Tag Archives: comic

Clue: Breakfast Edition

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You can see it in her face. Mrs. Butterworth is *guilty*. GUILTY! She always seemed a bit too sweet.

If this isn’t simultaneously the funniest and stupidest idea I’ve ever had, I’d be happy to entertain alternate nominations for those superlatives. Anyway, Colonel Mustard looks like a bitter pill.

If Mr. Plum turns up dead tomorrow, it will be because he was in the icebox looking delicious, so sweet and so cold.

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Don’t Take Me Down

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And did you further know what I am applying to myself right now?

This one started out as an extra page for the American Salvage book, a little introduction to the history of and academic discourse about comics that could explain the project’s intellectual value, but I could never figure out the last panel, how to bring it full circle or tie it in to the rest of the material. Like, where was this narrative going? Was there any joke in it? And how many copyright violations did I dare produce?

In for a penny…I drew all the licensed characters. I believe that this comic constitutes fair use but you know fair use is only for people who can afford lawyers.

Tonight I just decided to draw something for the last panel. I don’t know if this comic succeeds in saying what it wants to say, but at least it’s finished.

Who Cares As Long as They Provide Free Childcare?

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Well, SOMEbody’s totally ready for fatherhood.

When you have 2 comics that you started weeks ago and never finished because of reasons, the thing to do, of course, is start a whole new comic. But that just means there are definitely 2 more comics coming. Obviously, I haven’t been drawing any comics lately, and it’s been a while since I drew any of my own, or any without a political agenda: last year was almost entirely Linda Addison, Bonnie Jo Campbell, and my personal fear and loathing regarding the state of the union. So let’s see what it’s like to be a webcomic again.

Obviously, shout out to Archer here. I almost drew Archer or Mallory into the comic. Then I just decided to give the dude Archer’s hair. Then I gave up on that and just tried to get the characters to look like the same character in every panel, at which, I calculate, I was 66.6% successful. Anyway, I assume this guy’s the dad and he’s just gearing up for the day that his children are sufficiently fluent in the English language for him to drive them insane. He’s practicing for the triplets.

Actually, The Man is the ultimate dispenser of dad jokes and I’m pretty sure I’m the target way more often than the kids are. You simply cannot tell this man you’re hungry, thirsty, tired, dirty, damp, whatever you’re feeling or experiencing, unless you want him to introduce himself to you. “I’m starving.” “Nice to meet you Starving, I’m Daddy.”

He is lucky I haven’t stabbed him during a low blood sugar crisis.

 

How and Where I Enter

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According to my insider sources, all the 1 percenters read standing up whilst wearing tiaras.

There are a lot of ways of looking at any piece of fiction. After rewriting and illustrating 30 of Bonnie Jo Campbell’s short stories and telling her story about writing American Salvage, it seemed like I could/should write my story (apology?) about making these comics. A little piece of it anyway, which was much harder to tell than I thought it would be. It took all week to finalize the text; my first draft would have filled the entire page with words and never even got past panel 4. I guess I’ll have to write another comic about growing up in the North Shore of Chicago when you’re just not like the other humanoids, because John Hughes never got too deep into that story.

I think I mentioned the details about panel 2 in a previous blog post, although I can’t seem to find it, but Ferris Bueller, Michael Jordan, &c: true story. Panel 3 depicts “Hassle Castle,” which is what we called the admin building at Antioch College. The building, we were always told, was designed by the same guy who designed the Smithsonian Castle in Washington, DC. The side I drew was originally built as the front door of the school, at which time it faced a railroad station and only had 2 buildings behind it. Later, the train line was shut down and the school expanded behind the Castle and now this is the back of the Castle, facing 1000 acres of protected wilderness (nice backyard!) and the old back of the Castle is now considered its front.

Panel 3 has a little backstory. I’m not sure I ever ate Stove Top Stuffing in my life; if I did, it certainly wasn’t at my mother’s house. We didn’t use boxed matzah ball mix either, but Antioch College is in a tiny town in southwestern Ohio, so I couldn’t necessarily be particular about ingredients while I was at school. Anyway, I was cooking it in the minuscule shared kitchenette in Birch Hall. At Antioch, I met a number of lovely and academically talented people who referred to themselves with some degree of pride as “white trash,” and one of these people came in to use the kitchen at the same time. She saw the box and asked me what the heck it was. I explained matzah balls and then added, “I’m cooking from my culture,” and she indicated her box of Stove Top Stuffing and said, “I’m cooking from my culture.” So that happened.

Even as a starving artist, I’ll always be an outsider to American Salvage, but I hope I got into it pretty well.

 

Metropolitan Industrial Salvage

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That flattop is awesome and I don’t see how it could fail to make anyone smile.

It was pretty nice of Craig to write this script for the Upcoming American Salvage comic, not only because we gave him about 6 seconds notice that he was getting a page in the book, but also because last year he published an entire comic book about the history of Portage Printing (I drew 3 pages for him) and it’s sort of amazing that he still had any material left over. I thought he might have some kind of clever advertisement in his back pocket, already prepared, but he managed to come up with an original story that ties back into the “salvage” theme of the rest of the book.

I’ve never been to Portage Printing: when I lived in Kalamazoo I had a 500-page a semester copy code from the university, plus I got one of the secretaries to give me an unlimited code so I could secretly make copies of my 600-page novel in the middle of the night. However, I suspect it’s a top-notch place. Craig has really created an amazing business model, combining an obvious passion for professional excellence with the unforgettable marketing device of filling his workplace with old-timey artifacts. If you happen to be in southwestern Michigan and need to print a comic book or something like that, I highly recommend checking his place out.

Craig sent me some of the source images, and his loyal customers provided some others via the Portage Printing Yelp page.

King Cole’s American Salvage

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I didn’t notice the parallel between Slocum holding the galvanized pipe and Johnny holding the sledgehammer until after I drew it. Panel 6 should have been Johnny standing in the same attitude as Slocum in panel 2. In case you haven’t read the book, Johnny is not threatening his uncle with the sledgehammer; he’s just knocking the tire off an old Lincoln Town Car.

A really difficult comic for me, almost on the level of difficulty of “To You, as a Woman.” It’s just so sad. It didn’t help that, the day before I started working on it, The Man asked me to watch The Green Mile, which I had never seen (or read—I was an avid Stephen King fan as a young person, and the publication of the book coincided with the end of my love affair with his work) and it really crystallized the feeling of being overwhelmed by pain and suffering and man’s inhumanity to man. There’s not a lot of hope here: Slocum is clearly irredeemable, and Johnny’s path to responsibility is guilt-ridden and regrettable. Also, many people know that I spent 5 years taking care of a friend with a traumatic brain injury, so that pain is all too familiar. Plus, trying to draw the same character in a variety of poses always stresses me out.

Nevertheless, she persisted.

It took an entire week to create this comic, working in bits and pieces because the whole was too terrifying to contemplate, but I powered through and finished around 3 a.m. Sunday night. Then I uploaded it. I uploaded it 6 times. Every time I uploaded it, I saw a mistake and felt compelled to go back and fix it. The first 5 were kind of little: 2 of them were missing apostrophes, and 1 was that Slocum didn’t have an ear in panel 5. But the 6th time, the time I said, “OK, now it’s got to be right,” I noticed a mistake in the title. Among my writer friends, I’m considered a pretty excellent copyeditor, but somehow I had gotten through the entire process (I drew the title first) without noticing that “American” was misspelled. That’s when I gave up and went to sleep because it was almost 4 a.m. and if I’d overlooked that, who knows what I might have overlooked, and how would it be possible to discover it in any case?

The next story in the book is a lot more pleasant, although it also involves gross bodily injury of the sort that will likely affect the character for the rest of his life, but at least it doesn’t feature any psychopaths.

 

Family Reunion

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I wasn’t sure if I was really going to draw that final panel, but I drew it.

As I recall, there are a couple of pieces of American Salvage that appear in Bonnie Jo’s second novel, Once upon a River, which is apparently being made in a movie even as we speak, and the events of “Family Reunion” are a big part of Once upon a River, which I guess means that in short order we’re going to have a feature film in which a teenage girl shoots off the tip of her rapist’s weapon.

I guess America is seriously ripe for this kind of honesty in cinema. If more rapists got their dicks shot off, maybe there would be fewer rapists in the world.

It’s really only a couple of pixels, but it did seem like a kind of far-out thing to draw. Then again, so are gutted deer and spit roast pigs. And this is the 4th comic in a row that features a gun.

In the story, Marylou finally recognizes the violence that was done to her through the metaphor of a gutted deer. The word “rape” doesn’t appear in the story, and there’s no particular recollection of the actual event, although she describes the details of the moments before and after. The pig makes a vile, but apt metaphor as well.

Selective mutism is a not completely uncommon response to trauma among children. There’s a certain degree of power in willful silence. The way Marylou experiences the world, jumping back and forth between current and past events, is also a result of trauma. In illustrating the story, I jumbled up the images, quotes, and captions, too. Everything is mixed up. But Marylou has a moment of clarity at last. It’s a satisfying ending, the kind of justice that we so rarely see in the real world.