save the doodles! lacy placemat drawings

As part of our ongoing “save the doodles” project, here are three authentic placemat drawings.  These images are from the greatest modern tool for saving the doodles, the smartphone camera.  If you are out with a square crowd who will look at you funny if you carefully remove a paper placemat and carry it off uncreased so you can put it on the scanner when you get home, take a photograph with you instead.

A particularly square place will have placemats with a crunchy, lacy pattern that makes for an especially challenging drawing surface.  The standard placemat doodle drawing tool, the Pilot Better Retractable Ballpoint (Fine, Black) is particularly unsuited to this medium, so I feel pretty good that I got two interesting ones– and at breakfast, no less!

In the center medallion, a looming bat

And among the wreaths of leaves and grapes, a cool fat superhero.

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three hulk-ku/ hulk write this spring

Poem critic address Hulk. Hulk smash with poem.  Then Hulk turn around, write two Hulk-ku  for spring. Many pink flowers.  Hulk like pink flowers.

  • You say “Hulk make more
  • Hulk poem!”  You no like Hulk
  • When Hulk making poem!

 

  • Cherry tree, crab apple.
  • Hulk green, flower tree all pink:
  • Complementary colors.

 

  • Cherry tree, crab apple.
  • Pink snow drifting, parking lot
  • After windy night.

 

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the mcu movies: ranked

Now that Avengers: Endgame has closed the first cycle of the MCU, all over the internet reviewers, columnists, bloggers and other people equipped with keyboards, opinions and either assignments or spare time, are ranking the 22 films in the series.  My friend B has been making a spreadsheet out of a collection of lists he’s found in various places and curated according to standards of his own devising (I won’t spoil any more what is sure to be an epic essay of his own posted somewhere or another), and he challenged me to make my own.  It will be fun, he said, and also you will get a blog post out of it.  The last point, at least, is true.  Thanks. B.

So here it is: The Films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ranked from Best To Worst, According to Me, Pam Bliss. With occasional commentary, though I think the list stands on its own, mostly.

  • 1-2 (tie): Iron Man and Captain America: The First Avenger (two classic origin stories, one a modern action adventure, steeped in sarcasm and cynicism, one a period piece set in a theoretically more innocent time.  both excellent in their own ways, take your choice. )
  • 3: The Avengers (a core text for understanding both the superhero team and the superhero film)
  • 4: Black Panther (arguably the best movie of the bunch as a movie)
  • 5: The Guardians of the Galaxy  (this movie surprised me like a cotton candy meteor)
  • 6: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • 7: Spider-Man: Homecoming
  • 8: Avengers: Endgame

(I don’t see the MCU as having a Top Ten, but it definitely has a Top Eight and these are the ones.)

(The next sections of the list are the Very Good MCU movies, all quite entertaining and more or less equal in quality.  I think the ones in the first group are all better than the ones in the second group, but within each group making a more defined ranking would be purely a matter of personal taste.)

  • 9-10-11: Ant Man and the Wasp, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Captain Marvel
  • 12-13-14: Ant Man, Doctor Strange, Thor: Ragnarok

(Then things start slipping.  Below this point, find some films with serious faults, but also plenty of the strengths weassociate with the MCU, including character stuff, punchy writing, good performances, and excellent design and special effects.  This group is still worth seeing, particularly for free.)

  • 15: Avengers: Civil War (the Airport Fight is an enduring classic of the genre.)
  • 16: Iron Man 3
  • 17-18 Iron Man 2, Avengers, Age of Ultron (one for Tony in general, the other for Tony and Bruce and for Tony and Cap chopping wood.)

(And now the clunkers)

  • 19: Avengers: Infinity War (Dark, dull, and depressing, valuable only as the first chapter of the excellent Endgame.)
  • 20-21 Thor, Thor The Dark World (no idea how to rank these as I have never managed to stay awake through either of them.)
  • 22: The Incredible Hulk (2008)  (Never seen it, not sure why it is included on the list; the MCU Hulk is Mark Ruffalo and that’s it.)

(* Or has it?  There is a strong possibility that the upcoming Spider-Man: Far From Home will act as a sort of coda or epilog to the story, if it does I will revisit this post.)

Feel free to discuss …

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movie time at the cinemark: avengers: endgame

It’s been a week today since Avengers: Endgame opened, to (to no one’s surprise) epic box office numbers in the GNP-of-a-small-nation class.  If you are an MCU fan, I can safely assume you have either already seen it or are sitting alone under noise canceling headphones in a dark room with no internet connection for fear of spoilers.  If you are a movie buff but not a fan, you are standing by to critique, and I wish you luck because a more fan-centered flick would be hard to find.  Is there even any movie there for someone who hasn’t seen (and enjoyed) at least a few of the twenty-some earlier films in the Universe?

Regardless, we will stick to standing blog policy and put the bulk of the review behind a cut and put up the “spoilers ahead” barricade.  If nothing else, this is going to be a long one, though not as long as the movie. Three hours, folks, and more like three and a half if you like to be seated for the trailers.  Plan ahead.

But first, some a words of warning.  If you are going to a later showing, don’t stand by the doors of the theater while the credits play out.  The music that plays during the last section of the final credits is a spoiler in itself.  Go get popcorn or something and come back after the lights come up.

Oh, and bring a handkerchief.  I mean it.

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the cover of a minicomic

The cover of one of the new minicomics is finished.   First, I think I might be a little too involved with my semi-newfound ability to do white titles on a black ground with marker lettering.  I do kind of like the larger letters in “Another Mysterious Stranger”, which were lettered with that crazy Big Soft Brush Sharpie.

And second, joy comes with embracing one of Kekionga’s central tropes, which is that a majority of Junkyard stories start with a Mysterious Stranger coming to Bud with either a weird problem to solve or some kind of (humorously?) shady business deal.  It may not be “creative”, but it is what really happens when you run a junkyard at a Node Where Dimensions meet.  Just Another Day at Kekionga Salvage.

I know what’s in the box, but most of you will have to wait.

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best of the drawing of the day– night badger

You’ve heard of Christmas in July?  Well, welcome to Halloween in April.

I started this drawing with the eyes, the ears and the costume, and the subject was pretty clearly attended to be either a humanoid vampire bat or a stock character vampire partially transformed into his bat form.  But he turned out to look more like a badger. So, the pretty-unique Night Badger.  And he looks pretty smug about it, doesn’t he?  Or maybe he’s just a bit of dope.  Might still bite you, though.

The two things I like most about this drawing, beside the Night Badger himself, are the angle (not level and loving it) and the way the Moon, and the night sky around it, turned out.

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free bonus tiny shark

My humorous shark minicomic (finally titled Tiny Shark Dream Royale) will be ready to print by the end of the day, or sometime over the weekend, or on Monday by the latest.  As I was doing the last corrections on page 7, I decided to lose one of the sharks, an extra tiny one in the corner that really didn’t do anything for the composition.

Normally, I would just erase him by flooding him with white, but he’s a nice little shark and I felt sort of bad about eliminating him just because he doesn’t fit in.  So I selected him out and moved him into another file all his own and here he is.  A whole, raw, live uncorrected humorous tiny shark for a Friday afternoon in spring.

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movie time at the cinemark: captain marvel

Circumstances beyond our control have curtailed our moviegoing for a while, so it was almost the end of March before our first visit to the old Cinemark this year.  Luckily the latest MCU outing, Captain Marvel, did not disappoint.  It was not the best film in the series, but it was entertaining on the surface and had some involving depths and some good performances, as well as an interesting structure.

But first, a sigh about the title.  Anyone who is familiar with either my writing or my comics work know that the great Fawcett Captain Marvel comics of the Golden Age are a touchstone for me. My cartooning style in particular is deeply informed by the work of the creators of that epic universe, particularly CC Beck.

This movie is not about that character.  A legal and artistic history of how Cap’s storied name ending up on an unrelated cosmic warrior deeply embedded in the space opera section of the Marvel universe could fill a whole book, much less an essay.  And it’s out of place in a movie review anyway, thank whatever.  Do I wish this very interesting newer character had a different name? Of course I do.  But there are ideals of artistic purity and there are mighty corporations and I know which one of those have both lawyers and movie studios.  The name makes sense in context at least, and that will have to be enough.

Now on with the review, under the cut of course since spoilers abound.

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being serene on deadline

Anybody else on deadline?  I’m on deadline.  I hope to have some images for you next week from the three (count ’em, three) projects I have on the drawing board right now, but for the moment nothing is fit to be seen.  If I can keep from drawing humorous cartoon sharks on the pages for the moody Gothic story at this point, that’s all I can manage.

When deadlines loom, I find the most refreshing break I can take is to practice another kind of art entirely.  For me, that’s almost always photography.  And when you can photograph a serene subject like this enigmatic carved figure at the local pop up art and antique market, being behind the camera is even more relaxing.  And challenging.  It’s an excellent combination.  Note that while I very seldom share an image of myself, you can see a bit of me in the mirror, taking this photograph.

As always, if you want to see more of my photography, I am on Instagram @kekiongacomics .

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it’s fall in kekionga

A few years ago, Moose found this photograph in a cardboard box at a yard sale, and it has been hanging on her bulletin board ever since.    Many years from now, when she thinks of her hometown, this will be what she remembers.

(One of the great things about spending time in an imaginary place is that you can go there any time of the year. You can write a Christmas story in August, or draw a spring story in November.  Or, in the very worst parts of a vile Midwestern “third winter”, you can pick up your camera and take a walk through Kekionga on a beautiful October day.  It’s always fall in the Indiana of the mind,  if you want it to be.  And I mostly do. )

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