Sunday, June 16, 2019

"Cache Me Outside"

Update: This one is sooo goddamned stupid I never even submitted it. Usually it's a good idea to stay outside the mainstream when it comes to topical material, especially one that's connected to current events and even more so if it's attached to the ephemeral and fleeting foibles from the world of Hollywood stars. Sometimes it's like a laboratory experiment where I watch what passes for fame and celebrity... it's a strange feeling like falling under the hypnotic spell of an entrancing mirage.

It's a sublime relief to read over the headlines of any gossip rag, like for example the PuffHo, and not recognize 90% of the names, or in the case of the Kardashians for example, really know anything at all as to why on earth anybody would. That's not being elitist, it's just a side-effect after not having or watching network tv now for decades. Whenever you accidentally catch something it's like you're an alien visiting some weird planet where what's actually important is ignored in favor of lies. It really puts things into their proper context: who honestly, really gives a flying fuck about the lives of these people? Why should anybody care?

That's entertainment

And yeah I know, bonus points on irony for all this coming from both a consumer and producer of entertainment that just takes other forms in mass media. I mean, who the hell reads comics, right?

Sunday, June 9, 2019

"Turn White"

I frequently project empathetic scenarios to test my personal white fragility, and the results can be very amusing - and instructive if you don't get your feelings hurt. Punching up (or in this case, over) for comedic effect is a very potent mudra, as it's an artist's - especially a cartoonist- basic job requirement to be able to laugh at yourself, even if it's over something serious. There's no shortage of inspiration and examples, to say nothing of my own behavior - I frequently learn a little bit about myself with every image I create.
Toyota Prius, Pinot Grigio, Macbook, Dasani water, catbed, meditation mat, yoga pants (+ anatomically impossible pose) bigscreen tv, hi-fi stereo, snowboard, cappuccino, man-bun, hipster eyewear, FOX cooking show, bingeable shows on DVD

Here's a grab of a tiny area of detail on the text of the DVD spines that I caught myself scaled down to a 3-pixel wide pencil to cleanup after the scan.  This is something I commonly admonish students working on tablets (“pull out… PULL OUT”) who get sucked into a black hole of obsessive attention to detail that nobody will ever see, much less care about. But then again, we wouldn't be drawing these damn things to begin with if such things didn't concern us.

I actually got to demo this out for Beginning Drawing as an case-in-point/real life example of the Inter Space critique assignment. The fundamental principles of linear perspective and arranging the visual elements (composition) upon the stage can be easily applied in this instance... for a detailed breakdown of the process see this post and accompanying video.

Sunday, June 2, 2019


It's always a matter of perspective. Linear that is. A few shifts occurred between the original doodle and the finished print version, namely switching from all outside scenario to the observers being instead safely ensconced within their home. Also an opening in the production calendar also necessitated a change of season as well.

Here's a swatch that shows how utterly crappy the original inked page was that required twice the normal amount of time (so approx. an hour) to digitally clean up after scanning. Why you ask? Because even yours truly can fall victim to the amateur's trap of erasing before the ink is dry. Instead of the usual workflow I had a pileup of material to crank out on deadline, and even after using a heat gun I still managed to smear it all over.

I did get a chance to demo this composition out as a quick example of arranging visual elements on a picture plane outside, as opposed to an interior stage. Still all the same "rules" apply - it's just a bigger playing field to move the actors and props about.


Sunday, May 26, 2019

"The Three Seasons of Alaska" + Meme

This panel arose out of the subconscious stream while in the middle of workflow from a normal session. In other words, I got the idea while drawing something else - as per Edison's theory of inspiration/perspiration. After grabbing some photo reference to sketch from, I inadvertently created a meme version, which does the same damn thing, just in a different way.

Which brings up an interesting consideration, one that I've been mulling over for quite some time. I make my own memes often enough that the process behind creating them is essentially the same as coming up with cartoons (juxtaposition of image + text).

It's just a different skill set, at best for folks who can't draw well enough to effectively communicate their concept. It's quite evident from my perspective that they have largely supplanted cartoons in popular media, in particular on-line culture. One crucial distinction lies in the concept of authorship - one is predicated on anonymity, the other is based on intellectual property. I'll save all this for a future post, wherein I can ruminate at length about this groundbreaking new field of research. For now at least I at long last have an excuse to start a brand-new Label for this post topic.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

"Spring Breakup" v3

After all of the recent Throwback Thursdays and retro postings - mostly hinging on the Freeze-Frame feature - I occasionally wonder what a reboot would look like with random panels from the past. In theory whatever one chosen ought to look a little better. Or at least that's what you'd hope for...

Like a lot of artists I tend to wince at the work of my formative years... but hey, they're just little breadcrumbs all leading back up to where I am today, so it can't be all that bad. Which is to say, they're not worthless at any rate: they served a purpose as stepping stones, and/or in this instance, are notches on the measuring-stick.

Which, for those of our viewers keeping score at home, covers the very first incarnation of this cartoon way back in 1986, then again in 1991, and finally both the digital and the watercolor wash variation of the reboot. That's a full spread, and a great encapsulation of an evolution that's been unfolding for over thirty years up here in Alaska. "Glacial pace" would be apropos.

And yeah, supposedly your not supposed to compare yourself to others, but on the other hand if you can't objectively assess growth in relation to your own work, at least in retrospect, then you might lack a critical facility which could handicap any substantive insights about your personal progress.

Ideally at some point it evolves into a self-sustaining, self-fulfilling prophesy, an Ouroboros of art, where your own work begins to inspire you to create more art. That's literally drawing from the well.

All this puts to the lie that is an artist's best years are always behind them. The so-called "creative peak" is a mythical metric that's only useful as an excuse to make yourself feel like shit. Like we ever need any help with that.

Recently I became aware that one of the revered, sacred texts of art, Cameron's "The Artist's Way," was given a secular reworking, or at least the core set of principles. Way back when I read the original book, once, then put it on a shelf along with all the other dusty, musty art books and self-help guides, and have never looked at it again. Been too busy making art you see. Kinda like when I was a Philosophy major, I am reminded that Life is what happens to you in the meantime while you're busy studying the Meaning of Life. Here's an appropriate example of the tweaking:
New: 8. As we open ourselves to creativity, we will see powerful but subtle adjustments that lead to personal and artistic growth. (Old: 8. As we open our creative channel to the creator, many gentle but powerful changes are to be expected.)
The original ranks right up there with similarly mealy-mouthed, evasive phrasing of any 12-Step group's theology-lite, and is ultimately about as helpful. This reboot removes any hint of the supernatural, and instead replaces it with equally effusive and nebulous artsy-fartsy. Every so often I have a student who gushes about how awesome The War of Art is, or how much Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (an outdated and unsupported theory which is a pet peeve of mine) has changed their life. I even have one recommended text in my Advanced Drawing syllabus: "Art & Fear" by Bayles/Orland - it's less than half the pages and doesn't even have any pictures. Or watch the latest TED talk (the contemporary, multimedia version of on an online self-help manual) - hey it's all good whatever, that's fine. Never deny yourself anything that might possibly inspire you to make art. Just make sure you're doing it all along anyways, nomatter what course of action - that's the key. Just as with the traditional, disciplined structure of a formal class, you should eventually start to see improvement. These differences tend to get more noticeable over time, as evidenced by the posted examples.

Joël Franusic

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Spring 2019 Drawing: Recap

Seems I skipped last fall semester's recap (backlinks to more recent ones here for the spring and summer), which reflects an overall ramping down on such extracurricular posts. Which is to say, it's also not indicative of the quality of the student work or my enthusiasm for education - just busy with other things. (More below the fold...)

Sunday, May 12, 2019


Okay, I confess to never ever having used this service (I've also only once ever used Amazon many years ago), but add it to the list of ubiquitous phrases that float around contemporary conversations, just waiting for an eavesdropping trawler for inspiration to pick up on.

Seeing as how it was scanned as-is direct from the pages of the omnipresent sketchbook this is all there is, or ever will be, especially since it's so stupid I'll never waste any more time on it ever again. Sorry/not sorry.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

"Bore-ealis" + "Vigil"

This one came about early in the season, maybe October-ish, when the first inevitable wave of "GO OUTSIDE AND LOOK UP" posts when the aurora makes its appearance.

Nothing serious here, I just figure everybody's entitled to a little exasperation about the recurring wonder of the northern lights. Or maybe I'm just jaded over yet another magical miracle of Alaskan amazeballs. It's like the folks who live around Denali who never bother to pull over and rubberneck anymore when "the mountain's out,", or swear & swerve around the majestik møøse on the way to work.

Filed under “Oops, well… THAT didn’t work out at all the way I expected.” Sometimes you just crash & burn… watch in horror as the slow-motion art-wreck begins to manifest itself out the other end of the implement, be it a brush or a pencil or pen. Case in point being this example of an absolute disaster of a coloring that reminded me of someone on a bad acid trip after eating a couple pints of Chunky Monkey + a half-dozen Muppets, do some shots of tequila and then vomited it all up on a sheet of paper. On the other hand, maybe someone out there will really love it and want to own the original. I mean, failing to express your vision just adds more fuel to the fire for inspiration – that’s why we experiment. You should ideally be putting out a high enough volume of work that the occasional disaster doesn’t hamstring you, just shrug it off and keep on cranking. The reality of it all is probably half of all creativity is simply rooted in a desperate attempt to fix what you’ve fucked up. Maybe my whole artistic life is just attempting to salvage something out this mess I made - at least make it worth a laugh.

And here's another bonus double-header on account of building up an overabundance of seasonally topical material. I thought about making a new/different post for a Saturday, but that would entail more work to stay abreast of the blog, and juggling timely updates would mean paying attention above & beyond the one day a week I devote to concocting accompanying liner notes to the cartoons.

This was done during my month-long residency downtown at the Morris Thompson Center back in February. It was inspired by the herds of anxious tourists who were visiting Alaska in hopes of seeing firsthand the aurora borealis. This is invariably a setup for a disappointment as there's anecdotally about as much of a chance of that happening as there is catching sight of Denali. Not to mention the equally elusive truth-in-advertising behind - in the eye of the beholder - marketing such an elusive and ephemeral occurrence.

My advice? Simple: just drink a shitload of water right before going to bed.... pretty much guarantees a night of repeated status updates while peeing off the porch.


Sunday, April 28, 2019

"Thaw" + "Spring Cartoons"

I swear that this one is based purely on personal experience. After class one morning this late winter I walked out to where the Subie had been parked in the sun, got in, started it, and basically basked like a lizard on a hot stone in the desert.

And the whole rest of the afternoon while running errands I just kept on baking, absolutely loving every minute soaking in the furnace blast. Actually to confess after it reached around 280°F I did slightly crack a window

Trivia: Here's the upper caption box that was clipped out of the print version in the interest of brevity. Edit, edit, edit. You can see the original addendum to the doodle as it appeared in my sketchbook below, along with a quick value study with wash.

Also as a bonus double-header here's another seasonal one that also takes place inside a vehicle. That's a place second only to the outhouse when it comes to random inspiration, and as I commented earlier on another post, if you think distracted driving from texting is unsafe then you ain't never seen the public menace from daydreaming cartoonists behind the wheel. At least when I drive off a cliff or into a tree I'll be laughing.

But seriously, this particular panel took some actual plotting + research: not only messing around with layers in Photoshop but studying screengrabs of freezeframed videos on wiper blade action so as to get the action somewhat sorta right. All told I spent more time on this cartoon than attention to detail & maintenance on my actual car. Priorities!

One last little detail to append on this latest last-minute rash of seasonally transitional pieces: my production stream was actually truncated this year on account of (yet another) anomaly. I mean, maybe time to pay attention now that climate change has trickled down to the point where some cartoonist in the middle of Alaska has their normal cycle disrupted - as in, ran outta winter material an entire month ahead of schedule. Nothing to see here folks. Everything's fine.

Sunday, April 21, 2019


One person's mortifying mistake is another one's amusement. I based this one entirely off of a friend's erroneous but funny typo in their status update - quite often scrolling through the morning feed is fertile ground to till for inspiration. It also just so happened to juxtapose with my own driveway getting scraped, so I was mentally primed to pay attention to such topical prompts for seasonal material. Not to mention using a grater for a big ol' baked macaroni + cheese dinner just the other day. All these things converge if the mulch-pile is well-stocked by the ephemera of everyday details. Ideas are everywhere, and more often than not it's more a matter of simply taking notes, as opposed to inspiration. Is this post grating yet? Great.