Monthly Archives: May 2016

Totes Inappropes

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Microsoft? Ew? Not going to touch that one.

It’s sort of a wonder that this blog is as accessible as it is; in person, I can be extremely inappropriate. Maybe I’ve never been thrown out of a day spa for using salty language during a company team-building exercise like some kitties I know, but, on average, outside of the elementary school and my dealings with children, I’m really not rated for anyone under the age of 17. I can make anything sound inappropriate. That’s why I’m not allowed to accompany the man to the hardware store or to the car parts store. I am totes inappropes all the time, but especially when the world is asking for it.

This one started with “clapback.” I guess that term was IRL slang before it was all over the Internet but I definitely associate it with semi-famous people arguing on Twitter, to at least the same extent that I associate “clap” with “gonorrhea.” Every time I hear it, which is increasingly over the past few months, all I can think of is a ping pong clap infection. You have to both get treated, people! Hashtag and Buzzfeed really speak for themselves; I know (from experience) that what I’ve done in panel 2 never works in real life, though. Nothing stops those people. Only the last one eluded me for a while. Originally I was going to make a 3-panel comic but the truth is that this template is easier to work with, so I ran through my knowledge base to find a 4th thing to make fun of so I could use this one, and “Google Doodle” it is. I guarantee if you asked someone to check out this Google doodle 25 years ago, their response would be much, much different.

And speaking of semi-famous people on Twitter, the author of Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress, Christine Baldocchino, retweeted my comic making fun of people who didn’t like her book. I still don’t understand Twitter, but it is beginning to work for me on some level.

Happy Friday! Make sure you don’t get that clapback and remember to keep your Google doodle to yourself unless you have enthusiastic consent to share it.

My Most Popular Sticker Ever

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Johnny the Australian Shepherd Paddleboards Roosevelt Lake, October 2014

Why is “Johnny the Australian Shepherd Paddleboards Roosevelt Lake, October 2014” my most popular sticker design? I literally have no idea. I don’t know why anyone does anything on the Internet. I don’t understand why I keep selling stickers of this dog that doesn’t even have a fandom but nobody wants to buy Princess Sealestia, Ruler of Aquastria merchandise. I mean, it was a cool dog, and his best friend, Mr. Macho Bush Pilot, is not difficult to look at, but really? If anything was going to sell stickers, you’d think it would be the fabulous Blue Morpho Butterfly. Nope, people want notecards of that. And nobody, but NOBODY wants “Vanity Has a Thousand Eyes” even though that thing took me like 3 months to finish and is absolutely the most complicated digital paint thing I’ve ever done.

If I knew then what I know know (i.e., how to use more features Photoshop) I guess I would have made the dude’s muscles a little less ropy and pronounced. Or maybe he really looked like that. Who remembers?

Johnny the Australian Shepherd it is. These stickers are available in 3 sizes: 4″x2.2″, 5.5″x3″, and 8.5″x4.7″. Prices range from $2.32 for the small ones to $5.66 for the medium ones and $9.80 for the big ones. It all seems totally random. I also sell this design on a huge range of clothing, bags, cups, prints, and other completely random things that you can have your designs printed on. But if you want it, you’ll no doubt want it on a sticker. It’s $2.32 of pure sporting canine goodness.

Macrophotography in a Nutshell: Tiny Fly on Tiny Flower

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Just chillin’ with my new carpet. You guys like?

(Click this link to see the original image at 4217 x 2811)

Another San Francisco capture, so don’t ask me to identify. I only do flowers of the American Southwest, and even that, not terribly gracefully. To me, tiny bug on tiny flower is the most macro of all macrophotography images. I know some people like to take extreme closeups of currency or body parts, but the things I want to see in minute details are tiny bugs and tiny flowers, so pictures like these are synergy.

Anyway, if you zoom in on this one you can see the cool little sticky bits that look like white fluff around the edges quite clearly. I don’t know if it’s moisture in the air that stuck to the flower or something the plant secretes for some reason, but it’s interesting to see.

Per the new schedule, I’m not even attempting to draw a comic until Friday, so I can consider the possibility of writing a few words. It would be nice to work on my T-shirt shop, too.

Oh! I got another paying photography gig. I guess I can call myself a professional photographer, since this will be the 3rd time that’s happened even though I’ve never even told people that I take pictures for money. They just sort of offer it to me. It’s somewhat nerve wracking: formal portraits for a wedding. Like, if you screw those up, you’re not just screwing up a photoshoot. You’re screwing up someone’s memories. The Vampire Bat does a ton of wedding photography, and it seems crazy-making to me. In this case, I’m fairly certain that neither of the brides will bride-zilla on me or make unreasonable demands or be nitpick-y about the work, but I’m sure that people who make a living at this must deal with that all the time. I can barely deal with writing clients, and I know that I know what I’m doing for them.

Maybe I should take a photography class? Then, one day, I’ll remember which aperture and which shutter speed goes with which environment, and how to set these things on my camera. Until then, it’s great that modern technology can handle a lot of those decisions for you.

Dragon Comics 134

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The moral of the story is: do or do not. There is no try. 

Comic finished 7 hours early! Although I did start this one over a week ago. But considering that I spent 3 days being obsessed with my web traffic and sad about bigotry, I’m plenty pleased. It was super motivating that the Fox suggested he come over for a writing party. It’s a thing he does: a bunch of writers sit around and write. I haven’t been to one in a while. So I had to finish this comic so I could actually write at this writing party. Then the Fox cancelled on me. Fine! I’ll have my own writing party! With hookers and blackjack! Well, maybe not those things. But things that are just as fun but less likely to give you a disease or get you arrested or clean out your bank account.

When you start out in an artistic pursuit, you do it out of joy. And probably for a long time you do it for yourself and it’s completely joyful. And then sooner or later, if you want to do it at a higher level, you’ll show it to someone who is more vested in honesty and craft than loving you. That someone will offer criticism, and you will start to see the imperfections. But if you’re an artist, you keep honing your craft. Maybe you take classes. You keep getting better and better. If you take a lot of classes–perhaps if you become, technically, academically, a “master” of your art–you get the opposite of beginner mind. You approach everything critically. You accept nothing with joy. You’re 100 times better than you were when you started, maybe 1000 times. But you can only see the flaws.

That happened. I thought about this book I wanted to write for more than 6 months. Close to a year, I guess. And I got really worked up about it. And I put all these conditions on myself, and finally I allowed it to start. And I wrote a pretty pleasing prologue. And then I said, OK, where does this story start? And I started it with the main character getting off an airplane to start his new life and meeting some characters who would figure prominently in the first part of the story.

But then master mind kicked in. No, no, no. That’s prosaic. This meeting has nothing to do with the story; these characters are of minor importance. The story starts with something important to the story, with major symbols and recurrent themes and a focus on tone. Meaning I wrote an entire chapter I will now throw out. Not an auspicious beginning. But possibly better than writing for a year and then having someone better tell you, “No, no, no, that’s prosaic and doesn’t advance the narrative.” Actually, I know what I’m doing.

The point of this comic, though, is that none of that matters. What matters is that you sit down and do the thing. And then you do it again and again and again until the thing is done.

Violet Eyes Are Watching You Mandala

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Look into my eyes. All of them.

Friday’s comic, as readers of my Facebook page probably know, roused the “Reddit Republican army,” which is pretty much the best thing that a blog post can do in terms of reach. It’s received nearly 3,000 hits so far, thanks in part to a group of people whose belief in their own righteousness is so strong that they are willing to publicly come out in favor of bullying elementary students. That’s totally what Jesus would do, right? Mock those who are different and then shout out those who speak up for the oppressed. Thanks for generating sufficient controversy to drive traffic to my often-overlooked page.

Of course, the haters didn’t account for all those page views on their own. It was also one of my most-shared posts on Facebook, and has more Facebook upvotes than anything else I’ve ever done. And more WordPress likes. And it gained me more WordPress followers than any single post in 2 years. I didn’t even think it was that big of a deal. Seriously, who gets up in arms about a picture book that advocates not mocking and bullying people? Oh, yeah. The people who have decided to make their stand on the gender binary. Because that’s crazy important. We already saw what happened once women started wearing pants. Can you imagine what the world would look like if we just let people dress however they wanted? Can you picture a world in which we do not deride and ostracize children who can’t conform?

So: my passions for mocking uptight people who advocate censorship in schools, speaking out against bullying, and fucking the gender binary have joined together to serve me…somehow.

Anyway, my psyche can only take so much criticism, and it’s been a weird weekend. Here’s a funny little purple mandala full of eyeballs. They’re always on you, making sure that you adhere to their preconceived notions of everything you are capable of achieving in life based on the presumed shape of your genitals.

Oppression

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Next thing you know they’ll be telling us we can’t ostracize and castigate those who are different!

Whenever I read about censorship attempts made against really intelligent books, my brain screams in terror. This comic is based on a challenge that came out recently in Michigan, regarding a book called Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress. As it turned out, I recently read this book to my group of 40-odd kinders, and I thought it was a great story for little kids.

To the best of my recollection, the story is as follows: Morris is a regular kid who likes drawing and playing with his friends. He also likes putting on an orange dress in his classroom’s dress-up center. He likes the dress because it is the color of “tigers, the sun, and his mother’s hair.” Some of the kids tell him that boys can’t wear dresses and also that if he wears that dress he can’t do boy things, like pretend to be an astronaut. Morris thinks about it for a while and then decides those other kids can suck it. He informs them that he is a boy regardless of what he is wearing, and that anyone can pretend to be an astronaut, and then he takes them on a great make-believe astronaut adventure while wearing the dress.

I’d like to add that, following my reading of this book to 2 classrooms of 5-year-olds, not a single child died, became a drag queen, or suddenly found themselves “confused” about their identity.

As the author points out in the article, there’s absolutely nothing in the story to indicate that Morris is queer or trans or questioning or anything other than a little boy who has fun putting on a costume. The book is about bullying, and about why it’s not OK to exclude people because they’re different. But someone managed to take offense at that premise and assert their right to torment and denigrate people who are different. Can’t have our kids tolerating, you know. Our beliefs don’t allow us to tolerate.

Here’s a hint: if schools, businesses, and public offices are closed for your religion’s major holiday, you are not in a minority, and your beliefs are not under attack. If you know that the majority of people you see on TV, in the movies, and in your daily life are familiar with your religious traditions, you are not in a minority, and your beliefs are not under attack. If anyone has ever felt justifiable outraged because a coffee chain did not print symbols of your religion on their cups, you are not in a minority, and your beliefs are not under attack.

If someone says something you disagree with, you are not under attack.

On the other hand, if anyone has ever suggested that your very existence is “wrong,” “against god,” or  “a scathing indictment of the breakdown of American morality…literally celebrating perversion,” then you are probably an oppressed minority marginalized by the dominant culture, and it’s probably in your best interest if public schools teach that it’s OK for you to be yourself and it’s not OK for people to attack you for it.

If someone forces you to DO something that goes against your morality, then you have a lawsuit. If someone TELLS your child something you disagree with, you can politely disagree. People imparting information that does not jibe with your beliefs is not a crime. If it were, guess what: all the Jewish and Muslim and Pagan and Shinto and Hindu and traditional Native American families in America would sue any school district where kids were expected to learn Christmas carols or even hear the word “Santa” spoken.

There are about 9 million Jews in America, most of whom grew up being forced to learn someone else’s traditions in public schools. (All of them were laughing their heads off when your kids talked about Santa, because they knew those kids were being duped. And we sang your terrible Christmas music anyway.) And allow me to point out that, historically, Christian beliefs are much more threatening to Jewish people than gender nonconformity is to Christian people. Historically, Christian people are much more threatening to gender nonconforming people than gender nonconforming people are to Christian people. Do you know what the murder rate for the average American is? About 1 in 6000. Do you know what the murder rate is for gender nonconforming people? About 1 in 12. Maybe, if you’re against murder, you can accept that it might be necessary to teach people not to hate those who are different?

Here’s another thing: if your beliefs are so fragile that they can be shattered by reading about someone who thinks differently, maybe your beliefs aren’t really that strong. I know plenty of Christians who are loving and accepting and full of tolerance and live by the words of their book, and reactionary nut jobs are making them look bad.

The Humble Dandelion

Everything's in the details.

Everything’s in the details.

One of the limitations of macrophotography, I’ve found, is that the gradations of depth are so fine that keeping your entire subject in focus is almost impossible unless your subject is 2 dimensional. I have about 10 shots of this dandelion. In some of them the, anthers are in perfect focus and the stigma can barely be seen. In others, the stigma are insanely sharp, but the rest of the flower is just a yellow blur. This image is sort of in between; you can see all the parts, but everything could be sharper.

My sister-in-law gave me a book on macrophotography and I’d like to read it; maybe there are solutions to my problem (short of photoshopping 2 images together) but man am I busy all the time. Although being sick for 10 days has, necessarily, cut into my productivity. Now this blog post is 14 hours late and I have to go get the kids in 24 minutes even though I’m not dressed and only halfway through breakfast.

Back to this flower. I love dandelions and I think people who kill them so they can have boring expanses of useless grass are wrong and in need of education about what’s important in the world. So-called “weeds” are the best part of having a lawn. We don’t have many dandelions here (this photo is from San Francisco), but we have other amazing volunteer flowers on our quarter acre: apricot mallow, wild daisy fleabane, evening primrose (you have to catch it at just the right time or you’d never even know it was a flower).

On this same roll I also had a decent shot of an ant (pretty well in focus but the ant is in a shadow, so it’s imperfect) and an excellent picture of a water strider, very sharp and clear but just not as colorful as this. The macrophotography books suggests that, while flowers and insects are the most popular themes for macrophotography, there are other interesting things you can do with it. Personally, I find that if you can shoot a clear image of a bug on a flower, there’s nothing more interesting.