Category Archives: Comics

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.

My Memorial Day Post

You'll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You'll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go.

If all goes according to plan, when this little drawing goes live, I will be way, way, WAY off the grid, far away from any sort of amenity that features running water. This is a shame, because, while I love nature, I am also fairly dependent on those running water features and am uncertain how I will do without them. At least without the most necessary one. However, we will be next to a lake, so there will be *some* options.

Camping is not a big one in my repertoire. I’ve gone a handful of times, but always to a campsite with bathrooms and fire pits and such. I don’t have any camping skills, except for the ability to cook gourmet meals over an open fire. That’s actually the reason I don’t have any camping skills: I would always be so busy cooking that other people were required to pitch my tent, &c. It’s another one of my super privileges. No one has ever even considered that I should learn to pitch a tent. It was always assumed that someone else would do it for me, because I was cooking a 3-course meal over an open flame in the dark. That’s just how I roll.

We’re not even going to pitch a tent: we’ve got a futon jammed into the back of a Honda Element. I have a decent expectation for us being more or less comfortable there. It should be dark; even the moon is just a bitty sliver this weekend. It should be quiet; there will most likely be very few people around, if any.

Well, if this site is never updated again, you’ll know why. I’m lost in the wilderness and have possibly been eaten by a bear.

The birds I’ve drawn are just fanciful birds. The balloon and the feather/leaf thing are me working with light. The balloon seems to have come out pretty well, for what it’s meant to be. For the feather, I was messing around trying to draw an iridescent effect. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than I could have done before I drew the blue morpho butterfly. The quote above is from Dr. Seuss’s Oh! The Places You’ll Go!, which I read every year to kindergarteners the penultimate week of school. It’s summer break already around here, which is a good time for adults to stop and take stock.

Oh! Also, I finally wrote a kids’ book review for Best Children’s Books, a site I haven’t posted on in more than a year: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. Read it! Then click on the Amazon link!

Anyway, I’ll be in the desert.

These Things Happen

What? It's not like we don't share the same kingdom.

What? It’s not like we don’t share the same kingdom.

Just a silly little comic. The teddy bear thing was a *bit* off color; it may come around a bit later. But here’s a small sketch of a blossoming friendship based on mutual interests.

We have a little date tree like this in the front yard and the dates are getting closer to harvest time. They’re really better if you go in early in the spring and cut half the dates off; it allows the other dates to get bigger. Otherwise you end up with a million tiny dates that are 90% pit. Maybe tomorrow I’ll cull some of them. They need to be dried for a bit after harvesting, but fortunately, the desert atmosphere is perfect for this. You can just lay the strands of dates down on the porch and eat new dates in a few days.

Dragon Comics 91

It doesn't work of course. Politicians are in your schools, your churches, and your police stations. They'll get your kids, one way or another.

It doesn’t work of course. Politicians are in your schools, your churches, and your police stations. They’ll get your kids, one way or another.

Presidential elections terrify me. Our American political process is so bloated and corrupt. Tempers run high. The country is too big; we’re all too different. No single candidate can satisfy even 51% of us, and for people like me, with political views so far out of the mainstream that no one ever represents us, it’s just a farce. The money wasted is just a slap in the face. How many people could be fed, clothed, and housed for the nearly one billion dollars that a couple of billionaires focused on increasing their own assets casually promised to their favorite candidate?

The worst part is the campaigning. It’s not confined to any arena. It’s everywhere, and you can’t escape it, even if you want to. In the last election, I literally couldn’t figure out how to make Google News stop showing me election news. I strongly believe in compartmentalizing, but it’s not possible in presidential elections. Everyone has opinions and everyone shares them everywhere. You can’t not hear the mudslinging and muckraking and empty promises and bombastic bloviation.

It used to be considered in poor taste to discuss politics outside of political gatherings. Now it’s considered ignorant to not constantly spew your views regardless of whether or not people care to hear them. When you ask people to change the subject, they refuse.

I’d like to see some actual degree of democracy in the political process. The way I see it, it would be most fair to lay things out like this: anyone can establish a candidacy with a certain number of signatures on a petition, but all interested individuals would have to attain their own signatures in the same forum. No advertising in any other forum would be allowed, and in the first round, only position statements could be displayed. People would have to go to this political forum to determine which candidates interested them. Then, there would be a series of run-offs to limit the number of candidates to a reasonable degree, after which each viable candidate would be allotted the exact same amount of money to produce whatever campaign materials they needed, all of which could only be distributed through the same political forum: videos, pamphlets, ads. Debates would all be held on the same forum. We could all vote there, online, as well.

It’s the only non-disgusting way I can see it working. Right now what we’ve got is something between an oligarchy and a plutocracy, and it’s not working. Right now, we’d be seriously better off running the presidential campaign like American Idol or Survivor. It would be far more dignified than what we’re going to be subjected to in the next 18 1/2 months.

Basically What It Looks Like in My Brain

Walking Eye: So I'm a walking eye Green Vegetal Forest Spirit: Forest spirit. And my friend's a forest spirit too.  Wee Glowing Forest Spirit: Hey

Walking Eye: So I’m a walking eye
Green Vegetal Forest Spirit: Forest spirit. And my friend’s a forest spirit too.
Wee Glowing Forest Spirit: Hey

For a while now I’ve been doing a lot of the same thing, and I’ve learned a lot doing it, but ordinarily, when I’m just drawing to draw, I don’t draw the same thing over and over. There are definite themes, and there are topics that I mine again and again, but when I draw, for instance, Little Red Riding Hood, today’s Little Red is a different Little Red than yesterday’s Little Red.

I can tell already we're going to be the best of friends!

Little Red Riding Hood: I can tell already we’re going to be the best of friends!
Wolf: ::slavers::

Although, there does tend to be a lot of sexual tension between the girl and wolf.

There are lots of birds and fish and flowers and stars. Animals and fruit come up as often as fairy tales, and the style tends to be fluid. My friend the Vampire Bat once remarked that my art doesn’t have a recognizable style–this changes from image to image, I guess because I’m still searching for my style, or rather, I’ve never been satisfied with the way I draw.

This is basically the way I draw when I’m not trying to draw like someone else.

Turtle: I could absolutely *murder* a strawberry right now. Strawberry: Oh, god, please, no! I'm too ripe to die

Turtle: I could absolutely *murder* a strawberry right now.
Strawberry: Oh, god, please, no! I’m too ripe to die

Dragon Comics are fun, but these are the kind of comics that I draw constantly, without thinking about it. They don’t take hours. They don’t always make sense, although usually that’s part of the humor. They sort of make sense to me. And they always amuse me, which is the standard, right?

A snail licking the rim of a margarita glass for some reason

A snail licking the rim of a margarita glass for some reason

Usually I scratch stuff like this out on the backs of junk mail envelopes, keep them around for a couple months, perhaps thinking that the designs could aspire to be something greater, and then, eventually throw them in recycling when I find them jammed under the leg of my desk covered in cat hair. I’ve got dozens of notebooks from high school and college, the margins filled with these little guys. I’ve been thinking I should do something with my favorite parts and recycle the rest of those notebooks, too.

When I first started with the tablet, little cartoons like these would come out very rough and basic. I sort of advance in fits and starts: learn a few things, get comfortable with them, get dependent on them, then suddenly realize that there’s more to learn. Then I pick up a couple more techniques. Probably it would be more efficient to read a book about Photoshop and the manual for the Wacom Tablet, but that’s just now how my mind works. I’ve got to figure it out myself.

Dragon Comics 87

Silly Dragon...beds are for sleeping in, not for obsessing about things you can't do anything about at the moment. Don't get me started on what daytime is for.

Silly Dragon…beds are for sleeping in, not for obsessing about things you can’t do anything about at the moment. Don’t get me started on what daytime is for.

This comic sort of seemed like it should have another punchline in the 4th panel, but the punchline is: insomnia. If have it, you get it. If you haven’t got it, you’re lucky. I’ve had it my entire life. I can literally remember lying in my bed at the age of 3, staring at the ceiling, unable to sleep, even though my parents had long since gone to bed and it was the middle of the night. On a good night, it typically takes me about 45 minutes to go under. Since I’ve been here, it’s more like 4 or 5 hours. Tossing and turning and rolling over to note that the sky is lightening and another day has dawned despite my inability to put the previous day to bed (so to speak) provokes a scary mix of dread and futility.

Of course, I still wake up at approximately my regular time, even if I’ve only passed out a few hours before. Then I sleepwalk through the day, vaguely hurting and feeling ineffective. All week.

In real life, of course, I sleep next to The Man, who could not accompany me on this trip. So I’m sort of used to his presence, and it makes me comfortable. And I’ve grown accustomed to the sound of his CPAP, which is a sort of reassuring reminder that he’s still breathing, and helps me relax. And we sleep in a queen sized waterbed, which we’ve had for 5 years. When you like sleeping in a waterbed, there’s really no substitute. Well, maybe there is, but a 30-year-old twin mattress on a bunk bed is not it.

If there’s an upside to chronic insomnia it’s that lack of sleep skews your perception of time, which can be an upside if it makes the day go by quickly, or if it makes the recent past feel like the distant past. In other words, insomnia makes you suffer, but you experience the suffering in a compressed way, and then file it in your brain as a long-ago memory.

Dragon and the Whole Day of Collaborative Navel Gazing

Oh, my goodness, no, I did NOT go to the beach. This is still one of the cold places of the world. But I drove *past* the beach. And I *thought* about the beach.

Oh, my goodness, no, I did NOT go to the beach. This is still one of the cold places of the world. But I drove *past* the beach. And I *thought* about the beach.

Today I met up with an old friend and we somehow spent 10+ hours talking: past, present, future. When you have been friends with someone more or less continuously for decades, you have a lot of things you can talk about. You can talk about hilarious things you did in the past, and people you used to know, and you can talk about what you are doing now, and what other people are doing, and you can talk about what you want to do in the future. You can get really introspective and deconstructive. You can talk about what things meant, then and now, and what they might mean later. You can cast the eye of experience upon your own innocence, and you can laugh about things that were once terribly serious to you. You can parse out what’s important, and you can articulate why it’s important. You can compare and contrast past and present, and you can compare and contrast each others’ lives. You can visit places you used to visit regularly but haven’t seen in years. You can contact other old friends and repeat the entire process in a smaller space, either by video chatting them from a meaningful spot in the old neighborhood, or by meeting up with them someplace new in the neighborhood where they live now.

As a bonus, if you don’t visit the old neighborhood very often, and your friends are reasonably successful adults, and you are as cool as Dragon, your friends will insist on buying all your food and drinks, which is super nice when you are unemployed.

Of course, if you spent the entire day doing this, you will have very little time to do the things you usually do in a day, like draw comics and write blog posts. And you can come home and ask yourself how important it is that you honor your own commitment to yourself, particularly after you’ve spent the day explaining to your old friends why you quit your very lucrative job to start a project that ultimately pays about $1 a day. And you can realize that it’s really, really important. So you just do it.

Also today The Man was sad to be far away from Dragon and one of the Misseses Kitty had to go to the hospital but will hopefully be OK. So send love to The Man and Mrs. Kitty because Dragon cannot be there to take care of them.