Category Archives: Uncategorized

Have a Sweet Summer

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Yeah, and, um…bee good, OK?

All week I believed I was going to make a bulletin board featuring a picture of a date palm, but somehow when I got to school, I made a bee on an opuntia flower. Admittedly, it’s not my absolute best work. The school ran out out of black paper and it was about 100° outside and I just wanted to finish because it was 5 pm everyone had gone home and I still had 3 more engagements for the evening. But it’s not a bad bee. Or a bad flower. Still, whenever I do anything, I immediately see how I could have done it better. But this is better than not doing it.

Anyway, school’s out on Thursday, both my district and the Kids’ district, and the pool water should hit 80° this week, so it’s as summer as it can get. Summer I, I should say, since, of course, we have 2 summers in southern Arizona. But I like them both. There’s nothing like a summer sunset in the desert, especially if you observe it from your own back yard, next to your own pool.

Gratitude: Connectivity

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Seriously, do you remember life before wi-fi? Before dialup? Were we truly even alive?

In some ways the internet is making us all stupider. We don’t have to remember things, because the internet remembers them for us. We don’t have to search for things; the internet does that too, which means we miss out on all the things we would have learned if we undertook our own, more arduous searches. The internet supports the rise of a lowest-common-denominator culture where there are no gatekeepers and anyone can publish anything, so the authority of the average piece of writing can never be assumed. Also, it’s destroying our ability to focus and concentrate. And it’s probably wholly responsible for the rise of white supremacy in America and the election of the current president.

But also, the internet brings us everything: new friends, old friends, music, movies, books, games, homework help, advice, cat pictures, instant news, school, an easy cheat to “6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” and the basic sum of all knowledge discovered by our species. Can you imagine going back?

I don’t want to go back, anyway. Not if I can’t telecommute, digitally spy on people from my past, instantly discover the answer to almost any question I might have about the world, share my art with 1000s of people minutes after I complete it, and chat, for free, with anyone, anywhere, any time, in a format that allows me to also do 50 other things without the person I’m chatting with having any idea what percentage of my attention is focused on the conversation.

Despite its drawbacks and abuses, I’m grateful for the internet.

 

Dragon Comics 161

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This gag is moving in several dimensions.

Wow, a comic finished before midnight? This one was pretty easy, obviously. They’ll get a bit more visually complex, presently. The kids’ custody schedule got flipped for the week and I somehow scheduled 3 times as many social engagements as I would in a normal 7-day period, so my entire groove has been disrupted. Fortunately, it was possible to write 8 comic scripts at the Fox’s on Tuesday, so at least the words are already taken care of for a while longer.

Have a great weekend. Dragon out.

Rainbow Mandala Om

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Om, shanti shanti shanti. 

Despite my brother sending me an email explaining how he’d threatened my nephew with last Thursday’s “So Superior” comic, saying that if the bookish 10-year-old didn’t participate in physical activity he too would end up a basement-dwelling neckbeard troglodyte, I don’t seem to be feeling the comic today. If my nephew does end up living in my brother’s basement, I expect that will be entirely on his parents’ shoulders, right? I can rest assured that neither of the Kids will end up living in my basement, because the ground in Tucson is mostly clay, which is difficult and expensive to dig, so hardly anyone has a basement.

Anyway, I remembered there was another old crayon mandala that never made it to the website, because it’s hanging on the wall in the spare bedroom/closet. I wanted to lay it on the flatbed scanner but it appeared to be attached to the nail in some complicated way and it seemed safer to just let it stay where it was.

Truth be told, I’m getting a little nervous about finishing my big project on time, and around about while you are reading this, I am actually getting an MRI of my dominant hand, which could potentially result in surgery, which would likely prevent me from drawing anything or typing more than 20 words a minute for quite some time.

Anyway, I have to go draw some elephants.

Monday Gratitude: This Here Ukulele

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She ain’t pretty. But she is cheap. And easy.

Settling on a gratitude came with difficultly tonight; I seem to exist in a state of muted rage lately. That makes it hard to count your blessings. I’m either working or avoiding work at all times, and the number 1 way I’ve been avoiding work lately is this ukulele. Why is that slowly picking out “Stairway to Heaven” 40 times in a row feels easier than accomplishing the tasks I need to do, I want to do, other people are depending up me to do?  Tasks I’m actually capable of successfully completely, unlike ever being able to play “Stairway” at tempo.

That’s just this week. Usually I don’t use it as a distraction, but more as a calmative. I had developed a bad habit of staring at the screen late at night, and the ukulele gives me something I can focus on in the dark (much like with touch typing, I realized the only way to learn to do it without looking was to make it impossible to look), allowing me to pull back from electricity and possibly sooth my psychotic circadian rhythms.

I’m grateful for the uke, and the ability to play music. I always, always wanted to play, but I hated the music I was supposed to learn for the piano, so I hated practicing, so I never got better. And my hands are too little and intractable for the guitar. And certain things I can only learn on my own, with my own hands. I pity the people who tried to teach young dragon about music.

We are experiencing technical difficulties.

I just spent the last 3 hours drawing an insomnia comic. It was 99% finished, lacking only the word bubble. And then Photoshop just…closed itself. I didn’t close it. I didn’t click anything as far as I could see. It didn’t even ask me if I wanted to save. It just closed and lost all the changes I had made since the last save, and I was working so intently that the last save had been about 2 hours and 55 minutes earlier, even though I thought I had been saving as I went. So it’s 2 a.m. and I don’t have anything. Plus, it was an insomnia comic, so…you know. Sad Dragon. It was visually a very interesting comic. Challenging details. Gone. Gonna cry myself to sleep now. I really did draw a comic today.

Monday Gratitude: Class Consciousness

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This macro image obviously has nothing to do with this blog post. I’m sure I could concoct some convoluted metaphor that would tie together tiny bugs and class stratification in America, but I won’t lay all that weight on this poor little bug’s exoskeleton.

[Artists] are acquainted with all classes of society, and for that very reason dangerous.

Had to do a little digging on this quote, which has been attributed, in a slightly altered form, to Joe McCarthy and Queen Victoria, but apparently it was actually written to Victoria by her uncle, Leopold, the King of Belgium. He concludes that artists are “hardly ever satisfied” and spending too much time around them gives one ennui.

Ennui is probably not a side effect of art, but of having too much money and not enough to do with oneself. This reminds me of a passage from an Louisa May Alcott book, An Old Fashioned Girl, in which wealthy Fanny, who has lived the life of a debutant for several years, feels prematurely aged as a result of her glamorous but pointless existence. Because she is rich and sheltered, she is also clueless, and she confides her problems to Polly, her one working-class friend, who never judges her (out loud).

“A little poverty would do you good, Fan; just enough necessity to keep you busy till you find how good work is; and when you once learn that, you won’t complain of ennui any more,” returned Polly, who had taken kindly the hard lesson which twenty years of cheerful poverty had taught her.

“Mercy, no, I should hate that; but I wish some one would invent a new amusement for rich people. I’m dead sick of parties, and flirtations, trying to out-dress my neighbors, and going the same round year after year, like a squirrel in a cage.”

In case you’re wondering, Fan loses her fortune a few chapters later and spends a while learning how to live in genteel poverty, before marrying the richest guy in the book.

Artists aren’t satisfied because they have the vision to see how much better things could be. I don’t know if all artists associate with all classes of society. If you have not, it’s hard to understand how vast the chasm between the wealthy and the underprivileged actually is.

I accidentally went to what I heard referred to as a “socialite” party last night. I didn’t realize that’s what it was until after I found myself watching a bouncer check my name off a list and usher me into a 10,000 square foot house full of exquisitely dressed models where nobody, and I mean nobody was talking about politics. They were talking about the 3 swimming pools and how many selfies they needed to take, but they weren’t talking about the plight of the immigrant in America, or the destruction of the environment, or Russian interference in the election, which in itself set it apart from every gathering I’ve attended this year. And I was thinking about how many refugees could have been comfortably housed in that building, and how I escaped the culture of material worship and ostentatious wealth. Which I guess makes me dangerous.

I’ve talked to plenty of people who lived in giant houses, and I’ve talked to plenty of people who lived on the street. And, although the knowledge of inequality’s depth is heavy, it’s never a source of ennui. And I’m grateful that I can see the big picture, no matter how frightening the big picture is when you get the whole thing into frame and focused. I’m grateful for the privilege that gives me this perspective.

If you’re satisfied with the way the world is, you probably haven’t seen that much of it. You’ve just been dazzled by the sparkly parts that were bright enough to blind you to the details.