Thursday, December 16, 2010

Been a long time

Obviously this is inspired by the song about Santa Claus.
I suppose you could substitute Big Brother for the NSA, CIA or Wikileaks,
depending on your personal paranoia.

Has it actually been a year or more since I've posted any cartoons at all? Well, these are REALLY fast/sketch ones. I just had these ideas for jokes and our school upgraded our Photoshop, so I thought I'd throw them together quickly. Can't promise I'm back in the habit, but I'll try to take a sketchbook home with me over Christmas break. Who knows.

I couldn't decide whether to make the cook the donkey, Uncle Sam, or President Obama. This one is really vague and broad, so it could almost be timeless. Beltway Republicans like red herrings. They also like to put up "straw-men" so they can knock them down. Previous examples were flag burning and gay marriage, not to mention terrorist boogie-men. These days they're claiming to be deficit-hawks who want to cut government spending, even though they're pretty bad at math since they're so hell-bent on tax cuts for the super rich. Watch, next will be Tax "Reform," and of course Wikileaks. 
Yeah, maybe you think it's cheap or "cheating" to use some collage elements in there instead of actually drawing them but let me point out-

  1. I said I threw them together quick so I wasn't being really meticulous.
  2. These are pretty much just for me or for this blog, so there's no editor or publisher to try to impress. 
  3. Check out some of the work of German 1920's/30's DADAist John Heartfield (aka: Helmut Herzfeld). The guy was a genius. 

His politically charged photomontages provoked the ire of the Third Reich. I admire Heartfield almost as much as I do Thomas Nast or Jeff McNelly, so I see no problem with using all the tools available to craft whatever it is you call what I have saved on this blog thing here.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Funnies Aficionado; Strangers in Paradise

I love visual/graphic, sequential, story telling. Ok, "Comics." But I'm not really into aliens and mutants and people in tight, colorful costumes (well, except maybe for Mardigras).I once spent an hour and a half in a comic book store trying to find a graphic novel by a specific writer/artist team because their book emphasized relationships and emotional/intellectual struggles, not just action and violence. I finally found what I wanted, only to realize once I got home that it was the very same comic that I had already bought and read a year before.

What can I say? I guess other readers (presumably younger ones) are more interested in imagination and escapism, maybe even living vicariously- but I'm more interested in compelling story telling.

Terry Moore is a compelling story teller. It's no wonder Moore had already won one Will Eisner award and has been nominated for another, plus a Rubin, plus a Harvey award. Personally I think that Moore's style, both writing and drawing is far more reminiscent of Will Eisner' "the Spirit,' than the team DC Comics has reviving that series.

But Moore's characters aren't fighting crime or saving the world (usually), they're just trying to figure themselves out and help each other get through life, sort of like the rest of us. Unfortunately for me, as usual, I'm climbing on the band-wagon after the parade is over. Moore is wrapping up his master comic, 'Stranger's in Paradise,' after a 17 year run.

Strangers ("SIP") is a character-driven "dramadie" that revolves around Francine, Katina, and David, twenty-something friends caught in an unrequited love triangle. The tension is subtly played, it took me three issues to begin to catch on. David is an ex gang-banger/Art Major who's in love with Katina, who is a successful artist who's in love with Francine, who's Katina's straight best friend just an average girl with your average weight complex and an average job who's trying to make her way in the world.

There really isn't a lot of sexual tension in SIB, the emphasis is placed on friendship and loyalty. No kissing, not flirting or indulging in the erotic... at least not between the three main characters. There's plenty of dating and relationship struggles and angst.

Moore's drawing style is fluid, nuanced, attractive and at times sultry, without ever becoming exploitative. As a reader, I appreciate female protagonists, but as a comics reader it's hard to find authentic women characters. Let's face it, She-Hulk, Cat Woman, even Wonder Woman (who was originally created as a positive role model for young girls by a psychologist) are all pretty much soft-core porn for 10-14 year old boys. Moore isn't shamelessly preoccupied with bodies like say, Frank Cho's 'Liberty Meadows' comic strip.

As a matter of fact, I was convinced that Terry Moore was a woman, until I visited his website. Turns out, he's not gay either. Come to think of it, he's not between the ages of 14 and 30. He's not even single. All of these facts are amazing because he knows his characters, he seems to understand them, and have an uncanny empathy for them. That's what I appreciate most about Strangers in Paradise, that the characters are so genuine- authentic, real, honest, human, multidimensional, etc. etc.

I can't praise him enough for this. As a junior high and high school teacher, I'd like to think I've observed enough adolescents to be considered a credible witness to how realistic Moore makes his young characters and their constant, neurotic inner-conflicts.

It's a shame that Moore will no longer be producing new issues of SIB. It's a shame there aren't more comics like it, standing out among all of the typical overly commercialized, weird, violent, and formulaic stuff. It would also be a huge shame if all the straight readers were scared off by the understandably loyal LGBT following SIB built up over the last two decades.

If you're a true comics aficionado, you really owe it to yourself to give SIB a try. If you never thought of yourself as someone who'd enjoy comic books or graphic novels, then you really owe it to yourself to give SIB a look, it will really show you what a remarkable genre visual/graphic, sequential, story telling can be!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Being a superhero sucks, but this book doesn't

Daredevil Vol. 7: HardcoreDaredevil Vol. 7: Hardcore by Brian Michael Bendis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You can have your Frank Miller. For my money Bendis and Maleev are the best team in the comics biz. These guys know how to pull you into a story and keep the story moving in an unique, stylish manner.

This is not your typical comic book superhero thing with weird powers, costumes and mutants or people from other planets. This graphic novel is gritty, dark and plausible.

Matt Murdock struggles with civic responsibility, a blown secret identity, a faltering law practice, an FBI investigation into his activities as a vigilante in Hell's Kitchen in New York AND a new girlfriend- when a psychotic contract killer sets him on fire- announcing the return of his old nemesis, the organized crime boss bent on revenge. Did I mention that Murdock is blind?

View all my reviews

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Funnies Aficionado

Guy and rOdd are Gary Larson reincarnated. Larson was so genius, it took two souls to replace him.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Funnies Aficionado

(originally posted Feb. 2008- before I came up with the "Funnies Aficionado" feature)

I told myself that I would use this blog just for my own cartoons and not post things by other people- but holy crap, I stumbled on this guy's website and he is HILARIOUS! I am SO incredibly jealous of how funny, creative, and free from convention he is. I have no idea if he's actually managing to make a living off of this stuff, or if he still has a "day job," but I just think he's the funniest cartoonist since Bill Waterson and the weirdest since Gary Larson. Apparently, like Scott Adams, he was working in the cubicle jungle and just up and decided that cartooning was a better lifestyle. So he started drawing chickens on PostIt Notes!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Funnies Aficionado

Frog Applause by Teresa Burritt really scares me. Most days I think Burritt has the most rapier wit and it is high time something as raw, sharp and unapologetic made it to the comics page. Other days I don't get her. And every once in a while I react the same way I do about South Park and Family Guy- "How does someone get away with that crap?!!"

I'm also one of a few people who believes that collage/montage should be an accepted and respected means of cartooning (you'll notice I do it alot myself). Whether it's New Adventures of Queen Victoria by Pab Sungenis or Montey Python cartoons by Terry Gilliam- I say if you have a sense of humor, a sense of irony, and a sense of design- then juxtaposition away. 

We need more cartoonists who are willing to challenge our sense of aesthetics and our cultural taboos.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Funnies Aficionado

"Scary Gary" by Mark Buford debuted in 2008. This is one of those strips that kind of makes you say "who THINKS of this stuff?" Gary is a frumpy middle aged, over weight vampire who moved to the suburbs. Gary has a demon henchman who resents their middle-class lifestyle and gay Frankenstein-monster neighbors, Frank and Steve.

Buford has a quirky drawing style that reminds me a little of Gary Hart and Gary Larson, yet it's absolutely uniquely Buford's. His humor is sometimes corny, sometimes macabre, and always crisp and quick. He's a cross between Charles Addams and Seinfeld. This is really one of my favorite comic strips out there-  in fact, it's one of the reasons I wanted to start this "Funnies Aficionado" feature on this blog.

Scary Gary deserves to be a huge hit. Of course, I'm an overweight, middle aged, middle class white guy with a mortgage and a minivan, who was once a dark brooding Art major type in college so I would, wouldn't I?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Funnies Aficionado

Haven't done a very good job of drawing & posting new cartoons, or even of collaging or montaging either. I had an Art professor in college who said that artists were more prolific when they weren't on an even keel, giving credence to old maxim, "what garlic is to salad, insanity is to art."

Not to make excuses, but it's a good thing if I'm happy, contented, or well adjusted enough to not NEED to cartoon, that's a good thing. I've pretty well resigned myself to the idea that I'll never be a rich, famous, full-time professional  cartoonist. Which is just as well, because I enjoy teaching and parenting and because very few professional cartoonists are full-time, let alone rich or famous.

But what to do with this blog? Just leave it to acquire dust and cobwebs? Nah. I'm a life long cartoon aficionado, so why not share my love of the funnies with others?

Here's the first of my amateur reviews of some of my favorite cartoons and cartoonists.

I only recently became acquainted with 'Cul de Sac' by Richard Thompson and I'm already in love. Thompson has been an illustrator for the Washington Post years before he launched Cul de Sac in 2006. This year he'a a Ruben Award nominee and rightfully so. 

His drawing style has a freedom and loose spontaneous feeling like Edward Koren and Jules Fieffer, yet his staging is as sophisticated and immersive as Bill Watterson's. His writing is as whimsical and thoughtful as Bill Watterson's too. Yet the spirit of the strip is as light and gentle as Charles Schultz or Patrick McDonnell.

In short, the cartoon gods have endowed Thompson with all the magic at their disposal. It would be easy for me to become resentful lie Antonio Salieri was of Mozart in Amadeus, if his comic strip wasn't so intoxicating.

I hope to be following little Alice Otterloop and her family and classmates at Blisshaven Preschool for years to come. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ellen at 8

Here's a cartoon of a "pop star" by my dauther Ellie.

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Monday, May 24, 2010



I drew this along with the assignment I gave to 7th graders. Students keep asking me "why does it look evil?" That's probably a good sign, the fact that they're asking must mean that I don't actually look this crabby all the time.  Bookmark and Share

Sunday, May 9, 2010

We're all from somewhere else

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Too "liberal" for the tea baggers?

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Brain-health Benediction

This may show what a geek I am, but these are actually things that I do often pray for my children- just not so they can hear me, I tend to stick to the Aaronic blessing from Numbers 6:24 like every other Lutheran. And I do pray to Jesus, not just some vague higher-power. But I still think this is funny. Apologies to Rockwell, of course.

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Star-crossed lovers...

Apologies to Hopper, special thanks to cognitive linguist George Lakoff for his studies on the "Strict Father" vs. "Nurturant-Parent" synaptic frames. In pop-cultural vernacular; "It would never work, I watch Oprah, whereas you listen to too much Doctor Dobson." Theologically; I'm more of a Sadducee, you're too much of a Pharisee. See, this is why I've never gotten anywhere as a cartoonist, I'm WAY too esoteric. That and I steal famous artist's paintings and stick captions on them instead of drawing my own funny picture.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Friday, March 5, 2010

RNC document mocks donors, plays on 'fear'

This story shouldn't surpirse us, I've been accusing the GOP of capitalizing on our fears for a long time. This story deserved a cartoon so much, I made one in English AND one in Spanish too.

RNC document mocks donors, plays on 'fear'

The Republican National Committee plans to raise money this election cycle through an aggressive campaign capitalizing on “fear” of President Barack Obama and a promise to "save the country from trending toward socialism."

The strategy was detailed in a confidential party fundraising presentation, obtained by POLITICO, which also outlines how “ego-driven” wealthy donors can be tapped with offers of access and “tchochkes.”

The presentation was delivered by RNC Finance Director Rob Bickhart to top donors and fundraisers at a party retreat in Boca Grande, Florida on February 18, a source at the gathering said.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Purple Dog

I think I've finished up. It may or may not seem a little "cartoony," but that's okay, after all it's a school mascot costume for cripe's sake! If anything, I think it really has a Wayne Thiebaud Pop-Art feel to it, which is what I was going for. Thiebaud is one of my favorite painters and I've always wanted to do something like he would. Thiebaud was born in Arizona, like me, only 50 years before me. Unlike Roy Lichtenstein, Thiebaud actually started out as a cartoonist, working for Disney for a while.

The Pop-Art thing is perfect because it should be upbeat and fun, and the decorating style of the recipient is pretty clean and contemporary. Kenny was mascot both at Boyer Valley (purple), where I coach cheerleading, and at Concordia University in Nebraska (blue). Both schools are the Bulldogs. My only hope is that a bright purple painting doesn't clash too much with whatever neutrals and earth tones Kenny used for his home. But then again it's a gift, he can hang it in his john or in his basement where no one else will see it if he wants to. I am seriously considering the poster thing. If not for a fundraiser, at least so that I can give the same image as a gift to a few other people- not to mention being able to keep a copy for myself- maybe in my classroom. NOW the only problem is waiting for it to dry, since it's in oil.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The "V-word"

Bill Keane likes to have "Little Billy" sub for him every now and then for Family Circus.Thought I'd post something by one of my kids, since I'm in kind of a dry spell anyway. This morning my 8 year old presented me with this drawing of her mother and I. She said that I'm holding a rose in my hand, but that all of her classmates thought it was a pitch-fork. So long as my wife doesn't see me as the Devil.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Oil Pastel Painting

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

January Blues

This is actually from a couple of years ago but for whatever reason I never got this on here, so here it is!

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Thursday, January 14, 2010


I want Death to be saying something along the lines of "They say the Caribbean is nice this time of year..." This is what came up with- "el Caribe es agradable este vez del año"

Is that pretty close? Anyone more fluent than me want to correct me? It's probably way too early to be posting this. I really should get it right before presenting it to the world, let alone submitting it to my editor. What can I say? I have Attention Deficit Disorder so bad that I need this instant gratification.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

THey can't stop us...

Jake and Elwood Black Bear, the 'Bears Brothers.'
Okay, it's cheesy, but it's what I came up with for this year's Camp Okaboji buttons. Of course, they haven't been officially approved yet, but I hope they will. I think they're really cool.

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Shocking Revelation!

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

This is a life?

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