Category Archives: Comics

The Sound of Printing part ii

sound-of-printing-2_edited-1

This is probably the most people who are actually supposed to look like real people that I’ve ever drawn into 1 comic. 

Page 2 of “The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Printing.” Took a little extra time as I wasn’t 100% sure of what the client wanted in panels 1 and 3, partly because creative people in fits of inspiration tend to have atrocious handwriting, and partly because (as only realized much later) I only read 1/2 of the notes. Also, the panels got cluttered pretty quickly, so I had to figure out which graphic elements to ditch (mostly people’s feet; originally there were a number of cowboys boots in this comic). I also had to leave off the speaker on the sound booth in panel 2 because the sound booth is already tiny and I couldn’t make it look good. Just imagine that the technician’s voice is coming through a speaker. Still, after it seemed done and uploaded, I decided to go back and add some fringe on the singer’s shirt in panel 4. It didn’t seem flashy enough for cowboy couture.

I’m especially pleased with the little pop-out heart for the gospel singer. It was a perfect compromise when it became apparent that a box would take up too much space.

I learned several things in the course of drawing this comic. The first thing was what a steel guitar is. Apparently whatever I thought a steel guitar is was wrong, but luckily, I had The Man around to set me right. The second thing was that The Man knows way too much about music. I had to look up “Little GTO,” but when I asked him if he knew the song, he could just start singing it. That song is like 50 years old; it came out 10 years before he was born. Then he gave me a short lecture about GTOs. Because he also knows way too much about cars. Of course, I did look up the Hi-Lo’s and WMU’s Gold Company. This comic will be distributed in Portage, so its intended readers will already know that WMU is Kalamazoo’s Western Michigan University, where I earned my MFA, but did not hear of the Gold Company.

The Sound of Printing part i

sound-of-printing_edited-1

Those are some big speakers. I guess print shops are noisy places. You need big speakers.

Here’s something new: working for money. The printer who made my Bonnie Jo Campbell comics, Craig Vestal of Portage Printing, hired me to draw a promotional comic for his shop. He wrote the script and drew the thumbnails. This is the first page I’ve created from his notes.

I had just read a Smithsonian article about Wes Wilson, the designer who created the psychedelic-style concert posters in the 60s, and decided to draw the title in the same style as the original Sound of Music movie promotions, which has that groovy ’60s feel even though the movie is set during WWII. Craig sent me photos of all his classic stereo equipment and of the Brown Brothers.

This is page 1 of 3. I don’t know what number comic this is, but apparently Craig has hired a number of artists to create a quantity of comics detailing the history of his shop. Clever. Comics are the best.

All the Colors of the Whine

colorful places-1_edited-1.png

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.

Summer in the Desert

Serves you right for wearing a fur coat.

Serves you right for wearing a fur coat.

This is more or less a true story, as long as you accept the premise that I have such a deep personal understanding of my cat that I understand the precise meanings of her vocalizations. Fairly certain this translation is accurate. The only thing that I’ve exaggerated is the size of the lemon tree and its proximity to the pool. Everyone knows you can’t plant trees that close to an in-ground pool.

It’s hard not to feel sorry for someone who has to walk around in a heavy black coat in the desert summer, but at the same time, she also has the option of hanging out in the air conditioning and waiting until the sun goes down to hang out outside. I get that she wants to be near me, but given her typical feline disdain for swimming, it’s hard to see why. Like, we don’t have to be together all the time (that you’re awake), Cat. When I’m doing stuff you don’t like, such as hanging out in the sun or submerging my body in water, you’re not required to join me. It’s your choice, meaning it’s really not cool for you to complain about it the whole time.

Fortunately for desert cats, there are always cool tile floors upon which to splay ones furry limbs.

For the record, the cat is perfectly capable of swimming. I once saw her swim the entire length of the pool to get away from a another cat that was threatening her. So she could totally jump in and join me instead of whining about it.

Anyway, this comic took about 5 hours to draw, and it among the best ones I’ve done so far. I’ve come a decent way in a year and a half. Maybe I will be ready for my next big project when the script is finished, hopefully in August.

Upstream

I actually don't see what you did there.

I actually don’t see what you did there.

Another serving of strangeness out of my virtual sketchbook. A fish camouflaged as an eyeball with so many rippling little fins that it almost looks furry makes perfect sense. Also, it was fun to draw. The water effect for the background really did come out beautifully. Just yesterday I was watching the ripples of sunlight on the bottom of the swimming pool and thinking how difficult it would be to capture that effect in paint. But really it’s easy with basic Photoshop tools. The little tendrils look sweet, too.

Today was another non-starter for me, but my censorship article went up on Panels and got a great reception: retweets, comments, Facebook shares!. It’s called “I Expected Batman and Robin, Not Pornography” and it’s just a little rant about people who don’t get the concept of liberal arts education. Go on and click it you like comics, dislike censorship, or just enjoy stories about clueless people or straight up ranting.

Nothing to Report

I have no new art to upload today; the new design isn’t quite finished yet. The last bits are the hardest. Basically what I have to share with you is this:

Time flies.

Time flies.

Yes, an entire year since I started this blog, although I was doing the art bit for a few months before that. In some ways the blog has superseded the art, but I’m trying to get away from that, probably by changing the blog schedule as soon as I figure out the new plan. The blog is still a useful tool for me, and I have 130 followers, 98% of whom are total strangers who liked my work well enough to follow me. Thanks for caring. Tell your friends.

Other than that, all I have is a hilarious article about The Savage Sword of Conan coming out Tuesday morning. For a long time I’d thought about writing something in the style of articles from Cracked or Buzzfeed, sarcastic and mocking but also loving and full of admiration. I love these books, which transport me to the sort of world I loved as a child, even though the adult me can’t help but unpack the insane messages it contains. The thing is, yes, Conan does something that’s worth joking about, but it does that thing incredibly well.

I could probably write another article from a feminist perspective and tell the story in a very different way, but maybe simply pointing out the ridiculous can be just as effective as dissecting and analyzing it.

Fear and Loathing on the Internet

Eddy when he said he didn't like his teddy...

Eddy when he said he didn’t like his teddy…

When we were in grad school, the Rabbit used to draw little comics, which she sometimes stuck on my office door. I still, somewhere, have a rather dark one (which probably in part inspired this comic) with a little teddy bear and a big teddy bear, and the big teddy has spaced out eyes and a bottle in his hand, and the little teddy has a worried expression on his face, and the caption says, “Daddy, why do you drink?” This probably tells you more about the Rabbit than my comics do. She also had a surreal one about Sylvia Plath, except Plath was represented as a roast turkey. If this doesn’t make any sense to you, you probably don’t have an English degree. But trust me, it’s darkly humorous.

I fell into a click hole the other day at a website called getoffmyinternets.net (GOMI), which is basically a platform for a sarcastic blogger to make fun of other bloggers. The author chooses her targets–they’re exclusively the sort of  entitled popular attention-seekers who post dozens of pictures of themselves and their fabulous lifestyles we secretly want to watch fail–and takes a bitter joy in tearing them down, or, as often happens, watching from the sidelines as they self-destruct. She’s talking about people with thousands of followers, with monetized sites, with book deals, so it’s not as if she’s hurting anyone. These people will sink or swim regardless of her snarky opinion.

Still, after a dozen or so pages, I started to feel bad about myself for reading it. After all, if you think someone’s blog is overly precious, or ostentatious, or oozing with braggadocio, or petty, or stupid, or ugly, or pointless, or whatever, you can just not read it. Sure, it’s frustrating to see someone you deem utterly talentless succeeding on any level, particularly when you can’t reach that level yourself (I would know), it’s utterly unhealthy to focus on your distaste and make it the target of all your emotional expression (I would know).

Obviously, GOMI is successful because it’s mean, because it doesn’t pull punches, and because it lacks any sympathy for its victims. It doesn’t play safe.

You can like something even when you think it’s inappropriate. Weeks ago I read a scathing criticism of the fact that in Age of Ultron, Tony Stark makes a joke about prima nocta–that is: a rape joke. And yes joking about rape is horrible (although I would argue that this sort of thing results from the existence of the rape culture, rather than being responsible for its perpetuation) but to be totally honest, I laughed when I heard the joke in the theater last weekend. Hardly anyone else laughed, although I expect this was more because hardly anyone else got it, rather than because people were unamused by a casual historic reference to state-sanctioned rape.

The viewer knows that Tony Stark would never consider raping anyone, because he’s a billionaire philanthropist playboy genius and probably needs the Iron Man suit just to keep women from crushing him to death with their desire to get on him. And it’s totally the kind of unconsidered joke the character would make. (That was sort of the point of the movie, that Stark is a guy who is so intent on answering “Can we?” that he doesn’t consider “Should we?”) Sure, the movie would have been just as successful had he made no joke at all, or if he had instead joked about some other right of totalitarian dictators, but–screw it–I’m sorry, but that joke was funny to me, in context. It was dark and violent and inappropriate and it made me laugh at loud.

By and large, I’ve tried to keep my blog rated-G. My stepkids and my nephews read it sometimes, and other family members, and, I would imagine, my stepkids’ other family members. Occasionally I edge into PG territory. Anyone who actually knows me probably realizes what an accomplishment this is, because I myself am a basically R to NC-17 kind of person, despite the fact that I’m able to dial it back in the presence of children, the elderly, and the ethically prudish. So I drew this comic a while ago, and a big part of me wanted to run it because it amuses *me*, but at the same time, what it is is very dark, in its way. It’s different than what I’ve run in the last year. (Oh, wow, it’s been a year….)

Let me say this: I understand that domestic violence is NOT FUNNY. But a little girl’s relationship with her stuffed animals and primary love object can be very funny. Anyway, if you don’t like me, you’re free to get the hell off my Internets. The inside of my head is a weird place, and not everything can be compartmentalized all the time.