Archive for May, 2011

hat trick

They say good things come in threes.  This has certainly proved true for me this past month.

First, Isis and I moved into our new house:

Hearst 1

The view is particularly inspiring:

Hearst 2

Then, my mom brought me this piece of amber with bugs trapped in it:

amber dino DNA

From this humble piece of fossilized amber, I will one day run a park chock full of dinosaurs.

You’d think these two events would put me “over the top,” as they say.  Well, in one final, extraordinary twist of fate, I received a signed CD by Falling Rock’s musical muse Esperanza Spalding:


There is a story behind this.  I sent Ms. Spalding my latest book, Scenic Byways, and included a comic strip in which she pays a visit to Falling Rock National Park (this would hypothetically occur when she wasn’t busy accepting a Grammy or opening for Prince).  My comic appeared on her Facebook page and very soon after I got a mysterious envelope from a record company in Spain.  The signed CD was inside.

I’m not sure if these things are connected, but I do know that, for the rest of my life, I will look back on this short time period with awe and gratitude.

APOLOGY CORNER: Sorry, SKS.  I hope this doesn’t take your Year of Shaft & Son out of the well-deserved spotlight.

five years burning down the road

Although it feels just like yesterday, I’ve been drawing Welcome to Falling Rock National Park for five years now.  Today is the last episode of the fifth season.2011-05-13-falling-rock-national-park

I took this week to explore the edges of Falling Rock National Park and beyond.  Faithful readers will remember another trip outside the confines of the park, when Pam, Ernesto and Carver drove a truck  to California’s beaches.  This time Ernesto and Carver are on foot and so only get to the outskirts of Tucson, Arizona, before they’re chased away by Animal Control.

Due to gainful employment, this was a busy year for me.  I’m happy with what I achieved; I think I drew some funny drawings and wrote some funny words.  Scenic Byways continues to climb the charts on its way to publishing history.

The main difference this year, at least for me, was in the way I drew the strips.  I drew each panel in pencil on plain paper, then traced it in blue pencil onto Bristol board, then inked.  This improved the compositions and made the characters more consistent from panel to panel.  Next year I may even switch over to inking with a brush.  If a brush was good enough for Bill Watterson, I figure, what the heck.

Thanks for reading, everybody.  You, dear readers, make this whole slog worth it.  I may not be a rich man, monetarily speaking, but with readers like you I know I’ve got something special.

This summer will certainly bring more blog posts, so keep checking back in on me.  I also hope to finish my zombie book.  If you are a publisher, let me say how much I’ve always loved you.

A few stats:

August 16, 2010 was the first episode of season five.
May 13, 2011 was the last episode of season five.

921: Falling Rock strips I’ve drawn.  When I hit 1,000 I’m going to throw myself a huge party or something.

42: number on Ernesto’s baseball jersey.  Although Jackie Robinson’s number was retired from all of professional baseball, Ernesto is allowed to continue wearing that number under a grandfather clause.

29: number of rejection letters I’ve received from comic syndicates regarding Falling Rock.  This number will not grow as quickly in the future, since many of the syndicates have either merged or disappeared into the folds of the newspaper.

88 miles per hour: speed it takes to travel to either 1855, 1955, 1985 or 2015.

4.5 billion: age of our sun.  It is the sun that gives life to this planet, allowing me to draw Welcome to Falling Rock National Park.  I draw the sun as a spiral, in homage to the Native Americans who called the Southwest their home.

friday robots

Friday Robots 5-13-11This week I finally unpacked enough of my art supplies to make Friday Robots with colored pencil.  I can’t wait to break out the watercolors again!


These are lucky robots, arriving on Friday the 13th.  They will not cut you in half with a machete.  These robots know that you need a happy, sunny weekend.  Live it up!  Let these robots guide you through the next 48 hours of adventure.

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There should be a word for the disappointment one feels upon discovering a new band, only to find out that band has already broken up.

For me, that band is Limbeck.  Thanks to itunes, I own all three of their albums.  Unfortunately I am afraid those are the only albums they will ever release.  According to their Wikipedia page, they broke up early this year.  It wasn’t so much out of band infighting as it was a case of the individual members being ready to move in separate directions.  I’m sure if they had achieved a greater success they would have been more interested in staying together.  Maybe if we all buy these fine albums they’ll reunite!

Their final, self-titled, album was the first I heard of Limbeck, due in no small part to the cover.  I may not judge a book by its cover, but I have often judged albums by theirs.  This has led me to some of my favorite musicians, including Andrew Bird, Modest Mouse, and now Limbeck.

Describing Limbeck’s sound, I would say they firmly fall into the “Americana” sub-category of Rock.  Some have compared them to Wilco in their early, more countrified days.  Limbeck’s songs are upbeat, warm, and make you want to sing along even if you don’t know all the words.

Trouble starts the album off with a happy song about that thing that starts with T and rhymes with P and stands for pool.  You know you’re in good hands when a band can be so carefree about a crumbling relationship.  Bird Problems, chronicling a lost weekend which went so well that all the narrator’s friends thought he had died, is similarly bouncy in melody.  Keepin’ Busy, smack in the middle of the album, is the hardest rocking of the set, and at two minutes and change it reminds me the most of 1950’s rock ‘n’ roll.  The final track, Sunset Limited, gets bonus points for being set in Tucson, my hometown.

It should be noted that Sunset Limited is not the only song to name-check Tucson.  The sheer number of place names mentioned in Limbeck’s three albums reflect the nomadic lifestyle of a constantly-touring band.

If you’re looking for a band that will make you happy, whose albums you can play loud in the car, and that might actually get you hipster cred due to its relative obscurity, Limbeck should be your new favorite band.

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