Monthly Archives: January 2016


koala-t_edited-2 no agm

I don’t see why we wouldn’t win. We meet all the koalifications.

The Man works for an aerospace manufacturing firm, in quality assurance. It’s a job, you know? Every year, the company holds a big picnic in the park, with a bouncing castle and water guns and games for the little kids. Hot dogs and hamburgers provided by the company, potluck for everything else, water balloons, temporary tattoos, that sort of thing. Very America. Much wholesome. In advance of the picnic, they print a commemorative shirt, designed by an employee. Whoever wins the design contest gets a little bonus, maybe $100.

So The Man had this idea, putting the koala in quality. The words are his, and the idea for the picture is his, but he doesn’t have the patience for drawing. He mentioned this concept about 6 months ago, and I said I could probably do it (I’m much better at Photoshop and the Wacom tablet than I was last year!) but we didn’t follow through. Yesterday, he mentioned that the design was due next week, so I did a little sketch. Today he mentioned that it was actually due tomorrow. That was fine, since I had the sketch and no comic anyway.

This is what I did today. I started by looking at how other cartoonists would depict the body of a koala giving a thumbs up. The Man was very clear that the koala must be giving a thumbs up. I was surprised to find that this is, apparently, a common theme, and there were many thumbs up koalas from which to choose. Then I looked at photographs of actual koalas, because most people who draw cartoon animals don’t seem to have ever seen that actual animal, and I like some degree of verisimilitude in my comics. Once I got the eyes, nose, and mouth satisfactorily blocked out and positioned, I just started grabbing colors from actual koala photos, and drawing tiny dots and lines to represent fur. Then I used the blur tool to floofify QA Koala. Somewhere along the line I noted that koalas do not, in fact, have tails and deleted the vestigial one that had appeared in my original reference image. You can’t trust cartoonists. Not about animal anatomy.

The Man was happy with the design but wanted it a bit darker, so I added a layer, grabbed a dark gray, set the opacity to 20%, covered the koala with this shade, and then cleaned up the edges. The Man came in again as I was finishing up the outline and said he could see that I was doing something, but he couldn’t tell what. “I’m making him floofier,” says I. The blur tool is great for cartoon fur.

I used fonts for the lettering instead of doing it by hand. The original version has the company name and “2016 company picnic” written at the top, but I took that out for this blog.

Whether or not we win (“When we win,” The Man said, assuming that no one else was going to top this) I’ll fix this design up a bit more and offer it on my website. Someone, somewhere, wants a Koala-T.

Check, Please

check your privilege_edited-1

I can also validate your parking if you like. But I can’t validate you as a human being. 

I predict that this comic will perform well across all platforms except for the ones where people celebrate their own lack of diversity and feel threatened when anyone questions their dominant paradigm. You know who you are. But amongst my friend, 99% of whom are academically trained lefties and front line civil rights activists, I expect a warm reception.

Or not. Who knows what people like? Not me.

I went to this bar last night. We were coming back from the Girl’s musical performance and I got a text from Misses Kitty that read, “queer munch now, 3 mins from your place.” There were no follow-up texts. Fortunately, I could read the secret bestie code and guessed that she wanted us to meet, and where, so we did, and found her sitting with about 20 people, maybe half of whom I recognized.

One woman called me over and said, “I can’t even tell you how I got there, but I was reading your blog.” But, as it eventuated, she hadn’t been reading my blog. She had been reading my old homepage, from about 10 years ago, so I’m actually really curious how she, or anyone else for that matter, could have ended up there, and also awed and amazed. She didn’t look familiar to me, but mentioned that we had met at a party about 3 years earlier. That’s pretty typical; The Man takes me to a lot of parties and I’m terrible at recognizing faces. Certainly, she hadn’t been searching for me when she stumbled upon my work, but rather clicked through and recognized me afterward.

She went on. “I’m Israeli, and I was reading your essay about Israel.”

The essay about Israel is 20 pages long, and I wrote it over 15 years ago, when I was a lot more sarcastic. “Oh, man, I hope you weren’t offended!” I said.

“No, I loved it!”

It’s nice to be recognized, and to know that people are actually reading. With pleasure. Even 15 years later. When I told the Rabbit this story, she told me about a friend of hers who write an essay 8 years ago that was suddenly picked up by a major media market this week. She was like, “Uh, OK.” But writing on the Internet is enduring. If it’s relevant, it doesn’t matter how old it is.

Which reminds me: I need to rehost some essays that I wrote for an old project that the Rabbit and the Bear and I did about 10 years ago, on a site that vanished because we stopped paying for it even though it was still getting 70+ hits a day when it hadn’t been updated in 3 years. You never know when someone’s going to need my extremely tongue-in-cheek but also technically accurate guide to pleading the insanity defense for murder, or my rant about Internet trolls.


The Evolution of Gaming

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Well, at least it keeps those pesky kids off my lawn.

In case you do not hang out with adolescent people, you might not be aware that this is a thing. Kids with perfectly good video game systems–multiple systems with a nearly limitless number of games available across a variety of platforms and devices–will spend hours watching strangers on the Internet playing games they could be playing themselves. This would be a hard thing to understand in the ’80s, but I guess now there are so many video games available that you get tired and worn out of playing video games? So you watch other kids playing video games to take a break from playing video games?

Maybe it’s just a testament to how amazing video game graphics and story lines have become, but it also strikes me as really passive and sort of disturbing.

Kids today have to have other kids do their playing for them.

::shakes fist relentlessly at sky and hobbles back to the nursing home to resume being old::

My Hero

time travel 1_edited-1

If you’re wondering why past Mallory has curly hair and future Mallory’s hair is straight, that’s because it’s 1989, so past Mallory is sporting a bad perm.

Just some standard silliness. If I could travel back in time and give 3rd grade me some advice, I’m not sure what I’d say. It’s tempting to joke about stock tips and the outcomes of sporting events, but in fact I don’t really have a great sense of what that would be, and 8-year-old me probably wouldn’t have cared anyway.

If picking a past me to meet and offer advice, I’d probably pick 7th grade me, because she could really use some assurance that she’d show them, she’d show them all. And it would have been nice if future me had clued hormonal adolescent me in about pointless relationships and the fact that I wasn’t actually going to get married until I was 38.

I learned my times table eventually. But, like, not until high school. It wasn’t a huge priority. I was never going to become a physicist. Unlike Mallory Morimoto, who, most likely has further heroic time traveling adventures to pursue. There are wrongs to be put right.

Green Machine Mandala


I love it when a mandala comes together.

This is pretty sharp mandala, good symmetry, complexity, and layers. It’s based on a principle of 12, which gives it a powerful foundation. There’s so much repetition and less variation. It’s easier to not make a mistake in proportions, especially when you’re mostly dealing with triangles all going the right way. It looks complicated, but it’s actually a little easier than some mandalas with fewer layers.

If I am a green machine, I am a worn down one that requires recharging. Friday and Saturday night were each strenuous in their own ways, and it catches up, even though today all I did was write an article about Lost Girls and cook and clean. There is a bit of a comic in my head but it would be funnier if the joke were expanded, although it could still work in a simple form.

Someone else told me how much they loved the Rapunzel comic from last week. Everyone I know personally who read it thought it was hilarious, but strangers on the Internet didn’t seem impressed. However, my David Bowie tribute was randomly trending somewhere for almost 24 hours Saturday and Sunday so traffic was up all weekend.

No more art news. Only sleepytime news.


Immature Behavior


You can’t take Molly and suck on a pacifier! You’re 68. But I guess if you haven’t grown up by now, it’s never going to happen.

Everyone over the age of 27 has realized the great secret of adulthood, which is that growing up doesn’t exist. You just get increasing amounts of responsibility piled on your head until you no longer have the time or energy or connections necessary for enjoying opportunities to have fun. That doesn’t mean you stop wanting fun. You just start to believe that fun is too difficult to obtain, and then you stop noticing opportunities for fun because you can’t get your head up above the responsibility. Plus, if you do manage to have fun, people tell you to grow up. The older you get, the more taboo it becomes to let on that you’re still having fun. Other grown-up people who have succumbed to the pressure disapprove of your happiness.

But truthfully, you can have more fun as an adult. And, let’s admit it, we’re all immature on the inside.



1000 Times More Fair

snow white 2_edited-1

So the good news is that she’s not really dead. The bad news is that she has to spend the rest of her life with a pedophile necrophiliac. 

Given the continuing unpopularity of these fairy tale comics, it was definitely imperative to write a third. Basically, I could go on for a while, because when you look at this kind of story through a modern, scrutinizing lens, ignoring the magic, they’re all subject to ridicule, and there are 250 of them in Jack Zipes’s Grimm translation alone.

According to Zipes, when the prince sees the beautiful dead girl he said, “Let me have the coffin, and I’ll pay you whatever you want.” The dwarves reply, “We won’t give it up for all the gold in the world,” and the prince answers, “Then give it to me as a gift.”

Of course, the dwarves are already complicity in the objectification of the dead girl, having interred her “in a transparent glass coffin so that she could be seen from all sides.” All the better to transform you into the object of the male gaze, my dear.

The illustration in the Zipes edition goes one better, omitting the glass entirely, showing the dwarves laying flowers on her midriff and kissing her hand, while forest animals weep.

Creepy. But it all works out for her in the end. I guess. Except for the part where the prince likes to play that game where she lies very, very still and doesn’t respond to anything. Happily ever after. The End.

A Stock Photo Is Worth 1000 Inexplicable Words

stock photos 2_edited-2

In the real world, birthday parties and boxing gloves mean something. In stock photo world, they mean something else. 

Feeling a bit out of sorts and unable to finish the 3rd fairy tale comic, I went for another ridiculous stock photo caption comic. These images all happened to come from a BuzzFeed article entitled “60 Completely Unusable Stock Photos,” and I chose them primarily to prove the headline wrong. They’re totally usable. You just have to stretch your imagination a bit.

Curated collections are always nice.

People rag on BuzzFeed, but I like it. You don’t have to sift through as much crap to get to the lols like you do on Reddit, and they actually produce some pretty credible journalism. You have to read their news section; there are good longform investigative articles on interesting topics, and you can also get the latest current events, often with original material if they have a reporter on the ground.

It’s just a coincidence that 2 photos have birthday themes and 2 have boxing gloves. In face, I reshuffled the panels to make it clearer that guy waiting to punch the little girl in panel 1 is not the same guy punching the professional in panel 4.

Even though yesterday’s comic was the funniest thing I’ve written in a while, it didn’t seem to impress any strangers on the Internet. Come on! The Man laughed out loud, and so did the Fox. I think it’s brilliant.

Even if this comic wasn’t my masterpiece, I guess I still made a decent mark on the world today. I went to read to kindergarteners and got about 27 hugs afterward. Then I made The Man some leek and potato soup and a strawberry pie that were apparently so good he had thirds of each. Cream soups are a bit rich for me, but he grew up on a dairy farm, so he’s got 34% butterfat running through his veins.

Tomorrow I will be super creative.

The Great Brush Off


Yes, is this Locks of Love? I was wondering if it would be possible to schedule a pickup. No, actually, the postal charges would be kind of astronomical. 

Given the utter failure of my last fairy-tale based comic, which was reviled and downvoted across a wide variety of Internet platforms, I naturally decided to do another fairy tale based comic, this time omitting any references to cannibalism, my stepchildren, or the putative desire to combine the two.

Just to set the record straight: I don’t eat children. I was a vegetarian for half my life. I’ve never even eaten veal, or suckling pig.

Oh, OK, lamb, yeah.

Anyway, my interest in Rapunzel is of 2 parts. Part the first is the historical derivation and evolution of the story. Most of us know a tale in which a girl is held prisoner by a witch, who punishes her when she inadvertently lets slip that she has a boyfriend. The Grimms cleaned it up a bit for their middle-class, proto-bourgeois audience. The version they originally collected was about a fairy who finds out her young charge has strayed only once the kid is so super-pregnant that her clothes don’t fit anymore.

Part the second is my obsession with long hair. According to my Internet research, being obsessed with hair can be referred to as chaetomania. If you’re sexually obsessed with it, it’s usually called trichophilia. But I just like having it on my head, and I like it on other people’s heads too.

Truth be told, I haven’t even had a trim since autumn of 2011. Of course, Rapunzel should call Locks of Love or Wigs for Kids and have her discarded crowning glory reworked to crown a child with none. (I’ve heard some rumors about Locks of Love not being on the up and up, but according to Snopes it’s either a malicious lie or a lack of understanding about how charities work or how human hair wigs are made.)

What I like about this comic, aside from the puns and the hair, are the ways that Rapunzel’s oppression is bound up in her hair, which is what a lot of modern reworkings of the story conclude. By severing her own bonds, Rapunzel liberates herself, removing the prince and the witch from the equation. There are quite a few stories set in the 1920s in which this is a theme. Cut your hair and fuck the patriarchy!

That said, I’m not cutting my hair. The patriarchy can go fuck itself.

The calligraphy in the last panel isn’t 100% to my liking, and I was going to redo it, but the Fox said he liked it and I have a headache, so I guess I’ll let it stay.


Red Diamond Mandala


Just slightly askew. Hopefully in an aesthetically pleasing fashion.

Earlier this week someone made an interesting comment about civil rights that I tried to spin into an MLK Day comic, but every script I wrote sounded tongue-in-cheek or off topic so I decided not to chance it today. For now, I have standard boilerplate for Martin Luther King’s birthday, which I used to tell my students when I taught college freshman. I would basically suggest to them that, on their day off, they make a good faith attempt to increase the overall level of tolerance, equality, and love on the planet, and, if they couldn’t manage that, to at least stay inside and not to talk to anyone so they wouldn’t make the situation any worse.

In fact, a lot of years I choose the second option myself.

People can be very hard to love sometimes.

Reddit has been a real mixed blessing for me; my traffic has increased tenfold since I’ve been there, but part of promoting your work on Redding involves being part of the community on Reddit, and a lot of being part of the community on Reddit involves dealing with people who use their anonymity to express massive bigotry, the kind of thing that most people don’t say out loud anymore because they know it’s not OK. But it’s apparently very OK in certain forums. It’s certainly the only arena in my life where I know I will be castigated for espousing a feminist viewpoint.

So, while I like to believe in the overall goodness of humanity and the concept that most people are basically decent, it’s hard to talk myself into that in an election year, when I can see that there are thousands and thousands of people who feel personally threatened by the concepts of tolerance, equality, and love.

It’s too bad, because we could be living in paradise right here, right now. It would be so easy. That’s really all that any civil rights activist is saying: let’s not hurt each other. Let’s just allow everyone the same rights and freedom we want for ourselves. It’s nicer that way.

It’s weird to me that it’s so hard.

Instead of my off-kilter and possibly offensive take on freedom and equality, I started a much sillier comic. “It’s probably stupid and not funny,” I told The Man, and then I showed the sketch to him, and he said it was very funny. So, possibly, tomorrow you’ll laugh, if you read this page tomorrow, and also if you have a sense a humor that’s similar to mine or The Man’s, and, of course, if life flows smoothly enough that the comic gets finished and uploaded before that. The Rabbit used to say, “Man plans; God laughs.” But we don’t really have much choice but to keep planning.