Sunday, October 2, 2022

"Leafpile"

Waxing - or more appropriately waning - nostalgic now at this time of the season when everything feels like it's winding down, and I wonder where yet another season has disappeared to while we weren't looking.

...wheee...

So many times I've just jumped right in and made a real mess of things, mostly on account of being clueless about what's really going on behind the scenes. Apparently right beneath the buffed-up vellum of our social fabric is a stressed-out, festering furry monster. These days more than any other before it seems that folks are on such thin ice, and it's even evident in classroom behavior - and not just the students.

Just let go man...

Sunday, September 25, 2022

"Trailer Hitch"


Just because now that I happen to be happily hitched, and thus have access to all sorts of material to mine for comedy gold, the traditional in-law gag isn't based on reality at all. Iowa also happens to be one of the most beautiful places in the Lower 48, and it's also full of really nice folks.

Whenever it's that time of the year when these behemoths begin to rise from their seasonal slumber and lumber about the highways and byways of our tourist state so begins another rich vein of amusement to tap. I frequently equate the sussing out of such sustenance as likened to the sluicing out literal Nuggets of the aforementioned comedy gold.

Speaking of historical art-ifacts, there are times when deciphering the hieroglyphics of my doodles requires a cryptologist degree: witness the scrap of paper unearthed from the bowels of the current man-purse.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

"Hardcore Boaters"

This one was for the Significant Otter (hence the transformation from the initial doodle to the print version), now an avid paddler: it does the heart good to see someone fall so much in love with something to share together while outside. Recreating on Alaska's public lands is such a privilege, and a pleasure with such a wonderful companion. Unless, of course, that companion happen to have a borderline phobia about being precariously perched upon a tippy-tiny little thing, so that it's basically endless hours of non-stop flailing of oars in a panic to keep from drowning. Okay, eventually I settle back into the groove, but just like operating a vehicle, it helps if you never, ever stop long enough to think about the inherent ridiculousness of your situation. Somewhat similar to cartooning, one would suppose.

The past five years of owning these hybrid craft (Old Town's "NEXT") we've certainly put them through many miles of rugged use across the state. The below shot was taken at one of our frequent return trips to the Clearwater Lake down in Delta Junction.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

"Gall"


Honestly not so sure about the usage or familiarity with that folks might have for this archaic cliché, nor if that slim slice of demographics overlaps at all with botanists. In fact, don't really care, on account of it being so simple and clean and fun. In short, everything came together in this one: the colors, the inking, the sketching out of the composition.  You can see the expansion of visual breathing space between the original ballpoint pen doodle done in the omnipresent sketchbook. And the shift in vibe in the expression from feral to rapturous.

Sometimes to sit back and smile at what you just drew, to make yourself feel a bit happier for just a fleeting moment, that's the best reward of all.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

"One Million Followers"

This was the one panel out of the batch for the year, where I actually got the idea from a friend (hat-tip to the amazing Ima Timling - check out her awesome prints here and follow her here), who mentioned it in passing in the art department's parking lot last year (see 2021's previous example here). Straight/no chaser: no doodle this time, just went right to paper without any of the usual reference sketches. I also enlisted the assistance of both classes of cartooning in this year's Visual Art Academy, so my students added their own unique "biological and technological distinctiveness" to my own. Those and another five-hundred+ additional digital (think WETA's MASSIVE tech but manually made).

Grifters gonna grift: From the same person who accused a newspaper for having a paywall

It also reminds me of another incidence earlier in the year involving an internet personality's equally desperate trolling for attention over a huff & puff with Interior media, most notably with the newspaper I freelance with. The FNSBSD had itself yet another a hissy fit/purity purge led by regressive board members over the sexual content of some health-related YouTube videos created by one "Mama Doctor Jones," and it quickly was made all about someone else instead - think an Oprah-caliber influencer like a "Dr. Oz" or "Dr. Phil" (albeit with a much more wholesome image + actual intelligence). It also unfortunately resulted in the usual horde of flying internet monkeys being unleashed upon local journalists and resulted in harassment and threats on these women by victims of groupthink. As you can easily tell from the attached grab of an ensuing post it was all a thinly veiled excuse to milk the outrage (and we've all lately seen where that can lead) and literally use it as a branding opportunity. Personally I'm grateful to be so low-down on the social media foodchain that I still need to keep a lame blog just to explain just how obtuse my dumb jokes are - although honestly I doubt I could ever learn to lie with such singular efficiency as is evidently required with tweeting such complete and utter bullshit. Thankfully I'll never have to deal with cultivating such a following - but then again, I still possess some degree of shame... and responsibility.
Physician, heal thyself indeed. 

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Demo Day 2022

"Jamie Smith, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner cartoonist since 1988, will be downtown doing in-house demos and giving away original art to new subscribers + renewals. Along with last year’s lineup of beaver, bear, moose & dog – we’ve added a salmon and a raven to this year’s critters!
Stop by the front lobby to check out more bonus deals, grab a hotdog and watch live as he creates his feature cartoon “Nuggets” + support your local paper, independent journalism, & the peripheral talent too"

200 N. Cushman St. Fairbanks, AK 99707. Phone: 907-456-6661. Email: customerservice@newsminer.com

Seeing as how last year's gig was so rudely interrupted by an October snowstorm - and hampered by the continuing pandemic - we went ahead and bumped the event up by a month so as to take advantage of the fabulous weather this fall season. And again we're holding it on a "1st Friday" to hopefully catch folks out & about checking on other art events, and spread out over most of the day to pace it out a bit too.

While this is a really super fun occasion, as I've mentioned here on this platform many times before, I've long maintained that cartoonists have a vested interest in supporting journalism and at the very least their local newspaper. Also as a special to readers of Ink & Snow who subscribe via online for the digital edition go ahead and shoot me an email and I'll drop off a drawing in the mail signed special to you... thanks!

"Mosquito Overdose"

So the original caption for this panel was along the lines of "Alaskan Overdose" and then "Why There Are No Frogs in Alaska" (there most certainly are - even in our neck of the woods) before stripping the text and making it a purely visual piece, one of the relatively rare non-verbal gags. Not that there's anything remotely funny with today's post (sorry/not sorry). Either.

I had some initial hesitation over making fun of a topic that is close to me, so I side-stepped the issue in the editorial process. Let's just say that I take it personally when I hear folks judging drug addicts, because of my own personal experiences with addiction. It's humbling to realize you never would have made it but for the unconditional love of others, and it makes me grateful have survived those years of comparative debauchery and abuse. And in hindsight, having such a firsthand perspective definitely adds empathy and alarm about the current situation, a slow-motion disaster that compounds our collective, cumulative grief from the epidemic (the other one that is) (aside from this one). And let's not forget the capacity to endure life's mysteries is enhanced considerably with a sense of humor, albeit gallows humor at times.

And one last warning note - more of a feeble croak at this point - but it needs to be yelled from the proverbial rooftops, repeatedly: amphibians are in trouble. Which means so are we, as species on this planet we're supposed to share. This isn't just a canary-in-the-coal-mine situation, it's a red flag being waved around in the middle of a wildfire.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

"Browser Speed"

The final installment from last May's "Month of Moose" series. Second only to Castor Canadensis in it's totemic power and central to the identity of the feature itself, I suppose the ubiquitous herald of the Interior could be considered a fursona of sorts. There certainly is no shortage of comparisons that can literally be drawn between myself and other fellow large, slow-moving, hairy mammals of the subarctic.

This one comes from the absolutely barbaric internet speeds most of us have here in Alaska - my cabin currently is operating slightly right above a dial-up modem by barely breaking above 1mbps download/0.53mbps upload speeds. Normally anything that slows down my rate of thinking is a good thing, as too much power is a recipe for losing focus even faster. For a state with supposedly some of the highest ranking number of households with internet connections it can sometimes seem somewhat like third-world conditions in comparison, but that's literally a first-world problem. Me, I just bought some more Forever Stamps, so I'm good.

In closing, while you are undoubtedly waiting for the images on this post to load, here's a link to the latest metal on heavy rotation in the studio: Mastadon's latest release, approved by MoochieBear.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

"Look What the Cat Dragged In"

Another installment from this previous May's "Month of Moose" - not particularly deliberate but more of a coincidental alignment of material that had accumulated in the production pipeline. The temporary glut of Alces alces made for a convenient theme to explore, okay, flog if you will. Bonus trvia: the Alaska Department of Fish & Game says that our local denizen deer is actually its own separate race: Alces alces gigas.

Nothing really changed in the evolution of this cartoon, just the (hopefully) usual refinement in rendering during the normal process in producing a panel. It did go through the usual channels of penciling out a doodle in the omnipresent sketchbook, then penned in ballpoint, incubated, then hatched out onto a slab of Bristol board in the studio.

The inspiration for this cartoon came from my memories of my first ever cat, the legendary Sneakers. One of many (first of an eventual four) oranges, which are my favorite breed by far - stemming from the original orange by the same name owned by my mother. back in New York. Raised as a kitten from restaurant scraps (I was working as a dishwasher + waiter at the time) the steady diet of fresh fish and other seafood made him into quite the independent and very large companion. Aside from a life on the streets with heavy traffic, he survived a serious mauling, a couple precocious kittens (image here of him and Souchie) and at least a dozen ex-girlfriends, not to mention the usual host of other wild animals in the Alaskan outdoors - one of which took him down in his last winter. He lived to be fourteen years old and survived eight different moves around the Interior, from a tiny one-room cabin, to an apartment, then another complex right besides one of the three biggest roads in the city at the time (he also used to open up the kitchen cabinet drawer under the sink, worm his way through a hole by the plumbing, and make his way throughout the walls to come and go with impunity into several other apartments, including the landlord's place), a Quonset hut, another one-room cabin behind a McDonalds, an A-frame, and another one-room log cabin. It as this at this last residence he had the luxury of a cat door, which meant he quite often would bring home and proudly display his numerous kills. At this time of my life I was still letting my cats be outdoor/indoor ( a return to bird-watching has long since enlightened me about the much safer and saner alternative) and so was treated to quite the smorgasbord of victuals left as offerings upon the carpet or couch, the most memorable one of which was a headless hare even larger than his eighteen pounds. Also I'll never forget him following a moose around the house as he tracked it wandering around by each window, watching with a fierce, guttural growl and hilariously floofed-up tail. So that's where this one came from. I sure do miss that cat, he was a good friend for many years.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

"Charlotte's Moose"


Back in May it was the "Month of Moosen" (or alternately "Meese") and so featured five straight weeks of moose-related material. Kind of like the menu of subsistence households when clearing out the freezer: moose soup, moose stroganoff, moose burgers, moose roast etc. Not unlike comedy, nothing ever truly gets old... just keep adding more herbs + spices.

The act of penciling out this particular panel triggered a longstanding issue with failing at Celtic knots, and by extension any illustration featuring ornate, interlocking patterns. This is attributed to my case of A.D.D. - specifically Artistic Deficit Disorder wherein I get bored by anything that takes me longer than an hour to finish. Along with S.A.D. - Seasonally Affective Doodling, it makes for extenuating conditions under which to create new cartoons. And following from this, the first version of the piece was tested out on a random pool of volunteers at the cafe whereupon the command editorial decision was made to thicken the threads just a tad bit so as to make it a little more obvious what the gag was about.


And as it turned out, there was just enough of a communal, cultural webbing tying us all together to make it work. In other words for most folks the primordial ooze of nostalgia was stirred enough to recall the iconic imagery from E.B. White's seminal book illustrated by one of my personal all-time favorite artists Garth Williams.