Monthly Archives: May 2016

Giant Microbe Plushies

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Warning: may cause nausea, headache, fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea, and fetal death. 

About 10 days ago I casually asked the Girl if she had any big projects coming up at school. You see, this school always gives the kids creative projects at the end of the year, so I wasn’t asking out of idle curiosity. I was asking because I didn’t want to get stuck building a model of King Tut’s tomb on a 12-hour deadline, which is what happens when you’re the only artist in the family.

“No, no, no, o, wait, yeah,” said the Girl. “We’re doing this hot air balloon project.”

The hot air balloon project: every 5th grader picks a person from history and learns about them. Then comes a thought experiment. All these historical figures are on a hot air balloon. The hot air balloon is sinking fast! They have to vote, Survivor style, who to throw off the balloon. I am not making this project up. Maybe it’s just me, but this seems like a pretty cold way to teach kids about history.

Anyway, the Girl goes on to explain that each kid must also dress up as their historical figure, and may bring 4 props to illustrate that person’s importance. Who is she? Alice Evans. I had not heard of Alice Evans, but she made one of the most important discoveries of the 20th century: she discovered that bacterial infections could be transmitted to humans through cows’ milk, and that pasteurization could kill the microorganisms responsible for these diseases. And then, because she was a woman, they told her she was wrong. But, as it turns out, she was right. She did a lot of work on infectious diseases in her life.

So, Alice Evans seems like a pretty great human, unlikely to be voted off the hot air balloon, given that most 5th graders like milk and don’t like gastrointestinal distress. (The Girl obviously picked her because she loves milk.) But the problem is that she was just a regular lady scientist of her day. She didn’t have a signature look; she just tied her hair back and went to the lab.

But I am used to nailing this end-of-the-year creative project. So I go into the closet and sure enough, I own a lab coat. Where did it come from? Why do I have it? No clue. But that’s step 1. “OK, wear this lab coat,” I say, rolling up the sleeves.

“Maybe I could have lab goggles, too?” she asks. Lab goggles will impress her friend who likes science. Yes, of course I have lab goggles.

But what about props? A milk bottle?

Oh, yeah. Giant plush microbes. Obviously, I didn’t come up with the idea of giant plush microbes. They’ve been selling them online for some years now, but, contrary to what some people seem to think about the carefree artist’s lifestyle, I have not yet become wealthy from my work. In fact, I have no money except what The Man gives me. I’m not personally into stuff, so it doesn’t bother me too often, but I didn’t have a lot of cash to spend on giant plush microbes.

Yeah, I made these delightfully cuddly infectious diseases with my own 2 hands.

So here are my giant plush microbes. the one of the left is supposed to be salmonella, and the one on the right is listeria. I already had the white minky leftover from some Christmas stockings I made (badly) a few years back, and 2 sizes of red ribbon for what I presume are its flagellum. I got the blue minky, blue ribbon, and the batting at the weird discount fabric store I like for $3.31, which is slightly more than I had budgeted for giant plush microbes in the month of May, but substantially less than it would have cost to order them online.

I’m pretty happy with how they came out, even though I sew terribly. Sewing terribly is better than not sewing at all. But still, I wanted them to come out rounder. I considered putting eyes on them, but I thought maybe, given the potential outcome of being thrown off a sinking hot air balloon, you might want your microbes to appear as serious as possible.

And no, I didn’t do all the work. I made her stuff them.

 

Enough

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I don’t even eat ice cream. Ice cream is just a metaphor. For giving up.

This comic pretty well speaks for itself. I basically forgot how to write and how to draw today, in addition to still not remembering how to breath like a normal human being without medical assistance. It’s very sad. But at least the precious, precious roof has been protected.

There are scripts for real comics on my desk. But this is what came out.

Purple Haze Mandala

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Getting sleepy? Dizzy? Disoriented? Are you sure you don’t feel like lying down? ‘Cause I do.

Apparently, updating my operating system rendered my scanner drivers obsolete, and I can’t even begin to deal with that situation; I still haven’t installed the new Photoshop drivers. I. Can’t. Deal. I don’t even care if my smart house refuses to let me eat junk food and my self-driving car always goes the speed limit; I’ll be very happy when computers can program themselves. You know what you need, computer. Why don’t you just get it and run it yourself? Fortunately, the app that pulls images off my camera came with the OS, so that works at least. I was even able to easily crop the image. So: mandala.

There were myriad other interesting things I intended to write about in this post, but they all seem to have slipped away. It’s midnight. My head hurts. My lungs now seem to require a vast quantity of medicines in order to perform their basic and previously involuntary function. Rather than dropping pithy creative wisdom bombs, I will be sucking on Ventolin with a Nyquil chaser and marathoning  Grace and Frankie until I pass out.

This mandala is fairly pleasing, though, in its wabi sabi way.

1000 Origami Cranes

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Yes, I counted them.

On December 8, 2015, I decided to implement 2 minor changes in my life. First, I began teaching myself to play the ukulele, and second, I began folding 1000 origami cranes. Now, just under 5 months later, my time investment has manifested into accomplishment. Not that I will ever be performing Led Zepplin’s greatest hits on the ukulele for an appreciative audience, but I can make songs come out of the thing, anyway. And here are my 1000 paper cranes.

If you’re unfamiliar with the legend of the 1000 paper cranes, it’s an old bit of Japanese folklore: whoever folds these cranes in less than a year and keeps them in their home will be granted a wish, or lifelong luck. Some say they stand for prosperity and health, or for prayers for peace. Things like that. It was a more obscure superstition until after World War II, when a little girl named Sadako Sasuki, dying from leukemia caused by her proximity to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima as a baby,  started to fold them in the hospital while praying to beat the cancer. She didn’t make it, but her determination was communicated throughout the country until she became a symbol herself.

Traditionally, the cranes are threaded together on 25 strings in bunches of 40. I think I may put them into a less rigid accounting, but the main thing is to keep the rainbow pattern.

I never had a specific wish associated with these cranes. I’d like peace and prosperity and good health, surely. But really I was just trying to remind myself what it’s like to see a big project through to the end. For me, the end wasn’t about wishing, but about returning to the beginning. From the beginning, I knew that when I finished folding cranes, I would start writing a new book, a different book from the other books I’ve written, a book that would be unconstrained by the world’s notion about what’s OK. A horror novel, a ghost story, a tale of obsession, a metaphor for addiction. A book where extremely messed up things happen to wholly innocent people because the world is inherently unfair. A book without apology, that doesn’t care if it offends you, because frankly, the world doesn’t care if it offends me, so why pull punches? My 11th unpublished novel…

Selling is boring. Selling is the worst. Creating things is exciting, and it is the best.

To that end, I’ll probably be changing the format of the blog in the near future, but it’s uncertain what that would look like right now. It doesn’t seem possible to just stop drawing comics, but it been proven repeatedly that 4 comics a week isn’t feasible. There are other things to do.

Dragon Comics 133

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Hoggle, I don’t think we’re in the Goblin City anymore

I am less dead than yesterday. Hooray! I even went to a Reddit meetup for some reason. That was surreal. Although maybe it was just the cold medicine. Accomplished some, but not all of the writing-related tasks. Book reviews stack up fast. Or maybe not that fast, since most of them were already overdue. Maybe I’m just slow. However, I’ve emerged from a dense cloud of origami cranes, and it only took 4 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days.

Dragon Comics 132

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Once, great flocks of origami cranes roamed North America, often in such great numbers that they blotted out the sun overhead, bringing darkness to the day.

Although I’m still hacking up both lungs and weak as whey, today I budgeted my time better and managed to accomplish all my many important tasks before midnight. The Vampire Bat, who is the last person in the world I expect motherly advice from, told me that I better slow down and take care of myself or it would get worse (#mom) but things are just too busy to slow down.

Tomorrow I’ll only do writing tasks and not strain anything. Maybe consume that soup and hot tea that would have served me best 3 days ago.

Maybe fold a couple paper cranes.

I Have a Cold

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Ain’t no rest for the wicked.

When I was a kid, I used to fake being sick all the time. I hated school with its rigid rules and social structures, where I was frequently bullied and rarely interested. Middle school was the height of it, and even though my mom was pretty suspicious, I managed to get away with it more than half the time. The old thermometer against the light bulb trick. I don’t think you can do that anymore, not with digital thermometers. The trick with the mercury thermometer was that you had to shake it back down because there was no way Mom would believe in a temperature of 107. The sweet spot is about 101. Too sick for school, but not so sick that you would need a doctor or an adult to stay home and look after you.

Now, of course, I fake being not sick all the time. Like every day if you count ignoring chronic and basically untreatable conditions that affect my performance as I move through the world. But after a couple days of a chest cold, it’s hard to play tough. Yesterday I got through the day (getting up 2 hours early, traveling almost to the border, being on as a speaker for 2 college classes, being on as a friend through lunch with the other speakers, and through the afternoon, and then riding back and then running errands with The Man and then being on for more people and for dinner, after which I was at negative spoons) with a lot of medication along with the help of a handy TENS unit, but I also passed out long before midnight. And today I have more important things to do, and have to keep pretending not to be sick as long as possible. But I still wanted to update my blog with this very important comic before I try to repeat my performance, except with 2 kindergarten classes instead of 2 college classes, and slightly less traveling (but lots more driving).

Just sneezed all over my screen and keyboard. Gonna be a long day.