Archive for December, 2009


Excuse the pun.2009-12-cave
I’ve been to three caves in my life, all of them awesome: Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota, and Kartchner Caverns and Colossal Cave in Arizona. Well, four, if you count the lava caves in Oregon.

Caves are just weird. They can have their own complete ecosystems, and oftentimes are completely cut off from the world directly above them. Who knows how many caves remain undiscovered, lurking beneath our feet with their mystery and treasure.

I finally got around to doing a strip that takes place entirely within one of Falling Rock’s many caves. I hope to revisit this idea again soon. Caves are ripe for jokes.

Wait, are they? I don’t know. I do like drawing ’em, though.

friday robots: recycled design friday!

This Friday Robot was used before, but I made some brand-new drawings of it because I liked it so much.
I might even summon the courage to ask it out someday. In the meantime, here’s your dose of robots this fine Friday:friday-robots-12-11-9 friday-robots-12-11-9-3 friday robots 12-11-9 2

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goodnight moon: the movie

After the undisputed success of Where the Wild Things Are, the film adaptation of the classic Maurice Sendak picture book, Hollywood is working overtime trying to dig up other classic picture books to make into movies. Good news for movie lovers: the next book to be appearing on the silver screen is Margaret Wise Brown’s action-packed bedtime story Goodnight Moon.
goodnight-moon1Goodnight Moon is ripe for adaptation. The plot involves a bunny saying goodnight to all the things surrounding him in his overly large bedroom. As he mentions each object, it appears before him in stark black and white.goodnight-moon2
Adding superstar power to the production is Leonardo DiCaprio, set to star as the bunny on his way to dreamland.
dicaprio-moonDirected by Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese, Goodnight Moon will keep all the original intent of the book while adding car chases, gritty gang violence, and an ironic ending that will leave your 3-to-5 year-old both sleepy and satisfied.

Of course a picture book needs to be expanded to fill the two-and-a-half hour runtime expected from Scorsese. The kitties, who in the book play with string in the center of the room, will each get their own subplot. Although details are not yet nailed down, an anonymous source close to Mr. Scorsese tells us that one kitty will be a spy and the other will be a terrorist. Whether or not they will be lovers is not certain.

The moon itself will play a larger role in Goodnight Moon: The Movie. Instead of a glowing disc hovering somewhere beyond the bunny’s house, the moon will be the setting for an epic battle. The stakes are no less than the bunny’s very soul.

Expect big things from Goodnight Moon: The Movie. The project, with a rumored budget of $200 million, will hit theaters just in time for holiday season 2018.goodnight-moon3

adaptation of a classic

Robert Crumb became famous for his family-friendly erotic comics and, later, for championing ancient blues musicians nobody remembered. He is known for the high quality of his drawings and for the amazing speed with which he can produce them. It seemed, in the past few years, that he was slowing down. Now we know why. Crumb spent the past five years on an illustrated Genesis, the first book of the Bible. And oh, boy is it ever good. r-crumb-genesis-2
You get to see Old Testament God in all his angry glory. All the violence and sex from the original has been lovingly illustrated in this remarkable adaptation.

Having never sat down to read Genesis before, I didn’t know quite what to expect. Yes, there are the pages of “begats”: Crumb mentions that the writers of the original text most likely wanted to pinpoint their lineage and trace it back to these illustrious and important characters. What was, on the written page, just a series of names, is now a family tree. It’s remarkable.r-crumb-genesis-5
One of my favorite parts of the Bible as a kid was when people would interact with God. I mean, what are the rules of etiquette for that? You’re talking to the creator of EVERYTHING. At first, there is only deference:r-crumb-genesis-3
Eventually Abraham gets enough courage to barter with God. God wants to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, but Abraham talks him down. Abraham doesn’t want God to destroy the innocent along with the guilty, and God proves he can be persuaded. In this version, you get to see Abraham, after speaking with God, hurrying back home with perspiration on his brow. Was he nervous? Heck yeah.

This edition – which should be called the Crumb Bible – uses the illustrations to give the stories context. You’ve got shepherds, and farmers, and the ancient Egyptians. Here they are all rendered in a realistic (well, sort of) manner. Their stories always seemed, to me at least, distant and disconnected. Crumb has done no less than put them into context by showing us how they lived. You see the desert the people called home. You see their dwellings – usually no more than tents – and their clothes. You see their facial expressions!

Most importantly, there is no overt attempt to show the text from a present-day perspective. It’s simply the stories, illustrated. I can’t imagine how much research went into making it seem that transparent. This gives the stories themselves more power. Their meanings are left open to the reader, just like in the original.r-crumb-genesis-4

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r. crumb’s ed abbey

My favorite Robert Crumb book adaptation does not quite exist. Years ago, he made illustrations for Ed Abbey’s masterpiece novel The Monkey Wrench Gang. Unlike his recent Genesis, The Monkey Wrench Gang is not fully illustrated. There are spot illustrations punctuating the text.monkeywrench-gang
Google has most of the book online, incredibly, so you can check out all of Crumb’s illustrations on your own. I’ve collected a few favorites here, though, so I can have something to blog about today.

The plot of The Monkey Wrench Gang is pretty zany. A group of good folks commit acts that corporate America would call vandalism but that those of us who happen to like the out-of-doors would call preservation. Preservation of land that has gotten uglied up by billboards, roads, power lines: all the usual detritus of man. Their master plan, never enacted but often spoken of longingly, is to blow up the Glen Canyon dam, that concrete boogeyman straddling the Utah/Arizona border. The Monkey-Wrenchers consider it their patriotic duty to preserve the beauty of the American West.monkeywrench-billboard
Abbey loved the West. A transplant (like most people living in western states today), he saw the unprecedented growth that was going on and instinctively recoiled. Growth is not a bad thing in and of itself, but unchecked growth is a cancer. Abbey noted the difference and fought against the malignant development that continues to happen long after his untimely death.

Of course The Monkey Wrench Gang is not meant to be a primer on waging a war against evil developers. It is a comic novel with environmental themes. It’s a bit of fantasy many of us would never dream of fulfilling in real life. Who among us hasn’t driven by a development of multi-million dollar homes scarring the foothills of a mountain or gutting what was once forest or prairie and thought, “wouldn’t it be great if they just burned to the ground?”monkeywrench-dynamite
We would not do such a thing. In fact, this blog is against violence of any kind, be it to humans, animals, plants, or evil land developers. But just as I would never consider putting a giant crack in the Glen Canyon dam, I abhor those people who consider land unbuilt-upon as land wasted. I’d rather write my Congressman to have that bastard dam dismantled. (Or better yet, blog about it.)

One of the best recurring jokes in the book happens whenever Seldom-Seen Smith crosses over the Glen Canyon dam. A lapsed Mormon, he nevertheless kneels down to pray. He prays that God will send a bolt of lightning to crack the dam in half.monkeywrench-pray
Crumb’s illustrations are perfect because The Monkey Wrench Gang is written in such a cartoony way to begin with. I’ve often thought it would make a great animated movie. Somehow watching real people act out the events in the book wouldn’t do justice to its slapstick momentum. Cartoons are clearly the best way to go.

As it is, having Crumb’s drawings in this edition of the book makes it feel more complete.monkeywrench-helicopter