2017-03-29 – “a load (or three) of crap”

(2017-03-29) a load (or three) of crap
If you had panel 4 for “the biggest bit of shoveling depicted here,” you’re today’s winner!

Content-wise, I have nothing to add to this cartoon. This is just the way it is these days.

Drawing-wise, I am pleased with this one. Not so much with the way it turned out (though I am happy with that, too), but mostly because I had something of an epiphany while I was working on it. I wanted to ink this one in and get it done quickly (I’ve set a goal of completing three cartoons a month, and I’m already falling behind), so I didn’t worry about making the character look like who she’s based on. The process went a lot faster.

It made me realize how much my concern about people saying “I don’t look like that!” or “[Person] doesn’t look anything like that!” slows me down. And that’s a microcosm of how I live much of my life: being so concerned about some largely unimportant consideration that I am tentative and apprehensive when I finally get around to what I need (or want) to do.

The depressing thing is that I take extra time to try to make characters look like the people they’re based on, and they never do anyway.

Trainspotter alert: barn cat is Willow May Farm’s Hazel. Couch cat is Kittyboy, the poor thing. First panel horse is (obviously) Tex, the one Maia rides regularly. The other horses are from Central Casting.

Also, I have no idea how to draw a saddle and didn’t bother checking online to see what they look like. So that’s what Maia is carrying in the first panel.

2017-02-15 – “if wishes were curses”

(2017-02-15) if wishes were curses
The moral of the story: be careful what you wish for.

Having been raised by parents whose income was derived from jobs conducted on their own schedules in their own spaces, I suppose it’s only natural that I would struggle in the confines of the conventional work arrangement. And, being who I am, it’s even MORE natural that I would spend much of my career (such as it is) resisting it.

I was going to start this paragraph by writing, “I’m not sure why I find office life so hard…,” but the fact is that I know EXACTLY why.

First and foremost, my cycle of energy, concentration, and creativity do not mesh well with a 9:00-to-5:00 schedule (or any variation of it). I’m at my best first thing in the morning—and I mean “first thing”: I’m usually at my desk by 6:00 or 6:30 AM. I’ve never seen the point in pissing away my peak hours of productivity on a morning commute and everything else that goes along with reporting to an office by 9:00.

Happily, workplace culture generally and my last couple of employers specifically have been more amenable to schedule flexibility. I am supremely grateful for this, so much so that I feel duty-bound to make myself available essentially 24/7 for any urgent workplace needs (in a timeline-driven company of five, there are no shortages of these).

I suppose the simplest way to describe my view towards employment is to say that I regard it as an even, reciprocal arrangement. An employer that demands my office attendance from 9:00 to 5:00 (assuming I’d agree to such an arrangement, which I recently proved I would not) would get my best efforts in that window but would find me highly unsympathetic and unmoved by emergencies that regularly required me to stay late or come in early. Why should flexibility be a one-sided deal?

Perhaps an even bigger challenge is that offices are a poor fit for outgoing  introverts—or, at least, the offices I’ve worked in have been a poor fit for someone with my particular variety of outgoing introversion. Oh, let’s just call it what it is: I have a pretty high jerk quotient and being forced into extended proximity with other people increases the odds that I will inadvertently (or, sometimes, advertently) piss someone off. Also, I find rote, superficial interactions and relationships extraordinarily draining. It only takes a couple of days of biting my tongue and exchanging nothing but hollow pleasantries to completely exhaust me.

Now, I recognize that all of this is MY problem. If I was better at stroking bosses, I’d be far better off (professionally, anyway). The problem (one of them) is that I am unwilling to treat someone with reverence because he or she has a title. My tendency, for better or worse (usually the latter in workplace settings), is to treat everyone the same. But I do insist upon being treated with respect and am quite willing to call out anyone—in any setting—who I feel is being disrespectful, rude, inappropriate, dismissive, bullying, etc. This never plays well with bosses who treat people based on their position in an org chart. In my mind, it’s a very simple matter of manners and the Golden Rule.

So, for all these reasons (and more!), I have devoted a lot of energy over the course of my career fighting for the option of working from home. And then I found a job that was 100% work from home! Yay, right?

Not so much.

As this cartoon illustrates (get it?), it IS possible to have too much of a good thing.

I should probably get into the parts of office life that I miss, but it’s later in the day and the line on the time-vs-productivity chart is falling precipitously into the red. I’ll close by saying that I am particularly pleased with this cartoon. I like the drawing OK, but I am mostly satisfied to get down on paper something important to me that I’ve been thinking about a lot.

2017-02-22 – “collect ’em all (2)”

(2017-02-22) S & M's
Yikes!

Another parody from last month’s Wacky Packages-inspired afternoon of drawing. This time I colored it in the old-fashioned way, with magic markers. And I mean really old fashioned, because some of these markers date back from when I was Maia’s age.

I like the color of markers better (though brown sure isn’t easy to work with). I don’t like how the delicate line work exposes the fact that I need stronger glasses (so I have them). I used my drawing program’s text feature to add the text at the bottom. Partially this was because I wanted to see how it would work, and partially it was because I knew it would be almost impossible to color around white text (look at the text at the top to see what I mean). I don’t feel like this is cheating; I read an interview with one of the Topps artists who worked on the original Wacky Packages (Jay Lynch), and he said that they used rub-on lettering all the time.

From this entry, we see clearly that I’m combining an 8-year-old boy’s sense of humor with a 50-year-old man’s perversion. Best of both worlds!

So I think I’m going to work toward drawing a full 30-product series of these parodies this year. I have three done (well, one’s only in the pencil sketch stage), and…I don’t know that I have any more ideas. (Beth, this is right in your wheelhouse. If you wander back this way and read this, feel free to offer suggestions.).

1994-10-04 – “…with his pony pal Pokey, too…”

Gumby & Pokey (Nance letter 10-4-94)
I never did understand why Pokey was so tolerant of Gumby’s jackassery.

Back before email, I was a prolific letter writer. I am fortunate enough to have several friends who were—again before email—both great writers and dedicated correspondents.

One of these friends was (and still is) Nance E. Her letters were so unbelievably great that I kept all of them. Whenever I’d receive one, I’d try to think of new ways to make my replies creative (or at least interesting).

Don’t ask me how I came up with the idea, but I gave one of my letters to Nance a “notable duos” theme and included a drawing of some random, silly pair of characters on each page. Nance was good enough to give me access to this letter, and I was able to scan these drawings (removing the actual letter part was difficult, as I had written the words right up to, and in some cases through, the drawings).

Here’s one of the drawings from that letter.

2011-02-27 – “break out the cooking sherry for the old colonel!”

2011-02-27-the-old-colonel
Canton, CT (circa alternate 2011)

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.

Ah, crap.