christmas wolves, part one

(Part one of our classic Kekionga Christmas Episode, the story of the Christmas Wolves.)


Iowa Ginsberg walked through downtown Kekionga, enjoying the weekend-before-Christmas holiday atmosphere with the glorious smug relief of someone who had finished her last exam yesterday.  Finals were over and it was almost Christmas—what else did a person need?

Except maybe a headband with reindeer ears and antlers and a green and red scarf that looked quite cute with the camel colored cashmere sweater you’d gotten as an early Christmas present from your boyfriend. Well, it was more “web safe tan” than camel, but it was cashmere and really warm and soft and Jack had declared he was celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas with twelve presents for his Best Girl, the sweater being number three in the series.  Iowa knew, of course, that the Twelve Days of Christmas were technically the twelve days after Christmas, between that holiday and the feast of the Epiphany, but she was not going to ruin Jack’s romantic idea with trivial details.  (Also, presents.)

She turned onto Lincoln and crossed the street to the Courthouse square. The Parks Department had finally finished the decorating. From the red and green lights in the Bell Tower to the white ones in all the windows and the strings of little blinkers wound around the banisters and strung through all the trees and bushes, the red sandstone bulk of the Courthouse looked fairly festive.  And, two on each side of the square, facing the street, were the topiary wolves, slightly larger than life size, decorated with burlap harnesses lined with silver jingle bells and wearing red Santa caps trimmed with fluffy white fur.

Iowa loved those wolves   They’d been there every year since she could remember, watching over the town in every direction.  It wouldn’t be Christmas without the wolves.

“Hey, Iowa!”  She turned around, and there he was, only slightly late, and dressed up as she’d reminded him.  Jack had never spent the holidays in Kekionga before and he’d had no way of knowing that you always wore something Christmassy when you came downtown to shop and look at the decorations on the “Saturday before.”  He hadn’t done anything elaborate, but he looked handsome in a green sweater under his usual grey hoodie and a Santa hat like the ones the wolves were wearing.

(Very handsome.  Really.  He was seriously a bit of a dreamboat, and no one had any business looking that … attractive in a Santa hat.  You go, Iowa.)

“Uh, Iowa?” he asked, looking charmingly baffled.  “The … plant sculptures? Are those wolves?”  Wow.  It really was his first Christmas in Kekionga.

“Of course they are.  They’re the Christmas Wolves.”


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public holiday decorations in kekionga

(The second introduction to the classic Kekionga Holiday Episode, which really does start tommorrow.)

Yes. In Kekionga, they’d be wolves.


One of the topiaries on the courthouse square in Kekionga.

Starting tomorrow: Christmas Wolves.

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on public holiday decorations

(Our annual holiday daily blog begins again, with the introduction to the Official Kekionga Christmas Episode.)

christmaswolves-photo4-blogThese photographs were taken last year, when the powers that be in our town in Northwest Indiana decided, for reasons best known to themselves, to decorate the courthouse square with festive holiday topiaries in the shape of hunting dogs on point, slightly larger than life size.

My first thought was that in Kekionga they would definitely be wolves.


(More to come.)

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happy buddha grape! the blog returns!

The blog reappears to say we are sorry there has not been a blog and try to explain why.  The reason there has not been a blog is because we have had Technical Difficulties.  So many Technical Difficulties.  You do not want to hear about these Technical Difficulties, a) because they are boring and b) because I made several stupid mistakes dealing with them that made them worse.  There are much funner things to write about than stupid mistakes.

Like Happy Buddha Grape!  Happy Buddha Grape is a little Happy Buddha that we all collectively pretend is made of grape flavored … something, and he goes around having weird little adventures which are documented by his personal photographer, me.  Follow the adventures of Happy Buddha Grape (among many other photographic enterprises) on my photography Instagram, @yardcoyote.

There.  The blog is back, and real news is coming.

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happy thanksgiving: handprint turkey in flight

Just a brief note to let you know that I did not forget to draw my annual handprint turkey for you this year, and to wish my blogsters, far and near, a happy American Thanksgiving.

Yes, turkeys can fly, or at least the wild ones can.  The altitude is purely imaginary.  Lined notebook paper is a traditional medium for drawings of this kind.

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scary apples

I’ve made up my mind.  I’m going to buy an iPad and install Procreate on it and use an Apple Pencil to draw some little doodle comics. I’m not planning to replace my natural media cartooning– I bleed wet ink and that’s all there is to it– but I am ready to learn something new, here on the trailing edge of technology.  At this time in my life, I want to become as technically adept as a middle schooler, yay me.  Any advice is more than welcome,

Plus, of course, I have an idea for a new take on my cartoon world, and this one demands digital art and a web presence.  You will see it here as soon as it starts to happen.

But I have to get there first and  right now the whole prospect is at a really scary point. I am scared of picking out the wrong hardware, about getting it up and running, and about learning to draw all over again for what, the third or fourth time?  Augh.  Pure terror.  But I know it is good for me, and I am going to persist.  And still, she persisted.  With an iPad.  Augh.

The illustration is the only drawing I have ever made (so far) specifically about scary apples.

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halloween, two weeks later– a 15 minute fiction

  • Hey, look at the illustration for my Halloween story!
  • Halloween was two weeks ago.  It’s the middle of November and the snow plow just went through.
  • But the spiders on the porch caught a Horsehead Skeleton!  It’s an archetypical Local Spook with a complicated folkloric backstory that I haven’t made up yet!
  • It’s a plastic skeleton with a rubber horse mask on.
  • It’s a representation of a Horsehead Skeleton. Those aren’t real spiders either, duh.
  • But that doesn’t even make sense.  If it’s a horse-headed skeleton, its head would be a horse skull, not a whole horse head.
  • But then I’d have to learn to draw a horse skull, and look up actual references and all that stuff.
  • Stop whining.  Here.
  • Oh, you think you can solve everything with your fancy new searchable camera roll on your fancy new phone.
  • Not to mention the sepia film simulation on my camera.  Oh, and I wouldn’t turn around if I was you.
  • Why wouldn’t I want to turn around?

  • I told you not to turn around.
  • Happy two weeks after Halloween, everybody.
  • You know I’m scared of creepy dolls …
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“this halloween in Kekionga” : our classic holiday episode

(It has been quite an October.  Inktober took a lot out of me, and some other stuff was happening too.  The blog will be back to its usual abnormal normal soon.

But today, as the early darkness gathers around us and it begins to snow, please enjoy a “rerun” of A Cartoonist in Kekionga’s classic Halloween Episode, “This Halloween in Kekionga”, originally posted on this date in 2015 …)

This Halloween in Kekionga

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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inktober update

I can’t believe Inktober is almost half over.  I gave myself a fairly steep challenge this year: to draw my entries at approximately the same size, using a template and to include both one or more spirit rocks and the new cat character in each drawing.  This in addition to my usual condition of keeping the prompt list as much a secret to myself as possible and using the first idea that comes into my head.

It’s going pretty well so far: I haven’t missed a day yet, either finishing the drawing or posting it online.  The daily posts can be found on the Official Pam Bliss Facebook page or search @kekiongacomics.  This is a public page and you do not have to be a member of Facebook to enjoy.  I will post a small sized album here as well, when the project is done.  And I think for the first time, I will get a real minicomic out of this one since a story seems to be assembling itself out of the fragments.

Here is my favorite Inktober so far from this year:  It’s a multimedia extravaganza!  Click on this link  while you look at the drawing. and think about the pressing question “What shall we name the cat?”  Is the answer to be found right here?

#inktober #inktober2019

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alexei leonov

On a rainy October morning, late in the second decade of the new century, I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of one of the great figures of the last, Alexei Leonov.

Leonov has always been my personal favorite character in the true story of the space race, and a major figure in the alternate history backstory of my comics universe.  Plus I’ve always been sure he was a pretty great guy.  How could you not love that face?

You probably know at least a little about Alexei Leonov, even if you don’t quite recognize his name.  He was the last of the original Soviet cosmonauts, and in 1965 he was the first human being to conduct an extravehicular activity (EVA), when he left the Voshkhod 2 capsule to walk in space for 12 minutes.

Ten years later, in 1975, he commanded the Soyuz capsule in the Apollo/Soyuz joint mission with the Americans.

And yes, that is his drawing of one of the American astronauts.  Leonov was a keen artist all his life and was noted for his colorful paintings of space travel and astronomical subjects.  “Over The Black Sea” is one of my favorites.

Alexei Leonov was close friends with Yuri Gagarin, his cosmonaut classmate and the first person to orbit the Earth.  Gagarin was one of the epic popular heroes of his time, movie star handsome and rock star famous; any time you see a photograph of Gagarin, look for Leonov, he is almost always nearby.

And of course Leonov is honored by alternate historians, because if the Soviet Union had won the very closely contested last lap of the space race in 1968 and 1969, he may very well have been the first person on the Moon.  The Soviet Moon landing plans featured a one person lander, and Leonov was widely regarded as the primary candidate for the mission.  Somewhere out there is a whole cluster of timelines where Alexei Leonov was the star of all those 50th anniversary documentaries last summer.  I’ve often wondered what he would have thought about that.

Hot jets  General Leonov.

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