Between world events and the utter disaster that WordPress has made of my blog, I have not been around for a while. I am going to try to figure things out on the technical front, and everything else can take care of itself. But now it’s Thanksgiving and I drew you a handprint turkey like I do every year, and that’s important enough to break through. I hope you are having a happy day.
Nobody was more surprised than I was to discover a Mr. Rock space opera minicomic hidden in the “official” prompt list for this year’s Inktober. I just took the prompts from the 11th -19th and mixed them up … Page one of the as-yet-untitled story for day 11, with the prompt from day 17 and one of the classic opening lines for a melodrama.
Haven’t seen much of me lately? That’s because I am working on a special Inktober project– this year it’s Mr. Rocktober, with a new Mr. Rock cartoon every day, based on the prompts from the official prompt list Some of them will even be in color. I will be posting some of my Inktobers here (see the announcement below), both as they go and in “best of” posts after the month is over. But you can see all of them fresh on the day on the Official Pam Bliss Facebook Page ! Remember that this is a public page– you don’t have to be a member of Facebook to read and (I hope!) enjoy it.
Now here comes an Inktober Surprise. Starting later today (October 11th) and running through October 19th, I will be writing an drawing a Mr. Rock minicomics story using the prompts for those days. Of course, they don’t make sense (to me, at least) in the order they are presented on the list, so I will be rearranging them. So full on Mr. Rock Space Opera starting the 11th and running through the 19th, using the prompts from those days, but in my own order. I will be posting the pages here, probably on the morning after I draw them.
Over the last few troubling years I have been finding a weird kind of comfort in the company of the Friendly Shark. It probably started with the Friendly Shark characters in other peoples’ comics, and with my own giant IKEA shark plushie and his loyal, undemanding companionship in the studio. Sharks have been getting Friendlier in real world popular culture as well, with “Shark Week” style documentaries turning away from the lurid, bloody “shark attack” genre toward mellower natural histories, searches for rare species and explorations of shark personalities and habits. Peaceful video encounters with the mightiest sharks are the epic payoff scenes.
It’s no surprise that more and more Friendly Sharks are appearing in my sketchbooks. Salmon sharks in particular interest me since they look like very small Great Whites (which of course are the “sharkiest” sharks) so they fit in better with other characters. Note that I do know that “very small” is comparative– real world Salmon sharks are six to eight or nine feet long and can weight up to 600 pounds, which is probably large enough to ride if they happened to be through the air. They are not small enough to float through the air while behaving nicely on a leash. That is purely a Friendly Shark fantasy.
I actually worked pretty hard on the harness design for the pet shark. I decided that these little guys are as likely to float higher as they are to bolt forward, so it made sense to put the leash connector underneath. This allowed the use of a simple double loop harness passing on either side of the mighty dorsal fin.
These are the things Friendly Shark cartoonists think about.
Do you ever wonder what the Mysterious Animal (or is it a Horrible Creature?) is thinking about in one of these sketchbook drawings? Hint: it is probably not going to advance the implied plot too much. Also, it is not much of a surprise.
This drawing was originally intended to be about the interplay between the characters inked with the scritchy-scratchy pen and the powerful figure inked with a brush. It was supposed to be an adventure illustration kind of thing. But now it’s mostly about a younger version of Bud in a very groovy costume and one of Those Animals With Black Ears.
And one of the best sentences I have ever written. “This animal is thinking about hummus + pita.” Bet you are too, now. With an arrow and everything.
I have been drawing werewolves all week for a Halloween comic, but I took some time this afternoon to finish and color a Mr. Rock cartoon that I inked a while ago. Unlike many of the Mr. Rocks I’ve posted so far, this one was not scanned right out of my sketchbook. Instead, it’s a real finished drawing drawn on the actual drawing board on genuine drawing paper. Mr. Rock copes well enough with this, and frankly, nobody wants to see a badly botched sketchbook drawing of a Delicate Blown Glass Unicorn. Very few of the Kekionga characters are supposed to be “pretty”, and I have a hard time managing the whole concept under even the best of conditions.
Mr. Rock lives in two worlds (so far): the “real world” of Kekionga’s full sized characters and objects, and a “toy world” of sometimes-sentient objects in scale with himself.
No one was more surprised than I was to discover that Mr. Rock was my first character who pretty much demands to appear in color. The others don’t mind it, but Mr. Rock doesn’t feel like himself without his turquoise shirt, pink bicorder, and mint green complexion. He’s going to have to get used to it eventually, since I can’t afford to print minicomics in color, but for digital presentation, well, he is going to be in flatted color even if the rest of the drawing is not.
The “three rocks” is a comics trope made famous in Ernie Bushmiller’s “Nancy” and later in the meta meanderings of “Zippy the Pinhead”. In my universe, one of the three (at least) will be a Spirit Rock.
Attentive fans of Mr. Rock will notice that I made a pretty big error in this drawing. How well do you know our favorite Plutonian’s character design, and what mistake did I make?
I did not plan for this to happen. For the last three weeks World Headquarters has been all about Health Care- all kinds of Health Care for multiple members of the household. None of it was Covid related, which is a good thing, but that didn’t make it an easy time. The inks for the Mr. Rock comic are actually moving again, and in the mean time I have some freshly colored cartoons to share.
It takes a giant coffee mug to hold a space opera hero. The pink friendly shark is just a bonus. You can tell this was originally a sketchbook drawing because it’s very slightly whopperjawed and leaning to the right. Forty years and more of practice has never been enough to cure this.
The last two pages of Mission Equinox are finally penciled. You’ve got some space opera action, including some sci-fi upside downness, some corny montage, some sleeping stegosaurus. Yes, I know stegosauruses almost certainly slept standing up, like a rhinoceros, an elephant, or a even a horse, but this is funnier.
Lettering tomorrow. Lots and lots of lettering.
The Shoebox Spacecraft is harder to draw than I thought it would be.
Lots of my minicomics and other Kekionga stories are now available to read online. Just click on "READ A COMIC!" right above this message.
want to read a Kekionga story right here on the blog?
This blog is full of illustrated fiction set in Kekionga and featuring the same cast of characters you find in the comics. Click on "Kekionga FICTION!" above to find a table of contents and links to all the stories.