pajama shark week! (ghost rabbit)

I know Official Shark Week was a couple of weeks ago.  But as regular readers of this blog know, I was inspired during that epic Week of watching shark documentaries and reading shark comics to work up an accidental sketchbook denizen into my own friendly shark cartoon character.   Thresher is not just a Friendly Shark– he’s the Pajama Shark.  And I think I have enough drawings of him now to have my own Pajama Shark Week.

In this drawing, Thresher was supposed to be holding a small furry animal.  But that animal turned out looking a little strange.  There are two approaches to take when this happens.  You can “fix” the animal so it looks less strange, maybe even “cartoon real”.  Or you can double down and make it look even stranger.  So Thresher ended up sitting on his little log segment holding a Ghost Rabbit.  (Or a Ghost Bunny.  I am still not sure about that.)

I’m also not sure whether Thresher can pull up the hood of his hoodie and have his fin stick out.  But I think he can.

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zebra philosophy

I think we all sometimes feel like the only zebra on a colorful cosmic carousel where everyone else is a horse. And art is the funhouse mirror that lets a zebra look at its own tail.

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best of the drawing of the day: statement of fact

Normally, I would have called this title-less drawing “Wolf Angel”.  (The computer savvy will notice that that’s even the file name of the image.) But once I saw it on the screen, yeah … it’s nothing but a pure statement of fact.

This one goes out to all the girls whose imaginary friends are grown up superheroes, and all the cool women we grow up to be.

(Now that I think about it, this could also be read as a fragment of a memoir.)

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pajama shark: origins

It’s Shark Week on all media (for some reason that I have always found rather mysterious), and I have been indulging myself.  Not just in the company of my own personal IKEA shark, shown here in a digital “oil painting”, but in cool shark documentaries and comics and cartoons about friendly sharks.  There is just something so soothing about a quiet comic, sometimes sweet, sometimes funny, sometimes philosophical, with a main character who is a mild mannered shark.  I’m definitely going to write about these comics (which I admit to discovering on Pinterest while looking for art references), soon.

But reading them reminded me of two little drawings I did as drawings of the day earlier this year, and I’ve been working them up to develop an actual character design.  So please meet my own friendly shark character– Thresher the Pajama Shark.  He is a little humanoid thresher shark (with that enormous thresher shark tail) who wanders around in his pajamas and a hoodie.  So far he seems to drink a lot of coffee.  I’m not sure what I am going to do with him, but it’s definitely possible that he fits in to some of the more fantasy oriented segments of Kekionga.  Or maybe he will get a comic of his own. Maybe a web comic?  He would work well in color, but tones would be OK too. He should definitely be on a coffee mug.

One thing I have learned from this is that the creators of great friendly shark comics have mad drawing skills– friendly sharks are hard to draw!

Happy Shark Week, and PJ Peace-out with the Pajama Shark.

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car spotting: a most charming figaro

I saw this little grey coupe turning left at the light a few cars ahead of me, and was pleased as the proverbial punch  when I looked down the street to see it parked at the curb. I had to turn around and check it out.  I caught the rear view first, of course, and was trying it against the template of several small cars from postwar Europe you see every once in a while.  Was I going to see some kind of crazy Borgward or something?

But when I saw the front, I knew that my spot was something perhaps less rare, but just as much fun.  It’s a Nissan Figaro– the first one I’ve even seen in the wild, but from what its owners told me, probably not the last.

The Figaro is one of four niche model “fashion cars” built by Nissan in the early 1990s  in the chassis of the March/Micro small car.  (The others were the Be-1, which was sort of like an Austin Mini, the Pao, a tiny “rugged wagon”, and the S-Cargo, a sedan delivery with a snail shape.)  Figaro, of course is a Euro style retro coupe.  It was built only in 1991, and while it was quite popular in Japan, it was Not Sold Here at the time.  But time goes on, the 25 year limit has passed and now these cars can be imported to the States as classic or historic cars.  The owners of this car report that the dealer where they got it had more than a hundred Figaros for sale, ranging from daily drivers to minty examples ready to be prepped for show.  Theirs, they told me, was somewhere in the middle.

The Figaro was sold in four color schemes representing the four seasons.   Lapis Grey with a white top, over a creamy biscuit colored leather, were the winter colors and my personal favorite.  Its owners report that it is a charming ride for country roads, with the March’s turbo motor giving plenty of pep, but you wouldn’t want to drive it for long distances on the freeway.  It has an automatic transmission, a fold down center roof panel that turns it into a sort of a convertible, and even air conditioning, making it more practical than it might look, but it is right hand drive, which might not be for everyone.  (Its owners were countershopping a Morgan three-wheeler when they bought it, so I doubt this bothers them.)

Ranking this spot is a work in progress.  A few years ago this would have been a 10, with the extra point for Not Sold Here.  I think with the new availability, we have to take that point away, so lets call it a 9 points for an extremely attractive and interesting car we rarely see, but not a true unicorn.

One of the fun things about old or imported cars are the cool stickers and badges left on them from their first life.  Check out the “Tokyo Nissan” dealer badge under the curb side (driver’s side!) tail light.  This sticker was on the passenger side of the windshield.

(Photographer’s note: Shooting cars in the street on a sunny day is always a dance with glare and shadows.  Having only your phone camera to shoot with doesn’t make it any easier.  These aren’t good photographs and I know it– they are presented for documentary purposes only.)

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best of the drawing of the day: mister goyle

There he is, the Mysterious Mister Goyle, perched in one of his fifty or so “usual spots”, watching out for trouble.  My intention here was to draw an at least semi-serious pulp inspired character, either a superhero or a masked but unpowered man of mystery.  The baggy lower garment is supposed to be a camouflaged oversuit he can pull up over the sleeker high tech underlayer.  It makes him look more than a bit like stone or dark cement– actually less conspicuous at night than black would be.  The wings might indicate true flight if he’s a super, or be gliding technology or a set of mechanical limbs for battering or shielding if he’s an unpowered hero/operative/vigilante.  This version of Mister Goyle could fit neatly into any setting with enough urban density to support a gargoyle inspired character.

Of course, the way the drawing turned out, he looks more like Garfield Goyle, a more or less crazy person given to lurking around wearing a combination of pajamas and post Halloween leftovers from the Holiday City pop up store in one of the empty buildings of a failed mall.  If the security forces or the “real heroes” can catch him, I hope they will buy him a donut, give him a ride home and turn him over to his long suffering landlady or roommate.

Either version is fine with me, I guess.  Regardless, I like the combination of pose and facial expression here.

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movie time at the cinemark: ant-man and the wasp

We return to the Cinemark on a hot summer day to see an entirely suitable summer movie: Ant-Man and the Wasp.  This latest outing in the MCU is everything the ponderous and horrible Avengers Infinity War was not: small in scale, adequately lit, and equipped with both an manageable number of plots and a relatively small pool of well-developed characters.  Also, it is quite funny.  And it has a happy ending.

You can go to see this movie with a reasonable expectation of being entertained, of having a good time without feeling that either your intellect or your sensibilities have been insulted.  Your heartstrings may be pulled a bit, but not unfairly.

Since I hope you might decide to see this movie without reading more, I am putting the rest under the usual cut. Continue reading

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the day after the fourth of july

I actually had an image ready to post on the Fourth of July, and it never got posted for two very different sets of reasons.  One set involves two terrible storms, a badly timed batch of clean laundry left hanging on the line in the backyard, and, for bonus fun, air conditioning problems in 90+ degree heat  and matching humidity.  The other set, I think you know about.  That’s the set that makes even the mildest, most locally and historically based patriotic display seem vaguely suspicious this year.

But now it is the fifth of July, the sun is shining, the air conditioning tech has been and gone, leaving a comfortable house and a scary receipt, and this photograph seems more innocent.  It’s nothing more than the truth: you can walk down this one particular alley in Kekionga with a camera on a hot summer day, and see this one particular garage someone has painted red white and blue.

(Fuji X-Pro1 “The Monolith”/ Fujinon 35mm f/2  `1/6000 at f/2,  ISO 200. )

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world cup– group stage notebook

Longtime readers of this blog will notice that the World Cup notebooks are going to be a little thin this year.  Blame Fox Sports.  (And yes, this has something to do with jingoism and is therefore vaguely political, but only vaguely, so please bear with me.) Previous World Cups, at least since I started watching the football with full attention, have been covered by ESPN, who treated the tournament as the epic sporting event it is and hired whole teams of the very best commentators in the world.  And for American English speakers, this means the voices we know and love from watching the Premier League– the great British “voices in the booth” who know everything there is to know about the game and its long and storied history.

Fox, when they found out the USMNT didn’t qualify for the tournament (couldn’t beat or draw with Trinidad and Tobago, don’t get me started), decided that that meant US audiences wouldn’t be interested and cheaped out on the commentator budget.  Some group games were even “called” from the studios in the US rather than from the stadium.  That said, the commentators have not been particularly terrible, just rather pedestrian.

Standouts are Derek Rae and Aly Wagner — the great Scotsman who has called eight World Cups and his very well informed “student of the game” sidekick, and Jorge Perez-Navarro and Mariano Trujillo, who bring an excellent combination of knowledge, enthusiasm, criticism and the traditional and expected “Latin passion” for the game.  Any game called by either of these teams automatically goes to the top of the watch list.  But oh, what would Peter Drury, Arlo White and his partners in the “three man booth”, Graeme LeSaux and Lee Dixon, and especially the great Jon Champion, do with some of these excellent games!

That said, there are always a few notes:

  • The World Cup’s Russian style video introductions are pretty and fun– my favorites are the happy little Sputnik that cruises over the stadiums and the epic football as Faberge egg that opens to reveal the Cup itself.
  • The best souvenir I’ve seen is a pleather and fake fur ushanka hat dyed vividly in your team colors with your team badge holding up the front flap. I want several of these.
  • Rule explanation that sounds cool: “The whole of the ball must cross the whole of the line” for a goal to count.
  • Commentator special (paraphrase):  a “courtesy dive” is executed by a goalkeeper in a reaction to a spectacularly good goal.  There’s no way the keeper can possibly save it, but he or she dives anyway for the look of the thing.
  • Commentator insight (paraphrase): Club managers coach a team; international managers coach (and arrange and coordinate) individual players.
  • For the Football Dictionary: “running out of green space”– approaching the edge of the pitch and thereby risking going out of bounds.

Finally, an actual quotation.  From Derek Rae, of course, who spoke of England as “a country with a football tradition at its bubbling heart”.

And so, on to the knockout round.  And because I have very little hope that my personal team, El Tri, is going to get past my favorite-to-win, the mighty Selecao of Brazil on Monday, let’s end with a second to last look at my once and always World Cup Crush, Mexican keeper Guillermo “Memo” Ochoa.  Viva El Tri! Viva Memo Ochoa!

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best of the drawing of the day color special: blue dragon and company

Just a little drawing of a Kid, a Dog, a Dragon and a … Bird?  Birdlike Creature?  These are all familiar sketchbook denizens who represent the power of the imagination (sort of) and most of them seem to be having a pretty good time.  Don’t be too quick to accuse the Dragon of deliberately scaring the Birdlike Creature– note that the BC has got a grip on the Dragon’s tail.  And grabbing a Dragon’s tail is an Act that sometimes has Consequences.  I was intending that the Dragon’s response be partially playful rather than purely predatory.

These color specials are occasional experiments in adding color to my ink on paper sketchbook drawings for the Drawing of the Day project.  In this one I added the purple and sky blue tones as fills, than changes the black to a darker blue violet as another fill.  This changes all of the interconnected blacks to the color, while leaving the isolated blacks alone.  I change a few of the latter individually, but leave most of them alone.  I like the way this punches up the faces of the characters and a few other random details, and gives the finished piece a little extra texture.

(For extra points, find the Blatantly Obvious Coloring Error!)


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