Tuesday, August 31, 2010


“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter 
and those who matter don't mind.” - Dr. Seuss

In honor of another semester coming up, here’s some excerpted and anonymous student input. Mostly this is an excuse to post a few of the funnier comments received back from the summer courses. Okay, mainly the most awesome cartoons all over the forms from the comics class: if there ever was a demographic inclined to doodle all over official paperwork, that’d be them.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Road Trip/Sketchbook Journal: Iowa

The next series of post themes (interspersed with all the usual nonsense) will be follow-up on another road-trip I took over July/August. Approximately 5,658-odd (and I do mean odd) miles across Alaska, Canada and the US, four time-zones, awesome scenery and adventures galore, with intermittent opportunities for decompression and artistic observations. All the doodles were done with trusty ballpoint pen (only the bet will do: the free ones at Goldhill Liquor & Gas on the Parks Highway are highly recommended) + Sharpie, scanned right from the sketchbook and all done from life: I believe “live” is not only infinitely better than drawing from photographs, and has the side-benefit of etching experience into memory with a far more aesthetic connection, focusing attention with immediacy and intimacy. That is, if the earthy scent of manure doesn't already do that. (More below the fold!)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Postscript: Read Comics Day

Good times...
Another nice little mention in today's issue of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (pics by Sam Harrel) as a follow-up to yesterday's gig. Classic "Spy vs Spy"  - what a cool grampa too: mine only used to take me to his bar.
(More below the fold!) 

Read Comics Day: Alaska - Follow-up Post

 This was such a great idea: Thanks again to Morean & Heater at the Daily Cross-Hatch for the concept! Looks like lots of places from Boston to Brisbane took part in the event: up here in the Interior of Alaska we jumped on-board and took up an angle that they suggested on their website by using it as a way to tap into your local library. Like I mentioned before, ours (the Noel Wien Public Library) has almost two thousand comic titles, and folks that showed up shared their favorites and found out about new books from others.
Nice way to promote a community resource, a bonus opportunity for encouraging literacy too, and yet another excuse to sit and read some comics! (More below the fold) 

Friday, August 27, 2010

Creepy Halibut Charter

More on the recent fishing theme: lots of friends coming back from charters and dip-netting, getting the freezers stocked. One of these days I'll actually get to go on one myself, but I'd probably have too much fun with the sketchbook to do any serious subsistence aside from Captain Gorton

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"The King of Kings"

Going off the reactions to my last published depiction of God, thought this panel would irk a few readers into complaining, but guess it was benign enough to raise the possibility that maybe I've been saved, and that this is my subsequent version of proselytizing. 
Tell ya what: life jackets save. 
Really should work more on drawing better robes, as a White Russian is the only thing keeping this from being The Dude.
*Hat-tip to Keenan!

“The Dude abides. I don't know about you but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there. The Dude. Takin' 'er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals.” - The Stranger

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Early Morning Random...

I've had to duck some punches after trying out this one: ranks right up there with leper farts to broach the taboo subject of impending snowfall... man there are some seriously touchy Alaskans in this neck of the woods. I sketched it out this afternoon while at Ivory Jacks, after walking a couple miles to do fulfill the civic duty (my war pony is sick) and rewarding myself with the breakfast of champions.

Now it's almost 4 a.m. and fueled by metal and coffee I'm obsessively refreshing the incoming primary election results page, and feeling the simultaneous implosion of editorial cartoonists' heads across Alaska, if not the entire nation. I'm sharpening my Sharpies in anticipation of one hell of a fall election.

Along similar political lines, it's very important to not have a litterbox located right beside the refrigerator, if not for simple aesthetics than especially in case of any question about the freshness of milk beyond the expiration date, as comparatively speaking smelling everything's fresh and wonderful next to cat shit.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Guilty Subsistence

Good example of the thrashing about trying to get the words just right. I always have mixed feelings about zoos: last time I visited one, over twenty years ago on the East Coast as a sort of memory-lane/childhood echo thing, instead of wonder and awe I wound up feeling depressed and angry. Guess the experience of seeing wolves, bears, eagles etc. in captivity after watching them live, in person, in the wild, puts a sad perspective on the whole scene. It aesthetically ranks up there with the difference between pornography and the real thing, though modern zoos are supposedly much better at recreating environments and ensuring decent living conditions (apart from being in cages).
I was sketching at the local watering-hole over brunch yesterday, and noticed a young kid at the bar (never mind that) who was drawing on the back of a menu, which is one of my habits as well. After complimenting her work and returned to my table, the server told her I was a cartoonist and art teacher, and so she did another drawing and signed it just for me, which I reciprocated in turn with one of my own. Did feel kinda bad that this happened to be the panel appearing in the paper, could been funnier if not more kid-friendly example. Oh well, Beer-Battered Free Willy and all that....

"Tea Party Terrorist Monkey God"

 The looney trifecta is in play with all three players interwoven on one issue: the Tea Party Express' former Mouth of Sauron spokesman Mark Williams broke another taboo by saying what everybody thinks but everybody knows you're not really supposed to actually say (wink wink):
"The animals of allah for whom any day is a great day for a massacre are drooling over the positive response that they are getting from New York City officials over a proposal to build a 13 story monument to the 9/11 Muslims who hijacked those 4 airliners.The monument would consist of a Mosque for the worship of the terrorists’ monkey-god and a “cultural center” to propagandize for the extermination of all things not approved by their cult."
The Tea Party Federation kicked out the Tea Party Express after Williams' first gaffe, yet somehow for that the Express didn't muster half the tired indignation that they have for this latest unscripted departure - another "the Emperor has no clothes nor is the Tea Party racist" moment. And while the chairwoman of the group officially denounced, no wait, well sorta, William's statements, in the meantime primary challenger Joe Miller hasn't yet responded to incumbent Murkowski's challenge to refuse the $300k in campaigning they plan to do on his behalf after their coveted anointment endorsement
The carefully couched non-apologetic commentaries have the air of the martyred-by-the-lamestream-liberal-media angle: as one of the Quitter's notable backings and pet causes there's textbook anklebiting and "no comment" walkback, making it the best moral whiplash effect seen yet this election.
Nothing compared to if he wins. Vote tomorrow.
"[R]epeat after me: Islam is a 7th Century Death Cult coughed up by a psychotic pedophile and embraced by defective, tail sprouting, tree swinging, semi-human, bipedal primates with no claim to be treated like human beings or even desirable mammals for that matter." - Mark Williams

Saturday, August 21, 2010

"The Dammed"

“I hold it to be the inalienable right of anybody to go to hell in his own way.” - Robert Frost

This weirdness poster design started off as a last-minute idea for the final panel on the last page of the recent "God of Cartooning." As it happens there'll usually be a spin-off spawned from some project I can sometimes remix into a new piece, but in this case it wound up boomeranging back onto the original work, as I went ahead anyways and snuck the basic concept into
the three-pager: posted here at the bottom, now in retrospect it seems like that big blank space that had bothered me compositionally was suspiciously perfect..

With some choice Rachmaninov ("Isle of the Dead") cued up in the background, and a freewheeling sleep schedule (work on what I want, when I want, at least until the semester starts), this panel was a challenge and an opportunity to experiment with some new effects. In retrospect there are lots of issues and glaring weak areas that got lost in the haze of creating, mostly the cheesy 80's-looking video game look of the flame graphics. I envisioned Peter Jackson's epic balrog cave, but instead wound up with something more like the Looney Toon tunnel. "The Dammed" could be a companion piece to another, earlier panel, "Colony" - I smell a series comin' on. Ewww, vaguely sulfuric.
Aside from the several hours alone spent just on the lodge itself, it was like kneading a loaf of bread before getting totally baked, the layers kept having to be punched back down after rising with the evolving complexity: after working on something like this it's always something of a paradoxical let-down to have the end result look comparatively simpler than all the effort put into it. Such is life. For the most part there wasn't much linework at all, but the principle elements were still hand-drawn, scanned and converted before preliminary coloring and then importation into Photoshop. Hat-tip to 2007's "Sunshine" by Danny Boyle, one of my favorite sci-fi films, for influencing this imagery: the lava surface texture was swiped from a segment of a NASA shot of the surface of the sun. Printed up some proofs of the poster yesterday and they look spiffy enough for inclusion into the fall semester's faculty art show

“All right, then, I'll go to hell.” - Mark Twain 


Friday, August 20, 2010

Read Comics in Public: Alaska!

Comics bloggers Brian Heater and Sarah Morean, editors at The Daily Cross Hatch, got a great idea... "Read Comics in Public" day:
"The concept is fairly simple: we’re asking that everyone take an hour or two out of their day on August 28th (also the birthday of Jack “King” Kirby, incidentally) to read a comic book in a public setting—a park bench, a beach, a bus, the front steps of your local library (we do ask, however, that you be mindful of local loitering laws). Let strangers see you reading a piece of sequential art."
Now international in scope, the event will also be taking place in Fairbanks: hosted by the Noel Wien Library and Cartoon North. So stop on in the public library and check out any one of the freakin' 1,864 titles available: it's one of the hidden treasures in this community as far as comics resources.
Other participating venues include The Comic Shop, Gulliver’s Books and Forget-Me-Not Books @ the Literacy Council of Alaska - all great places to stop by and ask for suggestions from the intelligent and friendly staff. 

Somewhat pleased to say that the stereotype of a weirdo doesn't really seem to hold up within my own circle of friends, well, as far as reading comics goes. Then again, anyone with an ingrown and myopic lifestyle who hibernates in a cabin probably isn't a good gauge of what's hip or cool. But seriously, there isn't any stigma attached as evidenced by the success of the cartoon course, jams and a couple big annual events: the popularity is sound and the medium is certainly achieving legitimacy. As someone who draws cartoons out in public at least a couple days a week anyways (speaking of clichés - goatee-strokin' scruffy sandlewood-infused loner camped out over a sketchbook at a cafe), this gig'll be a fun opportunity to roam around town with a camera and hit up all the favorite haunts. Plus promote people and places who love reading, talking about, sharing and making comics.
Look forward to some pics up here afterwards, and over on the local Facebook event page: folks can either post to the wall there or email me your shots directly (nuggets at alaska dot net).

Art by Robert Sergel

"The God of Cartooning"

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Read Comics in Public!

 Even if I'm not technically out in public (though the cats are both giving me the hairy eyeball off-screen), it's still a great, shameless excuse to show off the brand-new t-shirts now available at the Literacy Council of Alaska.

Via a post on Boing Boing comes a spiffy gig called "International Read Comics in Public Day" - basically an awareness campaign similar to 24-Hour Comics Day (though not anywhere near as much of an ordeal), and Free Comic Book Day, and The Big Cartoon Kablooey too, for that matter...
So next Saturday, August 28th, I'm thinking of throwing one here in Fairbanks: maybe hopefully get the local public library to help host it. I'll whip up a poster this weekend, maybe get some press, do a Facebook Events page, and have folks post pictures of themselves and other people reading a comic in public.
It'd be a great way to publicize the fantastic resource we have here with the Fairbanks North Star Borough Noel Wien Public Library's extensive collection. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Basic Defense Tactics

Over my years of backcountry hiking around Alaska I’ve had a few close-call bear encounters: chance encounters exponentially multiply the more you spend time in the wilderness, and it’s one of the more rare opportunities that alternately instantly invigorates your very existence and simultaneously scares the shit out of you. Personally I feel far more unsafe around people, especially driving, so it’s all a matter of perspective and experience I guess.
For many years until going strictly-off trail, each season I'd hike the 40-mile Kesugi Ridge trail in "Little Denali," mostly solo trips but a few dear friends have accompanied me for some spectacular and memorable excursions. My habit was to leave my pickup at the lower Troublesome Creek trailhead and hitch uproad to the Little Coal Creek put-in, and spend five to seven days exploring the spectacular and diverse range of landscapes offered by this often overlooked alternative to the national park. I also always timed it to fall on the same weekend the rangers would close that last particular section of trail down later in the season so as to minimize bear/human “conflicts,” which seeing as how the last five+ miles parallels a salmon steam is only prudent. I also saw it as a handy way to guarantee solitude, and watching herds of black bears and grizzlies amble around the tundra enjoying blueberry hors d'œuvres before hitting the spawn buffet adds to the thrill of potential, well, death. While hiking the gauntlet it’s not uncommon to step over piles of bearcrap on the trail with enough frequency it’s like a walk in the local dog park. Excepting the part that these are 6-800 pound carnivores that happen to occupy the top of the food chain you are traipsing through.
On one trip, while hollering my favorite and appropriate theme song en route to the end, I noticed an alarming alignment of factors: grass so high it limited visibility, river running high and fast enough to drown out any sound of approach, and a stiff headwind carrying my scent (absolutely gourmet by this part of the trip) to boot. And yep, rounding a bend and cresting a slight rise I came upon my first-ever intimate encounter with a grizzly in the water less than a hundred feet away. I’d like to say that I had a more noble reaction than the sudden instinct that overrode any musings on the majesty of wildlife, the innate beauty of the animal and the totality of the transcendent moment, but nope, I can’t. I froze in my tracks, reached slowly down with one hand, hiked up the leg of my shorts and piddled like a bad puppy. So much for any manly outdoorsy image – you have all the dignity of a sandwich. And within a few (very long) minutes the bear looked around, caught my scent and bolted away in the opposite direction, which is what happens the vast majority of these situations: given the chance they’ll bail on the scene, unless it’s like that time my girlfriend and I interrupted a moose stalking, well, the bear was stalking the moose, I mean – the stalking moose is another tale. Nevermind.
Anyways, a long story for a short gag, but a twisted example of how so many of those adventures help to shape the well of experience you draw from. Not the least of which is  coming up with ideas in the outhouse.

“When you try to formalize or socialize creative activity, the only sure result is commercial constipation. The good ideas are all hammered out in agony by individuals, not spewed out by groups.” - Charles Browder

Monday, August 16, 2010


I've been having a peculiar experience while working in the cabin as of late: call it a "phantom dog" phenomenon, where I keep thinking I'm catching peripheral sight of the normally omnipresent dog out of the corner of my eye. There's a constant, subtle double-take every time I remember that she ain't there, just enough to make a ripple of momentary regret. The presence of the absence is keenest when I sit down to eat and she's not there in the background makin' hairy eyeballs at me, to say nothing of having to spend all this extra time in the kitchen without the assistance of, uh, an organic cleaning agent.
And no, nothing quite as drastic a loss as a death here, just a temporary relocation (more on that later) while separated by five-thousand+ miles. As usual, the cats couldn't care less one way or the other. We did have a brief scare last month when the Bird-Dog lost usage of her back end, which led to some logistical difficulties not to mention total panic and fear. Turns out (contrary to the worst-case scenarios courtesy of the dreaded "diagnosis by internet") it was a case of "vestibular disease" - common and mysterious affliction in many older dogs that has to do with equilibrium, and is completely self-recoverable with a couple weeks of care and attention (and lots of treats).
“Why can't we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together? I guess that wouldn't work. Someone would leave. Someone always leaves. Then we would have to say good-bye. I hate good-byes. I know what I need. I need more hellos.” – Snoopy 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

"The Wilson 500"

In all honesty one has to applaud the pot-stirring of the Tea Party: even if I'll always shake my head at their notable and conspicuous absence of patriotic activism while enduring the legacy of the Bush administration, the sound and fury emanating from this newfound uprising of political populism guarantees good grist for the mill. And although this panel could be taken "both ways" ie doesn't particularly foment opinion either way aside from the "endless emissions" poke, we really shouldn't pick on Wilson so hard: after all, she went to bat for the cheese, which nothing less than I'd expect from Alaska's next governor Fairbank's next mayor. Anything to keep the Carhardt-clad jack-booted thugs from clamping the evil iron collar of socialism around our necks.

Seeing as how the reflexive community opposition to this issue attracts inevitable and immediate knee-jerk outcry, especially the virtual transfer-site outbreaks of on-line comment-mobbing, so it reflects a truly bizarre obsession with this hot-button topic in the Interior. Relatedly, one of my editors recently broached the subject of including a clearer contact/credit tag in my panels, in part not only to shunt anticipated "blow-back" about some of my cartoons back to me, but also because some folks think my signature reads "Sarah Palin" - no, really. Crap, and here I've labored for over thirty years to perfect a stylishly illegible signature. Even still, can't pass up an opportunity to hoist the flag a bit higher while addressing a technicality that's been bugging me: the proper display of copyright the in sequence is "symbol/year/creator's name" - not the blog address, as has been erroneously been being used for 2010. It's always in the fine print.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Final Pages

"The greatest mistake you can make is to say that your work is better than a lot of the shit that's out there. No doubt. But being better than shit is not exactly a shining credential." – Dave Sim

A handful of excerpted samples from the final 3-page (minimum) vignettes that comprised the student's finals in the summer session "Cartoon & Comic Art" course at UAF. 
Publishing this book entails everybody's pages being done the night before the last day of class, which afterwards, if I'm lucky, in turn means only getting a few hours of sleep once done scanning and formatting elements and being first in line at the local print shop when it opens at 7:30am. Comparatively small sacrifice given the overall quality of work produced and the very least one can do after the students have completely fried themselves in such a short amount of time. And every year Date Line Digital Printing (shameless plug) has pulled it off for us, so big thanks go out that crew.

Skimming over the printer's dummy and subsequent proofs of the class comic I'm again struck by the diversity and range of talent, from raw to refined, and how many different stories were chosen to be told: from sci-fi, horror, fantasy and noir genres, and running the gamut from to the mysterious and sublime, to hilarious and profound.

The appropriately eclectic accompanying soundtrack would have to be: Wagner's "Vorspiel," the theme from the Simpsons, Will I Am "Big & Chunky," some Snoop-Dog, death metal and of course a little bit of zydeco (specifically Corey Ledet and Cedric Watson). And lots and lots of coffee. Lastlt, the new, unofficial motto adopted after seeing a student comment can now be succinctly stated as "Three Pages of Epic Pants-shitting Awesomeness!"

"There are people. There are stories. The people think they shape the stories, 
but the reverse is often closer to the truth." -  Alan Moore 

Posted below is the last page from "Billabong" by Hannah Foss, the required solo minicomic put out by advanced students, which copies of were handed out along with the final anthology as a sort of supplement: seeing a finished product stand on its own is a real special accomplishment and also provides an invaluable example of what serious discipline can result in for the other folks in the class. It can be quite an empowering experience to create something that one can hand to other people and say "see - here it is, I did this, here I am." Hopefully one of the meta-lesson demonstrated is to spark a flame, that hey - I can do that.

"The world always seems brighter when you've just made something 
that wasn't there before." - Neil Gaiman 

Friday, August 13, 2010

Collaborative Pages/"Man-Bear"

This'd be the second time I've had to interject myself into the mix of material for the week-long collaborative exercise assignment page. Case-in-point for the invaluable opportunity in having other folks, uh, save your butt. Also it's interesting to see the strains of style survive, mutate and evolve under the influence of other input.

The pencil (posted to the left) was the emergency stop-gap on account of sudden missing links in the chain of collaborators, ie slackers. It was cranked out in about fifteen minutes worth of "oh snap" inspired energy, not the best situation to develop anything remotely approaching what I'd expect in turn to be handed in. Fortunately the originating author opted to work the piece up himself for his final 3-pager, and get a chance to execute his envisioned piece the way he saw it, as opposed to interpretation at the hands of other people.
And I have it on his personal assurance that the character getting mauled by the man-bear is in fact not a caricature of someone familiar, handsome goatee aside...

"I don't think my parents liked me. They put a live teddy bear in my crib." - Woody Allen

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Collaborative Pages/"Porkus"

I've yet to either hear about, or experience for myself, any other class in which one can be routinely exposed to passionate debates on the relative merits of Star Wars versus Star Trek, learn the intricacies of Pokeman and WOW lore, hear rave reviews about How To Train Your Dragon and endure endless quotes from the Holy Grail. 
And there really isn't much else I could personally add to this piece either.

"As a work of art, it reminds me of a long conversation between two drunks" - Clive James 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

In Passing: Callahan + Pekar

 Images from “The Night, They Say, Was Made For Love’ and “My Sexual Scrapbook” copyright John Callahan (1993 Quill)

One of the more notorious and controversial gag cartoonists died recently: John Callahan drew on such touchy and decidedly non-PC subjects such as mocking cripples, quadriplegics, drunks, addicts, sex and religion. Along with his 1989 autobiography “Don't Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot” (referring to his most infamous panel with a tipped-over wheelchair), “Digesting The Child Within” and several other anthologized collections, there are a couple of animated cartoons based on Callahan's work (and life): Nickelodian's "Pelswick" and the Canadian/Australian-produced show "John Callahan's Quads!

Shocking and offensive to many, the crudity of his content matched the wandering scrawl of his art: spastic linework and clumsily rendered images compliment his equally vulgar and gleefully immature humor. He frequently went where most other cartoonists would fear to ink, in no small part due to his savage cynicism born from hard, personal experience – following an accident which left him a quadriplegic at age twenty-one, and subsequent dealings with alcoholism and history of sexual abuse.
“My only compass for whether I’ve gone too far is the reaction I get from people in wheelchairs, or with hooks for hands. Like me, they are fed up with people who presume to speak for the disabled. All the pity and the patronizing. That’s what is truly detestable.” 
So when it came to having the unabashed right to satirize the afflicted, Calahan wallowed in the depiction of the people whom he knew best and probably relished in exacerbating the discomfort most folks feel when confronting uncomfortable, disturbing and taboo aspects of human nature.

Art by Robert Crumb

Also dead this month is Cleveland cultural landmark Harvey Pekar, who was best known for writing the classic “American Splendor” series produced from 1976-84, also from exposure in the 2003 biopic of the same name that was nominated for an Oscar and won both the Cannes and Sundance festivals. The flagship artist most associated with Pekar’s series was of course Robert Crumb, and in the forward to the 1986 onmibus anthology (Ballantine) Crumb says:
“ What Pekar does is certainly new to the comic book medium. There’s never been anything even approaching this kind of stark realism. It’s hard enough to find in literature, impossible in the movies and TV. It takes chutzpah to tell it exactly the way it happened, with no adornment, no great wrap-up, no bizarre twist, nothing.”

Monday, August 9, 2010

Collaborative Pages/"Moving On"

Right before the day when everyone's scripts were due I realized it would probably be prudent, based on experience, that I should bang out a back-up. A high percentage of artists are control freaks, even moreso for comic artists, then factor in the death-grip of a teacher who maps out the smallest detail in lesson plans and you have a recipe for total disaster. So to have a missing link in what's ideally an unbroken chain of interrelated projects throws everything outta whack. Also since there were actually two slack-ups on this particular stage, another student saved me by overachieving and bringing in two scripts - instant gold star. 
I had been mulling over some major, upcoming changes about to occur in my own life (more on all that later), and just went with an almost stream-of-consciousness piece. Cryptic and open to interpretation on multiple levels, and I honestly tried to not steer the evolution into my preconceived ideas of what it should specifically look like. Besides, as I warned them all beforehand - don't expect to see it on the page if you didn't write it in the script to begin with. And true to form, as a primarily visual artist, I had long fallen out of the habit of being equally descriptive by using only words.

“MOVING ON” - Page 1 (5 Panels)   
Jamie Smith, 2010 nuggets@alaska.net
Establishing horizontal shot of a transfer site with overflowing dumpsters
                 “THROWN IT ALL AWAY”
Medium shot of a bookcase crammed with ephemera
                        REEL… THAT RATTY OLD BLANKET…
Medium shot of boxes and suitcases
Close-up of pair of hands holding a cup of tea in a cracked ceramic mug
*no panel borders, just open and empty but for three falling/fallen leaves
(and caption boxes)


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Countdown: Empty Horn of Plenty

“Few problems are less recognized, but more important than, the accelerating disappearance 
of the earth's biological resources. In pushing other species to extinction, 
humanity is busy sawing off the limb on which it is perched.” — Paul Ehrlich 

I originally wrote half this rant as a part of an upcoming editorial panel dealing with whales, but as that particular post'll have to wait for publication in print next month, I excerpted the section dealing with it's instigating incident instead. The image is an appropriation of Albrect Dürer's famous (at least to some print geeks) 1515 woodcut "Rhinoceros." I'm thinking about replicating it as an actual woodcut for a summer project - my BFA minor was in printmaking, with half of the thesis show devoted to prints, but it's been far too long a hiatus. Should be a challenge and nice break from gripping pens for a change.

“In season, out of season
What's the difference when you don't know the reason.
In one hand bread, the other a stone.
The Hunter enters the forest.”  
– Genesis “Squonk”

Few things have the power to piss me off and consequently sink me deeper into into despair than the plight of endangered species. This after reading an article about the last rhino on a South African game reserve being slaughtered by poachers. 
Butchered simply because of the horn, worth more than its weight in gold, for usage in the cultural woo passed off as "Traditional Chinese Medicine" that ranks right up there with homeopathic remedies and chewing fingernails as far as scientific legitimacy and effectiveness. It's an extension of the therapeutic ego massage gained from display of other similarly compensating and manly body parts that frequently adorn many Alaskan dens.
Over an estimated 90% of the global rhinoceros population have been been killed off over the past forty years to supply this medieval bullshit quackery. 
But it probably won't be some charismatic megafauna poster-child that'll tip the scales, more likely the biggest domino to fall first will be the smallest: a recent issue of Nature has released a study revealing 8 out of 10 of the planet's large ocean areas since 1950 have had an estimated 40% loss in phytoplankton - the stuff that produces half of our oxygen. Take a deep breath.

“All are gone, all but one
No contest, nowhere to run
No more left, only one
This is it, this is the countdown to extinction”

Saturday, August 7, 2010


So the above excerpt is from my bemoaning to a student how clueless I am as to the content of many pieces, like for example the whole Pokemon phenomenon. Years ago when first starting this course at UAF, I thought that one of the side-benefits would be to burnish my street-cred via exposure to what's currently popular and cool. I have long since then given that faint hope up, begrudgingly and curmudgeonly accepting the fact it ain't never gonna happen. Not the first time I've been in a classroom setting and been the odd man out - though to be sure, it is immensely gratifying to be surrounded by a group of other folks who for once won't think me a weirdo because I'm into comics. Which is certainly not to say I'm still immune by any means from contempt and ridicule, as the following example illustrates...

Confronted with such evidence, an astute educator will be able to quickly ascertain the level of impending burn-out ("funny fatigue") before it reaches critical mass. Mainly get the hint that the in-class exercises are seriously infringing on the patience, if not sanity of the students who really wish they could just work on their damn projects. 
Special thanks to both Robin Feinman for leading the workshop, and also to Layla Lawlor for the inspirational show & tell in this class!

"I guess I didn't enjoy drawing very much. It was like homework." - Robert Crumb