holiday cards

It’s been years since I sent out paper holiday cards, but I just had a brainwave– I could send some electronically via the blog to all my friends and readers!  And I had just the images, both taken within the week with my Polaroid Cube toy camera. I’m even offering both a secular and a sacred image, just like a real card company or the Post Office when it issues stamps.  So please accept, from me, Pam Bliss, everyone at World Headquarters, and the entire population of Kekionga, our very best wishes for the upcoming holiday season.  Whether you love it or just try to sleep through it, have as good a time as you can.

Card 1 (secular)

  • Whatever your holiday journeys,
  • may you find your way safely home.

Card 2 (sacred)

A joyous and peaceful Christmas to you and yours.


(From the lobby of the airport hotel, and of course, Menards.)

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doodle festival!

Found myself doing a fair amount of doodling over the weekend.  Doodling gear is highly flexible.  You can doodle any time you have a tool that makes a mark on some kind of surface, and even if you limit yourself to writing and drawing tools and some kind of paper as the surface, the options are pretty much infinite.  Here you see my very favorite combination: good old fashioned wide ruled canary yellow legal pad and a Zebra Sarasa gel pen, 0.7 point in this particular shade of red.  Zebra calls the color “porto”, but it’s sometimes sold as “mahogany” or “maroon”.  I buy them by the dozen from JetPens and do almost all my writing (plus a large amount of my doodling) with them.

This particular pen was new but had spent a while in storage, so it took some work to get the point fully lubricated so it would drop properly.  That would be a whole page full of work.  The upper right corner is redacted because of some spoilery notes.  The research questions in the lower right quadrant are “with which direction is the moon associated?” and “any cultures associate the wolf with a direction?”.  You may be able to detect some of the themes that may appear in my new story.  Then I reached the bottom of the sheet and turned the page …

The pen was working properly on the second page, which included these characters, and a discussion of the correct spelling of the word “pomegranate”.

Pomegranate, pomegranate, pomegranate.  Doodle and learn, doodle and live.

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friday after thanksgiving bonus: handprint turkeydragon creature.

(It’s not Black Friday related!  It is free and you don’t have to go anywhere!)  Yesterday I drew and posted my annual Handprint Turkey.  And then I went to lunch at Steak and Shake– one of the few restaurant chains that still offers a paper placemat– and I drew you a Bonus Handprint Turkey. **And** it’s a Placemat Handprint Turkey.  Well, a Placemat Handprint Turkey-Dragon Creature.  Drawn in a restaurant (mostly) with a ballpoint pen.

Technical note: I have posted placemat drawings here many times before, often with the note or caveat that the placemat is larger than the bed of the faithful studio scanner.  People have mentioned to me a number of times that it is possible to “stitch” together selections from different scans to create a complete image on the desktop, and this is the first time I have tried it.  The “composite” nature of this image is the result of my very first attempt at this process.  If I had continued in my usual workflow, I would have saved the image as a two bit file and again in greyscale, which would have eliminated to the color bleed through and gotten rid of the composite edge.  But I decided to show you this state because I am ridiculously proud that I have figured out how to do this.  Even though I am quite sure the average fifth grader today is much more accomplished at it than I am.

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happy thanksgiving, with all the ambiguities, and also plus a traditional craft

Happy Thanksgiving to our readers in the USA, and a vague introduction to an ambiguous US holiday for everyone else.  Thanksgiving can be treated as a reason/excuse for a feast, with or without family (and therefore something you either really enjoy or make an effort to avoid) or as an occasion for study/deeper thought about US history and the relationship between indigenous people and colonizers, and how this reflects on views on immigration today.

Fairness probably encourages us to do both.  But like all matters of food, family, history and memory, nostalgia is at the table as well.  And one of the fun and weird Thanksgiving traditions we all remember is making handprint turkeys as a craft.  For some reason, that’s the Thanksgiving thing that means the most to me.  So every year I make a handprint turkey for you, my internet friends on the blog, and which you a satisfying day, whatever that means to you.

(This year, brushwork on yellow legal pad.)

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stan lee (and a color special)

Stan Lee died a few days ago, and since then the internet has been full of tributes, critiques and well considered combinations of the two.  I can’t compete with the thoughtful essays of culture vultures and/or comic book mavens, all of whom have far more knowledge of both the comics and the context than I will ever have.

So I set out to write about the characters he created and co created, and ended up with a list so vast that it shocked me, and I have known and loved these four color people for years.  One site I found had them sorted by universe: the people of Asgard, the Inhumans, The Wakandans, the mutants of the X-Men’s circle. the casts that surround Spider-Man, Daredevil, the Fantastic Four, Doctor Strange …, the outer space of the Watcher, Galactus, the Silver Surfer …  It goes on and on, a list of hundreds of people I know by name, powers (if any) and personality, people I could take a shot at drawing from memory, people whose voices I can hear in my head.   Whatever else you can say about Stan, he created a body of work.

So I decided just to shut up and make a little comic.  My personal Mighty Marvel Team-Up happens to consist of two of Stan Lee’s characters: The Incredible Hulk (of his own comic and the Avengers) and the Fenris Wolf (of the Asgardian mythos), also known as Hulk and Fenny.   If the Wolf seems too small to you, remember that my Hulk is a very big Hulk.


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mister spit on a paper towel/ all hail the doodle

Yesterday I drew Mr. Spit on a paper towel while I was refilling my fountain pen*.  It’s a tiny little drawing, about an inch and a half or so long (the round bits in the background are the absorbent nubs in the towel), and it took less than five seconds to make.  All hail the doodle, the fundamental unit of cartooning.

Back next week!

*TWSBI Eco with a  1.1 stub nib.

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once again, our classic halloween episode

(In celebration of the holiday, please enjoy a “rerun” of A Cartoonist in Kekionga’s classic Halloween Episode, “This Halloween in Kekionga” originally posted on this date in 2015 …)

You know that guy who lives in the double house down in the middle of the block on Shakespeare Street?  The really tall guy who fixes up antique radios?  He does programs at the library sometimes, where he brings in a radio and plays all kinds of crackly old shows; they’re like stories acted out with sound effects and music and they’re quite interesting.


His house is always a good one to visit on Halloween.  This year he had one of his radios playing on the porch with a purplish light on top of it, and a purple light in his street light.  It was a really simple style compared to the elaborate setups his neighbors had, with pull-apart giant spider webs and and fake tombstones and about a million plastic skeletons, but that made it even creepier.  And the darker it got, the creepier it was.


Instead of one of the horror story programs he’d played this week at the library, the radio was playing some really weird music, sort of spooky and delicate at the same time.  Nina said it sounded like old Victorian china dolls dancing in black lace dresses, and Mr. Spit made her shut up because the image in his head was creeping him out.

When we knocked on the door (that’s what the sign said to do), he did that thing with making a face in a weird colored light that some grownups do, and even though you are half expecting it, it always makes you jump.

Halloween2015-black and white-blog

But he gave out some awesome treats, peanut butter Snickers and Twixes and mini bags of Fritos and Doritos,  so we were OK with it.

Halloween2015-good night

So Happy Halloween from the Old Radio Guy’s front porch, right here in Kekionga.  It’s all the way dark now, and everything’s all purple and orange and amazing.  Nina and Murphy and Pounce are dancing on the sidewalk to the spooky doll music, and the rest of us are eating Doritos.

(Thanks to regular reader Wolfie, the real Old Radio Guy.  He just started texting me pictures earlier tonight and this sort of happened.  I edited the photographs and wrote the story, but it’s all his fault. He’s Kekionga canon now …)

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mint green kit!

Back after a few days of technical problems to talk about … the football.  Longtime readers of this blog know that my interest in Association (AKA ” proper” or “real”) football has been increasing for many years, to the point that I now follow a professional league and have a team and everything.  And where there is football, there is, apparently always going to be the Mint Green Kit.  We’ve previous discussed the issue of grown men playing football in Mint Green Outfits in international play here and here.

This year the long time Mint Green fashion trend has reached the English Premier League where it has infected not only my own team, the Tottenham Hotspur (come on you Spurs! maybe you will have your own stadium next year!), but also their North London neighbors and bitter rivals, Arsenal. (Boo.)  The currently fashionable accent color seems to be dark blue, with Tottenham (above) featuring blue shoulders (and an artistically counterprinted map of North London) and Arsenal (below), with blue lettering old school stripes on their socks.  A commentator described Tottenham’s  Mint Green Outfit as “a kit consisting primarily of a light green”.

These are “third kits”– the ones you wear when the sanctioning body rejects both your traditional first kit in your ancient traditional colors and pattern and your alternate second kit (often a solid dark color) as not enough of a contrast with what the home team is wearing.

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real sharks for shark cartooning

I haven’t drawn the Pajama Shark in the last few days*, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about him, and Friendly Shark characters in general.  And one of the basic approaches to doing animal characters in comics and cartoons is to study the real animal, either in person or in photographs.  Or if you enjoy photography, you can try to do both.

These images were taken at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago a week ago today in the Wild Reef exhibit.  They aren’t thresher sharks– they are sandbar sharks, described in the Aquarium’s blog as “the sharkiest sharks” in the exhibit.  I agree, they are pretty sharky looking, with the true shark expression which is so challenging and delightful to soften into friendliness. I think these photographs will be useful in future pajama sharking, and they were also tremendously challenging to make.

The light in the tank was extremely low and the sharks were swimming around, in the constant motion these guys require to keep water moving over their gills, so pretty fast shutter speeds were required to stop them.  That means super high ISOs– 6400 in this case- and a fair amount of digital noise.   These are not exactly prize winning wildlife photographs, but I am pleased with the shades of blue and the way the light falls through the water onto the sharks, and with their shapes. (The camera is Mischief, the Fuji X-T10, the lens the Fujinon 35mm f/1.4, and the shutter speed 1/320.)

*I have been doing the Inktober project, with Kekionga as my theme.  If you’re interested, I am posting my drawings every day over on the Official Pam Bliss Facebook page here.  This is a public page– you don’t have to be a member to read and enjoy.  If you happen to be on FB, you are invited to follow.

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bone joan and the black chicken in inktober

This is probably my favorite Inktober drawing so far.  Bone Joan is an important character in Kekionga’s history, and although she has been referred to any number of times, this is the first time I have actually drawn her.  Bone Joan was a wise woman and “yarbwife”, though there were those who said she was a witch.  Her familiar was an enormous jet black rooster, which probably didn’t do anything to discourage the idea.

The famous Black Chicken of Kekionga folklore is said to be based on folk memory of Bone Joan’s Chicken, but I prefer to thing that’s he’s the real thing.  He never really went away and he’s still leading children and other true believers to what they want to find.

(from the story “Monsters of Kekionga”)

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