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.”
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.
Here’s the last of the drawings I did in my Wacky Packages drawing session from February, finally colored in.
I once again used the flood fill feature of my photo-management software, which I am losing my fondness for. The program offers a lot of color options, allows for more even coloring, and saves me marker ink. On the other hand, the flood fill never seems to know what to do with the black lines, and it can yield a too-cartoony look to the finished product (which I know is a weird thing to say about cartoons).
Also, I tend to leave gaps in the borders of shapes and “balloon letters” (that’s what Maia used to call block letters), so when I flood fill an area—for example, to make the letters yellow in this drawing—I invariably end up having a whole area overfilled with yellow until I can go in and use the clone feature to close the gaps in the outline. This is something I consciously corrected for as I inked in the lines of this drawing, which was distracting and took some of the fun out of the exercise.
As far as the product and the parody go…I love Violet Crumbles, but they are hard to find (Amazon aside, but I’ve been trying to get the Amazon monkey off my back). They’re from Australia, and they are divine. The parody practically writes itself.
OK, so 3 down, 27 to go for my own Wacky Packages series. I’ve been given a couple of ideas (thanks, Beth and Robby), so hopefully I can get a few more of these out there. I don’t have any ideas for proper comic strips, so I can keep my hand in the cartooning/blogging game that way.
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.
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.
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.