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) perform 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.

 

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.

2017-02-15 – “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.

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.

2017-01-27 – “best laid plans”

2017-01-25-best-laid-plans-f0001
Play ball!

A couple of years into my BIOSIS employment, I put together a co-ed softball team. The problem here was that finding fields to play on and leagues to play in was a bit harder in Center City Philadelphia than it was back in Connecticut…which is what I was used to.

The good news is that I was eventually able to find a league that would take our team. The bad news is that the “co-ed” part of the league kind of fell by the wayside, so our team of can-do hearties wound up squaring off against team after team of south Philadelphia meatheads. Most of the idiots on these teams were interested in nothing more than running up scores and trying to score with the women on our team.

From my standpoint, it says all that needs to be said about this league that, in 30 years of playing baseball and softball,  I sustained my worst ball-playing injuries (broken wrist, concussion) in these “for-fun” games.

Our games were played on random weeknights at the Marian Anderson Recreation Center down at 17th (I think) and Fitzwater. The field was in extreme disrepair and was usually littered with crack vials (this didn’t stop shortstop Pat McGovern from playing barefoot). Play was frequently halted while locals strolled through the outfield, and it was necessary to keep a close watch on anything you brought to the field. Sadly, at my last game on this field, the baseball glove I’d used from junior varsity through college was stolen. I had it coming—it should never have been in any equipment bag I brought down there.

All that said, we DID manage to have our share of fun in (and after) these games. I think we played for five or six seasons in this league, under names that included BIOSIS (good one!), Ruddy Ducks, Purple Cannibals (shown here), and Tsunami.

For the trainspotters: in this comic, Joe (#7) is pitching, Beth (#2) is at second base, Mike (Hilden #20) is at first base, Megan (Kile #6–she created the design for the Purple Cannibal shirts) is in left field/short field (four outfielders in this league), and I (#3) am in left center/left field. Somewhere in a computer archive I have rosters, stats, photos, trading cards, etc.

If any former BIOSISians, Ruddy Ducks, Purple Cannibals, or Tsnamis ever stuble onto this site, I’d love to hear any recollections you have from those Switchblade Park glory days…

2017-01-20 – “Jonny come lately”

2017-01-20-jonny-come-lately
Better late than never!

Phew! Made my deadline! And by “deadline” I mean “before I see most of these guys tonight at happy hour.”

Here we have my second foray into filling the gaps left in the original Cubicle Count run. So, welcome, Keith (officially), Pat, Jennifer, and Carrie—where would happy hours (to say nothing of the BIOSIS day to day) have been without you? And welcome to Todd, Andy, and Jeanne: you may not have worked at BIOSIS, but if happy hour time counts, I spent as much time with you as I did my coworkers!

Oh, and sorry about your transition to the comics page: I’m still having the all-too-familiar hard time getting characters to look like the people they’re based on. Sigh.

Drawing this made me really want to hop down to Cherry Street Tavern, the backdrop here and the scene of so, so many laughs and bouts of memory loss. Good times! Probably!