Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Oaf of Office

Today we start the long struggle towards a more hopeful and sane future. Though not my first (or 3rd-5th actually) preferred candidate, America definitely could use a symbolic grandfather figure now, as opposed to the raging, senile racist, bigoted uncle. Trust me - I have just enough contact with family members to count on one hand after rejecting the toxicity, negativity and outright insanity that has infected the majority of 'em. Anyways, the viral image above revealed an interesting detail of note: the framed cartoon strip seen tucked behind the laptop under the lamp. There probably isn't a more fitting legacy strip (aka zombie) character to fit hand-in-glove with the grandfatherly image, and that includes the equally enduring and problematic baggage associated with it. With all that being said I'm really looking forward to a mentally healthier and more refreshing change of pace.

Sunday, January 17, 2021


This gag goes hand-in-glove with last year's best/worst. We'll see if it's the proverbial bottom of the barrel by the time 2021 is all over.
I can't wait.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

KTVF Channel 11 Interview

Got interviewed by reporter + anchor Alex Bengel from local station KTVF Channel 11, and the piece was just broadcast/uploaded this week. It was conducted on-site at the 6th annual retrospective exhibition down at the distillery, and I was already primed to give tons of soundbites after lots of practice giving the Private Tours. What a great job condensing maybe half an hour of material down to a tight, concise, focused segment - I'm always impressed at the work these folks do at a job that is so technical and challenging in breadth + depth. Once again proving what a crucial part journalism plays in bringing so many different facets of our community, from important news to interesting features, to the public's attention, whether on a regional, national or worldwide in scope.

Just as a point of clarification, because I still get confused about this finer point of detail, the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce awards the Artist of the Year for the upcoming/ongoing year-in-progress (as opposed to honoring the recipients in other categories for their respective efforts from the previous year) as a way to showcase + promote their work throughout the season. And on account of 2020 being such a bust what with the pandemic's impact, they graciously extended a generous opportunity to just roll the award over, thus making me 2020's and 2021's AOY. Let's hear it for the reboot, and looking forward to other upcoming venues and gigs.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

"Never Let Go"

Regular readers know of my affinity for soundtracks in the studio background while working away on creating another cartoon. There are folks on YouTube making some truly impressive compilations - longplaying amalgamations from many composer's pieces to blockbuster franchises. This is something akin to DJs whose remixes can earn more accolades and devotees than the originating artists (see Zimmer's "Dark Knight" and "Man Of Steel," and this "Avengers" medley too). I have mixed feelings about this since, unless a license was purchased to ensure some proper remittance and all due credit, technically it's also in violation of copyright, and the artist is ripped off. They were/are also handsomely compensated by the corporate media giants who hire them to deliver another commercially profitable venture, and these studios are in a symbiotic relationship with such fan-based efforts like artistic remoras. Or maybe artis-ticks?

But if you want the best for raw inspiration and to get those creative juices flowing, always go straight to the source material- for example I've been undergoing a classic John Williams renaissance of sorts, and have recently added another excellent backing track to studio classroom dramatic entrances (Thanos, Vader, Magneto and Voldemort still occupying the top slots) - not to mention what with the way 2020 wound up, it's also quite often been my go-to for a wake-up track if not theme music for the daily disaster.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

"Hindsight: 2020" Non-opening weekend

A couple notes in reflection of the "opening" weekend down at the distillery... still compiling video segments to edit together with detailed stills so as to have a nice little virtual walkthrough at the end of the month. First off is finally getting a chance to unveil the spiffy new banner made by Date-Line Digital Printing last year - makes a very nice passive but prominent presence.

It's a good addition to the slate of options when trying to entice engagement with an audience. Unlike a formal gallery setting, venues such as this mean the majority of folks are not there for the show - the artwork is entirely incidental. I remember the first series of retrospective best-of-year in review shows that I used to have long ago at the original Hot Licks Ice Cream Parlor. That was the hottest alt-exhibition space in town - and the site of the first espresso machine in town. People would have to line up alongside the display wall while waiting to approach the counter and place an order. So I would get a voyeuristic thrill at hiding (not that I needed to - I was anonymous on account of being comparatively unknown) behind a paper with my coffee off in the corner. But the reality was being humbled in the observation that the overwhelming majority of customers never look anyways. Same here - I've seen folks sit with the work a few feet away from their faces and they never see it (sound familiar to the many personal issues I never face in my own life). The reward however comes in the occasional hearing firsthand the cause-and-effect laughter. I suppose this is the closest I'll ever get to understanding the powerful charge a standup comedian gets with a live audience - for a visual artist it can be quite the impression.

Seeing everything up on the wall also affords one an entirely different perspective on the body of work, and to an extent, the admittedly arbitrary period of time it encompasses. I feel tremendous satisfaction at the consistent level of quality drawing, marked by many examples of pushing myself to reach results way outside my creative comfort zone that I never would have otherwise have accomplished. This is always tempered by the awareness of my limitations and many failings too. Also there are several d*ck jokes this year ("Tuck In The Hose," "Pleistocene Problems," and "Arctic Skinny-Dip"), which seem to assume a disproportionate presence, or maybe you just see what you bring to the piece. And then there's the occasional dud, plus a chance to explain the joke, which is another lesson in humility. Again and again it proves the importance of teaching observational skills in my classes by such incessant training with critiques.

One of the peculiar aftereffects of having an art opening is sometimes getting hit with a wave of sadness as a result of the anticlimactic end to all the buildup beforehand. Investing so much time + effort on a monumental event only to feel such emotional fallout afterwards is a sneaky phenomenon I frequently warn first-time exhibitors for their thesis shows. I thought I was long-since inured to such pitfalls, but then after getting all of the pieces up for this annual retrospect and realizing that was pretty much it was kind of a bummer. Just made me recommit to reaching out even more in the marketing efforts.

Speaking of, the "Daily Doodle" series of teaser images for the official event page has been fun to do, especially the Instagram posts with all the added filters + effects. A fun way to keep the show on everybody's radar on social media - and boost the host venue as well. Hopefully I'll drag some more media into the event and entice some television reporters out to partake and peruse.

Promoting the new line of merch including the canned Bloody Marys - never had 'em before and boy am I ever a big fan now. And the line of tshirts, stickers, and glassware compliments the scene. These folks are among the many local small businesses that are trying to adapt to pandemic conditions, and deserve our mutual support since they in turn have provided us with a great venue in hosting these gigs over the years. Grateful to be able to leave behind a table on site to peddle the wares when I can't be there in person - and this year I dropped prices a bit since a l lotta people are getting pinched, if not in an economic crisis as a result of the coronavirus.

Did have several successful trial runs on the Private Tour option, and revamped the scheduling so as to accommodate an hour instead of just the advertised 30-minutes. My talk would run 35-40 minutes, but there needs to be some padding and a bigger buffer zone so as to accommodate questions and comments. Not to mention just hanging out with really fine folks. Funny how one can always tell just how big a smile can be behind a mask. Of course the laughing always gives it away. I really appreciated the opportunity to expound upon the behind-the-scenes trivia that long-time blog readers are more than familiar with.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

"Scenic View"

2020 set the bar with the best of the year, and I'm gonna kick off the new year with another epic one right out of the gate. More after the jump...

Sunday, December 27, 2020

"Captain's Log"

I'll finish up the year with one of my personal favorites. This one's for the Significant Otter, who now has every. single. one. (more after the jump)
"As I experience certain sensory input patterns, my mental pathways become accustomed to them. The input is eventually anticipated and even 'missed' when absent." - Data

Friday, December 25, 2020

"Hindsight: 20/20" Recap/Rebirth/Reboot

This January 2021 will see the sixth annual retrospective show down at the local distillery (see previous writeups for 2016/2019). Rob and the folks at Ursa Major have been such outstanding and supportive hosts over the years – and this is my best work yet. Obviously with the pandemic still in play, this’ll be the first ever show of mine that there won’t be an official opening reception for. It’s not the time or place, especially seeing how Alaska is starting to crack as the system is strained by our ignorance and stupidity – compounded by the malicious incompetence of this administration. So we're trying a variation on the theme, and experimenting with a new concept: "Private Receptions."

To say I’m strongly conflicted is an understatement. I get very angry at deniers, maskholes, conspiracy theorists and the like, and it’s depressing how we as ‘Muricans don’t follow the advice of scientists - and further disrespect our healthcare workers by flaunting basic common sense. That said I’ve been keeping my mouth shut since I can certainly see how it looks hypocritical to be for example voluntarily teaching face-to-face classes. Sooner than later here on Ink & Snow I’ll post a more in-depth recap of the pandemic from the perspective of my adventures in online education over this past year, but suffice to say, the experience demonstrated it is possible to responsibly conduct adapted versions of classes while following strict safety protocols. Mandatory masking, distancing (w/limiting any close contact exposure to 1-3 minutes), and - even better than the spacious/well-ventilated studio classroom - four HEPA filters in the tasting room along with the usual obsessive-compulsive cleaning routine.

Sex sells: Using Chef Joe's ass to market my product

So based on my personal experience in the classroom we’ll experiment with a potential alternative to the traditional mass gathering and offer an opportunity to folks who are comfortable with an individualized “private reception.” Plus it’s just one more small gesture in support of small businesses, who have – along with all of us across the creative community – been pushed out onto thin ice as a result of COVID-19. Note: I’ll also take special care to dutifully document the show and put up another virtual walk-through similar to last year, but this time just film it with the phone and upload video straight to the YouTube channel, as opposed to previous attempts at wonky streaming from the frontier. Plus as an added bonus this year on the official Facebook event page I'll be posting a daily image from the show, so by the end it'll all add up to a virtual taste for the folks keeping score along with the show at home. Seriously - can't blame anyone for sitting it all out: the most important thing is to stay safe and stay home if that's what makes you feel comfortable.

And as previously mentioned, it also turns out I’m rolling over into 2021 as 2020’s special extended Artist of the Year for the Fairbanks Chamber. This seeing as how the pandemic pretty much obliterated all the opportunities normally offered to said spotlight (ex: tables at the Golden Days and Solstice celebrations). Likewise the Tanana Valley State Fair is recycling their logo art again, and there will be a public poster signing/show & tell to showcase the BLM/Eagle Artist In Residency piece in early spring. Guess it seems like this will be my year (again) with an opportunity for a reboot + clean reinstall. After adding in all the recent the accolades and volunteerism efforts looks like I’ll happily die from exposure, or in this instance, overexposure.

Happy B-Day to my Significant Otter - None of this would be possible without your support

Looking over both this post and while prepping the Ursa exhibit, there’s an irony in how I’ve been creating arguably my strongest work ever while paradoxically under the shadow of so much struggle and stress. To qualify, the pandemic's impact was and continues to be a slow-moving disaster for the community - and at a staggering scale as it continues to ripple across Alaska, the nation, and the world. Set against so much rampant corruption and open displays of insanity, greed, fear, hatred and bigotry, and against a rising tide of natural disasters, plus looming bankruptcy, evictions, consequent homelessness, and hunger and death on an unfathomable scale, it’s been a daily struggle against making stupid drawings. Not just the regular ol’ everyday existential ennui, but it bothers me to come across as so superficial in the face of such suffering. I’ll be honest with you; this has been one of the absolute worst times to try and be funny and simultaneously stay informed about just how horrible everything really is. These and other peripheral issues are usually kept at bay by the buffer zone of focusing on what's directly in front of you on the drawing board (the art therapy route) but as of late the news is insidious and omnipresent. Not unlike a certain studio ass-istant.

"This is the end" - Morrison

Sunday, December 20, 2020


This sequence illustrates not so much the process as far as materials are generally concerned, but more with the conceptual evolution that can occur simultaneously with the act of creation: revision and editing on the fly will sometimes have as much to do with shaping the final image as any initial idea.

In fact there's a real good chance the end result will be a significant improvement if you allow for flexibility and spontaneity. To wit (no pun intended): In the initial sketch posted above, one can see the preliminary parameters of the panel penciled out, then erased as the margins kept expanding outwards so as to accommodate a better composition. The same exact process occurs mentally as well.

That at times sets up a dynamic tension with the urge to control everything, and many cartoonists, as much as any artist, possess the attributes of being a control freak about their work. And above and beyond the execution, it's a challenge to let things go, as in drop it if no solution occurs - even after the whole things is drawn and done with.

Case in point: here is an almost completed panel that was already inked in, and scanned for digital tweaking. I had invested a comparatively significant amount of time researching the respectively unique styles of the different shoes, bunny boots and crocs (both equally ubiquitous in the north) and designing what such a hybrid would look like.

And who knows, maybe in the end my first instinct would have been better to keep the concept + illustration simple, straightforward and clean by leaving it alone. Keeping all the focus on the footwear and the gag versus creating a composition that allows for the barest, almost imperceptible pacing out and presentation of visual (and verbal) clues. Theoretically letting the viewer assemble such information invests the observer by giving them the pieces of the puzzle, and there is a certain sort of satisfaction when one arrives at the conclusion on one's own. You know, like putting in the footwork.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Corben etc.

Artist Richard Corben died: He was a tentpole talent for one of the most influential comics that inspired me in highschool, Last Gasp's "Slow Death." Afterwards when my tastes matured (/s) and I evolved into a Heavy Metal fan, there he was again. His unique, distinctive style carried over regardless of the character or content. 

After my first year over on Instagram, I'm throttling back my uploads and limiting posts to just one a week, probably Sundays, just here on like Ink & Snow (for the most part). This on account of the time + energy spent on-line is an omnipresent drain on limited resources that could be otherwise invested in more projects. I've seeded the platform enough at this point, and it's a decent portfolio of material. One little thing I've recently started doing was using my Instagram tag in the copyright fine print next to the title and signature. I swapped it out instead of the Ink & Snow address that I’ve used since forever, just to see what would happen. I'll start with the 2019 stuff now, and as with both print + blog, slowly spin off the wheel and become detached from reality, meaning the time-honored seasonal distinctions have broken down: winter or summer is just a state of mind that lasts all year. Trivia: My favorite filter as of late is Perpetua, which since even the official Instagram blog neglected to show a sample of, here's what the nifty split-screen effect looks like as applied to my panels. Trendy and like most hipster effects - or cartoons for that matter - aesthetically empty and ultimately forgettable.

That being said it's still a great place to look at neat art, especially divorced from the toxic effluent continually vomited out on Facebook. One can only hope they will now become divested from that rotting corpse and regain their independence from the Walmart of the Internet that has contributed to the decline of democracy. Bonus points for irony in saying this on a Google product, created on an Apple product while listening to a Disney product being played on another Google product. Good thing I just bought some more Forever Stamps and fresh ink.

"WAP" Wet Ass Panels