Sunday, April 5, 2020

Mullings: Jokers & White Dogs

More than half the time I have no idea whatsoever why certain people are in popular culture. Don't know who, nor care. Guess I'm doing my part fomenting the upcoming class war. What with current events such as they are, things are pretty stressful. Behind the scenes there’s almost like a desperate race to work harder and faster to get out ahead of anything bad. That might be why the faster you go the harder the speedbumps feel.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

"Wind Chill"

This winter was a slow grind, and if you've ever heard the sound of frozen metal squealing against itself at forty-five below zero, then you know the longer it takes the more it makes go insane. Which in itself is a strange sort of paradoxical liberation of imagination.

As in, you really start to wonder about all sorts of crazy things. Like what the temperature is on other planets. Or the wind chill of a passing thought.

It's all relative - exactly how fast is it going? I remember when I used to mountain bike in the winter on the mushing trails out in Goldstream Valley, long before there was such a thing as fatbiking.

It was something truly insane outside, like fifty-something below, and when I coasted down a really steep hill the bearing grease in my hubs gelled up, and by the time I reached the bottom the wheels just ground to a halt.

Bonus Trivia: I actually ran this piece by my editor on account of the phonetic subterfuge, which if I never pointed it out, wouldn't ever rise above anybody's attention. But hey, it's the little things.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Cartoonist-In-Residency: North Pole Elementary Recap

An absolutely fantastic time was had by all with the successful conclusion of another outstanding Artists In Schools residency teaching cartooning to the amazing students out at North Pole Elementary. This was only my second time with this age group (K-5th grade), and so it also proved to be a very educational and insightful experience for me as well. And as you might well guess just based on all the promotional material alone, the sheer amount of behind-the-scenes hard work invested in this gig by my host teacher, Mrs. Alison Koss (In-School Coordinator Exemplar), set the bar as far as accommodation, logistics and support. And while this particular residency was only for one week, it was spread out over a two-week period so as to alternate with my two days a week of teaching my own Beginning Drawing classes up at the university. That made for both a bit of interesting juxtaposition in teaching styles to say the least. It also afforded me the chance to see every single class in the whole school and work with each of them at least once for an hour - time enough for a quick show & tell, a demonstration and a series of exercises.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

"Trail Mix"

Scanned directly from the pages of the omnipresent sketchbook, so as to preserve the raw vitality, that primal sense of graphic immediacy and passionate spontaneity.
No? Okay I was in a hurry.
But seriously... occasionally I'm afforded the simple pleasure of watching an image evolve right in front of me, almost like I'm just along for the ride and digging the crazy scenery. Also I watched way too much John Wick this winter.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Caroonist-In-Residency: Pearl Creek Recap

Here's some highlights in retrospect about a pivotal experience I had during my continuing adventures with the Fairbanks Arts Association's "Artists In Schools" program - a first-ever stint with an elementary school.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

"Arctic Skinny-Dip"

Another one in a recent series of envelope-pushing, at least in terms of the relatively tame family-friendly readership demographics of our local newspaper. It does bring up one of the more unique, humanizing aspects of life up here in the North: all differences aside, the one unifying thing that defines us all regardless of political posturing and personalities.
Yeah okay, it's a d*ck joke, whatever.

Sunday, March 8, 2020


Sometime a cartoon ain't nothing but a simple, silly picture. Like, for example, animals making faces. Juvenile sure, but file it under the quest to reclaim youthful creativity.

Besides, what the hell else is there to do holed up over hibernation anyways?  
>wink wink<

Friday, March 6, 2020

"Hibernate With a Good Book" + Benefit Poster Signing

A bonus post this weekend as tomorrow - Saturday, March 7th - from 10am - 5pm down at Forget-Me-Not Books I'll be doing all-day on-site demos and signing a new poster to benefit the Literacy Council of Alaska. Sandwiched in-between the regular college classes a couple days a week, and another series of Artist In Schools residencies (more on those later in an upcoming post), this will be a real benchmark as far as events go in an already busy year. Oh and only the best thing I've ever drawn to date. Also.

Also debuting at this event: the new bookmarker design

Sunday, March 1, 2020

"Hand Warmers"

I actually got the random inspiration (as opposed to working for it) for this particular panel just from overhearing it conversation. Just the part about "hand warmers" mind you, the concept of creating a body suit from them is how it got all weirded out through my thinking process. Probably helped creative juices flow funnier on account of it being in attendance at an Xmas party where a case of these was one of the white elephant gifts. Hey - why not an Alaskan version, the white woolly mammoth exchange? That's our official state fossil by the way, followed closely by a certain Congressman.

Now here's something else that's kinda neat: might seem rather small and insignificant:, but for the very first time I inked in the panel border FIRST (alongside doing the lettering) before the main body of the cartoon. This after years and years of dragging the 08 Micron through undried areas of India ink as I ink the panel border(s) after completion of the rest of the piece. That's for years and years been a quiet moment of satisfaction for me, kinda like tying up everything together all neat and ready to erase/scan/shade etc. But I’m sometimes impatient about the drying process, and gum up the Micron which temporarily – and cumulatively – renders the marker tip unusable until the India ink is cleared from the tip and the pigmented ink can flow freely again. Again, it's such a comparatively minor detail but whoah - talk about getting humbled by a basic remedy to something I've ignored almost all my professional life as a practicing cartoonist. As a teacher I especially live for these "lightbulb moments" since I see them happen all semester long.

Sunday, February 23, 2020


Here's a kinda special piece: It actually won't appear in the paper as it's not really anything Alaskan related. Another drawback is it's not a very general message that would appeal to many folks who either A) know me personally, B) are cat people, and C) are into comics (hence the detailed covers in the first panel). And it's now not gonna be used as it's original intended purpose as a promotional/benefit poster for the Literacy Council of Alaska either. It has since then been supplanted by an even more epic image - stay 'tooned for more details... but in the meantime enjoy it as an exclusive to Ink & Snow readers.

Geek alert: One neat detail in the process of this piece was the sudden realization of how much more effective it would be to flip the inset panel of the book-in-hand, as compositionally it really enhances the viewer's gaze through the overall page by redirecting it back down to the closure section. Whatever.

This one was pretty much a labor of love... as in all of the hours that went into coloring it. I really love the inherent simplicity of the concept though, and can point to personal inspiration occurring on an almost weekly basis. There are books that I regularly re-read every single year, returning to favorites in much the same way I rely on classic soundtracks on the studio - not to mention both movies and meals. And yeah, all the actual titles were taken from peeking around the computer monitor at the wall of books right behind me.

Regular readers will know how important literacy is to me as perhaps one of the most fundamental issues. From Read Comics Day to the Big Kablooey, to tshirts and posters and Guys Read, the work of the Literacy Council of Alaska is so important!

Behind the scenes: drawn at 100%, so as to fit the original into a pre-cut mat (lazy) to submit (framed + ready-to-hang), which didn't work out (see below). Penciled in with a Blackfeet Indian #2 + mechanical pencil (0.9 lead as the finer ones are useless due to fragility + breakage) for the book titles. Inked with sumptuous Sennelier “A la Pagode” Indian Ink, using Speedball No. 512 nib (w/Brause wooden holders) for the medium-weight lines, and a 513EF on the foreground figures and shelves and book spines in the first panel + crow-quill for the book spines in the second big panel. Also used the trusty Microns: .o8 for ruled borders, .05 lettering, .01 and .005 for spine lettering and superfine details.

On a meta-note, I used this piece as an excuse to play with some new sets of water-soluble wash pencils, and wound up creating an absolute disaster... as in I was really bummed that it didn't even remotely come close to what I envisioned. But hey - once again it proved to be a prudent insurance policy to back it up with a scan of the line art before ruining the original. I mean, I'll for sure eventually get over it, and sure enough there will be someone else out there who will prefer it to the published, digital version.