Thursday, December 30, 2010

Inking Trouble.

 Inking is more than  tracing over the drawing with a pen or a brush.  As wikipedia puts it 
[Inking] can help control a story's mood, pace, and readability. A good inker can salvage shaky pencils — while a bad one can obliterate great draftsmanship and/or muddy good storytelling
It enhances weight, depth, shadow, light, textures, and general awesomeness.
And I'm rotten at it.
Here's a recent example.
I started with a digital pencil drawing of a snake. 
Not a masterpiece, but he'll do.
Now let's add some digital ink:
Yeech.  It's all lumpy and wrong.  No professional artist inks like this.
Time to try again.

I added some dimensional details to the pencil pic.  I even added crude  ball and shadow as a reference:
Now for the ink:
It's a bit better, but something's still wrong.  He's still flat and flabby.

I tried a third time:
Grrr....  I can't pinpoint exactly what's wrong, but it's like someone put the pencil drawing in a bag and worked it with a claw hammer, pounding out all rhythm  and whimsy.

Does anyone know what I'm doing wrong?  This is driving me batty!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Last Minute Very Important Letter to Santa

by Roscoe the Bratty Kid, Guest Blogger.

  Dear Santa,

  Hi Santa, how are you?  I hope you are doing good. 
I'm writing this because some people said I was bad but the truth was I wasn't being bad!!!
Remember when I got busted for setting the beanbag monkey on fire?  It wasn't on purpose.  I put him on the stove but I forgot about him being on the stove and then I played with the knobs and that's how he got on fire but it was a 100% accident.  Also my mom said a bad word when she caught me so maybe you could put her on the Naughty List.
Then at school I just happened to be sitting on the bench and there just happened to be an old pencil I found so I drew a robot on the wall but I thought it was okay because you can erase pencil.  The teacher didn't think it was okay.  So if she told you I was bad, then she told you a lie!  Maybe she should be on the Naughty List too.
That was the same day I got in trouble for shoving Rex, but I only shoved him because he kept going "Rosco bo-bosco bananna fana fo-fosco- me-mi-mo mosco! Roscoe" all day and he wouldn't stop. 
Also yesterday I got in trouble for singing "Baby, baby, soak your head in the gravy" to Rex.    I was just trying to be funny but he got mad and told on me.  That's why I got timed out.
I think Rex belongs on the Naughty List too.
So now you know the truth..  Also I did some good things this week.  I ate my broccoli and chewed with my mouth closed and I took my vitamins instead of hiding them in my old shoes.   So please put me on your good list.
Your biggest fan,

p.s. Never mind about putting Rex on the Naughty List because he gets a bunch of candy for Christmas and his mom makes him share when I come over.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

How to Fool Around on the Swings

Guest Blogger:  Roscoe the Bratty Kid:

I like the swings.  They're the funnest thing to do at recess.  But why just sit on them?  Any baby in diapers can sit on on the swings.  Here's what do on the swings.
Standing Up:
  • Improved view
  • Looks cool.
  • If the sand is muddy the next kid who sits there might get footprints on his butt!
  • If the teacher catches you, you'll get kicked off the swings.
  • If the sand is muddy, you may accidentally sit down  and get footprints on your butt!


  • Makes the swings extra high!
  • Little kids will think you're really strong 'cause you can toss the swings over.
  • If you toss swings too high, you can't reach them.
  • Sometimes the swings get all crooked.
  • If the swing smacks you on the way down, everyone will laugh.
  • If the teacher catches you, no more swings for the day.
Twist 'em Up
  • Spinning action!
  • You can pretend you're a wrecking ball.
  • Some dumb kid might copy you and pinch his finger.  Then he'll cry run to the teacher and tell her what he was doing and that you were doing it too. The teacher will tell you "Now you go sit on the bench and think about what happened!" and if you say "It wasn't my fault the little baby got his finger caught," then you'll be in bigger trouble.
  • Side to side action adds exciting  range of motion.
  • You have to get to the swings before the other kids do.
  • The other kids might get mad that you're "hogging all the swings" and tell on you.
  • Side swings may come loose and smack into you.

Tether Ball Ride!

  • It's really fun!
  • Other kids will crack up laughing at you.
  • When ball breaks lose and you sprain your elbow on the blacktop, you'll hear "That's what happens when you make poor choices" from every grown-up you know.  You'll also hear "You're lucky you didn't break your neck, young man!"
The Bench
The bench isn't a swing.  I put it on the list because I get benched a lot. Teachers  are just picking on me because they don't like how I play on the swings.   Also because they're mean.  They say "swings are for children who choose to be safe" and "At least you won't hurt yourself sitting here."  
They'll be sorry some day if a poisonous spider is hiding under the bench.  He'll come out and bite me and then everyone will say   "If only we'd let him play on the swings!" 

Monday, December 06, 2010

Tyrannosaurs Rex: Beast with the Least

I first learned about dinosaurs in the 1970s.   I was five.
The biggest, baddest one of all was Tyrannosaurs Rex.*   Illustrations showed him stomping around like Godzilla.  His mouth hung open, presumably for roaring. And those teeth!

In books and movies, T-Rex was either:
  1. Chasing dinosaurs
  2. Grabbing them by the neck
  3. Eating them.

 He was the dinosaur.  The king of them all!  Few would mess with him, except perhaps other T-Rexes.  And what battles those would have been!
A kiddie song about him went like this:
Tyrannosaurus king of the reptiles,
Teeth sharp like steak knives,
Fights all to live or die!
Tyrannosaurus he had a tiny brain,
But as the king he reigned,
By making the others lame.
Tyrannosaurus he was a great big guy,
Ferocious and feared by all,
Though his arms were very small.
Tyrannosaurus king of the reptiles,
Teeth sharp like steak knives,
Fights all to live or die!
As I entered my teens and twenties, ugly rumors were adrift.  T-Rex  probably held himself parallel to the ground, not upright, it was said.  Instead of lurching around like a bear on his hind legs, he was slinking along, like a naughty dog.. Even worse, it was speculated that this vicious predator might have been, in fact, a scavenger!  Instead of killing, was he picking through leftovers?
Ferocious beasts don't beg for left overs...

Recently, it got worse:
There's some evidence that T-Rex might have had feathers.  Feathers!**
Vicious,  brutes can't have feathers!
The once savage beast was now eating scraps and sporting plumage.
His rep as a beast has been destroyed.
As for the T-Rex fights I mentioned earlier, I'm afraid the truth might be closer to this:
Mrs and Mr T-Rex

*Okay, there were dinos much  bigger than he was, but they didn't count because they stood in swamps and chewed leaves.  I suppose I could have set "Biggest of the Baddest" or "Biggest as a subset of Baddest" but that sounds dopey.
**Actually it's believed that if they were feathered, it may only have been when they were young,

Monday, November 29, 2010

YOU Can Be a Crab!

Do you dislike people?  Want to annoy, irritate and intimidate them?
Maybe you should consider being a crab.
It doesn't matter if you work in the public sector...

Or the  private...

You can be a crab anywhere! 
Here are some tips to get you started.
Each day, concentrate on the following:
  1. How stupid everyone is.
  2. How rotten your life is, thanks to all the stupid people.
Adjust your posture and facial expressions accordingly.
When someone asks you a question,  respond with...

...the "I can't believe someone could be as dumb as you" look:

Follow quickly with...
...the "Your stupidity disgusts me"  glare.

Remember, stay surly. Make  sure everyone  knows how difficult they're making your life!
Practice saying the following:
"Move!  You're in the way."
"What d'ya want?"
"Can I help you?"  (Said in a "I know you're wasting my time" tone")
"You did it wrong."
"We're outta [insert commodity here] so don't ask for it!"
"What're you  looking at?!"
And never forget the all time classic:
 Try to work in a put-upon "Your Welcome" before anyone thanks you.

And if someone ever says, "I hope it's not too much trouble," be sure to respond with an icy
"It is."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Five Anomalies from the Universe of Television Commercials.

Television Commercials take place in an alternate universe.  Things are different there:
Brand names pepper the conversations.  Small talk is devoted to detergent, soap, and what to clean the floor with.  Junk food triggers parties and dancing.    Soda is slurped down in one swig, followed by ah "ahhh!" 
Here are some other things I've noticed:

1. Shaving is Fun!
  Check out their expressions the next time you see an add for razors or shaving cream.  There's no concentrating, no strategic  head tilts or expressions,  just a sensual reaction as the  blade glides down the cheek.  What's going on?  Is it dipped in opium or something?

2. Toilet Paper is for Squishing up to Your Face Because it's Oh-so-soft.

Gals don't shave their faces, but that's okay because they have "bathroom tissue" to snuggle.  It appears to have a calming effect, especially if it's "quilted" or matches the tile.

3. Diapers are for Hobbyists who Like to Pour Blue Liquid onto Absorbent Surfaces.
The Commercial  Universe is rife with this practice (compulsion?  fetish?)  Blue liquid gets soaked up by diapers, mops, sponges,  paper towels and ShamWows.  Sometimes  the material is squeezed for more Blue Liquid Action.  

4. Moms Think it's Cute when Their Kid Makes a Mess.
Aw look!  Junior tracked in mud, got ketchup on his shirt and just knocked over the grape juice.  Isn't he the sweetest thing?
I await the invertible insurance  commercial where Mom marvels at how adorable Junior is as he burns down the house.

5.  Kiddie Cereal is Spiked with Hallucinogens.
When I eat cereal, nothing happens.  When kids from the  Commercial Universe eat cereal, pictures on the box start  moving.  Then they fly up  to the kid and start  talking to him.  Some kids even get sucked into a vortex of swirling fruit, chocolate or whatever flavor the cereal represents.
Sure, there having fun now, but I don't envy them. By the time they're twenty their brains will be so fried that they think Blue Liquid Action is a swell way to spend the afternoon.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Omi Project: Gato Neko

Here's my contribution to the Omi Project.
Here's how it works- you buy the plastic figure, decorate it any way you wish, and send it in to be part of the display.
I picked a look that's 40% Japanese Daruma Doll 50% Mexican Folk art  and 10% Louis Wain. 

I found it tricky because I'm used to digital artwork (where's the undo button?) and my hand has never been that steady.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Stair Crossed

 I usually forced myself up the steps to the sixth floor, but I'd given blood the night before.  The instruction sheet said "no exercise for the next 24 hours"   Maybe you should take the elevator...?
Nah, I thought.  They mean real exercise like running laps.  Don't be a wimp.  Take the steps.
Soon I had second thoughts. This was hard!  I was dizzy and out of breath.
If the stairs could talk, they'd have said:

The elevator was starting to sound like a great idea.
Oh no you don't! I thought.  You always wuss out when things get tough.  Keep going!
I slowly pulled myself up the steps.  If this were a fight, the steps were winning, and rubbing it in. 

For someone who didn't want to be a wimp, I was sure looking like one.


 Sometimes the truth is to lame to tell.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Frustrating Toy Hall of Fame, Part I

When you were a kid, was there ever a toy that seemed like the coolest thing ever in the commercial, yet turned out to be a dud when you actually got one?  Here's some I remember...
1.  The Yo-yo.
The commercial always had kids doing something like this:
"Anyone can play!" the commercial promised,  "Rock the baby!  Walk the Dog!  Even Loop the Loop!"
I couldn't wait to get a yo-yo and do some tricks.
Then I got one.
 It did this:
I believe that trick is called "Drop and Stay There."  
With some practice I mastered other tricks, including "Tangle the String," "Get Thrown Outside for Swinging That Around Indoors," "Get the String Grubby Looking," and best of all, "Loop-the-Thwack!"
2. Rubik's Cube
This one was sneaky.  It was fun to play with.  Then I discovered something awful:
I couldn't  solve it.
I could solve one or two sides, but that was about it.    And everyone seemed to know a kid or two who could solve the freaking thing.   The rest of us "solved" it by taking at apart and putting it together.
3. Slinky
In commercials it walked downhill or (down the steps) like it was alive!
In real life it either just sat there, or, if given a push, plunked down a step and, well,  sat there.
Of course, you could always do this!
Wheee!  We're talking  minutes of fun here! 
This (PG-13) cartoon sums up the slinky experience nicely
4.  Super Elastic Bubble Plastic

I've blogged about this before.  It was a tube of glop.  In the commercial, kids put a dollop of glop on a straw and inflate  it into jumbo bubbles.   According to the commercial, these bubbles "last and last!"
Every time I tried it, I ended up with sorry, lopsided blobs that lasted (and lasted) for a three minutes before they broke.
5. Mousetrap

The commercial showed a cartoony Rube Goldberg device.  Crazy music played.   A kid turned the crank, which triggered a kicking boot, that released a ball that sprung a lever and so on.  The end result  was a cage dropping on a  plastic mouse as  delighted kids yelled "Mouse Trap!"
The real life game had two problems:

1.  It was dificult to assemble.
2.  When assembled, it didn't really work.

I imagine this conversation occurred at the toy factory before the game hit the stores.

Toy Designer A:  We gotta scrap that Rube Goldberg mouse catcher toy.  It's just too hard to put together.

Toy Designer B: Hmmm.... about we make assembling the toy part of a game?   Make it a challenge.   Like hitting a bull's eye in darts or bowling a strike.

Toy Designer A:  Yeah, that's good, but even when the thing's built it doesn't work that often.  Who wants to build something that doesn't work?

Toy Designer B:  Good point...  ...wait!  I got it.    The fact that it only works sometimes is part of the game too.  Like a roll of the dice.   We'll make it a board game...!
The rest is history. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What Blogging Taught Me...

I started blogging to amuse myself and  friends. I had no delusions of pending fame or fortune, but I was proud of  my work.   I'd been posting regularly for years. Sometimes it was funny. I liked the pictures and thought I was getting better at drawing them.  I was proud to show it off.
Then something occurred to me.
I'd read about something called The IKEA Effect.  It works like this:  If you  make or build something, you'll probably overvalue it. Even if it is, in fact, a piece of junk.
Was I  overvaluing my blog?
Hmmmm... I thought. The blog gets visitors from all over the world. Thirty to one hundred visits per day...
...and after four years I've earned six followers.
It was an ugly realization. Most blogs I visit, even obscure ones, have scores of followers some have hundreds.   This could mean only one thing.  My wonderful blog wasn't that wonderful.

Back in the 1990s I'd dabbled in cartooning and submitted my favorites to magazines. Those  rejections didn't bother me much because I figured it was a numbers game, with lots of cartoonists competing for a limited number of places to publish their work.
Rejection slips didn't necessarily mean  the work was bad.  Maybe the editor didn't like the style. Maybe they had all the cartoons they needed for now. Maybe they'd already published something similar. I knew from the start that rejection slips were the norm for aspiring cartoonists. No big deal.
This was different. People from all over the world had looked at my blog. Yet after 10000+ page views, only six people liked it enough to follow it? This wasn't an editor rejecting it. This was the the world rejecting it.

I hope you're proud of yourself,  I thought, You've been trotting out your blog like a show horse, totally oblivious to the fact that 99.99% of the world dislikes it.  Way to go.  And in light of all this, let's make some things clear:

The one thing worse at being bad at something the discovery that you're bad at something.
How embarrassing.