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The Gift that Keeps on Giving

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Christmas evolves as you age.

My childhood Christmas memories are filled with magic, a kitschy nativity scene that my Catholic mother allowed to take the place of Midnight Mass, and just enough alcohol fueled family dysfunction that let me to appreciate Chevy Chase  and Billy Bob Thorton later in life.

Early adulthood, childless early adulthood, brought indifference and even resentment.  The obligation to buy other adults gifts–always seemed silly to me. I found myself hating the holiday–and railing against the consumerism, etc, etc.

A funny thing happens when you have a kid though, even a kid too young to understand what’s happening, as a father I really want him to have what I had as a child.  In a world with so little wonder and magic, it’s really important to me that Baby Indy experiences it while he can.

He needs to have that same Christmas experience I had growing up. I want him to have that joy and awe–not so much the alcohol fueled dysfunction, but it’ll probably happen at some point.

Whatever you celebrate this time of year, may you find yourself among loved ones and may you experience some magic through them.

Happy Holidays,


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The Neverending Meeting

The Neverending Meeting

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After thumbnailing, it’s often time for more reference. Folks around me have commented on how PB resembles me in real life. Actually, all our characters do, because I’m mugging in front of a mirror in order to get those expressions and hands the way I want them. Or forcing my wife or son to take pictures of me in ridiculous poses to work from. Clothed, of course (you perv).  Drapery– the way clothing folds and hangs around the body is something that reference can really help out with.

The Neverending Meeting

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I don’t work with enough nerds my age.

My “Truffle shuffle” jokes generally fall flat, and I’ve completely given up going for the “Bog of Eternal Stench” reference…even if something does, “Smell BAD!”

Coming of age in the 80’s nurtured the nerd soul like no other decade ever has.

The 70’s was too cheese.

The 90’s too flannel.

For the nerd, much of the 80’s beauty is intimately tied to a brilliant catalog of coming of age movies. Nostalgia’s a tricky thing though–try to watch the Karate Kid today and the intimidating Cobra Kai will inspire more giggles than gasps. I suppose this is natural.

That said, the film’s charm remains. Perhaps it’s simply age, but I can’t imagine another The Goonies, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, PeeWee’s Big Adventure, Labyrinth…or The Neverending Story.

Granted, they’re not all technically coming of age stories–but the teen protagonists were charming and accessible in a way that is lost. Lost in a crowded, derivative, and progressively more insipid youth culture.

Something is lost in pop-culture, but rather than mourn the loss–a meaningless and rather curmudgeonly use of my time–I’ll spend my time dabbling in nostalgia, by compiling a huge Netflix queue to work through with Baby Indy.

In that exercise my Luck Dragon jokes will, at minimum, have an audience of one.



Best Laid Plans

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After thumbnails, I work to size, with a #2 pencil and a smooth lightweight paper.  No more small stuff, I rule out my page, and panel edges. I work from loose scribbles, slowly tightening and erasing.  Dialogue is quickly scribbled in, to give me a sense of how much space it’s going to take up. Hopefully by now my research is serving its purpose and the drawings are flowing without much time spent comparing to reference.  Sometimes a new pose or new way to frame the action occurs to me, and I re-draw that panel on a separate sheet because the panel on the main sheet is too cluttered to easily erase.  I’ll composite that panel back in as I work on the tight pencils.  This stage takes the most effort, as this is when problems in rendering and structure present themselves.  It’s a constant effort for me to slow down, and fix or more thoroughly realize an element that’s troublesome, as it’s my nature to put it off.  But if I don’t know how it’s supposed to look, and I try to wing it in the inks, it will only look like crap.  It’s taken me a long time to learn that lesson– I’m still learning it! Drawing can be a constant fight against our own inertia. Without an undo button, I’m forced to learn good habits, or get used to publishing crap (or throwing a lot of stuff away).

Best laid Plans

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Nothing like a Charger to totally wreck your evening.

Sort of like a mid-season finale.

Speaking of zombies and mid-season finales… I miss “The Walking Dead” (That’s how you segway people).

It’s not so much the mid-season finale that has me bummed out as it is that I’ll have no weekly Zombie programming to look forward to until February.

*SPOILERS FOLLOW–Both TV Series and Comic*  (Spoilers and evidence that I’ve watched way too much TV)

I wonder if AMC will have the stones to deal with Shane in the same way the comic did.  Seriously, it has to go down like that and it needs to go down on the farm. Shane is a fine actor and well executed character to my mind but in order for the story to make forward progress–he’s got to go.

If he doesn’t I fear that the series will go the meandering way of “Lost.” Don’t think “Lost” plods along, then queue it up on Netflix and watch a full season. Then finish this blog…

See fuck all happened.

That’s because the series became profitable so they drug it on and on and on. The medium and business side of the show impacted the art and storytelling. Finally, it was all such a jumbled mess that (if I recall correctly) Locke shot JR, but it was all actually a dream.

So Carl needs to shoot Shane, and  Shane needs to die.

Then the story can roll along and off Maggie’s Farm (a nice Bob Dylan song too by the way).



When the Wife’s Away

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To my fellow husbands… I’m sorry.

I’ve betrayed secret husband knowledge for a hilarious joke.

Part of me regrets it, part of me is surprised it hasn’t come out before. Everyone knows that Mrs. Butterworth is a hyper-sexual tease, but I shouldn’t have said it.

I hereby throw myself at the mercy of the Order I’ve betrayed, “The Secret Association of Spousal Secrets and Yardwork” more commonly known as S.A.S.S.Y.

By the way, Gentleman of S.A.S.S.Y., my previous motion to amend our group’s acronym still stands.

That aside, I’ll keep our most important secrets.

I’ll never reveal why our clean laundry must remain in piles. Nor how we can effectively avoid meaningful conversations about every haircut our wife ever gets.

I’ll never reveal that all of our weightlifting playlists are at least 50% Lady Gaga. Most importantly, I’ll never reveal that mowing the lawn really only takes about ten minutes and probably shouldn’t count as a chore.

S.A.S.S.Y. please don’t tell me that I no longer S.P.A.R.K.L.E. (Symbolize Paternalistic Aggressive Regressive Knowledge Lethargically Emitted)



Oh, and we really, really need to work on our acronyms.

When the Wife's Away

When the Wife’s Away

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On a small sheet of paper, I quickly sketch the panel layout for the comic.  As I do this, I’m reading the script, considering Jack’s instructions, the characters’ dialogue and inner states, and the best way to frame each moment so that the story moves along and is easy to follow. I may go through a few sheets to come up with a page I like.  I then fill the panels with gestures/scribbles that indicate character placement, action, emotion, word balloons, etc. As I do this, I’m looking for sticking points– places I expect I’ll have trouble rendering.  I’ll shoot reference for those as soon as I can corral my wife or son. I usually do this on a Friday night, just before gaming with Jack and the others– so it’s often rushed.  My thumbnails tend to be so abstract that if I look at them a few days later, even I can’t interpret them– so it’s important to move on to the next step soon.

These preparatory drawings are called ‘thumbnails’ because often that’s how big they are. Working small allows you to easily plan the overall composition without getting bogged down in small details.