Sorry this picture isn’t up to usual standards; I guess I never got a good shot before I installed it.
If you’ve read this blog from the beginning, or ever been in my office, you might see a nod to this old project from The Trickster’s Hat in today’s Shushing Scarlet Macaw. Parrots telling people to be quiet is hilarious for some reason. This one is currently hanging beside a “Quiet Zone” sign I also made for the same classroom that got the blue morpho.
Parrots are pretty cool to look at but I can’t imagine living in the same house as one. They need a lot of attention and I always get the sense that they’re silently judging humans.
Now we’re in pure Bonnie Jo Campbell territory. The river. The land. Various animals. The semi-feral girl. The boat. The casual sexual violence. I don’t know why I remember this book as being less rape-y than the others, because it’s a decent amount of nonconsensual sex. Gwen acts like it’s no big deal when her boyfriend’s married, middle aged brother forces her, but it’s forced nonetheless. I’m not even 100% convinced that the sex was purely consensual on Michael’s end. Yeah, he turns toward her, but she kind of puts him on the spot. He lets us know that fooling around with semi-feral girls is not his typical MO.
Gwen is such an interesting character, a blueprint for Once upon a River’s Margo Crane, or rather, this story is one of the short fictions that later became the novel, along with “Family Reunion,” where Margo’s younger incarnation is called Marylou. Gwen is so hurt that she doesn’t even know she’s hurt. She’s run away from home, and her boyfriend, Jake, doesn’t seem like anything close to a decent guy. She’s intent on survival, and she’s good at it, but she’s not exactly thriving. In “The Fishing Dog” you think that Michael, apparently the first decent guy she’s known, could be the antidote to Gwen’s misfortune, but in the novel she can’t bring herself to stay with him. Then the cycle comes full circle in Q Road (written and published before Once upon a River, but set years afterward) when Margo’s semi-feral teenage daughter, Rachel, does consent to marry the decent older guy, and balance is restored to the force. Er, land.
Regarding the illustrations, it was not easy to find a reference image of someone using pliers to pull the skin off a catfish that’s been nailed to a tree. I watched a very useful YouTube video on the subject to get it right. It’s been said that you should never read the comments on YouTube. About 10% of them said things like, “This is how we cleaned catfish when I was a kid,” and the other 90% insisted that no sane human would ever skin a catfish like this and the guy who made the video was mentally deficient and probably a lunatic. Frankly, it really seems like Gwen knows what she’s doing, at least when it comes to catfish.
Maybe it’s not the mandala that’s hot. Maybe it’s the state of Arizona. There is no way to tell the difference.
One thing’s for certain, and that is that it’s imperative to fix my scanner. Ever since I updated my OS, it doesn’t seem to like its own drivers that came with the device and were running fine before I started running Jackelope or Elephant-Bird, or whatever the heck they call this operating system. Puma. Adidas. No idea.
I got Comiconned out, or maybe I was just Phoenix-ed out. At any rate, I need to get out of the city and be someplace without other people, so The Man drove me the VERY long way home–as in, Phoenix is northeast of Tucson, but by the time we got to Tucson we were approaching it from the southwest. We turned a 2-hour drive into a 5-hour one, counting severals stops for me to tromp around the desert taking pictures of flowers and birds. Got some great shots, like this one of a red-tailed hawk leaping into the air. Finally had the macro lens and the elusive desert poppy in the same place at the same time, too. Well, the desert poppy actually isn’t elusive at all. It’s fairly ubiquitous in the spring and summer in certain parts of the state, but it tends to favor the high desert, and I tend to exist in the low desert, so this is the first time I’ve documented its fabulous insides. Will share soon.
I did have a good time at Comicon, but it was so huge and I didn’t have a good plan of attack and it was overwhelming. I met some really cool artists and writers, including the inimitable Phil Foglio (Girl Genius) along with Larry Welz (Cherry), along with some less famous dudes, most notably this guy Russ Kazmierczak, with whom I randomly got into a massive discussion about Alan Moore, the history of comics, and the deeper meaning of superheroes. He was so pleased with my conversation that he gave me his comic for free. He said it was because I saw graphic storytelling in the same way he did, and I’m going to believe that it was for that reason, and not because I was wearing a media badge.
ETA: WordPress just informed me that this is my 500th blog post at QWERTYvsDvorak. And all I got was this stupid virtual trophy. Plus a massive portfolio of ridiculous art.
This hummingbird lives in one of the aviaries at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum; this picture was taken last Wednesday in the late afternoon. It’s cropped pretty closely and then I played with the color until it matched my mind’s eye a little more closely. The brightness is correct, but I’m afraid the color at the bird’s throat might not be. If this is, as I suspect, an Anna’s hummingbird, the tone should be more purple than red. Still can’t trust the camera. But the untouched image doesn’t come close to demonstrating the brilliant dazzle of a hummingbird in sunlight and this is a little more indicative.
Like the hummingbird, I need to rest between flights. I have a couple more pictures like these, from that same day, which I’ll try to share this week, but I’m taking a little vacation from comics. They’re noisy in my brain and I need some space to think. I want to write a poem, and an article about comics, and finish at least 2 T-shirts, so it’s time to land for a few days. I think I’ll sit on the floor, with a notebook and a pen, and write.
I’m not sure if this was really worth waiting for.
It’s pretty sticky here after a day of weird and constant monsoons, and I thought I might take a night off from the blog, but around midnight I got kind of itchy about it, like drawing comics is some kind of ingrained habit. Or chemical dependency. I couldn’t relax until I made *something* even though my head hurt and my eyes were swimmy and all I wanted was to relax. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I’m doing this for me, not for clicks or likes or money. So it’s OK if I produce something that isn’t funny or informative or meaningful to anyone else. It just has to be meaningful to me.
This one went along fairly quickly, once I created a new template, although somehow I messed up the text size so you really have to click on the image to see it clearly, because each panel ended up being as big as my normal single panel comics, and I didn’t adjust the lettering. It’s too late. My head hurts too much. Click on the image if you want to know a few things from inside my head. You can also just admire the pictures, with which I am fairly satisfied.
I was outside the public library at 1:45 a.m. again, due to the fact that I have been, as Mrs. Kitty says, “Cox blocked,” and mysteriously lacked sufficient Internet to upload a single image, despite my paying these people $70 a month, every month, for high speed access. Unfortunately, I couldn’t even get online there, for whatever reason. It looked like they had changed their network completely; I hadn’t used it in a couple weeks. I’ve been trying to post this thing for well over an hour and am too tired to drive to the next place I know I could get online.
Now it is the morning and my Internets have magically returned. Hooray. Here’s my blog.
This Isaac Newton quote probably refers most particularly to the work of 2 great scientists who came before him: Johannes Kepler and Galileo Galilei. Although Newton is still regarded as one of the greatest scientists to ever live, having made major contributions to the fields of mathematics, optics, celestial mechanics, and of course, the study of gravity, over 300 years ago, he had to acknowledge that his leaps would not have been possible had he not studied the foundational works of those who came before.
In other words, read a book.
A crow riding an eagle
As for the image, there are fairy tales that involve smaller birds flying higher and farther than stronger birds by riding on their backs, and there are several sets of photographs of this phenomenon which you can Google at your leisure. It’s a documented fact that little birds sometimes hitch a ride on bigger birds.
Close up on the wing. Somehow, my freehand drawing shortened the back wing considerably, which I didn’t notice until after I cut it out, andI ended up having to add 2 pieces to make it big enough, but that was OK, since eagles have those layers of feathers anyway. it looks better this way.
The kerning on this one is off, because I only had a really limited time to work (I actually wanted to put in clouds, but as it was it took 30 minutes longer than I wanted) and didn’t measure properly. The letters were cut pretty haphazardly, no guidelines, no rulers. I just counted the occurrence of the individual letters and cut them of folded paper, so I only had to do each shape once.
In addition, I spilled a 1/4 bottle of rubber cement all over my shirt/the cement without noticing. That’s a first for me.
You were probably expecting something with a little more depth, but that’s just a matter of perception.
There’s a type of psychological intervention known as Sand Table Play Therapy, which basically involves arranging objects and figurines in a tray of sand. Sand is nice, but it also goes everywhere and I don’t really think it’s all that integral to the actual symbolic actions that comprise this treatment, which is basically about forcing rigid adult minds to become malleable enough to throw off the limitations of maturity engage in meaningful play. I’ve got a million of these little objects–I could easily have created dozens of different tableaux using stuff that’s already in my office–and it really is soothing to rearrange them sometimes. It’s also nice to justify owning all these tchotchkes.
I’d been thinking about doing this type of 3-dimensional photographic comic for a long time, even before I started this blog. Reading Dave McKean’s Pictures That Tick made it seem like time to try. For some reason, I thought this would be faster than actually drawing a comic, which was not in any way the case. It took twice as long as Dragon Comics usually take. But it was more fun, and got me away from my desk.
It would be really nice if there was some easy way to build a model that didn’t fully set: one whose features couldn’t be smushed, but whose arms and legs could be repositioned. And then I wish I had the equipment and knowledge to make stop motion animation films.
Anyway, I wasn’t really ready to do a comic about my demons, even though creating them yesterday also inspired me to do this. Maybe one day. I’m still puzzling over my comic about depression. It’s funny: seems like everyone gets depressed, and yet depression is a really personal and idiosyncratic experience. At least mine is.