Archive for August, 2009

My Link To The Old West.

August 31, 2009

Western-Boody Last summer, 2008, I found something out from my Dad that was absolutely astounding. Now this ain’t a myth, this is true. I’m shootin’ ya’ straight here.
My family and I, wife and two little kids, then 6 and 2, drove out to see my Dad in the farm country of Southwest Colorado. He grew up out there in the ’20s and ’30s and finally retired there. I did a bit of growing up in the Denver suburb called ‘Littleton’ back in the day, but anyway…
Lots of driving, over 3,700 miles in 12 days, and we made the most of it and saw lots of neat stuff. Including the Denver Zoo and the Albuquerque Museum of Natural History. We also saw the Grand Canyon, Sedona, and the crisp sprawling beauty of southern Wyoming. We visited with my dad for a few days out there in the plains where he grew up and I found out some weird stuff that I never knew. My Dad never talked much about himself when I was a kid.

So dad was 89 years old last summer, he and my Mom adopted me when he was 43. His Dad (my Granddad) died in 1935 at 80 years old- when my Dad was only 16! You might want to read that again because frankly, if I were reading this on someone’s blog I’d have too. But here’s the startling thing: Gid Thompson (that was my Granddad’s name) and his brother Bill, fled the Carolinas when they were kids, probably to avoid possible conscription in the confederate army of the civil war in the mid 1860s. Over the following decade, in their early teens, they both slowly made their way out West apparently by nefarious means. They reportedly killed a guy in Kansas near Dodge City, this is documented, and robbed him of about 4 thousand dollars. They fled Dodge as many outlaws did at that time by crossing the border into Colorado’s Baca County. They bought up a good amount of land and set up a homestead there. About 10 miles south of the old place they settled on, was a town called Boston. That town was frequented by outlaws and spillover scum from Kansas and was eventually burned down by that same ilk sometime in the late 1880s. At some point, Gid and Bill were arrested for the gunning down of a Sheriff in the main street of Boston, I think his name was Smith or Miller or something, and Bill went to jail for it. They were both caught and went to trial a few years before about the aforementioned murder of that guy in Kansas. Gid spent time in Leavenworth for that but was strangely out in two years. Bill wound up spending a couple of years in jail for the murder of that lawman in Boston, Colorado. It seems that in both cases, one brother took the full rap for the other and was strangely out in two years. For MURDER!

It’s so quiet out there now, but it was a very different place in the late 19th century. A lawyer who was looking up stuff for my Dad recently uncovered these facts in a book about Baca county, and I read the excerpts while I was out there.
One of the many things I found amazing when hearing about the past of Baca county, is that many things we see in TV shows and movies about the old west actually happened in that town of Boston and in that county and the stories were handed down to following generations in the old oral traditions. But because none of the major players involved had a “catchy name”, the people and even the town itself faded as ashes into the dust of memory. If one of the shooters in that town had a name like ‘Bat’ or ‘McGrew’ or ‘Ringo’ or something, they’d still be singing about it. But ‘Thompson’ just doesn’t have a ‘catch’ to it that would make its owner immediately famous. (Boy, I’m sure finding THAT out) But the deeds were still done, even though they are not sung.
Now, all that remains is the old Boston graveyard on a hill nearby. My dad and I went there a few years ago and from that graveyard hill you can still look across the farm road and see the tiered flat ground that were the city foundations once. It’s been plowed over dozens of times since then and you can barely make it out. I never knew until this trip what a wild and bloody town that was, and the part my Dad’s father played in it.
Cool trip, I must say.
But think of this, my ‘Grandfather’ was alive when Lincoln was alive. Not Great Grandfather, not Great, Great, Great Grandfather, my Grandad. Makes me feel old to think about it but I’m really not. I’m only in my late 40s.

So fast-forward to this last January, the eve of the President’s inaguration: Dad called me to talk. The last couple of times I had spoken with him on the phone that week, he had seemed grouchy and tired. Exactly how he seemed when I was a kid, but not how he’s sounded in many years. He called to tell me that he’s putting his ducks in a row- or as he called it, ‘closing the gates’. He turned 90 this past April. He said that he wanted to finalize any loose ends so that his affairs won’t be in such a mess when he ‘goes’. The weight of the conversation kept me from asking, “Gee, aren’t ya’ gonna’ watch the inauguration?” He wouldn’t have liked that I don’t think, being as… let’s say ‘non-progressive’ about politics and such.
But despite this fact, and with the burden of a life-discussion on our backs, I let it alone and hung up and began to reflect on the extraordinary bookend that my Dad closes in the twilight of his life and in the hand to hand of his father and himself. Chiefly, that his father walked the Earth with President Lincoln, he breathed the same air as slaves, and heard the first cannons of American civil rights shaking the clouds.
And that man’s son, will likely die under a black President.

What I wish I could do.

August 26, 2009

Tori-sceneSomething I’m always conscious of in writing MythTickle is being careful not to offend anyone. As you can probably imagine, trying to create a humorous venue based on people’s religious beliefs has it’s own special minefields to grand jete’ about in.  But man, if I could just go and do what I want without fear of physical or metaphysical consequences, I’d be happier than a flea on a feather of Quetzalcoatl.
Oh,… sorry Aztecs.

Seriously, I have to dismiss fun ideas all of the time because everybody is so damned thin-skinned now about their particular belief systems, I’ve pretty much had to stick to religions that are so old that the majority of followers are dust or mummified. True, I throw in a lot of Buddhist references from time to time but I can do that for two reasons. (1) ) I lean toward a Buddhist system myself (but use it more as an education and social tool rather that a God-centric religion). (2) Buddhists seem to be the only major active religion going right now that actually has a sense of humor about itself. This separates it from Islam, Christianity, and Judaism inasmuch as I have some actual breathing room. I don’t have to worry about Buddhists getting all ‘violent’ toward me because,… hey, they’re non-violent!
So would I love to poke a li’l fun at Muslims and Christians? Oh, hell yeah.  But we’ve all seen what happens when you do that. I’m no coward but I don’t want a whole nation after me. Just Google ‘Mr. Flemming Rose’.
A couple of ideas that I’ve had to say, “Shoo!” to, are a situation depicting Captain Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd crew on their boat sitting in Jerusalem, guarding the wailing wall! See? You’re laughing even at the thought of it, right? Can’t do it. Reeeeeeeally Holy site. I also have this funny diary entry by Boody floating around in my notes somewhere when he writes about walking out of a 7-11 and seeing Allah’s face in the melted Kit-Kat that he bought. Do I want to put that in the strip? Yes. Will I do it and get death threats and have to look over my shoulder everywhere I go for the rest of my life? No. I got kids.

Then how do I gauge it? What is the formula for creating comic situations around deities? (Religion + Joke) x Time = Sacred Safety, or something like that maybe. I think that’s it. I’m sure that somewhere Einstein is nodding yes.

So Jesus- don’t worry, you’re cool. Marduk of Babylon? Oh, it’s on, dude. As long as I keep playing with ancient religions I should be OK, I won’t have to worry about retribution until after I’m dead, then look out. I’ll be running from the Pharaohs and Valkyries in Elysium.

Justin

What’s In A Name?

August 18, 2009
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I’ve been asked a few times how I came up with the names of a couple of the MythTickle characters. Dudley gets his name from the character I played my last year at the New York Renaissance Faire, where I jousted for 10 summers. At the end of those ten glorious years, I was a blue knight named Sir Robert Dudley, I thought the name was kind of funny for a little knight in a comic strip so that was an easy one, a final homage to my second home out there at NYRF, near Tuxedo, New York.

But more often, I am asked about the name of MythTickle’s flagship character, Boody. Why ‘Boody’? What does that name have to do with a dragon? Some people wonder if it means ‘tired’, like, ‘Booty Draggin’.’ Uh,… no. No way. However, some have asked if he is really a Buddha. If  the name Boody, being rather simple and noble in nature is sort of a play on the Buddha. I’d say, ‘You’re getting’ warmer, Doc’. That definitely played into the final decision, but initially the name came from something my son William Marshal said. When I was starting the strip and I was trying to name the characters, he was 2 and a half. One of our favorite things to do was have him sit on my back and ride me as I walked around on my hands and knees. As we’d go around the living room I would sort of slowly sing, ‘Badoop-padoop, badoop-padoop’ as I loped around. He absolutely loved this and when I’d come home from work he’s always ask for a ‘boody ride’. He processed that sound I made, ‘badoop-padoop’ as ‘boody’. So when I was looking for a name for the dragon, this seemed to me like a logical choice. Firstly, because it charmed me to no end to know that is a word that my son made up. After a while I liked it more because it sounded sort of ‘Buddha-ish‘.

So that’s why his name is Boody.

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Stepping Forward, Then Falling Back.

August 15, 2009

So I’ve decided to finally do a book.

Slow down.

It ain’t happened yet.

Here’s the deal, I’ve been having a really hard time getting started in doing a collection of strips book. I think the main factor tripping me up is time of course. I have very little time to do MythTickle, let alone something like a book, what with a full time job, 2 and a half hours of commuting each day, and two little kids at home who wait for daddy to walk through the door each night. But lately I’ve begun to wonder if this is all a crutch and I’m really just simply scared to do it.

I have no idea why I would be scared, nothing would happen to me, I couldn’t get hurt or anything. But it is clearly something I have been putting off, and putting off, for way too long. I’ve heard you and I know you want this so it really makes no sense at all that you don’t have it.

Other than I must be an enormous flake.

How else could I figure it?

So after listening to one of my recent podcasts where I go after my colleague Brian for being so timid to begin his comic strip idea (Brian is an extremely talented cartoonist who has been putting off the relaunch of his brilliant strip ‘A Mission Deep’ it occurred to me that I could say all of the same things that I told him to myself. All of those platitudes about jumping into the pool and not worrying about what might happen, blah, blah, blah. I found myself thinking, ‘Hey stupid. That’s you! That’s you and the MythTickle book!’

So a week and a half ago I decided to go for it. I found a printer, the same one my boss uses to print her books (Jane’s World), and I figured out the size of the book I want, how many pages, and when I had all that done I called the printer. In Texas. I don’t want to get them printed outside of the US or Canada just for personal moral reasons really.

So I call this guy in Texas, I tell him what I want, how many, and what would they cost. He says he’ll get back to me the next morning with a dollar amount.

He never calls.

I wait another day.

No call.

Now it’s a week and a half later and I still haven’t talked to him.

So why haven’t I called him back?

I dunno.

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I’m a very frustrating individual, aren’t I?

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First Post!

August 13, 2009

Hi Folks,
SO. All I’ve got is a header here, but at least I finally did that. After putting this off for 2 years, that’s a pretty big step for me. Why? I don’t know. It’s hard for me to promote, I just don’t have that in me. Even though I completely believe in my work and believe in this strip so much, I just get embarrassed when I have to toot, toot, toot, my own horn. But anyway, my friends have spelled it out for me and I get it. I have to do this. I have to let people know about it.
So here I go, skipping ashamedly onto the jaundiced, gravelly, stinking road of self-promotion.
Hooraaaaaaaaay!
Justin