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.
Tomorrow I’ll be setting sail for scenic Bridgewater, New Jersey for the 31st annual Sweet Bodice League rotisserie league draft.
Thirty one years. How did that HAPPEN? I still think of the people I met at college as my “new” friends…but I’ve known most of the guys I’ll see this weekend for almost 35 years! Like me, none of these guys have matured at all—if anything, we’ve regressed. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
In honor of this much-anticipated annual weekend, I’ve updated the logo for my fantasy baseball team, the mighty Sim Monsoons.
In 2011 I resolved to draw a cartoon every week. The resolution didn’t last very deep into the year—hopefully I’ll do better this time around. One of the cartoons I DID complete is this one.
Perhaps my greatest regret is that Maia and Mom never got to meet: they would have adored each other. This drawing was my attempt to open a window into an alternate present where I could close that unhappy gap.
Hard to believe I drew this six years ago. Maia would be 6 in this picture (I still remember the flowery fleece she’s wearing here), and it would have been Marts’s 79th birthday.
Today would have been Marts’s 85th birthday, which doesn’t seem as old as it once did.
This week marks the twentieth anniversary of my first visit to Koinonia, a Lutheran retreat center, former camp, and frozen deer carcass burial ground in Highland Lake, New York. It’s a tradition that dear friends of ours have followed for years and years, and it’s a tradition that I am touched, flattered, and honored to have been invited to share.
It’s also a tradition with which I have something of a love-hate relationship.
I love it because I love the people we go with, I love the peacefulness and closeness to nature of the setting, and I love how much Maia (and the other next-generation kids) looks forward to and enjoys the weekend. Those are powerful forces. And they need to be, because pretty much everything else falls…elsewhere…on the love-hate relationship-o-meter.
Well, I’m being a bit unfair here. Within the tradition of Koinonia weekend, there are many, many “subtraditions”—subditions, if you will—that are fun and funny and comforting and all the rest of it. Things like rocket launches; games of Balderdash, WhooNu, and Taboo (which hasn’t been played since Eric and I used our telepathic link to lap the field many times over)(for me, one of the goals of these games is to come up with answers that get Rafi to snarf whatever he’s drinking); gorging on cookies; making hourly treks to the local grocery store (Peck’s); and on and on.
But there is one Koinonia subdition that stands alone in importance and majesty. Well, importance. OK, maybe just longevity. I think it would be a violation of something or other if I explained any details of this rite. Suffice to say, it’s called Frosty Frog. It doesn’t look exactly like what’s depicted here, but it’s close enough.
Spurred largely by Todd Whann’s tradition of breaking out bottles of Southern Tier’s eponymous helles lager right about this time of year, there’s been interest in and amusement over the idea of Krampus (very loosely: the Christmas devil) among some of my friends. For the most part, the interest has manifested in nothing more than seasonal downing of liquid Krampus.
It mystifies me that Krampus hasn’t caught on in the US. Austria and Bavaria celebrate Krampusnacht (as near as I can tell, this is basically Christmas Mardi Gras) and Krampuslauf (described as an alcohol-fueled run of celebrants dressed as Krampus); all we in this country can come up with is Krampus: The Christmas Devil, a regrettable, plot-less, budget-less, badly acted “film” that didn’t even feature Krampus (note this is NOT the 2015 movie that got a theater release). (Though, to be fair, the writers of Venture Brothers—one of the funniest shows on TV, by the way—did drop Krampus in their Christmas special a couple of years ago).
Last year I took matters into my own hands and made a small effort toward establishing the proud tradition of Krampuskarten, the exchanging of (wait for it) Krampus-themed cards. How did Hallmark miss this?
Because my Krampus-mania was set into motion by Todd, and because most of my own “observances” of Krampusnacht have been at his and Beth’s house, it seemed only right that Krampuskarten should feature a Whann. So here, riffing on the tradition of Krampus hauling off wicked children, is Krampuskarten 2015.
Robby and Maia aren’t wicked, per se, and it’s rather easy to imagine that they would handle such treatment in the way depicted here.
I don’t know that “frenemy” was a word back in the early 1990s, but I (and pretty much everyone in my social circle from that time) can absolutely attest that it was a “thing.”
I’m going to forego the backstory and witty comments about this drawing, except to note that this is the fourth panel of a four-panel strip that was created for a smaller-than-usual audience (considering the limited audience I usually draw for, this is saying something!).
Even by itself, though, this panel stands up as a pretty good snapshot from this era, wouldn’t you say, Beth?