Saturday, December 5, 2020

"Baked Alaska" #21-24

It's that time of the year when we turn to the pages of the Alaska Cannabist and review another batch of homegrown groan cartoons.
(more after the jump)

Friday, December 4, 2020

Wikipedia Time

Long-time readers of Ink & Snow appreciate my hyperlinks sprinkled throughout so many posts like little snowflakes of information. Sometimes it's a downright flurry of knowledge. Seriously though, I rely on Wikipedia a lot, so I try and pitch in when I can.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

"Hipster Beaver"

If I live long enough it might soon be time to put out a book just of beaver cartoons. There’s a couplefew other ones in the works beforehand: a catch-up compilation (since I’ve slacked off for years now and have accumulated quite the back-catalog, which means this next one will have an unusually high ratio of “good ones”); and a book of edits. Oh and a children’s book, and a graphic novel too.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes dilemma that resulted in a prudent edit between the sketchbook doodle and the printed version: A real hipster would be smoking a clove (as I did all through the aforementioned highschool years), which is graphically indistinguishable from a joint, so that didn’t make the cut for the family-friendly readership.

It’s actually amazing how much you can get away with under the guise of “doing research.” But seriously, that beret is the single item of my dad’s clothing I still have, stolen way back in high-school. It was legit French-Canadian, from Quebec, and he used to lecture me on the proper angle of the stem or stalk on top and that it must match the correct slope off to the right. And don’t even get me started on shaping it and shaving it.

Elsewhere I posted about the overlapping center on the Venn diagram of memes and single-panel gag cartoons that occupies a shared relationship between the juxtaposition of image + text.

I’m still absorbing the many meta-lessons in that phenomenal book about Nancy. So much in strips goes back to Ernie Bushmiller, in the pantheon alongside Shultz and Herriman.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Castor Canadensis: Rise of the Vampire Beaver Moon

One of the most endearing things to happen over the course of a semester is seeing the blackboard graffiti left behind by students. Always makes my whole dam day.
Continue reading after the jump...

Friday, November 27, 2020

My Tribe

I shared a meme on social media that had me mulling over some aspects of tribalism. A pet theory I've been entertaining as of late is how another yet major part of the foundation of American culture was fractured with the rise in Black Lives Matter + politicization and protests among sports. Much like the regrettable polarization infecting other areas of public service by malevolent incompetence, when a previously apolitical, supposed safe zone reserved for letting off steam (ie channeling sanitized corporate + marketable urges) is removed, we now see these roaming bands of savages intent on scoring points by beating up the opposing team.

These folks could seriously use a healthy outlet, much like how followers of QAnon and other conspiracy theorists obviously exhibit obvious and serious deficiency in processing the power of imagination. This was no doubt due in some small measure to never having their imagination properly stimulated, say by reading works of fantasy and science fiction (another crucial reason to support literacy). I have a lot of empathy for folks baffled by their illogical contortions and unhinged beliefs  - it reminds me of the equally inconceivable tenets of Christianity or other religions. This is from the perspective of someone raised on an upbringing of mythology & fairy tales... so the bullshit detectors were already in place by an impressionable young age when I was exposed to attempted indoctrination to similar cultish and abusive groups. The bewilderment and perplexity of coming into contact with evangelical systems is the exact same thing.

Back to Batman: Another take would be how I never aligned myself with teams like "Marvel" versus "DC," endless fanboy debates aside I've always sided with characters, and even more specifically later on in life, it's the writers in particular who will shape my view of a feature or franchise. For example while I do have an essential reading section on the shelves dedicated to Batman, it's the work of individual creators I'll gravitate towards - and good storytelling is the shared aesthetic. Bonus points for irony in that one of my favorite authors is almost anything by Grant Morrison, who certainly has his own unique perspective. You simply cannot ever look at things normally ever again once you've mentally wrapped yourself around Flex Mentallo, The Filth, and Doom Patrol.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Legislative Citation

So this happened earlier in the week: 

“The Thirty-First Alaska State Legislature extends its sincere congratulations to a truly exceptionally gifted Alaskan artist… and commends him for taking the time to give a dam.”

One of  handful of super-humbling hat-tips I've been really grateful to get in my career. Thanks so much to Representatives Grier Hopkins and co-sponsor Adam Wool, and especially Tania Clucas for the accolades and support - it means a lot. Also it looks like I'll accept the kind offer from the outstanding folks at the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce to just hit the repeat button and roll over into bonus overtime as an extended Artist of the Year.

This was exceptionally generous since all the gigs offered as part of the package were canceled on account of COVID-19. Likewise for the honor of being the poster artist for the fair.

"Thanks for all you do for the arts, arts education and most importantly sharing the majesty of the work of the beaver. Your achievements are a credit to your hard work, dedication, skills and commitment to doing the best. I'm optimistic about Alaska's future because we have strong and skilled people in our community, especially ones who can make us laugh during crying times." - Rep. Hopkins, House District 4

So far 2021 looks to be one of the better reboots ever made... I can't wait. In the meantime I'm takin' the weekend off: be safe everyone.

Update: Yeah sure, an official Legislative Citation is cool and all, and what a wonderful surprise to be on the front page of the freakin' newspaper and all, but let me tell ya when Sourdough Jack name drops you - now that's on-trend.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

"Your Dog Wants Cash"

Kinda like how billions of lollipops get shoveled out at the nation's drive-through banking windows, up here in this neck of the woods it's equally ubiquitous to hand out doggy treats too. This has the side-effect of instilling mass Pavlovian experiment when thousands of pooches are programmed to leave noseprints in eager anticipation. Some models also come equipped with copious amounts of drool in panting expectation.

I initially worked up a scan straight from the sketchbook, mostly adding typset text. That version (posted below) was in the pipeline to get printed in the paper, but then on a whim at the last minute while drawing another batch of panels I decided to do a better one instead. Bonus shout-out bark-out to the best baker in whole arctic.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

"Hare Loss"

This particular panel came about in the middle of a recent residency as a spontaneously generated doodle done during a demo. It had a relatively simple enough composition that made for an easy example to illustrate how I draw a cartoon.

If I recall correctly I wound up signing the original and giving it a student who was the most talented participant in the residency, and brought outstanding samples of her own work to the open studio sessions. I know it sounds like one of the Hallmark platitudes, but it honestly does really make it all worthwhile when you make a sincere connection with a student, and you just know that they will only do better than you ever did, go farther and create incredible things and tell wondrous stories.

Afterwards I wondered at the wisdom of illustrating such heavy topics (even with a really dumb gag): one of my reflexive approaches with students is to never ever talk down to them, and assume they can handle far more than you think. Oftentimes they're smarter than adults, so always treat them with respect, and trust that you never need to "dumb things down." Don't worry - they get it.

The psychological aspect of humor as a defense mechanism oftentimes occupies my thoughts, especially whenever contemplating my choices in life, and how I ever managed to make it this far. I laugh at the worst things, and that inappropriate perspective as an outsider is very often the exact same one that enables a great many different ideas. On the one hand there's the stereotype of so-called "artistic suffering," but this is less and less likely to be the creative catalyst with the benefit of experience. Somewhat sorry to say that the reality is much more pedestrian and boring than any romanticized notions of wallowing around the depressing trappings of some artist. And that probably goes double for cartoonists, who, ironically enough, tend to be rather serious if they are at all successful. Not to mention learning how to laugh instead of crying can really help in dealing with reality these days.

Sunday, November 1, 2020


Bears repeating. This is a recent editorial panel that ran in the paper which was slightly different in that it wasn't partisan nor personal - distinctly at odds with the usual political diatribes. This especially during an election cycle, and aggravated by the bitter, ugly and violent rhetoric that divides Americans even more.

Most cartoonists – excepting editorial - are pressured to just entertain, and not get political, partisan or personal, but we don’t have that luxury anymore. Hence the recent urgent opinion piece posted here a few weeks back.


Four-Bearance: "Live Stream" + "Identity-Theft Bear" + "Gummy Bear Proof" + "Shakesbeare"

Okay well then, how 'bout four bears? Here's a bonus batch of bruins in one big post to get caught back up on my backlog of mothballed material simmering away on the back burners.

Here's a case where a source doodle can provide the seed material for a future panel, even if you have no idea what the cartoon will ultimately be about. It's just gotta incubate for a bit, and hopefully make a connection with a contemporary topic, in this instance my abject failure to literally connect online. And lastly, in retrospect, those of our readers keeping score at home can draw a line with this directly back to one of Johnny Hart's iconic characters: Clumsy Carp from the legacy zombie strip "B.C."

Also there's no end to the possibilities with asking yourself question "what if" - and what would things look like from a different point of view. Long-time readers are used to my constant metaphor of a mental mulch-pile as a source of inspiration - sometimes  it's not so pretty nor anywhere near as organic as a compost pile but more like a dump. And basically what we're doing is dumpster diving for more ideas whether they're fresh ones or recycled ones.

So that peculiar glazed expression I get at times means I'm employing the infamous Jacob's Ladder to try out all sorts of incongruous associations. Humor is as subjective as one person's trash.

Bonus Trivia: Anytime you see garish colors like highlighter markers that's a dead giveaway I was probably at work using any office supplies on hand. I also kept having to rework the composition so as to more properly adjust the size ratio between the two objects.

Hopefully the bear-proof (technically "resistant") food container is becoming more and more ubiquitous at least among the backcountry crowd - especially where required in public lands (like in Denali and other Alaskan National Parks). At least as easily recognizable to the general populace as is the common Gummy Bear.

Lastly there was a Photoshop tweak to incorporate the Rule of Odds - incidentally affording the opportunity to add more high-contrast color. After extensive test-marketing I realized this is another panel that most people will miss the details, in this specific case  the tiny little claw marks made in desperation as the poor little bears sloly starved to death only inches away from food. But as usual it just heightens the keen appreciation for those on the know.

The stoic lessons from Epictetus can help us here, as one of the mos fun-da-mental proverbs guiding me throughout life has always been, and will continue to be to simply "Grin bear it." Etymology aside, this is not to be confused with the tenth-longest running comic strip in American history.

"All's well that end's well." And ending up right back where we began, it's another idle doodle culled from the pages of the sketchbook which got worked up into an original, and in turn inspiring another rich vein to mine for funny ideas - this time playing with a specific stage instruction that I hadn't ever heard before...