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Blog friday robot

Halloween/Election Robots

It’s that time of year, when the boogeymen, the werewolves, vampires, mummies, zombies, pirates, aliens, Batmen, and politicians (har) rise from their unholy slumber to dine upon the flesh of the living.friday-robots-10-31-08-2 Since we’ve got another big event a-comin’, I figured I’d give you a double-header for this week’s installment of Friday Robots.friday-robots-10-31-08

Stay away from swamp creatures, singer/songwriters, and ghosts as well. Stay safe!

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Falling Rock

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autobiography Blog

trick and treat

This is what I call scary news.

Now here’s your treat. My pumpkin, complete with black cat (who wouldn’t sit still):pumpkin08-2

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Blog comic reviews

good-night, opus & the batman betrayal

This is a blog by a cartoonist; you may have already understood that based on the tangential digressions that dominate these here posts. But sometimes I like to talk about comics directly. These two news items, in particular, warrant a little discussion.

First: Opus is going to die! Well, hopefully not die. Like James Bond, who will return (according to the end of every James Bond movie), Opus has been granted a reprieve from the comic character gallows twice before. Every time Berkeley Breathed gets bored of counting his money, he returns to the comic pages. And, honestly, it never fails to make me happy when he does. Bloom County, although I only read it in book form after its run had ended, was a truly hilarious comic strip. Outland, the Sunday-only follow-up to Bloom County, was still funny, better drawn, and even more colorful (har). Lately we’ve had Opus, which is kinda sorta like Outland and Bloom County, but with lots more Bush references. Also, the art improved again.

homesick-for-heaven Now, Mr. Breathed wants to quit Opus before the penguin turns mean. I wasn’t aware of this fact before, but apparently at some point in their lives, penguins become bitter and cling to their guns and religion. Mr. Breathed understandably doesn’t want to be the guy standing next to the angry, resentful penguin.

It isn’t clear whether Opus will return again after Opus ends its run. My personal secret hope is Mr. Breathed will segue into longer comic stories. Not necessarily graphic novel length, but longer than a half-page Sunday strip. This, it should be noted, was also my secret hope for Bill Watterson after he retired Calvin and Hobbes. As of yet that wish has remained unanswered. After a cartoonist has given us ten or so years of brilliance, he or she deserves a little break from the constant deadlines. But, at the same time, there are plenty of formats for comics these days. This all-or-nothing, draw one comic strip per day or else get out mentality should really be re-thunk. We’re losing too many good cartoonists.

That was the good cartoonist news. Now for the bad cartoonist news.

According to The Comics Journal message board and this blog, Bob Kane was a total hack. I haven’t been able to parse the truth from the, ahem, exaggerations, but it seems Kane was a mediocre (at best) artist who used connections to secure him a sweet deal, thus ensuring his lasting fame. He was one of the very, very few cartoonists in comic’s early days to own his character. Because that character happened to be Batman, Mr. Kane was pretty well-off for the remainder of his days.

Kane’s crimes, in the minds of Comics Journal commentors, include being a pretty spotty artist and possibly overstating his role in the creation of the Batman character. Had we been talking about a superhero nobody remembers, there wouldn’t even be a discussion (or at least a fairly muted one). Because we’re talking about THE Batman, there is a feeling that we’d better get straight who did what. It’s kind of like giving Neil Armstrong credit for stepping on the moon first. Had Neil Armstrong been the first human to step foot on the new mall downtown, nobody would care. Since the stakes are high, the credit matters more.

Also, Kane probably stole his signature from Milton Caniff:caniff_kaneI’m not sure what to make of the argument. On the one hand, I’m all for cartoonists’ rights. Lord knows cartoonists have historically been trod upon by newspapers, publishers, and distributors (Clout & Money). For a cartoonist of his time to not only create but own one of the most enduring comic characters of all time is a feat worthy of praise. But if it’s true Kane took credit for other people’s good ideas, that would make him, well, typical. The jury’s still out on this one, dear readers.

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Blog

Too Much Coffee, Man

This is what happens when you drink too much coffee (courtesy Shannon Wheeler):tmcm080407 Comics and coffee have gone hand-in-hand from the beginning. Given that a comic strip is due once every 24 hours, the harried cartoonist is bound to see that fast-approaching deadline and find herself scrambling for a last-minute energy boost. Sure, you can build yourself up mentally (“I am the funniest person on the planet!”), but when it’s down to you and a smooth white piece of Bristol board paper, sometimes internal energy just won’t cut it.

That’s where coffee comes in. Coffee, like a mermaid to a sailor, gives the cartoonist that extra boost he needs just to keep going. Coffee gives that little extra punch for the punchline.

What could be more American than staying up all night drawing comics and chugging a pot o’ coffee? And yet, I’ve only had half this experience. I don’t drink coffee.

It’s true, dear readers! I don’t drink coffee. Tea, yes. Coffee, no. Am I missing an integral part of the cartooning experience? I have had a “runner’s high,” and have felt a similar phenomenon while drawing for a long time. A focus, a feeling that you could just go on forever. But, without coffee coursing through my veins, was the feeling phony? A sham? Alas, I may never know.

Because while I don’t drink coffee, I do take real human adrenaline. Like Hunter S. Thompson, I find coffee to be a little on the weak side when compared to a car-trunk full of illegal drugs. Here’s Mr. Thompson’s intake:

The sporting editors had also given me $300 in cash, most of which was already spent on extremely dangerous drugs. The trunk of the car looked like a mobile police narcotics lab. We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers…and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls.

Those of you familiar with my work may have already guessed this. That whimsical quality of my writing, the happy cacti drawn so lovingly in the background. All directly stem from the addled mind of an adrenaline junky. Like Mr. Thompson so wisely said:

“That stuff makes pure mescaline seem like ginger beer. You’ll go completely crazy if you take too much.”
I licked the end of the match.. “Where’d you get this?” I asked. “You can’t buy it.”
I shook my head sadly. “Jesus! What kind of monster client have you picked up this time? There’s only one source for this stuff…”
He nodded.
“The adrenaline glands from a living human body,” I said. “It’s no good if you get it out of a corpse.”
“I know,” he replied. “But the guy didn’t have any cash. He’s one of those Satanism freaks. He offered me human blood – said it would make me higher than I’d ever been in my life,” he laughed. “I thought he was kidding, so I told him I’d just as soon have an ounce or so of pure adrenochrome – or maybe just a fresh adrenalin gland to chew on.”

Coffee and comics may be part of the American dream, but I’m sticking with tea and human adrenaline.hunter-and-gonzo

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autobiography Blog history

daylight savings not

Those of you dear readers not living in Arizona and that one county in Indiana may have noticed something strange over the weekend. It’s still light outside at night.

Daylight Savings Time, AKA The Stupidest Idea Known To Man, used to end on the last weekend in October. Not any more! Congress, in a fit of sanity, passed legislation in 2005 that extends Daylight Savings Time for about a month – one week in the fall and three in the spring. Those of us in Northern latitudes will come home in the pitch dark for four less weeks of the year. We won’t have to look outside our offices at 4PM and watch the sun set. We won’t get on our bikes, wait for the bus, or take our patriotic automobiles home in near total blackness.

What I’m trying to say is: thank you, Congress, for getting one thing right. You’ve started the job, now we need you to finish it. Abolish the time change altogether. It will make the world a brighter place.

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