Monthly Archives: May 2016

All the Colors of the Whine

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If you think that’s colorful, you should see all the purple prose I left out.

It’s weird how dialog is always full of swear words in my head. Like, it seems funnier when it contains f-bombs. But I edit them out anyway. If you depend on that kind of language for humor, you might start substituting shock for actually being funny. This is still cute when it’s rated G.

This comic was fun to draw. I had to go back and put little faces on all the natural wonders to anthropomorphize them. And then I had to write about it so I could use the word “anthropomorphize” in my blog.

Also, I really like the white test on a black background. I have an entire story I want to tell that way. Realizing that doing all the letters in all caps would increase readability.

Weird Wide Web Mandala

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Gonna be honest. It’s not my most coherent work.

Originally, we were planning to go camping over Memorial Day weekend, but then we realized we were invited to a wedding, and also that I was supposed to be the photographer for that wedding, so we did the wedding instead. I’ve heard some horror stories from the Vampire Bat about the trials and tribulations of being a wedding photographer, but the brides were pretty laid back about it, and the only one coming remotely close to freaking out about details was Mrs. Kitty, who was the wedding planner. It’s a little nerve-wracking, because wedding picture are a big deal to the people whose wedding it is and it would feel terrible to mess them up. And of course, my camera did jam a few times, probably due to the intense heat, so I was only able to get a single shot of their first kiss even though they were kissing for about 30 seconds. Plus, when I got home, the computer starting seizing up and I was terrified it was going to begin deleting photos (this has happened before) but after an hour of messing with it, things were set to rights. There were some pretty good shots. And I got paid. So all is well. Now I am eating leftover plantains (the wedding was potluck) and trying to think of a comic for tomorrow.

That was my third paying photography gig and people are starting to ask me if I am going to start a sideline business. On the one hand, money. On the other hand, every time you take a hobby you love and start exploiting your talent for money, you have one less hobby you love.

Communication

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Pretty sure that would be a hard limit for me. I don’t care how big your paws are.

The couple in a the marital counseling office is a pretty common comic theme. I wouldn’t call it cliche, because there are so many places you can go with it, but it is a trope, because two people who ostensibly love each other but still fail to communicate at the most basic level is such a common occurrence in real life that it’s natural comedy fodder. I was thinking about comedy fodder because tonight The Man and I attended a live improv performance, which I’m pretty sure I’ve never done, even though I’ve seen a million standup comedians in a wide array of venues. To my eyes, it appears pretty universal that one half of a couple will state their ideas or feelings or desires and the other half of the couple will interpret that in a way wholly unlike what was intended.

I was also thinking about fairy tales, because I’m always thinking about fairy tales, and I wanted to do Little Red Riding Hood, even though every single one of my fairy tale comics bombed. They were funny to me. The one-panel comics are actually the hardest for me. My inclination is to pile words upon words. So I deliberately kept this one simple, and then spent an inordinate amount of time trying to shade things, which I never do, because it takes forever and always looks terrible. This time it only took sort of long and only looks kind of bad, so that’s an improvement. Usually I erase the entire layer. The nightgown and the pillow came out OK.

My favorite version of Little Red Riding Hood, is the very, very old one where the wolf kills grandma, and forced Red to eat her meat and drink her blood, which is arguably, more twisted than what’s going on here. But I also like the sexual aspect of the story about a girl who goes into the woods and comes out, if she makes it out, a woman.

Actually, I think the real theme of this comic was inspired ny something I wrote yesterday in a comments forum. Someone wrote a letter to Dear Abby  a couple days back, about her mother wandering around her house at night, putting her ear to the married adult daughter’s door. The daughter had stopped sleeping with her husband because she was terrified of her mother hearing their conjugal relations taking place, but she hadn’t told her husband that was why she was shutting him down. A lot of commenters didn’t really understand that course of action, myself included. I wrote that if I thought my mother was deliberately listening at my door to catch my husband and me in action, I would make more noise. “Oh,” someone commented, “to show her how great it is?”

And I said, no, it was to be respectful, because if someone if straining to hear you, the polite thing to do is to speak louder.

Of course, in this comic, we don’t know that Grandma’s participation is consensual. Fortunately, it’s only a comic, and no fairy tale characters were traumatized in the making of it.

 

Axillary Buds

 

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Garlic: an allium for all seasons. (Click here for full size version.)

This particular batch of Costco garlic just seemed most photogenic. There was one with brilliant red stripes, and some with particularly twisted scapes, and ones where the skin remained like a protective bubble after all the cloves had been plucked, so I took them to their very own macro photo shoot in and impromptu photo studio made of black construction paper and a lamp and was medium-pleased with the results. This is my favorite one of the batch, although it was hard to choose a favorite from such disparate details.

Axillary buds seems like a funny name to me, probably because the axillary part on a human is the armpit, but I’m pretty sure that’s what you’d call the thing we’re looking at here. I also think they look like pumpkin seeds.

Speaking of things that look like other things, the next day I pulled another set of images off my camera, and when the app that does that opened, it flashed all the thumbnails of my last gallery and I was like, “Whoa, who put all this hardcore porn on my computer?” But really, it was just the thumbnails of the garlic. Full size you can see it’s a blurry picture of a plant. but a fast glance at a small image makes it seem like something less appropriate for general consumption.

There are a couple more I might upload later. There’s still some writing to be done tonight.

Malala Yousafzai and Love of Learning

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We should learn everything and then choose which path to follow. ~Malala Yousafzai

Considering my final message of the school year, I really wanted to do something that spoke to the ideas of unity and acceptance and love, concepts that seem widely absent from the world this year, and decided to choose a quote from Malala Yousafzai, the education rights activist. If you don’t know about the amazing life of Malala, you should check her out. In a nutshell, she was an 11-year-old girl living under the Taliban when she was asked to blog about her experience as a schoolgirl in a country where education for girls was outlawed, and she began to speak in favor of education and against the regime. Four years later, the Taliban shot her in the head to shut her up, but she survived, and kept at what she had been doing, and went on to win a Nobel Peace prize and some other things too. She graduated high school and went on to open her own school. I don’t think she’s yet turned 20.

It seems like a lot of the problems in our country are predicated by a lack of comprehensive education, a sort of selective myopia about what education means, and what’s important, which is why I chose this quote. You can’t make informed decisions if your schooling has massive lacunae. You need science and literature to understand your world, and you need a good overview of science and literature. You can’t for example, teach science and literature but deliberately leave out the workings of evolution and stories about sex  and claim that you know the shape of the world.

If you must zealously guard your deficits in case something that clashes with your beliefs slips through, then your beliefs are probably not as not as strong as you think they are. Learn about the things that scare you and then evaluate whether or not they’re useful (and why they’re frightening). And that means actually learn. Don’t just be like some people and sit in the classroom with your fingers in your ears, or demanding the teacher reconcile observable phenomena with your preconceived notions. That’s not learning. Science means you look at the quantitative data, not just the parts that validate your story. Literature means you look at the entire human experience, not just the parts that are pretty and clean.

Technically, and from an artistic perspective, this is one of my less ambitious bulletin boards, but I think the kids will enjoy it. Those are real strings on the balloons, and they move when the wind blows. Someone will probably pull them off. Oh well. It took 4 days total, although the first day I just put up the background because I was busy. Then it took a couple hours to make and paste the letters, a couple hours to make the rainbow and the books, and a couple hours to finish and hang everything. The Girl was there to help me, because her school got out a week before mine, and she helpfully pointed out, 3/4 of the way through the rainbow, that I had arranged the colors backward, probably because I haven’t had a good night sleep in weeks. Then she said that it was OK, because the rainbow was unique, like Malala.

So tired.

Where Should You Complain?

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To complain about something that happened 10 years ago? MySpace.

Twenty-two hours ago, I posted what I believe to be my most-viewed contribution to the Internet of all time. Sadly, it was not a comic, or something I wrote, or any sort of artwork. It was a photograph I took of a 16-pound brisket The Man roasted. No joke, this image now has over TWENTY-EIGHT THOUSAND views, proving once again that the Internet sucks and can seriously go to hell. I create and upload original content 5 days a week for 2 years and I’m lucky if I get 1 or 2 thousand views on a comic that might have taken me 3 days to draw. But 28,000 people clicked to look at this piece of beef in less than a day.

Tasty brisket, though.

Like a lot of creatives, I struggle to grok the force that is social media. I hope it’s not too apparent that I don’t understand some of the platforms I’ve drawn into this comic. Some of them I’ve never even used. But I do my best to appear that I know what I’m talking about because, like everyone who understands that Google is master, I want to remain relevant.

This is, of course, one of those comics that took me 3 days to draw, and will probably get 1000 hits, which is better than some people are doing, but damn. Can I get half the love that a photo of roast beef gets? Special thanks to my sister in law, who gave me the fancy 50mm 1.4 lens, which really makes your subject POP. Maybe that’s why that brisket looked so good.

Kidding aside, I spent a lot of time thinking about social media platforms. In drawing this I realize that they’re pretty much all the same. The difference is mostly in who’s there and how they’re using it. But by and large, the digital community spends a lot of time shouting into the air. I also noticed that, even though computer screens are landscape orientation, most sites seem more optimized for mobile, and even if the display is wide, the important stuff on the screen tends to be long. That’s why the app names are all written differently: I had to shuffle them around after I figured out the shape of the content, because I just visualized everything as it looks on my laptop and didn’t realized until after I started that I would have been better off with long, skinny panels.

These templates can also be limited, too. It’s easier to use a template than to draw new panels every day, but the predetermined shape can get in the way.

And yeah, this probably isn’t that easy to read. Probably need to click the image to get in closer for the text. Or try this link for an even larger and higher resolution image: big version.

Not that I want to complain on WordPress. WordPress, as everyone knows, is for important applications, for corporate blogs and serious artists. And people who just aggregate other people’s content (i.e. steal photos) and repost them with nonsensical 5-sentence ramblings about life, and then somehow get 42,000 upvotes and, even more curiously, manage to monetize those blogs, sell them, and retire from blogging.

 

Little Red Rosette

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Baby, you’re much too sweet.

Prince’s death didn’t hit me the way Bowie’s death did, even though I would say I enjoyed the work of both artists about equally. The different, I guess, was that my enjoyment of Prince was more public. Prince covered the airwaves in the ’80s. Everyone was always singing “When Doves Cry” on the playground. Prince felt pop, even though in retrospect I’d say his music had great depth. My experience of Bowie was more private. Labyrinth was a movie about inner worlds that spoke to me internally; The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars was an intensely personal experience.

Or maybe I’m just burnt out on watching great talents pass.

But that’s what I drew a David Bowie tribute comic, and all I have for Prince is this pun.

An ex of mine always said that if I were a car, I’d a little red Corvette. Later on, he thought I was just going to hold him back, but in the end he realized he’d made a mistake. It was too late, then, anyway. I guess I was too fast for him after all.

Managed to get some writing in and put together part of a complicated comic with ridiculously complex artwork and too much text that nobody is going to appreciate, and that in a weekend with 2 parties. Starting to feel more hopeful, more full of creative energy, and more focused.