Ah, Spring makes me think of flowers.
An oldie. All single panel comics are oldies.
Ah, Spring makes me think of flowers.
An oldie. All single panel comics are oldies.
Me and my brood. My 81 year old uncle (my father's brother) runs marathons and could easily be mistaken for a guy in his 60s.
My goal is to be as healthy as....oh look, I've gotten cheesecake all over my phone
I'm sure we've all wanted to do a comic poking fun at Marcel Duchamp's "Nude Descending A Staircase". File it under "Topical Humor".
Anyway, I ran across this. I still like it. comiccomics.com was a website I had years ago that was known for getting hits by law firms, for some reason.
And for sake of comparison, here's the original. Marcel has nothing to worry about, I think.
I'll say it for the millionth time: I never thought we'd see good Marvel movies on the screen.
If you weren't around back then, you don't know what it was like, man! Crappy DC sequels, made for TV junk, and direct to video vomit.
That's what we had for decades.
So Captain America, of all characters, has three good movies in a row. A great trilogy.
Astounding. There's another golden age of Marvel.
What's even more surprising, to me, is that one of my last attempts to read Marvel comic books again was when I tried to read their Civil War storyline in order.
I was bored to tears. I think I got into Lee Child books after that.
The movie version is the opposite of boring. Watch Civil War, let your pulse settle down, and watch it again.
Then thank Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and a lot of other creators who made up this mythology for crappy pay.
No matter what kind of art you make, yes even comic strips, you have to make them for yourself.
Let me amend that: Unless you're getting paid decent money to create for a company, you should make art for yourself.
I doubt a successful commercial jingle is made by a guy who's saying, "Hey man, that's my ART! Don't mess with how I feel!" No, he has to sell....crackers, or whatever he's been paid to make music about.
But in the case of people doing stuff on their own time for little or no money, yes, do it for yourself. If people like it, that's wonderful. If they don't it's not as wonderful, but at least you got whatever you were trying to do out of your system. At best you'll learn from what worked and what didn't. You may do it even better next time.
All the comics people don't get/find amusing are the ones my wife Rachel likes, like this one.
So I took the seven stages of grief and reversed them to show how people figure out something is wrong.
You start out, of course, with Acceptance.
I like to think it's because of all those high brow literature classes Rachel takes, but it's probably just because Rachel gets me.
A comment on Reddit was "it took way too long to get this comic". That person's probably right. People expect to dissect a poem, not a comic.
Anyway, I thought this was BRILLIANT when I made it at 4am.
Me contemplating the next internet sensation.
Cat. A cat, of course. A cat who is a .... lifeguard and hates the water.
Ooh, this is gold!
Something like Baywatch. Homeless cats on the beach.
I just want to point out that this is the best picture of a rainbow I've ever taken. Oh, and I've taken pictures of rainbows in my time. At least three.
I remember the day well. I was putting in a car battery and cursing at a bolt whose solepurpose was to be irremovable by human methods. As my hands became bloody and I got more and more grease embedded, tattoo-like, into my skin, I looked up and saw a perfectly arched rainbow.
"Ooooh! Pretty!" I snapped the pic with my phone.
Then I went back to cursing the battery. I got that bolt out, but in return my car got a wrench that I dropped somewhere into its depths.
I've posted this before, on websites that no longer exist, but it's always worth revisiting 1980.
Ah, 1980! The Space Shuttle, the presidential election, the chewing gum that still came in packs of trading cards....it's hard to decide which had a bigger influence on me.
What had the biggest influence on me was boredom. Boredom was my bitter foe. I believe Charles Dickens wrote Bleak House just to invent the word boredom and unleash it out into the world, haunting children everywhere until the life-saving vaccine of the VCR and Atari was discovered by scientists working around the clock.
The only entertainment on demand in 1980 was "trouble". Trouble, you see, is what me and my friends were either consciously or unconsciously up to in order to have fun. Sure, it seems like making trails through the woods, sliding off random roofs, and hot wiring a bulldozer unattended at a construction site all seem like harmless fun, but inevitably the word "trouble" was used by some adult and our entertainment on demand would be temporarily halted.
I was the weirdo (of course I was the weirdo). I got into reading, the other (and still the best) entertainment on demand. Thanks to my sister I had a lot of superhero and paperback comic strip collections to choose from. So what does a ten year old do with the discovery of comic strips and books?
That's right, he decides he wants to be a SYNDICATED CARTOONIST! Right now. At age ten. With no serious drawing ability or knowledge on how to make the things.
Still, ignorance is bliss, especially in the art world, and I sent away for the National Cartoonist Society's little booklet on getting a career in the comics. Back in those days, you see, all syndicated cartoonists looked incredibly normal. They looked like a teacher or an accountant. But it only took a little digging to find that, at heart, they were weird too. Clearly, these were "my people".
The words "cartoonist" and "career" go together very grudgingly. It's like getting a panda to mate successfully. But you have to understand that it does happen or, like pandas, there wouldn't be any. Career Cartoonist exists in the wild. I've seen them. I think they're all tagged and tracked now to see how the population is doing.
So here we go. Woefully outdated advice from some of the finest cartoonists of the time. It was a magical time, especially to a ten year old.
How do I overcome really bad international news? I don't. But I do sketch and it happens to be Normvember. Never heard of Normvember? Why, it's a month celebrating Michael Jantze's wonderful comic "The Norm".
Catch the reruns on GoComics, as well as the reboot. Start here and enjoy several hours of reading a great comic.
I sought out comics on the web as soon as the Wonderful World Wide Web of Color started, being lucky enough to work at a university that had those newfangled fiber optic cables installed. Although providing content for free online would cripple the newspaper industry, it was difficult to imagine it at the time. Besides, I could access recent Peanuts strips (recent because, initially, the strips online were about a week behind the newspapers) and that was what I found first.
Eventually, I could find comics by anyone who wanted to make one. Couldn't get a contract with a syndicate? Don't let it go to waste, just put it online. It didn't take long for there to be too many comics to actually read. As it goes, some of the cream rose to the top and became must-reads.
Then broadband internet access became commonplace and accessing your favorite material online was suddenly more normal than actually buying it. The business model of making money by writing and drawing comics changed after enjoying a good century of smudging our fingers with inky newsprint.
It was bittersweet. I loved being able to read comics online for free, many of which I'd never had access to before, but I was (am am) a huge fan of newspapers. By the time United Features' comics.com started really pushing its services, I was a graphic artist who mostly did work for newspapers and I received copies of several papers throughout the country. Those papers combined couldn't hold a candle to being able to read it all online.
What do I remember about comics.com? Not to speak ill of the dead, but I found it very unwieldy. It reminded me of the Yellow Pages. Like the Yellow Pages, it was pretty darn yellow, and its layout was very distracting for me. Still, it was free access to comics. Who could complain?
Comics.com did introduce me to Jane's World, for which I'll always be grateful.
The site I really liked was GoComics. It had a nice layout with a white background, was easy to navigate, and contained a truckload of comics that I loved. They introduced me to MythTickle, another reason to be eternally grateful (I'm going to run out of eternity.)
As things happen, United Features Syndicate is no more, Universal got their features, and comics.com and GoComics are one and the same. No more yellow, just more comics at my fingertips than I ever could've imagined.
Now, you may ask, why GoComics? Why not simply go to a creator's site or some other site that posts funny comics from around the web? Well, that's not an either/or question. You most certainly can go to many other creator sites on the web. Many are doing just dandy without allying themselves with a company..
One reason I love GoComics is simple. Newspapers didn't die. Mortally hit? Maybe. Dead? No. There are a ton of people out there who go online to find their favorite newspaper strips. Those people are not necessarily sifting through the internet to find additional comics. Maybe they just want to read B.C. because their newspaper no longer carries it, or because they had fondness of that comic as a kid, or because of a rare newsprint allergy. Whatever.
What they're going to find on GoComics is the material they're familiar with next to strips they've never heard of. Yes, it is possible for readers to be completely unfamiliar with Perry Bible Fellowship. As successful as that comic is (I've got my book right here on my bookshelf), we are a world of billions. The crowd that may initially be drawn to GoComics is not the same crowd that saved and shared PBF comics online ten years ago.
So next to Peanuts, Garfield, B.C., Big Nate, Fox Trot and many (to put in mildly) very successful print comics, you'll also stumble across equally successful web comics that many people, like I was a lifetime ago, are completely unfamiliar with. A whole different crowd has access to Dinosaur Comics, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, Sarah's Scribbles and many other "internet cream" comics that make life worth living.
It's also worth mentioning that on GoComics you can read the whole friggin' archive of Calvin and Hobbes, relive Bloom County and not have to pay a dime to read the truly American classic, artistic wonderment that is Little Nemo (a strip that you could only read by shelling out some serious cash for hardback reprints). That kind of archive was completely unimaginable not that long ago (ok, maybe it's long ago to you, but it was yesterday to me....and I'm not old. Yet.)
And the current crop of new comics? Fantastic. Candorville, Rip Haywire, Brewster Rockit, anything Richard Thompson or Ruben Bolling does, The Bent Pinky....OK, I'll shut up before I list the whole site.
The exciting part is this:
The comic strip is alive and well.
We are stronger together than we are apart.
GoComics pays its creators.
Oh, yeah, and my strip is on there. It was kind of an accident, I promise. Tired of trying out new concepts, I just kind of kept drawing the same characters I drew as a kid and, whaddya know, GoComics published me (there's more to it than that, but stalking laws prevent me from going into detail).
I am honored beyond words to be tucked in a list of such great comics, so here's today's "one year later" Adult Children strip on Gocomics. Hey kids! Comics!
I listen to a lot of stuff as I draw. I listen to audiobooks, comedy albums, songs and, yes, podcasts.
There's a sea of quality podcasts. I can't keep up. I wind up binging on them like a nice Netflix meal of entertainment. It wasn't always this way. The time has finally passed when I have to listen to a lot of needless droning to find something good.
Way back in the day, and I'm talking about when Obama was president, there were many podcasts supposedly about subjects I liked that were simply people talking for, oh, 20 hours, using recording equipment that produced what sounded strikingly like test broadcasts from 1923. The people making them were having fun but as a listener I was left slightly lobotomized (which, sure, may have done me some good in the long run, but an ice pick between the eyes would've been faster).
Then there was Tom Racine and Tall Tale Radio. Tom had actual content, actual guests, actual prepared questions, and could actually move the conversation along while being informative and funny. His voice was superb and the show sounded as professional as it gets. Tom made Tall Tale Radio podcasts for quite awhile, interviewing many wonderful cartoonists, and then (like most of us who do things for a long time) he got bored.
A brief run on my favorite site, GoComics, wasn't the best fit for Tall Tale Radio and as interviewees we cartoonists tend to have similar back stories: Charles Schulz is a god, we were enthralled with the medium from an early age, a lucky break occurred, and occasionally money was earned so that we could quit our day jobs ("we"...HA! ...like I'm not a poor graphic artist competing with tech school graduates for the jobs that haven't gone overseas...oh, just let me have this inclusion.)
Sadly, had Tom been interviewing idiot celebrities like Justin Beiber he'd be hailed as a genius and rewarded with steady pay. But cartoonists, as much as we love them, don't attract a mainstream crowd. We're still a niche.
So Tom took a hiatus. I was convinced "hiatus" was code for "goodbye". It seems like no medium is spared from losing quality material that only exists out of a labor of love. But then Tom did something I thought was impossible.
He came back with a better show.
He brought the wonderful Lucas Turnbloom (the cartoonist's cartoonist who does Imagine This) with him, continued Jonathan Lemon's always-informative "Lemon List" and combined a variety of guests and subjects into each episode.
This isn't niche stuff, kids, this is an informative entertainment podcast that covers topics across the board.
Just this year he's interviewed Doug Adams about music from Lord of the Rings and other movie soundtracks, spoke with Egyptologist Dr. Kara Cooney in a can't-stop-listening piece, and brought back one of my favorite people, Justin Thompson (creator of Mythtickle) to discuss movies, books, parenting and all things geekdom and wonderful.
As I write this the most recent episodes are with Justin Thompson and John Sanford. I could listen to them talk about animation all day.
I even forgot that one of my questions was discussed. I asked for modern animation executive horror stories. I figured that whatever John had to say would be another version of the wacky "management doesn't understand creativity" stories that have become legend from the days of classic animation. I was wrong. John's story caught me so off guard that I may have ruptured my spleen laughing. Maybe it's because I met the exec he was talking about and found the guy to be weird myself, but I don't think we're going to find a story to top this one. You'll have to listen to the episode to hear it. Un-be-lieve-a-ble.
Let's not forget that the consistent presence in each episode is Tom. Everyone talks about Tom's great voice, but let's not forget that Tom can really conduct an interview. He's top-notch. And he's funny. Very funny. He always manages to make an observation that just kills me.
So that's what I've listen to somewhat recently (I'm back on audiobooks right now).
I implore you: Listen to Tall Tale Radio. It's one of the best podcasts out there.
I didn't participate in the wildly popular #inktober, mainly because I have the free time of an active ping pong ball (and also because I take the time to dip an actual brush into an actual bottle of ink every day for the strip and, frankly, I need a #digitober).
But I somehow found time to make this wobbly brush sketch for #normvember. It's a gag, see, for Michael Jantze's wonderful comic The Norm. I've stopped being surprised that cartoonists whose work I've admired for a very long time turn out to be just as nice as their comics, and Micahel (that's Mr. Jantze to me) is no exception.
The Norm was one of those comics that assured me that the comics page was going to be ok in the modern era. Do yourself a favor and check out the books on Amazon. My 4:30am sketch is not doing the strip justice, for some reason.
I ran across this sign I made many years ago for my house. Kids, as you may know, are fond of yelling.
The sign was unsuccessful. Kids are not fond of reading and obeying signs.
What I do like, in looking at it again, is the backwards question mark. Please is turned into "Please?"
I pat myself on the back for that backwards question mark.
My mother talked about "Analysis Paralysis". Catchy phrase, huh? When you have a lot going on and it's hard to prioritize, you may find yourself over-thinking everything to the point where you do nothing. Let's face it, today's quality TV shows are an enabler for analysis paralysis.
I always have a lot to do. That doesn't mean I'm doing it, of course, but I have a lot on my plate. My advice: do one thing at a time. If you're in customer service, and you have a line out the door, don't freak out. Help the person in front of you. That's all you can do.
Unless you're married. Then you have to learn how to multitask. If you have kids, multitasking is a sort of religion. But you can still work on one extracurricular thing. Fix the garage door, get back to work on (let's pull a self-absorbed project out of a hat) your comic strip. Run to buy band aids because your daughter thought it would be a good idea to try and use a blunt knife to open a Barbie doll encased in plastic so tough that it would survive a space launch, then go back to work on your comic.
Eventually, two things happen. You finish your comic and your family hates you. OK, I'm exaggerating, Your family gathers around, holds hands in an emotional and overwhelming moment, and says in an awed whisper, "Stephen, you are a god. That you can create art in the midst of family chaos is nothing short of a miracle and we salute you." I'm still exaggerating, aren't I? Truthfully, you have to occasionally remind them that you make comics at all.
Be aware of analysis paralysis. Do one thing at a time. Finish what you start. Prioritizing will evolve from consistently completing tasks and you'll realize, like thousands (if not millions) before you that your garage will still be full of junk no matter how hard you try to clean it and, really, watching Game of Thrones should take priority. You don't want to run into any spoilers on the internet, do you?
So I was lucky enough to receive two Christmas cards from cartoonists. This is new to me. Stupid me, I never thought of sending out actual cards. They always cheer me up, but I think I've been sucked into the digital word where physical cards have no magic. Now I want to send out cars and it's too late. Happy Lincoln's Birthday?
Dan Pavelich, of the wonderful Just Say Uncle sent me a card that arrived on a day we were experiencing terrible flooding. My mail lady, a wonderful person, accidentally left the card half hanging out of my mailbox and it was nearly ruined. So I don't feel I would be doing it justice by scanning it here. Just go to GoComics, read his strip. You won't be sorry.
Darrel Troxel makes one of my favorite webcomics, That Comic Thing. Like Dan above, I became aware of Darrel's existence on Twitter. He wasn't even doing a comic then. I just thought "Dear god, this guy is as crazy as I am" and followed him immediately. I love his graphic sensibility and his unique style has only gotten better and better as time progresses. Ideally, that's how it's supposed to work. People like me can have a habit of slapping something out at one in the morning which doesn't do any good for progressing a style (or does it?). Anyway, this card came with stickers and it was awesome. I hate the word awesome. It's overused and said a lot where I live. But if it's awesome, why change it to another word?
Finally, I received a Sanity Sketch from comic strip master Michael Jantze. This wasn't a Christmas card, this was a reward doing a comic for his upcoming book Knocked Out Loaded. You can find his other books on Amazon here. Michael is a cartoonist's cartoonist. I was a huge fan of his strip The Norm for years before meeting him and it should be no surprise to anybody that he's as talented and bursting with energy as you want your inspirational people to be.
That's it for today, kids! As the sun rises, the thought eventually comes to me that maybe I should sleep once and awhile.
StBeals. That's my Reddit username. This fascinating entry is brought to you by Artistic Flair! If you don't know what that is, visit reddit.com
Of course, chances are you visited Reddit long before you came here.
It's crushing, but the world no longer has Bo Lumpkin. Or do we?
What seems like yesterday on Twitter (even though it was a few years ago) a budding cartoonist named Bo Lumpkin said that he was giving up cartooning until he was older, say 60 years old. I encouraged him not to be so hard on himself and that he shouldn't give up. He was an unusually nice person and his entertaining posts reminded me of one of my Mississippi uncles (my mother was from Mississippi and, as things happen, the rest of the family stayed there when she moved up North).
Anyway, the next day Bo said he could resume his comics because he was now 60. Hey, I had no idea of his age.
That was Bo. He was a funny Southern Gentleman who described himself as "an old redneck having fun". He represented, I think, the best of the Internet. And he had fun. Because he had fun, I had fun. Bo was fun-spread.
Today, if you want to draw, make jewelry, or write funny observations, you don't have to seek permission to potentially be read by anyone in the world. You can be a retiree, a busy parent or a teenager with varying degrees of skill and creative background. You can make mistakes, improve at whatever you want to do and interact with others. You can essentially share yourself virtually and make a positive impression on people you've never physically met.
Like almost everyone, Bo was concerned that he wasn't getting enough readers. I still say that 24 visits to a new website may seem very small, but if I told you that you had to speak in front of a room of 24 strangers, some from thousands of miles away, you might get a tad nervous. Don't knock 24 readers.
Bo cheered me up, he made me smile, and he made me realize on difficult days that we're all just lucky to be here. The things that divide so many people, like religion and politics, didn't matter. I'm not religious and I'm pretty sure Bo and I voted for different people. But I respected him as much as I can respect anybody, because he was a sincere and honest person who wasn't pushy about his beliefs and only showed how he lived.
Kindness and positive energy like Bo's doesn't just go away. It stays with you. Unlike whatever headline is making me angry today, Bo is locked into my head.
Recently, Bo started writing little poems on my website. Since I migrated Cheesebo to this site, his comments are now only available on my hard drive. I will try and dig them all up.
Below is a recent comic of mine followed by a poem from Bo. That's right. I didn't receive mere comments from Bo, I got friggin' poetry!
And here's what Bo wrote on his website:
Sometimes instead of leaving comments or in addition to leaving comments I will write a poem in the comment section. Here is one I wrote today for Stephen Beals creator of the awesome comic Cheesebo.
By Bo Lumpkin
Sometimes as I travel through life each day,
I take a wrong turn along the way,
I guess I could just moan and whine,
But I thought it was better to seek a sign,
I looked high and I looked low,
Trying to find the way to go,
I stumbled along my crooked trail,
Determined that I shouldn’t fail,
Then there it was, plain as day,
A clear sign to point the way,
Now I lay here nearly dead,
Because the sign fell on my head.
Claremont seems to inspire me.
Person after person, terribly close family members, distant relatives, longtime friends, vague acquaintances and strangers off the street (which is to say numerous imaginary people) have asked me why I changed the site.
The reason is simple: I was sick of it. I chose the name Cheesebo as a lark when I was intending to register the name Cheeseborough. I set up the site (like this one) without any real solid knowledge of what I was doing and I was on my way.
That would've been fine, and it was fine for a time, but more and more everybody I knew was accessing everything web-related on their phone. At least I assume they were. I had my head down most of the time looking at my phone, so I can't be completely certain.
This is a simple site with simple navigation that will hopefully be phone friendly and fun. Right now it's in a very primitive state, but fear not! If all goes as smoothly as it did with Cheesebo, I should make adjustments no later than three years from now.