Sunday, May 24, 2020

"New Filter"

Seeing as how we've had record-breaking heat across Alaska (and pollen counts) it might be time for the blog posts to actually begin to sync up with reality and reflect current trends. Nah - this stuff is timeless. And actually folks dealing with face masks + glasses can surely relate.

While I tend to make personal appearances in my panels every so often, there aren't many instances of other folks in any  recognizable sense. And you'd also think being married would lend an even stronger tendency for prudence. Unfortunately as my wife can certainly attest to I lack certain facilities such as sound judgement in most matters.

Astute observers will have noted my penchant for avoiding Photoshop filters in many if not most images. In the majority of exceptions it's used to counter the moiré effect when digitally reformatting panels from the archives that were originally created using Zip-A-Tone/Letra-Tone halftone screens.

But then there's the Instagram aesthetic, which I employ as a sort of visual code to mark the material of yore when posting classics culled from the archive.

Still, nothing beats the real thing, as evidenced by a student bringing in this battered clipping for me to sign of an ancient cartoon. Can't tell you how humbling that is to be enshrined for so long, not to mention the "manual sharing" that still endures out there in meatspace.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Edit: "Alaskagasm"

So this happened over the course of a week, at the most. I swear sometimes you can almost hear the leaves growing it happens so fast, this furious foliage of Fairbanks. One nice thing is they are buffering the attendant rise in background noise as the society stirs back into some semblance of normalcy. The time I spend early each morning alone on the porch with the binoculars has been a precious balm of ambient peace + quiet, before the inexorable din of "healthy" capitalism returns, the cancer of consumerism returns to spread like rot, the frog-in-a-pot-of-boiling-water syndrome eclipses everything again and we will forget what we've lost.

It also brings along the attendant allergies, which we broke world records on recently. Here's a scan of the original doodle, hastily scribbled on the back of a receipt slip.

Friday, May 22, 2020

907nuggets QR

One of the benefits from being Artist of the Year is a 5-minute pitch to a Chamber Luncheon - comic relief but also spread the word about the wonderful community resource the Fairbanks Arts Association is by highlighting the most recent Artist In Schools residency.

As a result of this increased promotional opportunities, I've started stirring some ingredients been simmering in the back burner of the creative kitchen, such as another look at marketing strategies above & beyond my usual onslaught of propaganda. To those ends there are some new, different directions I'll be taking the funny business. One element that I just added was utilizing the ubiquitous QR codes (Quick Response) so as to facilitate a following to the budding Instagram account. Enough folks responded properly to a hive-mind query that I'll incorporate it on my table signage when out peddling wares.

Of course those are dropping like flies now - the first tentpole event of the season, the Midnight Sun Festival, has been officially cancelled, where I was supposed to have a table. Next up if the dominoes continue to fall will be Golden Days, then the Fair, and finally a show I'm tentatively scheduled for in August. Add this to the cancellation of the Visual Art Academy, a brand-new special topics Summer Sessions course, and the supposed breakout year of my phoenix-like reinvention is a bucket of cold, greasy chicken. Which I happen to love, so I'm sticking to the trajectory, ignoring the mounting signs of calamity and personal implosion, and continuing to generate lots of new material as a result. Artists - especially cartoonist - are good at that.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

"Active Status"

Once gain I am reminded of the words of wisdom imparted to me by a previous instructor: "The only difference between you (his students) and myself is that I'm just standing on a bigger pile of mistakes." Meaning that he could therefore see farther and simply take in more. Now so many times in the classroom I wonder whether or not an aspiring talent has not the skills and ability, but the discipline required to generate the requisite mountain of pieces that are part of the process. Or, less charitably in my case, whether or not they are just too damn stubborn (maybe mixed with a touch of inherent stupidity) to give up.

Bonus satisfaction when it doubled as a demo: showing how each and every aspect of making work like this is the what and the why we have been doing with all these in-class exercises, assignments and critiques for Beginning Drawing. Join me below the fold for another exhaustive, step-by-step breakdown of the process behind this piece...

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Two-fur: "Cooking Shows" + "Depression Nap"

Probably getting close to the time of the year where the winter material is running out as far as being in sync with the actual weather conditions (aside from the inevitable anomalies) Not that my work has much if any connection with current events, since being untethered to reality comes in handy more often than not when dealing with conditions (mental or physical).

Retreating into the opiate of the mass media is an effective method of cocooning one's consciousness, swaddled away from any of the causes or concerns that inundate the awareness of anyone who is paying attention.

I can't honestly find fault in any way with that - buffering my brain by opening up the doorway into imagination via pages of my sketchbook is a reflexive approach to dealing with stress (is not dealing with the issue).

Every once in a while I find myself getting accidentally sucked into the sight of one of those innumerable cooking shows while walking through a room that has the idiot box on. Aside from the nostalgia of old episodes of Julia Child, I rank them up with the brain-numbing, soul-sucking popularity of watching  fishing, golfing home improvement et al. It immediately begins the artistic anesthesia by  deadening one's desire to initiate any effort.

By that I mean there's one brief chance at tearing oneself away before succumbing to the lull of watching someone else work (as opposed the subtle cinematic alternative of watching someone else's work): my knee-jerk reflex honed over many, many years of media abstinence is to immediately ask myself the question "what could I be doing instead." This means not getting an awful lot of contemporary culture, but it come down to I'd rather be consumed by my own crap than be a consumer of other people's. And then there's the Pavlovian trigger of binging on both episodes and victuals.

Besides, when it comes to wasting time, any decent artist is already a consummate professional at investing incalculable amounts of time + energy into pursuit of their passion. Priorities, priorities.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

"Cold Sensitivity - By The Bucket"

 I had my doubts about this one, not on account of it being gross and disturbing, but over whether or not the brand-name was well known enough to merit mentioning. But my editor knew the reference, and that was good enough for me, especially given my propensity towards obscurity.

Can't seem to locate a copy anywhere right at the moment, but the closest thing I've ever drawn along these lines was a really early Freeze-Frame panel about a winter wet dream while wallowing face down in a giant vat of Carmex.

Chalk it up to environmental stresses contributing to another warped perspective on our everyday way of life. "Coping mechanism" would be another psychological interpretation. Good thing as of this posting the snow is beginning to melt at last, but I still have a handful more of posts milking the seasonal content for just a little bit longer.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Tanana Valley State Fair logo

Added another feather to my cap (or in this case, leaf to crown?) with an invitation to do this year’s Tanana Valley State Fair logo. What a wonderful experience working on such a warm-hearted tentpole event in our community.

Thrown into the blender

What started out conceptually as an Ent (ex: Tolkein’s Treebeard) channeling Freddie Mercury morphed into the Lorax mashed up with Bob Ross. Then after a couple few lots of reworks it evolved into something more along the lines of my own unique style. Otherwise known as a “hybrid,” specifically in this instance it's black cottonwood + birch.

Although in retrospect now, I can see the Green Man made manifest, plus a hint of GOT Weirwood, my old hero Man-Thing and the titular being from When A Monster Calls. A major hat-tip to the classic "Old Man Willow" illustration for the 1978 Lord of the Rings calendar by the Brothers Hildebrandt (a seminal interpretation of Tolkein's characters which impacted me greatly as a young teenager), and Bakshi's Treebeard. And sure, yeah okay maybe there's just a wee touch of a “Tundra Gritty” too… not to mention I was rewatching “Midsommar” in the background while working on this piece. It's always fun to reverse engineer a concept and see the visual lineage, er, roots.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

"Funny Meters"

There are any number of quirky details that symbolize life in the far north, not the least of which are the ubiquitous plus-ins hanging off the front of most vehicles.

Second to that and hand-in-glove with any observant visitor to our neck of the woods would be the odd little installations that adorn most parking lots.

Granted you couldn't ever conceivable insert any coinage into one these outlets, but since when did we ever let reality interfere with a good laugh, especially at someone else's expense?

Also a brief comment on the overflow of cold weather gags + blogposts still showing up here so relatively late in the season. Might seem odd to folks from the Lower 48 but up in this neck of the woods we're just a wee bit behind the rest of the world - the image posted down below was taken during my (hopefully) last shoveling session at the end of my mental health driveway on April 11th. Note the addition of a couple extra feet in the berm there blocking off my initial pathway. I had a little political epiphany above & beyond the Sisyphean aspects of snow removal in Alaska, after laboring for many, many hours, I had thought that all of my hard work and energy was finally going to make a difference… that change was finally possible.

I really had hope that maybe… just maybe, THIS WOULD BE IT.

Then along comes a bigass grader down the main road, promptly burying the end of my driveway under more hardpack.

But rather than getting pissed off at the guy driving the plow, I realized instead that, hey - now everybody else in the neighborhood can use the main road. You know - it's about us not me. Sigh. So much for a serendipitous metaphor… still lots more work ahead. Grab a shovel/grab a mask, and get back at it.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

"Automatic Doors"

Point of fact that pretty much everything slows down in this neck of the woods when it bottoms out at minus forty or below. That includes reflexes. Note: This may or may not have been inspired by actual events.

At the other end of the spectrum was the time I moved to the South and eagerly anticipated my first gesture of gentlemanly behavior by opening the door for a lady down at the Piggly Wiggly. Trouble is it was one of these automatic doors.
Y'all take care now hear?

Sunday, April 12, 2020

"It's Frozen" (+ Bonus Edit: "Tuck In Your Hose")

There's two kinds of people when it comes to bad weather. And then there's Alaskans.

I had a cousin who used to adhere to the principles of "optimistic fatalism," and it's a philosophy which has served me well during my time in the far north.

So has the aphorism "When you reach the end of our rope, tie a knot, hand on and swing."