Monthly Archives: February 2016

Big, Hexy Mandala


You just have to visualize the parts that don’t fit on the page.

There’s this phenomenon I’ve noticed around my comics, which is that, typically, if I’m really pleased with one and certain that it’s funny, and happy that I managed to draw exactly what I wanted to draw, and satisfied that I’ve really produced something worth my time, it will get 12 hits and someone on Reddit will say something rude about it. On the other hand, if I’m uncertain about whether it makes any sense and I feel like the art is confusing or lazy and it’s far from my best work, that’s the comic that gets 112 upvotes and 50 Facebook shares and reposted on the Cheezburger Network.

Last week I drew 3 comics, and 2 of them bombed utterly and I know they were funny. The one that got a lot of likes was one of those comics where I could sort of visualize the punchline but didn’t have the exact phrasing for it until the last second, and was never really happy about the impact of that last line, but time was up and I had to stand with what I had so far.

Sometimes I tinker with the idea of only writing stuff that I don’t like, because obviously, it would perform better. That’s how it was when I was writing for money, too. If I threw my heart into something and tried to make it really special and well-written, the client would hate it and want a million changes until it sucked, and then they’d be happy. If I phoned it in, scrawling some shit on a napkin at the last second and didn’t bother to try to make it good in any way, the client would be ecstatically pleased and tell me what a great writer I was and how they wished they could afford to pay me more.

I can only conclude that people have no taste. Or else I don’t.



The Art of Negotiation

hostage negotiations_edited-1

Don’t knock cauliflower crust pizza until you try it. It’s pretty good! And yes, it has to be a Mexican Coke. And yes, I can taste the difference. So no funny business. No Pepsi. No Tab. And definitely no high fructose corn syrup. 

Today’s comic is a bit of a shout out to Joe Martin, one of the great old-school newspaper comic strip artists, a dude who has been writing not one, not two, not three, but FOUR dailies for something like the last 38 years. (He apparently got married at 16 and had a passel of kids, so it was probably a survival/escape mechanism.) His wikipedia page is a bit threadbare, but his website claims that the Guinness Book has awarded him the designation of the world’s most prolific cartoonist, having published well over 20,000 gags. Mind-bogglingly, he is still funny after almost 4 decades at it.

He does a periodic bit about his “Uncle Leon” and what the world would be like if this out-of-touch relative held a variety of professional and historical positions. I’m pretty sure that’s where this comic came from, except that I am probably a little weirder. Like Uncle Leon, I am wholly unsuited to a wide variety of professions, but, unlike Uncle Leon, I think I’m aware of my shortcomings and could at least fake it for a while before people caught on.

I’m pretty pleased with this stereotypical looking police detective and his skewed tie. There are a couple details I couldn’t iron out, like the right side of his collar and the specifics of how men’s mustaches go gray, but by and large, he actually looks like the caricature I was trying to draw. It’s weird how the solution to little issues seems so simple once the comic is published when they’re impossible in Photoshop and I’ve erased and redrawn them 50 times. But I am the queen of second guessing myself. Dragon came out fine, although I don’t usually draw my body so skinny or angular. For a really long time, when I started cartooning, I was always trying to draw the whole body of every character, but obviously, in many cases, you only need the top part.

In the future, It would probably behoove me to start drawing backgrounds, too, but I’m still learning. But getting to the point where I can always get the idea down and I don’t need a jillion reference photos to figure out how the human body goes together. I want to develop a more cartoony style, and you can’t do that if you’re always dependent on photographs.

Simplicity of Emotion


I don’t know how many times it’s magnified. But a lot.

This picture seems to encapsulate my emotional state: grains of pollen on a red tulip leaf. There aren’t adequate words, but the image works. It’s not retouched or Photoshopped at all.

The tulip, needless to say, is dead now. It was a cut flower. But The Man bought me some bulbs, which are set in this glass jar, and are supposed to bloom without being planted. Potentially, I could keep them alive for a while.

Seems like I’m getting a migraine every night. I probably need new glasses, but I don’t have eye insurance, and my prescription is an expensive one. Originally, I started sketching out a drawing that would accurately express my emotional state (hint: it was a porcupine) but there’s no way. Actually, originally I was going to paint or draw with Misses Kitty but we just spend an hour yammering. I can’t focus on anything lately.

Grains of pollen. On a red tulip.

If this sort of thing appeals to you, you can also see some other images in this set on Imgur: the stamen of that tulip, and a fleabane wearing an insect like a hat.

Dr. Morimoto Has Priorities

time travel 3.1_edited-1

Snapple? Diet Cherry Vanilla Coke? How about one of those ectoplasm flavored Ghostbusters themed Kool-Aid juice boxes? Did you know you could still buy a Jolt Cola?

History has its own legitimate reasons for committing mistakes. In hindsight, they probably seem like bad reasons, but history isn’t made by the people with the most information so much as it is by those with the most decision-making power. This story about the engineers who tried their best to scuttle the Challenger launch has been circulating since the 30th anniversary, and we’ve all read reports that the CIA was warning the White House about Bin Laden’s intention to use commercial planes to attack American soil months before 9/11. The data was there, but it was lost in a sea of other considerations.

Warnings are probably a double-edge sword, à la Macbeth. You get warned in one direction and make a mistake in another.

My stepson brought up Crystal Pepsi, the other day, which I thought was strange, as he is 13 and can’t possibly be nostalgic for it. But then I learned that there is a (growing?) Internet campaign to bring it back. The very concept seemed funny to me. I liked this quote from David C. Novak, the guy whose idea it originally was:

It was a tremendous learning experience. I still think it’s the best idea I ever had, and the worst executed. A lot of times as a leader you think, “They don’t get it; they don’t see my vision.” People were saying we should stop and address some issues along the way, and they were right. It would have been nice if I’d made sure the product tasted good.

History has its own legitimate reasons for committing mistakes.

Wrong on the Internet

wrong on the internet_edited-3

This is how I draw when my head hurts. 

Generally speaking, I do my research, and look up new or confusing ideas, and maintain a healthy sense of skepticism toward concepts that seem unlikely to be true. Usually, I try not to say anything unless I’m 100% certain it’s right, and will make a persuasive contribution to the discussion will be. usually, I know what I’m talking about. Usually.

I can admit when I’m wrong. I might not choose not to verbally concede minor points when arguing with strangers about larger issues, though. There is no way that you can reframe the discussion to persuade me that the American military budget is not bloated, monstrous, and an offense to humanity. And then right after learning the difference between discretionary and mandatory spending, I had a nice chat with a lawyer friend about why the first amendment doesn’t prevent rabid lunatics from screeching that you are going to hell while you attempt to enjoy yourself at happy, peaceful, family-friendly events. Because community standards only exist at Antioch. In the real world, jerks have a protected status to continue their jerkiness.

Ultimately, that’s the problem with any system of governance: the jerks. If people could just wrap their minds around Wheaton’s Law, we literally wouldn’t need any other law. People would just think about how their actions would affect others before they did them, and then they would choose not to do jerky things. Even if bad things happened by accident, Wheaton’s Law would persuade those with the power to fix the problem to the best of their ability. Even if people didn’t like the outcome, they would accept that they needed to work toward their own goal without being jerks about it.

But I’m just being silly. If human beings could wrap their minds around any of that, we wouldn’t need laws, or government for that matter. Sometimes I’m a jerk on the Internet, too. So, it’s all just a fantasy.

At least this comic got done. It looks simple, but it’s taken several days, primarily because every time I sit down to work I get a migraine. I have a migraine now, but I was determined. Clearly, I need some kind of course in cartooning, like The Trickster’s Hat, with a couple month’s worth of exercises. Even though I love how easy they make it, the tablet and Photoshop alone can only take me so far. Only a lot of hours of sketching on paper will take me to the next level.



So Fancy Mandala


Put that on your hair ornament and wear it. 

There’s a nice string of pretty fancy mandalas coming up. I must have had a great run of calm focus and serenity a couple years ago. Trying to remember what that’s like.

I thought I’d start a Tumblr to promote my blog, but not that I’ve poked around Tumblr, I realize that I should have just started the blog on Tumblr. Oh, well. Too late now. Still, having your own website is useful, too. Twenty-six dollars a year isn’t that much.

It’s full-on springtime, edging into summer, around here. Winter usually breaks by mid-February around here, but still. This el nino global warming weather is getting ridiculous. The man commenced to showering outside in the unheated garden shower last week. Anyway, with springtime in the desert comes an explosion of wildflowers, which inspire a lot of macrophotography. You can see some of it on Imgur: here’s a tiny fleabane wearing a tiny insect as a hat, and here’s a red poppy stamen.

That’s about it for art this weekend, although I scripted some comics. Not really feeling the Wacom tablet right now. Maybe it’s time to switch to pencil and paper.


The Other Side

online dating 4_edited-1

The playing field is actually pretty equal when you consider that real men are a lot more dangerous to women than bots are to real men. 

It seemed only fair, after 3 days of online dating for women comics, to show the flip side. Here’s what online dating looks like for heterosexual dudes. As far as I can tell, anyway. It’s rough out there for people looking for love. It seems difficult to believe that anyone could be desperate enough to fall for any of this, but people do, all the time. I personally witnessed a guy falling for it to the tune of about $7000 despite his roommate and I providing plenty of evidence over the space of several weeks that he was being taken and begging him to be rational. He was living on hope, I guess.

Look, the human reproductive strategy is ridiculous from start to finish. Finding love and companionship is not for the faint of heart.

I Have Seen Things

online dating 3_edited-1.png

When Google achieves sentience, how is it going to judge us in the future?

This one’s a bit rough; there’s something very wonky about the perspective on the desk. I have a massive migraine right now. It’s frankly astonishing that I even managed to draw a comic at all.  How that weird skewed computer even came to be is a mystery.

So, something about artificial intelligence, and the role of technology in society, and the number of single dudes in San Francisco, and the creepy things that women who visit online dating sites are used to seeing on a regular basis. And good night.

Something Fishy

online dating 2_edited-1

Seriously, what is that supposed to be? A nudibranch? A sea cucumber?

Sometimes people ping me to talk about their problems–OK, pretty often people ping me to talk about their problems–and I couldn’t really say where the advice that moves from my brain to my finger to the keyboard comes from. But the bit about the pickled herring was an actual sequence of words that I typed in response to a discussion of inappropriate men making inappropriate overtures through dating sites.

Let’s face it: dating is gross.

Another friend mentioned “ghosting,” which is obviously a lousy way to dump someone, but in the case of inappropriate men making inappropriate overtures, I think no response is the most powerful one. If he’s gross, you don’t have to exist for him.

Only once in my odyssey in dating did a guy ghost on me. Very frustrating and confusing. But I got the last laugh, because a year later, he sent me this email recalling how much fun we’d had together and asking me to spend a month at a beach house in New Jersey with him. The simple solution seemed à propos. Now you know how it feels when someone disappears, sucker.

Not sure I can find the humor in it, though. Maybe tomorrow.

Sure, Eros, whatever you say

online dating 1_edited-2

Giving gentlemen everywhere the benefit of the doubt, I didn’t send the Rabbit any really indecent proposals or ::ahem:: intimate photography.

Dating is the worst. You get to meet dozens of people you don’t like to find one person you do like, but who, most likely, won’t like you back. If you don’t handle rejection well, it’s a constant stream of disappointment. And that’s if you’re lucky enough to be conventionally attractive enough to persuade a substantial number of other humans to meet you in the first place.

Yet, even the most introverted among us can fall prey to the desire not to be alone. Online dating is such a boon to us; at least we can weed about 90% of unworthy candidates without having to go out in public or speak to anyone.

So, the Rabbit is throwing herself back into the fray, and we had a funny conversation about that. There was actually another punchline, which could be another comic. Also: same scenario as this comic from the hetero dude’s perspective.

Anyway, I was happy to find The Man because I didn’t enjoy the process of looking for him. But I’m sure it’s going to be all rainbows and unicorns for the Rabbit.