Posts Tagged ‘NASA’


Drawing Falling Rock

Digging into the overstuffed Falling Rock mailbag, I’ve discovered a disproportionate number of people wondering how I create my daily comic strip. At the risk of dispelling the legends that have grown up around my creative process, what follows is a step-by-step account of drawing one Falling Rock comic.

This is a picture of myself in my studio. The comics you see on my desk are merely sketches. One of these will be the strip for the day. The phone is a direct line to the White House.fr-makingof4 Before doing any drawing, each joke is carefully tested in my personal lab. If it gets a rating of 22.43 or higher, it is suitable for my reading public.GPN-2000-000690Me at my drawing table. The sketch, now fully tested, sits in front of me for reference.fr-makingof2 One of my army of assistants spell-checks the comic. He will also add any background detail I’ve forgotten. He is especially good at drawing palo verde trees.fr-makingofThe comic is ready to be shipped. It must be transferred from my studio, to this vehicle for decontamination and rejiggering, and finally to the internet.fr-makingof3 The completed Welcome to Falling Rock National Park comic strip is being delivered to the McClatchy-Tribune Campus website. From there it will be downloaded by millions of subscribing papers worldwide. People will read it, laugh, and move on with their day.nasa-test-planeI hope you’ve found this photographic essay to be educational. It is the aim of Falling Rock Enterprises to not only entertain, but enlighten.

Also, to fight Communists.


Friday Robots: Telescopic Robotropic

hubbleAs our friends over at West Lawn Park pointed out, a very special anniversary just passed. The Hubble Space Telescope was deployed on April 24, 1990.hubble-color

Possibly the most exciting and adventurous NASA mission since Apollo, Hubble continues to learn us good about the universe. In honor of the telescope furthest from the Earth, here is a Friday Robots salute to Hubble.hubble-yo-mama

Yes, the HST is not above telling a few off-color jokes in between snapping pictures of the universe in its infancy.

Interestingly, Hubble’s iconic shape was not conceived immediately. Below are a few of the alternates NASA considered before arriving at “tin can with wings”:hubble-alternates

Personally, I’m glad NASA stuck with science over giant art installation in space. Especially that bottom right one. Looks too much like a spider for this blogger’s taste.

Happy belated birthday, Hubble.


forget mars

A lot has been made of NASA’s on-again, off-again plans for returning people to the Moon and then sending the first human to Mars. Personally, I’m not a big fan of human space exploration right now. Sure, given limitless resources it would be awesome to see a human stepping onto the Red Planet, or to see oxygen-filled domes on the surface of the Moon. But we’re not in that position right now.

NASA has done us more good in the last 50 years than most other government agencies. Scientific advances, cultural significance…NASA is undoubtedly essential to our country and to the world. Yet every year they’re asked to do more with less. “Do this thing no one else has ever done before, and do it for less money than last year,” the federal government says. Then the Pentagon gets another twelve billion dollars no questions asked.

Given NASA’s budget restrictions, it shouldn’t be focused on people. It should be focused on increasingly ambitious landers and satellites. Two obvious candidates are the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Here’s why: the Moon is a barren rock. We established that long ago. It’s got some ice, but so does Antarctica. Mars is totally awesome, but it too is a barren rock. It’s got some ice and may even have water under its sandy surface. But so what? That’s basically a bigger Moon.

Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Titan both have giant oceans. Real liquid. They may have real life forms living in those oceans, right this second. Europa’s ocean is underneath a layer of ice, but it may be heated by thermal vents coming up from the planet’s core. We’ve already found life on our sea floor living near thermal vents, so it wouldn’t be such a jump that life could exist elsewhere in the Solar System in the same way. Titan is even better: it’s got oceans right there on the surface. Isn’t all that a bigger deal than digging for ice on Mars?

Fortunately, there are plans for sending probes to both Europa and Titan in the coming decades. There will be an orbiter for Europa which will scan the surface. Titan may get a twofer: a hot air balloon that will fly through its atmosphere as well as a lander that will ride the waves of Titan’s seas. I can’t wait until the 2030’s when these two projects will be sending back information to Earth.

In the meantime, though, if NASA is forced to spend the majority of its limited resources on manned missions to barren worlds, we won’t see as many exciting projects like the ones discussed above. I mean, there are lots of rocks out there. Why don’t we try for as many as possible?

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falling rock book 5 cover sketch

Falling Rock book 5 is currently in production!  As with all my Falling Rock comic collections except OWL, book 5 is being printed by the good people at Pinball Press right here in Portland.

The most challenging part of putting these collections together is coming up with a cover that will blow people’s minds.  After all, what’s the use of picking the very best comics I’ve drawn over the last year if they aren’t presented as essential reading?  Problem is, when I say to myself “think essential,” my mind becomes as blank as a brand new sheet of Bristol board (300 series pad, 2-for-1 sale at Columbia Art Supplies).

I made a series of sketches and asked my wife/art critic Isis for her opinion.  I’m not sure why, but Isis preferred this sketch (on the right):book5-original-cover-sketch

Didn’t she see that I clearly wrote “BAD IDEAS” at the top?  Oh well, let’s see if it works out.book5-cover-sketches

I made a few more sketches and then went to the NASA photo archives to see how real capsules look.  At least, capsules in the 1960’s. Because everything looked cooler in the 60’s.

More to come!


Mars Rover at Falling Rock

Mars Rover

A little known fact: the first Mars Rover was field-tested in Falling Rock National Park.


inktober week 1

The first seven days of Inktober.

Follow me on Instagram (@kidshaycomics) for up to the minute updates.

This year’s theme, for me anyway, is the space program!


inktober week 2


inktober week 3


inktober week 5