Sunday, September 17, 2017

"Science: Set Yourself Apart From The Pack"

This was my remote contribution to the March For Science. Not to inject a thin veneer of politicization here with this, but in my own small way it's lighting a cartoon candle against the coming return of the dark ages in regards to science. The loud + mindless background baying of the superstitious and ignorant, versus the disciplined, contemplative pursuit of knowledge + fascination of discovery.

Gutting the EPA, censoring research, appointing climate change denialists to administration positions while abandoning other key agencies, astonishingly stupid policy reversals, ignoring experts like overruling scientists to approve pesticides linked to birth defects, etc. etc.

This piece was featured as another classroom demonstration in materials + technique. It also doubled as an example of what one can do with with a sustained, focused period of time in achieving a range of textures and experimenting with varying line weights so as to subtly emphasize foreground/midground/background layers and push depth in the picture plane. Oh yeah, and a meta-lesson in getting shit done, since more than a few folks commented on it afterward: you just did that? Yes, and so can you, or at least would do if you just did more of the ass in the chair thing. usually that's "all" it takes, and is the bare minimum that defines relative success at creating anything.

Afterwards turned it around for another demo for a different class (a lot of the time pieces get rolled over into another level for a different group of students) and cranked out a wash version on the original pen + ink. It's always a bonus to be able to put hand-in-glove with a series of panels for interrelated show & tells: I find it facilitates a faster connecting-of-dots for a meta-lesson in process.

PS: I was recently playing some Rush in the background, and one of my favorite songs came up, and this lyric stuck out since I was looking at this particular panel. "The Pass" is some powerful stuff.
The line "All of us get lost in the darkness/Dreamers learn to steer by the stars/All of us do time in the gutter/Dreamers turn to look at the cars" alludes to Oscar Wilde's "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars" from his play Lady Windermere's Fan. - Wickipedia

Saturday, September 16, 2017


Once again the season changes and the recurring question about that eternal quest is on every visitor's mind: "Where can we see animals Denali the pipeline the bus the aurora?" Sometimes I let folks in on our little secret here in the Interior - on the scale of 0-9, the forecast for aurora activity secretly goes up to ten: that's when they're so thick out that you'll need to use your windshield wipers if you're driving. And not only can you hear it, like lotsa people swear to be true, at that level of intensity you can actually smell them too (slightly mentholated, like you spilled Rumple Minze on your parka).

But seriously, depending on who's asking, the answer might be "They're going on right now: they're all around us" or "At my age, drink a lot of water right before bed - you'll be up all night pissing off the porch" or (points up into the sky) or simply, "Just stay. Up. All. Night."

Concept doodle for “Spin-the-ranger”: Getting’ haggard on the front lines with tourist queries

Sunday, September 10, 2017


You never have to leave your own little patch of ground to get ideas. Not to mention many times they're right in front of your face, or in this case, on your face.

Worth noting here on this particular panel an aspect of inking that I do so dearly love: first, there’s two stages in the tactile qualities of drawing: the physicality of the act and sensations (sight, sound and scent). Then there’s the satisfaction inherent with the finished object, which you wouldn't normally think of with a printed image. Running ones fingertips across the raised line of the more thicker brands of dried (that's important natch) India inks that sit up on top of the paper is a lingering caress in fond remembrance of the creative act.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

"The Spawning Run"

Actually spaced out in the middle of the supermarket while waiting for some deli goods and daydreamed this panel up ("Sir? SIR? DO YOU NEED HELP?").
You'll notice a lot of messups in the scan of the original: that's partly on account of it being done in a sketchbook (as opposed to taping up a Bristol on the board at the studio) so I wasn't really caring all that much - just getting the idea down was the main point. But with some digital tweaks it eventually got wrangled into a publishable state. I'm rather proud of the salmon steaks, though the jury's still out on whether or not indicating some sort of transparent wrap would have tipped the, ah, scales into overkill on details that don't particularly matter. Even the caption underwent some major editing - somewhere along the continuum there's a balance between verbosity and brevity. Like many a blog post.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

"JR's First Subsistence"

What with all of the recent fishing gags you'd naturally assume I'm an angler. Far from it - along with hunting I have absolutely no inclination to engage in these sorts of traditional outdoor recreations. Now I used to love fishing, but it was the complete opposite experience of what most folks think of when you envision it up here in Alaska. Ain't much excitement or adventure involved with carp or catfish, which were the main two species I grew up catching 90% of the time. I daresay there's a correlation between such (in)activity and quality time spent mulling over ideas. And, to paraphrase a variation on the old adage, there's no end of ideas and inspiration out there, just have to get your line wet. Even if nothing bites it's no waste of time either.

Local flavor: Pondering subcutaneous whale fat + inspirational affirmations while studying regional graffiti in the stall of a public restroom.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Total Eclipse + Blue Dress

Got to catch a few minutes of the sun being eclipsed with some excited coworkers and visitors when the cloud cover parted just enough to see about a quarter of it going under the shadow of the moon. Alaskans can look forward to a total lunar eclipse on January 31st, when our state will be the only one where it's visible (as opposed to our limited viewpoint up here for the solar eclipse).

Sunday, August 20, 2017

"Big Butterflies"

Man did I almost give up on this. Shelved it many, many times, as it was such a mess and wasn't quite ready to do a redraw. Somewhat salvaged it digitally, as can be seen by comparing & contrasting the two versions posted here. Can't find the damn doodle if there ever was one, but did manage to scan in the wash demo- most of it anyways. Enough so's you get the idea as far as how much wound up being tweaked: height of figures and angle of car, hat, net handle and mesh, verbage and balloon. When all was said & done, or drawn, the print variation I think wound up looking worse than the original. But you know what? What's important to me, especially little details in the craftsmanship, doesn't really matter when it comes down to the ultimate point of the picture. I've spent ten times the amount of time on a lavish illustration which eclipses the dumass gag, in fact, sometimes suffocates it.

Along with plug-ins, these are another facet of Interior lifestyle that don't cause residents to look twice at the vehicles with ginormous nets strapped to them, which heralds the onset of dipnetting season. Never been, probably never will, as the concept of combat fishing had about as much appeal to me as going to concerts and dealing with an overwhelming crush of humanity. That said, I will shove people out of the way at the seafood department at the grocery store when King crab goes on sale.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Hits Keep Comin'

Paused for a moment to examine the on-line reaction to this particular panel: sat back and watched it exponentially spread across this little virtual neck of the woods after posting it. Now I quite honestly still have no clue whatsoever as to exactly why certain cartoons take off the way that they do - there are any number of factors and random elements that go into it. Sometimes I miss the comparative void of ignorance when it was just printed in the paper - until a show or a book release I'd have nothing but comments from acquaintances to gauge the relative popularity of a panel. More on that point at the end of this post...

An example of trolling the subject of an editorial beyond my own limited sphere of influence

One fact that may or may not have bearing on the relative reach of a Facebook post is the actual time of uploading, which plenty of studies attempt to gauge what is the sweet spot to elicit the most views and/or shares. For me it's by 6am on Fridays (to catch folks at work) and Sundays (to catch weekend readers). Another qualifier here on my own comparatively limited circle, which pales next to the audience numbers of other folks and online entities who take marketing a lot more seriously than I do, and have a more mercenary approach to accumulating fans and cultivating a following. I'm quite happy enough lounging in my own neck of the virtual woods without cutting down all the trees to get a better view, an ironic effect of many who seek to increase their visibility.

Sunday, August 13, 2017


It looks to me as if I was actually looking at real caribou antlers for once. The almost abstracted ones in the doodle in turn gave me another idea that you'll see here sooner or later. At any rate, amazing things will happen if you slow down enough to really take a look at things.

The older I get the slower I drive. Or maybe it's just compounded by the usual age of the vehicles I drive. Either way I never seem to be in much of a hurry to get anywhere. We'll all get where we're going eventually.

Such sagacity unfortunately doesn't ever seem to extend into the head of the tailgaters who don't elicit much in the way of any road rage as a sense of pity - they certainly have crappier day than I do, or will, once they start riding my ass.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

The "Man-Purse"

This old thing can be seen every so often in some of my pictures while working away in the "remote studio," as it's very rarely ever not by my side whenever I go anywhere. I occasionally raise eyebrows and even get flak for toting this thing around - but I guess if you're going to have personal baggage, then this would be the way to go. The Significant Otter bought it for me like almost fifteen years ago while she was earning an MFA in Montana. It was a commemorative bag for the 200-year anniversary of the Lewis + Clark expedition, and  has yet to show any sign of wear (not to mention, aside from repeat soakings & stainings, has yet to be washed either - it's seasoned like a good iron skillet by now). This after getting overstuffed and hauled all over the United States and up + down the state of Alaska - one rugged piece of luggage. I'm routinely asked just what the heck do I have in it, and as one can plainly see, only the barest essentials for cafe survival for any traveling artist are crammed in. One of these days I'll do a rendering of the toolbox used to conduct classroom demonstrations or public show & tells - now that thing's a total mess.