Archive for August, 2012

friday robots

Looking at the past month’s robots, I noticed I’ve been experimenting with layout more than trying to draw something new each time.  What do you think about this? I have a lot of fun playing around on Photoshop.  Messing with photos I’ve taken, trying to make something that looks like a book or CD cover. Are these experiments tedious? I’ll get back to drawing again soon, but I hope you aren’t getting bored.

Happy Friday everybody!

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my neighbors are aliens

I’m not talking about the kind of alien that made this country great.
ellis island
I’m talking about the kind of alien from outer space. My neighbors, you see, have this oddly shaped garage:

What possible use could this garage have for a terrestrial vehicle? It is way too tall, even for a Hummer.  No, this garage was custom-built for a flying saucer of the UFO variety. Imagine the aliens putting their craft down in the cover of night. They jump out of their interplanetary ride, turn it on its side, and quietly roll it into the garage. Boom! No one’s the wiser.

Further giving this away as a garage for a UFO, it opens both in front and in back. Why would you need to drive your car into the backyard? Nobody does that. The occupants of this otherwise unassuming house need this garage to roll the UFO straight into a hangar, cleverly disguised as a Tuff Shed, where they can refill its fuel and make any repairs necessary for the ride home.

Now, as any person who has seen a few movies can tell you, there are two distinct kinds of aliens. The good (or benevolent) kind, and the bad (or nation-building) kind.

Which kind of aliens are living right down the street from me? I have yet to determine.  The lack of laser blasts and human enslavement lead me to believe they are the good kind of aliens, but this could also be a cover. They could be part of a sleeper cell, waiting for the right moment to awaken the fury of distant worlds.

What am I to do in the meantime? Now that I know for a fact that there are aliens less than a football field’s distance from my front door, I must be vigilant. Do I see suspicious activity in the area? Gatherings of two or more beings wearing fedoras and trench coats? Lights in the sky that could be some kind of interplanetary Morse Code? Cats going missing overnight? These could all point to alien collaboration, propagation, infiltration. I never, not once, imagined moving to this neighborhood would require me to save Earth civilization as we know it.

Couple the weird garage with this mysterious sign in another neighbor’s front yard, and you can see why the previous owner of my house was so keen to get it off her hands.

the TacoCopter saga, PART ONE

It all started when my coworker Seamus sent me a link to an article claiming a company in San Francisco was going to use unmanned drones to deliver tacos. This ingenius idea, which is currently being quashed by those party-poopers at the FAA, ingnited my imagination. Soon TacoCopter was born as a comic strip. For the past few months you could only read TacoCopter’s exploits on the wall behind Seamus’ desk. Now, for the first time, I am making the first two chapters of TacoCopter available to you, absolutely free. Because if you can’t get tacos delivered to you by drone, at least you can read about it.  Without further ado, I present TacoCopter, Chapter One.

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the TacoCopter saga, PART TWO

Continued from yesterday’s post:

The saga ends here, for now. STAY TUNED FOR FURTHER INSTALLMENTS OF:


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the wonderful world of friday robots

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Biff Elliot 1923-2012

My great uncle Biff Elliot died today. He was 89.

Biff, as readers of this blog will know, was the original Mike Hammer. His starring role in I, the Jury proved to the world that a Jew could be a tough and daring private eye. Far from making Mike Hammer a one-note pulp fiction character, Biff infused his character with just the right mixture of toughness and fragility.  If you watch any detective movie today, you’ll see a similar blend of these elements: the man who knows when to use his fists and when to use his words. That unique formulation may have been lost on audiences in 1953, as Biff was not asked to play Hammer again, but today it is the norm.
Biff went on to a career in both movies and TV.  He had a small part in the fan-favorite Star Trek episode “Devil in the Dark” in which he was devoured by a rock monster.  In the Planet of the Apes TV series, he played a human slave to the talking apes. I am told he also got to play an orangutan, but could not tell you which orangutan was him. In the movie The True Story of Jesse James, he played a member of the gang in their glory days.  He was a regular on season five of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and had a recurring role in Mission: Impossible.  Biff played all his parts with a depth that a lesser actor could never have achieved.

I only recently began seeking out Biff’s many appearances on the screen.  Growing up, I remember him as the uncle who would talk your ear off at every family reunion.  He always had a few dozen things to tell you, and at the end he’d make sure you knew how much he loved you and how much you meant to him.  When I got to visit him in California, he would take me out.  He drove me in his bright yellow Mini to see the Hollywood sign, Disney studios (with the building in the shape of a wizard’s hat), the Kodak Theater, the one public bowling alley in Hollywood – the famous and the not-so-famous landmarks.

Wherever we went, it seemed, he knew somebody. I remember going out to eat with him and my aunt Connie. The owner of the restaurant came out to say hello, and ended up giving us hats and shirts with the restaurant’s logo on them.  In a town of fake friendships, Biff created genuine bonds with just about everyone he met.

I am glad there is an audio/visual record of Biff’s existence in the world, but I am much more glad to have known him.  He was the youngest of three brothers – my grandfather the potato-sack manufacturer (and the person who taught me to love the Sunday funnies), Win the TV and radio sportscaster, and Biff the actor and (unverified) one-time flyweight boxing champion of Maine. The world will not see another trio with as much wit and warmth, and is the poorer for their loss.

friday robots

Biff and me, 1997

richard thompson and cul de sac

When Bill Watterson ended Calvin and Hobbes in 1995, I felt as though I had lost a family member.  It was as much of a gut punch when, this morning, I read the news that Richard Thompson is ending his daily comic strip Cul de Sac.

Readers of this blog will know of my deep and abiding love of Thompson’s work. It is exactly the kind of effortlessly funny, quick-witted, and fun-to-look-at strip that got me into comics in the first place. It is no hyperbole to say that it was the best new strip of the millennium, the next in that prestigious line that began with Krazy Kat and went through Pogo and Calvin and Hobbes.

I can’t help but think Richard’s mysterious character Ernesto Lacuna had something to do with this.  The possibly imaginary Ernesto caught my attention right away as a standout character, partly due to his overly mannered attitude and partly because he happens to share a first name with my own character Ernesto the lizard.

I’ve long wondered what the two Ernestos would have to say to each other if they happened to meet.  I wanted to take this opportunity to draw it out.  This comic is dedicated to Richard for all his hard work and for showing the world that comic strips can still be essential.

andy and kate’s wedding in paradise

Last month I had the distinct honor of being a groomsman at my friend Andy K’s wedding.  Andy and his wife Kate found the most beautiful setting imaginable to exchange their vows: the Rocky Mountains.  As the officiant/Andy’s cousin Dan mentioned during the ceremony, nothing can quite compare to the romance of altitude sickness.
Isis and I got to enjoy not only the brilliance of a Colorado mountain summer, but the excellent company of Andy’s family.
Andy’s brother Christian was Best Man, a title he took with all the sincerity befitting the younger brother of the groom. (As mentioned in the linked post, I should’ve already told you that he now has a girlfriend. She is awesome.  Sorry.)
True to form, Andy composed his vows a mere hours before the wedding.
It is not every wedding that has an official (unofficial) whiskey. Andy and Kate’s big day could not have been complete without the soothing intensity of Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey. All of us on the groom’s side took a celebratory shot before heading out to get Andy’s knot tied.
Of course a weekend in the mountains would not be complete without a thunderstorm. We got a doozy the night before the wedding. It rolled over the Western mountains in the afternoon and knocked out the power for four or five hours that night.  Fortunately, the day of the wedding was clear and warm.
A special thank you to both Andy and Kate’s parents.  Without their guidance and planning, this weekend could never have been pulled off.  They created a space in which the rest of us could relax and enjoy the festivities.
Andy: you are the best. Congratulations to you and Kate. I’m so happy you found each other; now you get to spend every single second of the rest of your lives together.

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