.

Reaching

Everyone needs a little hand once in a while.

Everyone needs a little hand once in a while.

There seems to be a consensus among a certain group of artists that the measure of your ability can be found in the ease with which you draw realistic looking human hands. Drawing the comic has smoothed this skill over for me. (Yeah, I know the characters in the comic only have 4 fingers. But still.) Hands never seemed that great of a challenge to me–it’s face that give me trouble–and now my brain knows how to visualize the reproduce a variety of hand positions. If I can look at my own hand, or someone else’s hand, or a photo of a hand, then it always comes out right.

This is my left hand, which I did in digital paint as a tiny image a few weeks back. It took only a few minutes. Then I blew it up and smoothed it out just now, which only took another few minutes. Of course, I could have messed with it for 4 hours and made it look even more realistic. I probably could have messed with it for 18 hours and made it look like a some kind of uncanny volar valley, something that looked almost, but not quite, like a photograph. Wherein lies my problem: given enough time, I can draw anything. But then time becomes an issue. In 4 hours I could draw one perfect hand. Or one imperfect comic.

Lately life has been overwhelming and my brain doesn’t seem interested in drawing, or anything at all. It’ll probably pass. But producing new stuff seems just out of reach right now. I do have an article about censorship coming out today on Panels, but the link won’t be up for a few more hours, so I’ll post it later. There’s half a comics script on my desk, and with a little effort it could be a real comic by tomorrow.