The crisis productivity level has risen slightly. (I created the bare bones of a workable magic system last week! And wrote a minicomic about the entire history of the world!)
But what actually gets done is Mr. Rock cartoons. Like this one. For some reason, I am really enjoying the weird experience of flood fill coloring a scribbly sketchbook drawing inked with a fine nibbed pen.
There is actually a story written where Mr. Rock sits in a fruit basket just like this. (Presumably that basket will be better drawn than this one.) One of the goals of these little color sketches is to develop a color palette for the Mr. Rock series to coordinate with the fixed colors already established. I like the red and the purple, but am not sure about the orange. For some reason I can never have an extensive palette that does not include this particular web safe tan.
Sorry to be so absent. This shelter in place time is really taking it out of me. Oddly, now that we approach the traditional 40 days (the source of the word “quarantine”, after all) I find myself feeling a little more stable and more like showing my work. Mostly, I’ve been drawing and coloring Mr. Rock cartoons, and writing some stories about him. The stories will have to wait until they are finished, but here are two of the cartoons.
In the first, we learn that Mr. Rock comes from Pluto. Plutonians, being a cheap knockoff of Vulcans, share that people’s cultural obsession with managing their emotional landscapes and appearing cool and logical. They just aren’t very good at it. At all. The traditional garb of Pluto apparently features the “ringer” T shirt.
In the second, Mr. Rock makes his first appearance with a member of the regular cast. A regular reader, on seeing this drawing was surprised to see how small Mr. Rock actually is. I guess I never made it obvious before, but Mr. Rock is basically an action figure come to life– he is about a foot tall. It was interesting to discover that Josef’s color scheme and Mr. Rock’s have a lot of overlap.
What am I doing in these troubled times? Loafing around on social media, glomming on to a random image that calls to be in a strange way, and spending way too much time turning the central figure into a character for the Kekionga universe.
Meet Mr. Rock, doll sized space adventurer /malcontent. He is a foot tall bundle of plastic and attitude, dressed in a brightly colored but ill fitting uniform. I think he finds the real world something of a disappointment. And if he doesn’t like the “bicorder”, I’m sure he’ll have a lot to say about the pink Jeep. But he also has all the knowledge of that copyrighted prototype whose name we can’t mention, so he may turn out to be a handy guy to have around.
I’m not sure why he’s green, except that I thought him up that way. And really, if his species has green blood, why shouldn’t they be green?
PS– I love coloring scribbly sketchbook drawings that were not designed to be colored.
One of the behind the scenes projects I have been working on is the launch of a special Instagram feed just for my comics and drawings. See drawings of the day, panels and pages from comics, doodles, work-in-progress sketches, and pretty much anything else I can flatten and stuff into a square. Please open your Instagram and check out @pamblisscomics There’s already a lot of stuff there for you to look at.
Here’s a preview of a post you can expect later today, complete with a cartoon featuring one of those random lines I pick up off the TV that is playing in the background while I draw.
(My long running photography Instagram can be found, as it has been for some time @yardcoyote.)
This blog supports the ancient institution of the doodle. I certainly respect deliberate doodling, as a form of art practice, diary keeping, creative development, or meditation. But the doodles I am saving here are the boredom doodles, the thinking about something else doodles, the time filling doodles, the something to do with your hands doodles. The classic example is phone doodles, less common today than they used to be, but still sometimes practiced when on hold. But there are also waiting room doodles, watching TV doodles, and truly epic jury duty doodles.
And now we come to the script editing doodle. I’m old school enough that I like to edit short pieces of writing, like the scripts for short comics, on hard copy. I just think better when confronted with words on real paper. And real paper is (first and foremost, always) something you can draw on. So while I’m looking for a better line, an audience will sometimes appear in the margins. (The pen, as always, is the Zebra Sarasa 0.7 gel pen. The color is “Porto”, though you may find it listed in store catalogs as maroon, mahogany, dark red, etc.)
This guy is only a few hours old– he’s very sophisticated for his age, just ask him. You may have to wait for the reply. I have no idea what his voice is like; he may even end up being a silent character.
But I have been looking for this guy for a while– somebody simple to draw, not a child or an animal, but not clearly an alien or a monster, with a distinct “feel” to him. (I couldn’t describe that “feel”, but I knew it when I saw it.
A little bit Wild Thing, a little bit doodle, a little bit egg, with spoonful of John R. Neill’s Magnified Wogglebug of Oz and a big slice of Hieronymus Bosch. That last has given him his name, he is Bosch, or possibly Bosh, with its added meaning of “stuff and nonsense”.
These images are phone camera photographs taken directly out of my Daybook sketchbook. This has been the first real solution I’ve found to the problem of keeping both several different notebooks and at least two sketchbooks open at once and handy at all times. Yes, I’ve given up– I’ve found a small cheap spiral bound sketchbook in a handy size with “good enough” paper, and I am just using it for everything except the drawing of the day. I write, I draw, I take notes, I copy recipes, I’ve even painted in it with tempera paints once. Except for that painted page, I am using both sides of each sheet and just basically letting things happen. And things have definitely been happening. All kinds of weird and cool things.
Very sad here for the last day or so, since the news came down the line that Terry Jones has died. Monty Python’s Flying Circus was one of the two central formative influences in my creative life as a teenager, and today it proves the theory that the things you love most when you’re in your late teens and early twenties will always be the best things. Monty Python is the best of all possible best thing. Graham Chapman and Terry Jones were always my favorite Pythons, and now they are both gone.
Terry Jones created any number of memorable characters in dozens of Monty Python sketches, but my two very favorites are The Bishop and Mystico of Mystico and Janet, played by Carol Cleveland.
And then there is this drawing, which in some odd way is a drawing of Terry Jones. I didn’t use a picture reference and didn’t really make any attempt to get a likeness, but I was definitely thinking about him when I drew it, and it depicts a character he definitely could have played.
The first post of the new year, reflecting the last events of the old:
- Thin moon at twilight,
- Pruning the Japanese maple.
- I’m in a haiku.
On Pruning Maples
- Pruning the Japanese maple
- At twilight, under a crescent moon.
- I’m in a haiku.
The first is a haiku proper, with the syllable counts reflecting the patterns of Japanese, the second my English language friendly not-a-haiku, a three line poem capturing the same idea or feeling. In this case I felt more justified, and less constrained than usual, in attempting the traditional form.
Why was I pruning trees at twilight on New Year’s Eve? Because a Japanese maple is as much a maple as sugar maple, and its sap rises just as early. This is why maple sugar time is in February. To avoid pruning away sappy, growing wood and upsetting the tree, you prune maples between the Fourth of July and Christmas, with New Year’s as the last safe day.
And since you want to prune Japanese maples twice each year, once with the leaves on and once after they fall, I was waiting for the last leaves. But the tree outstubborned me this winter, holding onto most of its foliage well past the human deadline. I made this photograph a week into 2020– most of the leaves are crumpled and faded, but a few retain the classic form.
(Our now traditional post for Christmas night, an invented-on-the-spot bit of Kekionga folklore, originally posted in 2013.)
One Christmas night we got home late from spending the holiday out of town. Our dog sitter left the Japanese lantern on beside the front door, and in the thin layer of snow on the front walk I saw the distinct tracks of two passers by: a woman’s small boot prints and the pawprints of a large opossum.
In the house, nothing had changed, but I was sure the Possum Lady had been there. In Kekionga, the Possum Lady and her possum visit on Christmas night after all the celebrations are over. She doesn’t bring material presents like Santa Claus does, but if you have made a significant effort to be a decent person during the year, she may walk by your house and give you a small dose of inner strength or an extra dollop of the will to keep moving when things get difficult– gifts that adults can appreciate.
The tracks were soon covered by the snow that began falling heavily as we unloaded the car and let the dogs out, but here’s hoping the Possum Lady thought well of us this year.
Our annual Christmas Eve post, featuring the drawing of the day from December 24th, 2009.
This little creature in his cave, looking out into a wintry landscape, will always make me think of Christmas Eve. Here’s hoping you will find whatever it is you are waiting for.