Sunday, May 21, 2017

"Pet Door" + the Art of Grammar

An aspect of single-panel/gag cartoons that overlaps considerably with longform narratives (ex: graphic novels) is a preoccupation or at least awareness of how the spoken word can be transcribed and represented in visual form. Sequential art, image and text or pictures juxtaposed with the written word, is concerned with this interplay, and even the briefest passage, sentence and caption carries a double duty in not only pairing with the drawing to impart meaning, but wordplay as well.

Arguably it becomes even more of an issue when everything is consolidated into a single frame, as everything in theory ought to be edited down as much as possible. So even a single word sometimes can undergo endless permutations until the right effect is accomplished. Sound effects ("whuff," "snf" et al) - do they translate through onomatopoeic interpretation? Why "snf" instead of "sniff" or "snif" - and why not repeat it for more comedic effect? Will the bolding of a key word help enunciate stress during the internal reading of the letters and words? As shown in the above posted panel "sec" and "ya" might be commonplace slang for myself but how many others can make the jump, connect the dots and "get it." What's obvious to me doesn't necessarily mean it's universal, and that gray zone between a private universe where of-course-it's-obvious is evidence you're crazy to someone else.

Speaking of looking at things from the other side/another perspective, I've been mulling a lot as of late on the writing skills of myself and others, critically speaking. There's a curious instinct to dismiss comments from folks (very common on social media threads) that fail to employ correct spelling and grammar. I sure as hell can't judge... though the line gets crossed when you just simply just cannot even understand what the other person is trying to say. And whether the meaning is being expressed with words or through drawings, that's pretty much the sole criteria by which to determine it's relative effectiveness as far as communication. Unintelligible personal expression might be therapeutic or cathartic, but it's at best an exercise in solipsism - unless it makes sense, it's a pass/fail proposition.

I frequently ponder the correlation between my style of writing with that of drawings... I write like I draw. Every time a real writer (The Significant Otter for one) edits my statements, papers and proposals I am usually left feeling gobsmacked at how poorly I do. There are many serious artists out there that don't have any time for stupid cartoons either: their aesthetic sensibilities are offended to the degree that they take everything much too seriously - even themselves. That said, I cringe just as much re-reading old posts as I probably do perusing old cartoons. Hopefully I'll inexorably get better at the craftsmanship side of things with constant practice. Usually there will be some sort of overall stylistic evolution, punctuated with the occasional conscious, deliberate effort at self-improvement. In the meantime it's back to the proverbial drawing board, ad infinitum.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Recap: Spring Teaching

 “The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.” ~ Neil Gaiman
Though ostensibly started as a blog about teaching drawing so many years ago (see "First Day" + "Postscript"), Ink & Snow's obviously mutated morphed into pretty much a cartoonist's soapbox, with bonus posts on freelancing and the occasional editorial rant. Just for old time's sake here's a mega-recap of some of the highlights of this last semester, kinda like I did for the fall 206 course. And there'll be lotsa backlinks to initial posts on topics, which I've found to be useful when comparing + contrasting after all the grades are turned in and I reflect on the relative successes and failures of the semester, and mulling over the effectiveness of particular aspects of the syllabus and roster of activities. (More below the fold)

Sunday, May 14, 2017

"Budget Arctic Dentistry"

Sometimes it's a real relief to get what might very well be the dumbest one of the year out of the way early. Also a relief from the comparatively "complicated" compositions as of late. Sometimes simple is all you need, and this was a weapons-grade stupid gag that fell into the "can't believe I haven't thought of that before" category.

But seriously, you know, there are some days I just can't help but love this gig: where else in life can you get away with so much stupid at your job, and have it be an asset at work. Now if I could only make as much money as a dentist, that'd be nice. Also.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

"Hunter - Gatherer"

Yeah okay - a tell-tale sign that this particular panel ran a little bit earlier in the season - somebody's still sportin' mittens + a winter hat. Though that's not entirely a rare sight in the Interior during April. It could always be worse...

And I'll leave alone for now any, uh, crafty commentary on the gendered commentary on division of labor or other distinguishing characteristics of observable behavior while shopping in the dreaded land of glitter + potpouri.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Connecting Dots: Mean People Suck

Yet another Alaskan politician has put our own special breed of elected gerrymandered representatives on the (national stage now) map of vulgar stupidity.
“You have individuals who are in villages and are glad to be pregnant, so that they can have an abortion because there’s a free trip to Anchorage involved,” Eastman said. - Alaska Public Media

Sunday, April 30, 2017

"Vet Visit' (aka Bearly Awake)

What with the return of the light we see an increased capacity for activity in most large animals of the arctic. Some would call it somnolence, but it's more properly akin to torpor. Whatever... I'll get off the couch eventually.

The penciled panel is another good example of how to methodically build up the layers while sketching out a scene. Put another way, it's a process of ttreating objects as though they are transparent, so as to better situate and align elements for compositional clarity with linear perspective.

And, as with most of my work, I simply have no idea where I get my inspiration. None whatsoever.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

"AK Exfoliant"

Yeah, pretty much sums up my last attempt at skiing. Cross-country, mind you. Actually, come to think of it, I've managed the same on snowshoes. No wait - it's also possible just on foot... trust me.

One can only imagine the possibilities with hooking up with an external power source.

Sunday, April 16, 2017


What started out with the basic concept as the doodle posted above - ballpoint pen + watercolor wash in the sketchbook - eventually evolved into a much more involved piece. Basic issues of simple respect aside, there was no way I would even contemplate properly tackling such a complex cultural design without any formal training in formline.

The resultant panel wound up as a collaboration with another artist friend, Abel Ryan (previously featured here before), who created the custom beaver blanket + hat designs for the final version.

One can't help but be continually impressed at the quality of work that is constantly being created within the UAF Fine Art department's Native Arts studio. Also I've been really inspired by a recent purchase of an amazing graphic novel "Red" by Haida-Manga artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas (video here).

Once Abel emailed me the penciled-out imagery, I pasted it in to see how it would look: AWEsome.
Bonus trivia in the detail of a view from his hometown of Metlakatla that I snuck in from photo-reference. Mainly just so I could say Metla-CAT-la.

After receiving a surprise packet in the mail of the hard-copy finished designs, I then set about scanning them for final placement. The inherent awesomeness of the design in turn necessitated an expansion of the real-estate, as in making the blanket bigger so as to accommodate more of the art.

Started the whole thing way back in March, with another another bout of output in August; finished it all up in December; ran in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner the following January Update: April. There's always a batch of similar concepts in varying stages of completion that clutter up my studio and brain. It's never so much a stressful pressure as it is just a nice buffer zone knowing there's always ideas floating around just waiting to get paid attention to. And no shortage of inspiration either - thanks Abel!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Opera Fairbanks: Run of the Valkyries 2017

Going off of last year’s concept sketch that had some salmon in the background (ultimately edited out) – went with a new idea punning off of “RUN” = The Valkyrie Salmon!
Spent a lot of time playing with this - had a swirling cascade of bubbles at one point - besides having way too much fun it also made it way too busy... so the old adage of successful design was applied: edit edit edit.
More below the fold...