Sunday, May 27, 2018

"Pollen Count"

Everything outside are coated with a nice dusting of yellow from the birch trees enthusiastically unloading their pollen upon us. Which gave me an excuse to research microscopic imagery of the world right underneath our (running) noses.

According to science it's a bumper crop, and it's starting to wreak havoc on sinuses and sanity. Seems like it was just the other day we were complaining about how cold it was... next will be mosquitoes, followed by smoke from forest fires and then... wait, what? Winter already?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

"Touchy Alaskans"

Comedic timing for cartoonists is more often than not tied to the tenuous window of opportunity surrounding any seasonal situation. Take for instance the transition between winter gags and, well, everything else that doesn't have snow in it somewhere. Ostensibly I'm far enough ahead in the calendar of topical material that around now my head's already starting to get seasonally depressed, even amidst the omnipresent daylight + growing warmth. But every once in a while there's a "stop the presses" moment when I bump a panel to the head of the line. Even, in the case of this one, in the middle of goddamn May.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Miscellaneous + Around Town etc's

One of my recent posts of a doodle done in desperation got some great coverage on social media.
I swear that's the time of the year when the gears start squeaking up in the mental gymnasium.... still some snow on the ground around the cabin as of this posting.

A recent episode of The Simpsons featured the work of one of my personal favorites in animation, Bill Plympton. The above screen grab illustrates his gestural style of drawing - even a snapshot in stasis seems to writhe alive - in conjunction with a palette of warm pastels using I assume is colored pencil. The original version that this Homeric homage refers to appeared back in 1987 - I recall seeing it first on a big screen as part of an annual animation festival that the film department at Syracuse University would host.

Now it seems The Simpsons are back in the spotlight for a couple reasons: the first being breaking the record for all-time longest running scripted TV sow (with 636 episodes). Also the recurring controversy regarding the nature of its sense of humor - specifically the stereotyping of one of it's many stereotyped characters, Apu.
"Comedy particularly needs to be defended against ideologues. Humor is the most resilient enemy of zealotry, which is why so many fanatics have tried to ban or police it, from the original Puritans to the new PC Puritans." - Andrew Sullivan 
There is no shortage of different perspectives on the issue, some more measured than others, especially the predictable outrage from over on the fainting couch of comedy. Go watch a true master at work to see + study the range of impressions (derogatory stereotypes) he does over the course of his performance. This is why there are no limits, and no exceptions. Ever.

I've often called the clippings on refrigerators as second only to the outhouse as far as hallowed ground for the display of one's work. And yes, I admit to still, even after all these years, being apprehensive and even a little bit pinch-me over every day that I run down to the corner store on Sunday for a peek at my panel on the page.

It's still satisfying, even more gratifying and humbling to hold it your hands, as the flickering & fleeting on-line arena evaporates pretty quick in comparison. Still, social media is basically a big ol' sandbox where one can wade right in and get dirty on the playground of ideas. It's a great resource especially as a sort of sounding board, testing the cartoon waters with a tenuous toe-tip as it were.

Take for example the trial run of a new character: "Herman the Ermine… a weasel at his easel." So far the suggestions for a sidekick range from “fartin’ Martin” and “a stoat afloat on a boat in a moat” to “a mink wearing pink holding a drink in a sink,” and “a ferret with merit.”

Here's a perfect case in point as to the relative subjectivity of what some folks find funny.
Below is my (second) contribution to the ambiance of our local diner scene was upgraded at Sourdough Sam's (I got a breakfast on the house, which is what it must feel like to be a real celebrity). Also the frame is perfectly at eye-height for the demographic to which it will give childhood traumas...

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Edits: "Tits" & "Bou-bies"

My latest + greatest hypothetical rejection to Audubon Magazine. Maybe I should go pass some out at the annual Katchemak Bay Shorebird Festival, or at least the Sandhill Crane Festival right here in the 'Banks. Probably be on my table at this year's Wild Arts Walk fundraiser at any rate.
Regardless, here's a pro-tip: never search Google Images for "bird tits."

Oh well, so much for staying clear of any workplace search engines filters.
While back I went on a roll (or off the rails) with the caribou theme, one might even say in a rut. Might as well throw in an edit, as in, no way will this ever grace the pages of any publication. As disturbing an image as it might be, at least I cared enough to remove any reference to smoking, because that's just stupid. Wouldn't want anyone to get the wrong idea or anything...

Juvenile as it might be, doodles like these sure serve their purpose as a brief bit of comic relief amidst an otherwise idle stretch of time while at work. Yeah, I amuse myself - whatever it takes to get through the day.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Avalanche: v2

While back ago I meticulously documented the process behind coming up with a commission for a PSA on avalanche safety. Much to my chagrin, it took a while before admitting the initial design was so flawed that it seemed an awful lot of folks were completely missing the point. There's always a continual balancing act on the creative tightrope as far as ensuring you visually communicate the concept versus maintaining your own individual style. Sometimes ego can get in the way of basic editorial insight - as in, nobody gets it. It's easier to blame someone else for your failure to clearly depict an idea in a way that removes as much of the guesswork as possible. Unfortunately there's always going to be a certain segment that you will just never reach. Not just with artistic efforts, but also common sense.

Below is a sample nicked from one of the numerous on-line resources (Colorado) that clearly document the danger in underestimating the potential for a seemingly safe slope to suddenly let go. And here's the information to bookmark on Alaska to bookmark + pass along!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

"Caribou Antlers"

This one should be filed under the "Nuggets Sketchbook" header, since it was scanned right from the ol' sketchbook, but on the other hand it was worked over quite a bit with Photoshop, so it's more of a hybrid. Kinda like your average reindeer, as opposed to caribou these days - which it seems are numbered for the latter. And there is an entire system of descriptions for these sorts things for those familiar with the terminology.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

"E Pluribus Unumoose"

Sometimes an idea comes along that you just have to sit on for a while, before it hatches out onto a scrap of paper. Which is another kind of nest where concepts incubate, like an oven.

Then into the kitchen where all the necessary kneading takes place. And that's just about how I try and run portions of my drawing classes, like a cooking show, where I can line up different stages for a demonstration. Depending on how long they're baked, some will be raw or burnt, but that's a risk you run doing it "live."

Astute observers will note the change between redpolls and chickadees from the digitally-clored versus the watercolored variations - that actually was in sync with the natural rhythm of things around the cabin. This year we seemed to have a particularly voracious herd of the Redpolls pillage this neck of the woods, to the point I sincerely questioned the logic of hauling fifty-pound sacks of seed around only to see them emptied in no short order. But then again, I routinely cycle through vast quantities of cat food (and the subsequent litter) to be okay with the cycle of life. 

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Editorial: Creamer's Field... and "Hunting Preserve"

Long-time readers will understand the importance that I personally hold for this community resource: I regularly take my art classes on field trips here, participate in fundraising activities, take walks on the trails, oh, and then there was just recently this little event.

So one can imagine my consternation at the meddlesome stupidity of (republican, natch) politicians:
"The names should be changed to emphasize the importance of hunting in these refuges, said Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, at the final meeting of the Alaska Senate Resources Committee."

Even a namesake of the place has a problem with this:
I cannot stand by quietly and let a politician from another community dictate how we refer to what our local community has worked so hard for so many years to establish as a jewel in the heart of the Interior. It is, has been and always will be the “Creamers Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge.”
I had originally spent several hours wracking my brain trying to come up with a euphemism for "asshole politician habitat" (the original caption for Juneau) that would be perhaps more appropriate (if not printable).
Then I recalled the legacy label... lest we forget. Nothing's changed but the words on the hat.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

"Dry Pavement"

Not that this by any means means spring is actually here. Though by the time this particular panel is published and then posted the thrill will be long gone: like greenup and other seasonally related phenomena, the window of awareness closes pretty quick, and then we're on to the next Alaskan Moment®™. Also idiot drivers speed all year -round in all conditions, so in that regard it's timeless.

It's also that time of the year when for the first time in many months I can effectively bake any inks on the drive home by putting them in the sun on the dash + crank up the defroster. In ten minutes it's dry enough to erase and scan right away. This also helps with closure in demos: there's a quick turnaround to having the piece appear in print so as to illustrate the arc of artistic creation from inception to execution.

On a meta side-note, I think mostly from here on out I'll post only pictures of work-in-progress (panels in varying stages of development) in a context/environment/setting (as opposed to straight-up scans). This on account of finally connecting the dots on the aesthetics of photography as employed by two groups: foodies and potters.

I've long been admiring how some contemporary creators from both crafts use evocative imagery to promote their respective wares - the pictures themselves are beautiful, in contrast with a more formal catalog-y look. You also don't really have a clear, wholly descriptive depiction of the item in question - for example only portions of the finished product are visible in the photograph. If you want to experience the full deal you obviously need to physically interact with the subject... eat it, hold it in your hands and sip from it, or in the case of my cartoon, buy the newspaper.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

RESIST: Zinke Edition

Originally appearing in the final issue of The Ester Republic (February, 2018), this probably seals my fate as a forever former interpretive ranger. (can't say I wasn't warned). It's especially poignant what with the current politicization of previously apolitical positions in public service, particularly public lands.

On a technical note, render animals extending their middle fingers can be a challenge, especially when such ungulates & passeriformes lack the requisite digits to begin with. But this is why we draw to begin with. And nevertheless, they still get the point across…

Mighty appreciative of my editor for the placeholder: she emailed my plea for an extension on the deadline with this: “No way will I go to press without that cartoon!”  

Also this particular panel incidentally illustrates the artistic trinity of exposure: in print + on web + on the wall (bonus in appearing in both the infamous annual retrospective and scoring an honorable mention at the Fairbanks Arts Association's annual juried exhibition (appropriately enough themed "Whimsy").

Add to all of that the sale of the original watercolored piece and you have a good run. Now all that's left is to personally deliver a signed copy to his office in the downtown Federal Building (suitable for framing).

Now as a break from the usual accompanying rant, I'm foregoing any annotated breakdown of citations in favor of simply reposting excerpts + direct links. To be honest, it's just basic goddamned outrage fatigue at this point: not being lazy - just can't keep up with the inexorable deluge of daily aberrations that make up this burgeoning backstory. It's only a partial snapshot of the spread of this systemic rot: virtually every agency head installed by the current administration has compromised the integrity of the United States by demonstrated astonishing degrees of hypocritical corruption, incompetence and/or a vested interest in undermining the very same agendas their departments are tasked with upholding and entrusted with defending in the public interest. Notwithstanding efforts at resistance, familiar examples are Education (DeVos), the FCC (Pai), the USDA (Clovis), Labor (Acosta), Justice (Sessions), Housing (Patton), Urban Development (Carson), and many, many more at every level of “governance” and “leadership.” And don’t even get me started on the E.P.A. (Pruitt).
So without any further ado, here's a master list... so far...
(after the jump)