2017-09-13 – “bye bye, barbie”

 

(2017-09-13) bye bye barbie main
Putting the “meat” in “meetings.”

Ugh.

Regular readers of this blog (good one!) know the extent to which I’ve relied on workplace-generated bad feelings as a source of cartooning motivation and material. Bad bosses, idiot coworkers, office pet peeves, blah blah blah. As I was drawing this one—and I’ve been composing it in my head for two weeks now—it occurred to me that this is one of the few (perhaps the only) work-related cartoons I’ve drawn that is motivated solely by positive feelings. Well, sort of positive.

Barb, my kind-of boss, resigned. It was a bit of a gut punch. I’m usually pretty good at reading subtle vibrations about these kind of things, but I had no idea she was looking to leave (beyond the level of looking-to-leave that pervades my current workplace, I mean). It’s not too much of a stretch to say that Barb is responsible for founding my company. And it’s an outright laughable understatement to say that she’ll be hard to replace, from both a professional and a cultural standpoint.

I say Barb is my “kind-of” boss because I think our current workplace is supposed to have what HR people and business consultants (and God knows how much I try to emulate them) call a “flat organization.” I think that’s supposed to mean that no one has any title or rank, and that the workplace is therefore an egalitarian paradise. Or something. The point is that Barb wasn’t my on-paper, org chart “boss.” Or maybe she was (it’s only been four years, so we haven’t had time to iron out some of these subtle points). Anyway, Barb is the kind of person one tends to look up to, draw inspiration from, and follow the lead of regardless of what her title is. In my professional experience, this puts her in extremely limited company.

Barb was my boss at Curatio, and the scene depicted here (with some quasi-artistic license) was pretty typical of her management style with me (ie, not a micromanager, in case that didn’t come through). Twenty-plus years into my career (such as it is), it was still pretty novel to have a boss who actually trusted and looked after my interests to such an extent. The story I like to tell is that when Curatio was “wound down” (that’s corporate-speak for “shuttered,” by the way), Barb and I were both among the layoffs. Faced with unemployment, Barb’s first actions included…putting two good(ish) job opportunities in front of me. THAT is a captain who sees to the well-being of her troops!

We didn’t socialize all that much outside of work, which is my loss. I always thought (and said on multiple occasions) that I’d always sensed that Barb was someone I would have wanted as a friend regardless of what setting I met her in.

As someone who wears his feelings on his sleeve way more that I would like, I’m pretty cowardly about expressing some feelings. For instance, rather than SAY a lot of this stuff to Barb, I’m going to put it down in my blog—where it is certain that NOBODY will see it (not really: I am going to point Barb to it when we meet for lunch today).

One final question: Barb, did you ever watch “Columbo?” If so, do you remember one of his most consistent habits (aside from the cigar and the dumpy raincoat, I mean)?

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2017-08-08 – “you’ve got the cutest little baby face(time)”

(2017-08-08) Facetime (B&W)
A look forward (c. 2034) at a look back.

Finally, an actual comic strip!

No bonus points for this idea—the inspiration for it has been literally in my face for…how long has Maia had her phone, now?

Still loving on my new Tombow magic marker set, so much so that I did something I haven’t done in a long time: gave a comic strip the Sunday treatment (that means “using color,” for those of you not hip to the newspaper scene). I don’t think I’m very good at coloring my drawings, by which I mean to say I think I’m lousy at selecting colors. I need to stick to much more subtle colors. These Tombows may get most of their workouts in the “collect ’em all” efforts.

As to the drawings, I like these. I don’t think I got the three later-year Maias down all that well, but I’m quite pleased with newborn and blankie Maia. Aged-up Jon and Lisa were fun to draw.

“Such a little crumbcake” is a line from one of the Skippyjon Jones books. It’s become one of many family catchphrases.

Oh, “‘poster” in “‘poster blankie” rhymes with “zoster,” as it’s a back formation of “imposter.” ‘Poster blankie was the backup blankie Lisa and I ordered (after much searching on eBay) once we realized blankie’s importance. Needless to say, Maia was NOT fooled when ‘poster blankie was swapped in on laundry days. (Thank you, Caughos, for that original blankie—truly a baby gift that kept on giving).

SRV is The School in Rose Valley, and the Sword Dance is the elaborate dance the Middle Circle (grades 3 and 4) performs at the annual May Fair.

Willow May’s Tex makes his second appearance in the comics page (such as it is).

No, Lisa and I don’t really have prints of all these pictures (and, yes, a couple of of these drawings are based on actual pictures—digital pictures).

The first panel was supposed to have a banner at the top saying “2034” (which is why my talk balloon is a little lower), but there wasn’t enough room at the top of the drawing to cut and paste the banner in. Hopefully, it’s clear enough from the various cues that this is occurring in the future.

Condensation from a pint of delicious refreshing Ship Bottom The Shack IPA dripped onto my drawing pad, smearing some of the lines between panels 4 and 5. Editing software helped minimize that mishap.

 

2017-08-08 – “collect ’em all” (7)

(2017-08-08) Bonettes
They’re skullicious! (Damn, I should have put that in the drawing.)

Another actual strip is coming, hopefully before I head off on vacation later this week, but I’ve been against oppressively tight deadlines at work…so my need for procrastination was extreme, and this drawing was closer to being done.

On one of my earlier “collect ’em all” posts, Beth rang in with a couple ideas for other parodies (at least one of which will definitely be done). She also noted that Robby suggested something working around a “boo” or “monster” theme. Not sure if he was looking for something that used those exact words, but I really liked the idea of working the spooky/scary side of the street, so I kept an eye out for product names that lended (loaned? lent? That’s one that I can never keep straight, and heaven forbid I waste precious time consulting a dictionary) themselves to that kind of treatment. And here we are (which tells you all you need to know about what aisles I spend most of my time in when I shop).

The skulls in this one are a departure from the way I usually draw skulls, which has always just been a variation on the poison label approach. I was also a bit stuck for what to do aside from skulls and the stock “dog bone” bone. Not sure my ribs and vertebrae cut it. Was also stuck for what to SAY on the package—”haunted bone fragments” is pretty “enh.”

On the plus side, I was able to exchange the bleedy Prismacolor markers I lamented in my last post for a 96-color set of Tombows, and having that range of colors available made it easy to bypass the whole computer-coloring approach I’d used to middling results in some of the earlier “collect ’em all” drawings.

1990 (?) – “a guy sits in a bar…”

(1990) a guy sits in a bar...
“I really wish I knew where he was going with this…”

This cartoon fragment resides on one of the first pages of the sketch book I’ve been working in for…forever. Every time I take out my drawing supplies, I flip past this sketch to find a blank page.

That’s supposed to be me on the right (the hairline and facial hair may not be quite the same these days, but I’m sure anyone who knows me will readily recognize the looks of annoyance). Based on the drawings on the surrounding pages, this sketch is from 1990. Beyond that, I have no idea what’s going on here. I have no idea who the other person is (or even if it’s supposed to be anyone specific), what bar this is (strangely, even though the sketch doesn’t necessarily indicate “bar,” I know that’s the setting here), or where I was going with this strip. If I had to guess, I’d say this was likely to be some kind of I-don’t-want-to-hear-how-great-things-are-going-for-you-my-life-sucks statement. Or something similarly uplifting. I might guess this was during the time when my pal Eric was first dating his now-wife Laura—the other character here looks a little like a glassesless Eric—but (a) Eric wouldn’t have been inclined to prattle on about his good fortunes and (b) Eric doesn’t drink.

My beer is probably a Yuengling Lager or a Molson Golden. I was a bit of a label-peeler, so it’s amusing to see I found it worthwhile to capture that here. It was also extremely important, evidently, that I capture the precise position of the two snacks that escaped the bowl in each of the first two panels. And what exactly ARE those snacks? Goldfish?

Dialogue and theme aside, I like how this one was turning out. I wish I’d finished it.

2017-06-30 – “collect ’em all! (6)”

 

Moleskin Candida
…them old foot fungus blues…

Just realized I hadn’t put up a blog post in June—just getting in under the buzzer! My weight loss and cartooning goals for 2017 may be all but shot, but maybe I can take some satisfaction in a consecutive-months blogging streak.

Had the idea for this one in my head for a while. First choice would have been to come up with a parody for Molson Golden, but I couldn’t think of anything to change “Golden” to. So here we are.

A few things going on here. First, I didn’t know that my editing software couldn’t put text in an arc, so this label was harder to put together than I expected.

Second, for my birthday I splurged for a bunch of Prismacolor magic markers. Turns out I should have (a) tested them more extensively and (b) saved the receipt. The ink in these markers is heavy and very bleed-y, as I learned to my great dismay when I tried to draw the “CANDIDA” in this label.  It’s like trying to draw with a giant Sharpie. The ink also seeps through the pages of my sketchpad, which is not cool.

The receipt thing ticks me off, because I am a notorious pack rat who (usually) never throws ANY scrap of paper away. I recently came across a Food Lion receipt from a 2014 trip to the Outer Banks, for God’s sake. But I couldn’t put aside THIS receipt.

Yeah, this is another biology-themed joke. Not a very accurate one, either, as I don’t think Candida (the genus of the fungus that causes thrush and yeast infections) is much of a problem as a foot-focused skin infection. But if I went with the thrush or yeast infection angle, I’d lose the relevance of “Moleskin.”  And there you have the kind of thing that goes through my mind and prevents me from actually drawing anything.

I’m feeling like I REALLY need to get a few actual STRIPS drawn. As I think I noted before, these parody drawings feel like cheats cartooning-wise.

But, for the moment, the important thing is that I have an entry for June 2017.

2017-05-26 – “collect ’em all! (5a, b)”

 

(2017-05-26) Anemic MireBall edit
Mmmm….mire!

This is more a case of wanting to “honor” what may be my favoritest candy ever, Ferrera’s Atomic Fireball. Delicious as the candy is, the packaging is pretty bare bones and doesn’t leave a lot of room for visual parody.

I wasn’t sure which way to go with this product parody; I did have another idea in mind, but for this little project I wasn’t sure it was the best foot to put forward.

Putting together this one required a lot of method drawing. And by “required” I mean “involved” and by “method drawing” I mean “eating LOTS of Atomic Fireballs.”

2017-05-12 – “collect ’em all (4)”

(2017-05-11) Poxy
Frustratingly, my magic marker set does not have a “pustule purple” color.

The Violent Rumble entry from the other day seems to have loosened up my cartoonist’s block…at least as far as this little Wacky Packages sub-project goes. Hopefully I’ll be able to come up with ideas for actual strips before too long.

With this drawing I’ve gone back to a full-marker approach (lettering aside). I think I prefer the results this way. At least, I feel more like the end product is mine and not something anyone with a photo-editing program could have done (not that this is a big claim, mind you).

It’s pretty evident that I need new markers. I’ve been meaning to go to a real art supply store (looking at you, Blick in Philadelphia) to check out where marker technology is these days. It has to have advanced from the Marvy Marker sets I got back in the early 80s (which I loved but which are all but bone dry at this point).

Not afraid to admit that I’m particularly happy with this one. Infectious diseases are cool, so I appreciate being able to weave that interest into the parody. Also, I am pleased that I was able to find another product that meets the criteria I’m loosely holding to in this little exercise: (1) a product Topps never hit with a Wacky Package (well, in the original run—I’m not up on any of the post-70s series); (2) a product I like.

So expect a lot of junk food, cereal, and beer.