Friday, April 29, 2011

Down East Pix II

Instead of posting 'em all here, I just uploaded a set of photographs to the Picasa portfolios from around the island. Mainly Maine and miscellaneous Acadia stuff culled from random hikes. Nothing really funny, just snapshots - still waiting to unveil the recent cartoon work, but in the meantime here's some pretty pictures. 
Been taking advantage of the lull before the summer season kicks into gear and the accompanying influx of herds of people. Hence the drop-off in blogging and spending more time out-of-doors. So far the trails have been relatively deserted, and it's good exercise since even a couple miles of hoofing about will involve lots of elevation gain. No ticks yet either. 

I for one have been in absolute heaven here, as the total immersion into this alien environment provides constant stimulation that at times is sensory overload. A recent example would be yesterday's trek that took us through a cedar grove infusion. I never get tired of the simple sound of waves, the smells of the saltwater shore, and feeling the wind up on top of some of the summits that are scattered across Mount Desert island. 
Probably only a matter of time before succumbing to the inevitable anesthetization that happened after twenty-five years in Alaska ("yeah, yeah, another moose/bear/mountain" etc.) but for now I'm both entranced and taking hundreds & hundreds of digital images of rocks, more rocks, trees, more trees, and the ocean, over and over again.

(Disturbing advise to try and follow while living on an island)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

More Fun with Chippy the Junior Ranger

Little Chippy has been popping up more and more about the Park (thanks to the intrepid Graphics Ranger). But nevermind the custom clip art - wait until the new line of spiffy tattoos are unveiled...
Rumor has is the teeth almost got changed to orange, so as to make it more accurate and true to life, until it was diplomatically pointed out beavers don't walk upright. Or wear backpacks and hats either. Besides, like most contemporary beavers, he uses teeth-whitening strips anyways. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

"Boom" - Irony Capitol (updated repost)

A while back I posted this critique of a presentation, and even commented my concerns on the related YouTube thread, which in turn inspired a couple tiresome fallacies by way of side-stepping my point. I had a knee-jerk reaction, yanking my comments (leaving some mysterious one-sided rebuttals on that thread), and temporarily pulled this particular post, which afterward bugged me to no end. 

Classic xkcd

Chalk it up to an object lesson about petty bitching from the sidelines, but that's one of the hallmarks of being an editorial cartoonist. I really should stop and just stick with dam beavers. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Rock Robbers

A recent quickie commission to illustrate some warning signs around the island for people to not trash the beach and leave it alone enough for others to enjoy. The expression on the crab wound up being something in-between pissed-off and bummed out, which is why it now looks sorta psychotic (at least that will get some attention - which is the point). One of the subtle shifts in National Park Service philosophy that I've noticed that happens between Alaska and the Lower 48 is when rangers become tasked with making sure the "huddled masses yearning to breathe free" don't inadvertently destroy everything in the stampede to recreation. In other words, crowd control. Which in Acadia, with an estimated 3 million visitors on the island last season (speaking of "wretched refuse of your teeming shore") means running constant interference against those who would literally love it to death. One might take the side of the sourdough sovereign and resist the intrusive reach of the evil federal government, or you could balance this against the fact that left to it's own devices, the human race will drown in its own shit. That is unless somebody is paid to occasionally wipe up afterward.

I remember (sort of) one year while out following the Grateful Dead around the Pacific North-West leg of a tour, getting taught a lesson on camping in the sequoias. We just decided to pull off the side of the road and crash, which is kind of a no-no in the Lower 48. After waking us up, a ranger looked at the Alaska plates on the VW microbus and drawled "Now I don't know how you folks do it up there, but down here we got RULES."

Saturday, April 23, 2011


A few nips & tucks to the blog: most of the linkage on the side-bar will be drastically edited for a spring-cleaning binge & purge, and a slight shift in direction accompanies the make-over as I transition more to a hybrid site (otherwise known as dissociative identity blog disorder).

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Just submitted this to a paper that I already knew had an overworked editor: it was designed as a strip to run across the bottom three consecutive pages, and I joked about how that would drive the layout department crazy, to which he replied "I am the layout guy." Someone definitely needs a raise.
Meanwhile what the locals keep calling "mud season" here proceeds apace - and here I thought all the folks I've seen sporting breakup boots around this neck of the woods were just worried about ticks.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"Chippy" the JR Ranger


I previously alluded to the happy coincidence of the official Acadia National Park newspaper publication being called "The Beaver Log." As it happens, this buck-toothsome critter (minus the commentary) will grace the 2011 season's new issue in a couple spot illustrations. As far as (anonymous) exposure goes, this'll be my biggest non-break ever: the print run is 80k. and the Park tops out around several millions visitors last season. Quite the feather in my pelt.

(Bigger, better beavers below)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Redistricting Redux

In light of the current preoccupation about The Quitter et al, the reason batshit crazy things happen in the first place in politics is folks don't pay any attention to all the little things that set the stage long before any actors appear.
Case in point: probably the single most crucial event to impact local politics (which in Alaska tend to have a disproportionate ripple effect, otherwise known as a lingering bad taste) is swirling down the drain honeybucket. What Do I Know has been steadily beating the blogger's drum on this topic and now the Ester Republic picks up on it as well:

Cutting & pasting some relevant snippets of info in case folks miss the April 19th gig in Fairbanks:
"A statewide teleconference will be held on Friday, May 6th via the Alaska Legislative Information Office (LIO) network.
Time: 9:00 p.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
The afternoon session will be reserved for public comments on draft plans released by the Board. This is the last date for public testimony before the Board begins deliberations on a final redistricting plan. A supplemental notice will be issued listing the LIO locations participating in the teleconference and a toll-free call-in number for those who do not have access to an LIO.
The deadline for submission of written comments, plans or plan revisions is 5:00PM (ADT) May 13th. In drafting a final redistricting plan, the Board is not obligated to consider comments, plans or revisions submitted after that date and time."
To assist the Board in its work, the public is invited to submit comments on the data and proposed redistricting plans via:

- Email (
- Mail (411 West Fourth Avenue, Suite 302, Anchorage, AK 99501)
- Fax (907-269-6691)
For more info: Redistricting Board Office at (907) 269-7402
As has been astutely pointed out, this is largely due to Alaskan voters rejecting a ballot measure last year that would have expanded the legislature by accommodating more diverse districts and also ensuring the representation of Alaska Natives wouldn't get kneecapped. Surprise!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

"Gangsta Ducks"

The backstory to this particular panel was a summer spent essentially homeless after getting evicted from a cabin by the new owners (such is my lot in the peasant class). Crashing on a couch gave rise to a rather abridged approach to getting the cartoons done: I briefly adopted a series of raw scans directly off the doodles as they were done in ballpoint pen from my sketchbook. Aside from basic cleanup and rudimentary shading they were essentially published as is. It was an interesting lesson in how all the little laborious details obsessed about in the physical creation of a cartoon are completely secondary to the joke. In other words, nobody really cares. But astute readers may notice the occasional "Sketchbook" piece still popping up in print today: I continue to use and firmly endorse the free black-ink ballpoint pens available at Gold Hill Liquor & Gas on the Parks Highway in-between Fairbanks and Ester.
Speaking of which, the Nuggets feature didn't run the last coupla weeks in the Fairbanks paper due to falling through the cracks after the illness of key personnel: thanks to the regular readers of both the print version and the on-line one who emailed me in total panic curiosity. Of course, flooding the editor's virtual desk with irate comments will probably get me fired, even after the big, fat raise from being an award-winning cartoonist and all. And their website Nuggets section is hopelessly outta synch with reality (not like that's a bad thing - works for me) so I have no idea which panel runs when up there anymore - if anybody gets the chance and catches the Sunday edition, shoot me an email on what runs and I'll owe ya something funny.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Aurora Magazine

The new issue of Aurora Magazine is finally out - been sitting on an accompanying post (much more uncomfortable than sitting on the fence) for many months: when my contributor copy arrives I'll put up a more detailed bit along with a cover scan. In the meantime here's a screen-grab from their website, and stay tuned for a couple more exciting developments as far as staking out a cartoon claim in Maine.

Friday, April 15, 2011

"Glacial Erratic"

Glacier erratics dot Mount Desert Island, and I've been collecting random pics of detailed rock surfaces from these geological relics while on our little sorties about the park. They always bring to mind the many treks along glaciers in Alaska spent exploring moraines. One of these days I'll get around to a sculpture/photography series using paper-mâché boulders strategically positioned in unorthodox locations.
They also double as a handy metaphor for all kinds of unspoken issues in life: the eternal weight of stuff that's always a silent presence in the background.

Trivia: there's an obscure homage to a menhir - hat-tip to one of the first comic books I ever saw as a kid: foreign-language editions used by my dad for teaching French and Latin (one way to tell how good a storyteller is when you can only read the pictures).

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


It must get mighty lonely out there all alone on the boat, falling under the spell of the Atlantic. Meanwhile, Botticelli is spinning in his grave.  
Given the momentary pause and nervous laughter after flipping over to this page in my portfolio it became prudent to slightly edit the image. Sometimes you forget the rest of the world doesn't share your sensibilities when it comes to depictions of the human form, not to mention lobster mermaids are kinda creepy and weird for some. So it can be handy to have another pair of eyeballs editorially peek at work in progress, as the judicious last-minute addition of shell pasties will attest to. Watercolored version under the fold - sans pasties, which I guess by default qualifies it as a work of fine art.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"Earthquake Indicators"

Note: this doesn't work on cats. In fact, one of mine (known occasionally as "Thundering Butterball") had been known to actually create tremors thundering around the cabin.
Given Alaska's history of experiencing megathrusts, it was always an interesting field-trip to check out the UAF Geophysical Institute's "Earthquake Information Center" and observe the "real time displays of seismic data from (their) remote network" in action. Watching those needles skip over the rolls of graph paper helps explain the constant, underlying stress of some days.

Monday, April 11, 2011


(*Note: as of this posting the editor of The Village Voice has publicly pulled a U-turn and paid up. Still doesn't change a thing: from my perspective the fact it ever even happened to begin with merits mention and rebuttal.)
Lots of sound & fury across the tubes over the new Village Voice "Comics Issue" with an accompanying article by Roy Edroso: “If Cartoons Are The Village Voice Is So Big, Why Don’t They Pay?” (fixed that title for ya).
After bemoaning “As papers cut back on comics, some cartoonists have seen their livelihoods disappear” the piece goes on to twist the knife with the ironic, or clueless, confession:

“Also, many of the artists in this issue aren't getting paid, but have contributed work for the exposure.”
So the Village Voice didn’t pay many of the contributing cartoonists, reasoning the exposure was worth more to them than money. That’s funny; I would have thought exposure was what you needed to attract the attention of a publication with the supposed stature and reputation of the Village Voice:
“It was the first and is arguably the best known of the arts-oriented tabloids that have come to be known as alternative weeklies“
Notice the past tense - "was" – that's what happens in media conglomeration. 
Still, nobody else has commented directly on the professional artists who gave away their work for free, and no I won’t name or link to them here. Blaming the publication is picking the low-hanging fruit, rather than calling the contributors out for what they really are: scabs who undermine the efforts of others who are trying to earn a legitimate living through their work. I personally just so happen to be right in the midst of another marketing and self-promotional binge, and this is obviously not only just a point of pride, but the entire point of doing everything to begin with.

The art is what makes the publication noticeable, worth attention and attractive to readers. The day a publication doesn’t have the money to compensate the creative content is the day they shouldn’t be able to afford paying anyone else. We'll let one of my favorite writers rant make the point succinctly:

A final insult to injury is when the article’s author (who presumably was paid) closes with the hilarious line:
“Hope springs eternal, especially when it's goosed.”
That goose is cooked.
Lastly, via Drawn, here's even more invaluable, related advice for any freelance artist or creative person peddling their wares:

2011/03 Mike Monteiro | F*ck You. Pay Me. from SanFrancisco/CreativeMornings on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"The Jig is Up"

Time is almost up... despite the random winter binge & purge behavior the patches of dead, brown dirt are steadily growing both up in Alaska and Down East. Moreso here than there, what with some mighty winds kicking it hard across the hinterland. 
And no, that's not an outhouse.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Follow-up: Alaska Press Club Awards

Last weekend the official results of the Alaska Press Club's 2010 awards were announced, and my editorials bagged second-best (one of the two sets posted above - not sure yet which one won). I had pitted my Ester Republic content against the work for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, and damned if Joe Miller didn't lose out again.
Big congratulations go out to Peter Dunlap-Shohl, who took first in Editorial Cartoons along with scoring first in the "Best Commentary Blog" category for his other site "Off and On." Third place went to the Homer News' Michael O'Meara, who's stuff unfortunately doesn't seem to exist on-line anywhere, and the couple times I queried the newspaper last year for contact info to do a short feature on his work went unanswered. Next time you visit the local library though, they have archived back-issues in the periodical section, so check it out.

Also the National Cartoonist Society selected Alaska's own Chad Carpenter ("Tundra" - which also nabbed a 2008 Reuben Award) as one of the three finalists in the "Newspaper Panel Cartoons" division, along with Glenn McCoy ("The Flying McCoys") and Doug Bratton ("Pop Culture Shock Therapy").

Lost in the Fog/Harboring Grudges

Put in five eight hours of driving this week to shake the bushes and see what falls out as far as funnies go. The coastal highway (US Route 1) winds its way around the shoreline of Maine, and in theory, is some insanely beautiful, picturesque scenery. That is, unless one picks the foggiest day ever for a road-trip. 

True story: in a scene reminiscent of the climactic ending to Frank Darabont's excellent 2007 horror film based on Steven King's short story "The Mist" - I had my "soundtrack" playlist cued up in the truck. In retrospect, "The Host of Seraphim" is probably the absolute worst (or the funniest) tune to have on in the background while creeping around thick fog looking for the where the hell you are supposed to be.
The next time I hear a local give directions and include "you can't miss it" I'll either start crying or laughing hysterically (or both): I'm the guy who keeps getting lost on a damned island.

Sound advice that could save one years of expensive therapy

Friday, April 8, 2011

New Old Routine: Revised & Revisited

Picking up the reigns and tying up loose ends of a haphazard career in comics has long seemed to be a series of feints and follies: a two-steps-forward/one-step-back slow waltz towards nebulous and elusive goals. It's an exhaustive and introspective process confronting "failure" - my progress in both academic and artistic ventures is a simultaneous, paradoxical lesson in perseverance and procrastination. 
(More below the fold...)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hobnobbing Penobscot Bobblehead (Homesick Alaskan revisted )

(Actually the quaint log cabin is what did it for me)

Random twinges of homesickness come from the weirdest things. Even after self-indulgent and obsessive monitoring of Interior weathersites in attempts to make myself feel, if not better, than at least warmer.  I had been wondering about whether or not there can truly be "frost heaves" without the presence of permafrost (yes), or is it just plain old crappy roads (also yes). Still, posting a sign for the singular instance was amusing - both for us and the folks watching me take a picture of a sign. A truck with Alaska plates is cut some slack, that and payback after many years of puttering along in the wake of gawkers up north. Then there was the sobering revelation that there's just no way to convince the waiter that some white guy from Alaska knows what he's talking about after eating yet another disappointing meal at another depressingly lame Thai restaurant. File it away under "you just have to be from Fairbanks to understand." 
(More below the fold...)

Monday, April 4, 2011

"AK Aesop"

Add the arctic hare to the list of critters whose range doesn't quite extend far enough down south as this neck of the woods, but I did learn that I'm in the same neighborhood as the New England cottontail, which is an endangered species. Actually the sole reason I did this panel was because of the constant requests to "do more bunnies" from someone. Fortunately the inner editor caught a tortise typo before it got posted and emailed off to the papers. Don't think I've ever done a more laid-back lookin' rabbit than this fellah.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


I’ve been simulcasting backwards into nostalgia and into the future over the new BBC teaser trailer for "Doctor Who" Series Six, starring Matt Smith as Doctor #11. Fresh from my recent foray into Lovecraftian worlds, a warm-up doodle spawned this piece after idly sketching the iconic Dalek monsters. 
(more under the fold) 

Saturday, April 2, 2011


"Young Olympia"

Given the rash of recent events dominating the world stage, one overlooked item escaped attention. Well in line with his history of contempt for anything environmentally conscious, the Congressman for All Alaska Don Young continues to champion the oppressed members of society by selflessly going to bat for his constituents. In this case, the maybe two or three licensed big game guide services and related taxidermy businesses in Alaska whose clients are shut out of importing their polar bear kills back home after their Canadan safaris. The bill in question here is House Resolution 990:
"To amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 to allow the importation of polar bear trophies taken in sport hunts in Canada."
(extended rant below the fold)