Saturday, August 31, 2013

UNREAL CITY (the comic strip)

A couple years ago I did a very short lived strip (five installments) for Seattle's Stranger newspaper. Here's the first installment:

Having the opportunity to do a regular strip for the local newspaper would have been a dream come true for a lot of cartoonists... but it wasn't for me. I think when I got the offer I cried myself to sleep wondering what the hell I was going to do. I woke up the next morning with the idea of a contract killer who kills the wrong guy. Out of remorse he tries to protect the guy's sister- who wants nothing to do with him. It seemed like a really mainstream idea- something I would write for someone else. But I needed an idea for a strip so I went with it.
I had done a strip before called Snar-fled, a throw-away Garfield parody. I knew this strip would end up taking all of my time so I wanted to do something that felt substantial- something like Twin Peaks the comic strip. I had this ambitious idea of turning Seattle into a bizarre city that was like a glitched video game. It would be a continuing story where each installment would feel like a non-sequitur. Suffice it to say, the strip did not work out. What I should have done was stick to something simple and throw-way, but I've never learned how to do that type of comic.
The writing on this comic feels forced to me and not terribly good. The problem was that I wasn't trying to be a comic strip artist, which is it's own discipline all together. It's very difficult to get something satisfying across in just four beats. A full page is more my rhythm. It's the rhythm I've learned from years of reading comic books. I pulled the plug after just five installments. Still, there were some decent ideas floating around in there that I'm sure I'll end up using (and have already used) for other things. One of those things is the title: Unreal City, which I'm using for my current project.
Anyways, here are those other strips, warts and all.
 I wanted the main character, Elroy Bass, to have an unlikely design. Something in the spirit of Elliot Gould's version of Phillip Marlowe in The Long Goodbye, or like how Moebius used this curly red-haired Donald Sutherland-looking guy for Missippi River. Elroy Bass also shows up in my story Echoes into Eternity.
Elroy's sidekick was a gay Scandinavian driver from Ballard named Bjorn Bonde. He would be Watson to Elroy's Holmes, and like Watson the story would be narrated from Bjorn's point of view. One crazy idea I had was that Bjorn was narrating the story from some bizarre state of limbo somewhere in the future.
The villain was a bizarre character in the Dick Tracy tradition. The Man Who Walks Backwards.

And speaking of Twin Peaks (David Lynch's influence on my stuff is pretty obvious), my roommates took me to the REAL Twin Peaks for my birthday this last May. The perspective on the first picture is distorted to accommodate the Café sign.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Naked Ladies And So Forth

Hello ladies and gentlemen.

Here's a page from a two-page comic I did for Robin Bougie's  Cinema Sewer book 4.

The book ships next month. You can order it here:

It's sports a pretty sweet cover by Vince Ruarus.

Here's his website:

Quite some time back I drew a couple other comics for Cinema Sewer. One was about a guy who spent his time debunking nude photos of celebrities on the internet. Here's a couple pages from that.

The mug Gillian Anderson is holding makes regular appearances in my comics. The script had originally called for 'Trixy' to be some doofy guy living in his basement. I felt like such a person was too obvious a target- we already had Ed- and that it'd be funnier to make his nemesis a swanky Hugh Hefner type guy.
Here's another one I drew about porno westerns.

When it comes to my comics (anything I draw really) I'm a stickler for research. I'd never seen any of these films - never rented a porno movie. My ex and I went into nearly every sleazy establishment in Seattle trying to hunt these things down. These places were unbelievable. One place was just a guy in a room in a shitty building with stacks and stacks of porno movies and magazines on the floor. Another place was like a video store from my childhood- all those giant colorful boxes- except they were pornos instead of cartoons. I always thought it was weird that cartoons and porno movies had similar video boxes. There must be some reason for that. That place didn't have the films I was looking for but I did manage to walk out with a copy of Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs. Weird huh? And the smell of those places... They smelled like urine and masturbation.

I only found a few of the movies and the ones I saw were pretty god-awful. I couldn't imagine anyone wanting to watch  something like The Winter of 1849 for any reason whatsoever. Although I did get a kick out of drawing these worthless things with extra-loving care and precision. The older films were better. Russ Meyer's film was far and away the best, although it was a pretty crappy Russ Meyer film. In terms of craftsmanship, however, I will say that that movie is a textbook lesson in minimalistic storytelling. Almost the entire thing is told with close-ups and sound effects. It's worth checking out for that reason alone.

At the time I drew these things I hadn't yet drawn what I would consider a " really good" comic and  I was hungry to make a masterpiece so I poured everything I had into these comics. As a result they were a little overblown for the material they offered. For example, there was really no reason to have a panel dedicated to "The End" of Ride 'Em Cowgirl. I just thought it was a fitting image to close things with.


Seattle's been treating me good. When you're a pop culture junkie who gets around on a bicycle and you've been living in the woods for a while- you appreciate the perks of an urban environment.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Back in the Seattle Again

Howdie folks. Here's a drawing that shows what I look like. I believe they call these things self portraits.


I no longer live in Alaska. I have returned to civilzation (such as it is). This is kind of the fullfillment of a fantasy that I had for a long time where I would go out to a log cabin, grow a long beard, chop wood, then return back to civilization with a new spiritual enlightenment. Well, I never grew the beard and I didn't chop very much wood and I'm not sure how enlightened I am but I feel like a learned a couple things...maybe...

So I'm finishing up that cartoony comic. It's called the Yellowknife Retrospective. Wanna see a couple pages? Here ya' go.

Also, you may notice the bar up top that says Sequential Art, Illustrations and so forth. I've been slowly putting up old  pages and sketches and things. Here's a recent sketch.

And here's a sketch of Majel Barett from Star Trek.

I'm also trying to do more commissioned artwork- so if there's anything you guys out there would like to see me draw, you totally have the power to make that happen. Even though I'm an artsy fartsy cartoonist I am not at all above drawing your favoirte super heroine or something- I love drawing that shit.  For a while I'd had it in my mind that it was up to me to make Wonder Woman a cool comic (I got over it). But I still like to draw that stuff from time to time. I just need a reason. Here's an old sketch of some of her old rogues, called Villainy Inc.

There's a lot more I'd like to talk about but I've had a long day. I promise to be in touch soon.

Razzle Dazzle... Razzle Dazzle...