Archive for May, 2011

finally, a fishing joke

I can’t believe I’ve been drawing this comic strip for five years and haven’t made a fishing joke.  Today, all that has been rectified:

Growing up in the desert means seeing more dry riverbeds than actual running rivers.  Only during the monsoon season, roughly August-September, do you see the waters run.  And boy, when we get water we get all the water.  Washes that are bone dry the rest of the year suddenly turn into raging rapids for a few hours.  Every time this happens, some idiot tries to drive his SUV through the water and gets himself stuck.  I suppose I could’ve made a comic about that, but I hate drawing cars.

There is something touching in the act of fishing for lost dreams.  I’d like to fish for dreams, or maybe for punchlines.  Answers to difficult math equations?  There are so many things better than fish that you could fish for.

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the hanging of bill watterson

I would be deficient in my duties as cartoonist/blogger if I failed to mention the triumphant return of Bill Watterson.  Bill, as you faithful readers may recall, took the funny pages by storm in the mid-eighties with his comic strip “Little Nemo in Slumberland.”  Nah, just kidding.  He’s the dude who drew Calvin and Hobbes, the comic strip that caused me to forsake my burgeoning career in astrophysics and become a cartoonist.

Another great cartoonist, Richard Thompson, who I have written about in this blog, started a charity  called Team Cul de Sac.  Professional cartoonists will donate original art and it will be auctioned off, with proceeds benefiting Parkinson’s research.  Before the paintings and drawings are scattered to the wealthy patrons of the world, they will be scanned and put together in a book, with the proceeds also  donated.  It is a more than worthy cause, and a fun way to see Richard’s comic characters reinterpreted by fellow cartoonists.

Last week, a mysterious FedEx package arrived in their offices, which upon opening revealed itself to be the first publicly-displayed Bill Watterson art since he retired Calvin and Hobbes in 1995. 


This is a rendering of Petey, Alice’s older brother.
Petey likes reading comics in which no action happens.

When Ol’ Bill retired, he claimed he would be painting (among other interests) and it seems he has indeed kept that promise.  He could not have picked a better reason to resurface, as this painting will bring John-Lennon-drank-out-of-this-cup-in-1968 money to a worthy cause.

It also gives me hope that Bill Watterson has not become a J.D. Salinger-type recluse, holing up in a shack in the Ohio woods with his shotgun and a snarling dog.  He has been happily living his life, painting and probably working as an undercover CIA agent.  Wouldn’t it be great to see a Watterson painting exhibit in some small gallery in Northeast Ohio?  It may even overshadow the fact that none of their sports teams seem to make it beyond the first round of the postseason.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying this painting as much for its artistic merit as for its authorship.  Isn’t it hilarious?  I’d love to see it in one of those elaborate gold frames, hanging next to Victorian portraits of rich fat people.  Somebody ought to smuggle it into the Louvre.

friday robots

friday-robots-5-6-11Happy Friday Robots Day!  Though these robots are enclosed in boxes, rest assured they can still cause untold destruction at a moment’s notice.

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free comic book day

Today is Free Comic Book Day!  Rush out to your local comic store and demand free stuff!
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primitive falling rock

Though Welcome to Falling Rock National Park began running in papers and on the web in September 2006, I made my first attempt at the concept many months earlier.  When I was still drawing The Family Monster, I made my first attempt to draw Falling Rock.  What follows is the complete packet I sent to the syndicates.

It is an interesting time capsule.  Like the posts on my middle school, high school, and college comic strips, you can read this as yet another stepping stone.  I find it funny that, when I rediscovered this packet, I barely remembered drawing it.  Ernesto especially looks very strange.

Longtime readers will no doubt recognize some of the jokes; I transferred some of my favorite Family Monster jokes to the Falling Rock world.  Knowing these characters now, I realize that was a weird thing to do.  They’d never say some of the stuff I have them saying.  Ah well.  It’s so difficult starting a comic strip from scratch.  I figured I could at least use some previous writing to get myself going.  I don’t blame myself.  I wouldn’t go back in time and punch past me in the face.

Here we go:

 I still want to make that line about humans’ eventual extinction into a t-shirt.

 Carver would never drink coffee and listen to NPR.  This joke was lifted from The Family Monster.  I still like the joke, but I used it on the wrong character.
 This is an interesting use of time, with all the tiny panels.  It was inspired by Matt Groening’s Life in Hell comic strip.  He would sometimes use dozens of tiny panels.  Part of what made his tiny panel drawings so funny was the bug eyes on his characters: the eyes stayed large even when he drew the character small.
 I said that about my brother once.  I don’t know why I had Carver leaning on a saguaro.  That would hurt.

 I like the timing on the “can’t…quite…put my finger on it.”  That could never work in a medium other than comics.  I find it difficult to write that kind of last minute reveal joke.  When I read those comics I know something is coming because, well, why is that character in close-up for three panels?  I usually skip to the last panel, then read the whole strip.  That kind of ruins the joke.
 I should reintroduce some prairie dogs into Falling Rock.  These guys look too much like aliens, though.  Need to draw some better ‘dogs.

 The apple joke was from The Family Monster, but I think it works here.  Carver would try to psyche Ernesto out.

It seems to me that movies are the center of our cultural life.  They have supplanted music and books.  Not that the latter two are irrelevant; it’s just that most movies (and, therefore, actors) are discussed more than albums or novels.  Look at Harry Potter: when it got popular enough, it seemed necessary to turn it into a series of movies.

Berkeley Breathed used to xerox photos into Bloom County, so I thought I’d try.  It didn’t work for me, so I never did it again.

Rereading these, I am curious how much Falling Rock will look in the future.  It has already changed so much. 

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