Archive for November, 2009

Book progress report: Nov. 30, 2009

November 30, 2009

Man, I’ve been workin’ like a demon on this thing. Up so late on most of these nights, I’m going to bed around 1:30 AM. Thank goodness for this brief holiday break, I might actually be able to get this thing done. What’s slowing me down is trying to rebuild several strips that I lost in the big hard drive debacle earlier this year. It is so tedious and frustrating to try to recreate strips that I’ve already completed. I put a lot into each strip, and frankly I resent doing them over. I gets me kind of pissed. Thankfully there aren’t a ton of them. Jeez Justin, it’s not like you’re digging ditches again. Does anyone else type their inner-monologue? Just curious.

Anyway, out of approximately 148 pages, I have 132 pages completed. Yes, it will not be a HUGE book containing all of the years I have been doing MythTickle, but a nice, small, hand-held book that’ll be easy to carry around. Hey, it’s my first book folks- I’m not rich. But it is in color, and follows the first four or five months of the strip as it has been on Go Comics. Plus there’s a bonus story that you guys have never seen before. It’s an illustrated epic poem that I wrote some years ago that I know you will really like. I can’t just ask you to pay me for a bunch of pages that you’ve already seen, can I? I don’t think that’s entirely fair- especially since, as a subscriber to MythTickle, you can go back in the archive anytime you want to see the old strips for free (something I’m not particularly wild about BTW).

It’s coming folks, and I’m working as fast as I can, just keep those ants in your pants and I hope to make it available to you soon.

Kampai.

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Kampai, Peanuts!

November 23, 2009

IMAGE©United Features Syndicate
So I got back from another successful trip to Japan last weekend, I left Tokyo at 6:30 PM Saturday evening and arrived in San Francisco at 9:00 AM Saturday morning. I didn’t even need a DeLorean! As for the business, I can assure you that Snoopy and Woodstock remain vital and are doing extremely well in Japan. “Genki Desu, Charlie Brown!”
Again, sorry for all of the recent repeats in MythTickle, there are more to come I’m afraid. I had hoped to do a few strips while I was over there but we were so busy with meetings that I was hardly in my room at all, unless to sleep. It was probably the busiest week I’ve had in the 4 years I’ve been going. Lot’s of changes to the licensing business over there but that’s all boring, suit and tie stuff. Mainly, the repeats will continue for a while because I’m actually putting together that MythTickle book I’ve been promising for a while. I’ve been working on it for a couple of weeks now but really ramped-up the progress on the plane and it’s about 1/3rd finished. Being a captive in a plane for all of those hours really helps get things done. I’ll continue to post a new one or two new strips each week but don’t be surprised if some familiar strips keep coming your way.
Anyway, back to Japan: The only day to see anything was that first Sunday so I took a train up to Kyoto to see some stuff. I usually go to a temple but this time it was castles. I toured Nijo castle and then took the train back to Osaka to see Osaka castle again. On the first ‘work’ day, we went to Universal Studios for meetings, Peanuts is a big player there. All is well, and the park is fantastic. Didn’t get to go on any rides but after the meetings we took the bullet train to Tokyo. That’s cool. There were many, many, meetings all week- all about Peanuts. Great dinners with clients too! It’s so amazing to see comics from an international licensing perspective and wonder that if Sparky could have ever foreseen what his drawings would someday do and where they would be seen, how he would react. I remember thinking about this in particular one night at dinner: say it’s 1955, his strip had been going for 5 years and gaining in popularity, and somehow Charles Schulz had a clear vision of the Peanuts future. Movies, Snoopy rides in a theme park, Charlie Brown T-shirts for dogs, and Woodstock bicycle helmets- what would he do? Surely he would have been thrilled and inspired by the promise of ‘Disneyan’ status, what creator wouldn’t want his characters to come alive? But as I slashed away at my third or fourth bottle of sake at the ‘Ninja Restaurant’, I wondered how much the art would be changed. I wondered what it would look like?
I can only wonder from my own perspective as a cartoonist and seeing how licensees use the art, pulling poses from comic strips and placing them in hundreds of wildly divergent contexts, I don’t think he would have gotten anything done. He would have likely obsessed on ever pose, making them look exactly perfect. I would. I’d be so obsessed about every finger on every hand being proportionally accurate, how every body part in motion would not look distorted but immaculately clean and ‘frozen’ in mid-pose, how every smile and eye shape had to be as general as possible, lest they not be usable when placed on a product later, that I would probably spend hours on one panel! I’d craft every line to be so perfect and ordered that the lines would lose all of their immediacy and would become forever bland and sterile. Everything that Schulz’s artwork is not. He never would have been able to produce the volumes of work we now have of his. Knowing that a particular smile on some mid-strip drawing of Snoopy would be seen on the side of a bus a meter wide, he would never have had such a free-flowing and alive stroke of his famous ink pen. The very life and moment of those lines of his strip would surely be compromised by a more careful and artless approach.
The thought of that sends me chills, and should shake any hard core fan of comic art and Charles Schulz’s pen line in particular. So let’s raise one of those tiny sake glasses to Sparky, as I did that night, and toast the ignorance of what is to come in life.
Good thing we all are blind to our own future, lest we be crippled by it.
-Justin

March of the Ancients

November 8, 2009

welcomeMT

Just a heads-up dear readers; you’ll be seeing a few “Ancient MythTickle” strips in the next couple of weeks. I’ve heard from several of you that you’d like to see more strips from my old Comics Sherpa days so here they come. The timing is perfect really, because I’m flying to Osaka on a business trip this Friday the 13th. Ooh. That actually doesn’t sound overly fortunate, does it? Good thing I’m not superstitious or else my fear of flying would be working double-overtime. I’ve already been paying time-and-a-half just mentally preparing for the flight. I’ll be in Japan for the whole week and won’t be able to do any new strips so the repeats will really help me out. I have a few new ones coming up in the next couple of weeks too, they’re not all repeats. You’ll know which ones the old strips are they’ll be in black and white.

I’ll still be checking in and reading your exceptional comments.

Thanks.

 

Fangs for the Vegetarianism.

November 6, 2009

bela-lugosi--dracula

So the subject of vegetarianism has come up in the comments, in response to the crazy idea of a vampire facing the dilemma of wanting to be vegetarian as seen in this week’s 4 part poem in MythTickle. I always thought this was a funny idea- well, maybe not always, really just since I became vegetarian myself about 3 and a half years ago. I’m usually kind of cautious about talking about it because this is usually what happens; Instant resentment. For some reason people get really pissed when you say that you’re vegetarian. Maybe they think I’m preaching. I don’t preach about it and I don’t try to convert anyone. What the hell do I care if people eat meat? I’m pro-choice. I’ve merely made a choice that is right for me.

Now, I’m about to write why I made this choice. If you think that an explanation is “preaching” then read no further. I’m not trying to convert you, I’m just explaining. I’ll preach at the very end and I’ll warn you again when it’s coming, OK? Great.

It came on gradually for me. I grew up on a horse ranch kind of place in the Arizona desert and we had chickens, ducks, a goat, a dog, cats, horses, all kinds of stuff running around. The neighbor lady used to butcher chickens right in front of me when I was little and I always felt a little bad about that. I loved chicken but was always aware of what part of the living creature I was eating. I’d kind of mentally piece together that part of flesh with the image of the chicken running and flailing about helpless in the orchard, squirting blood all over me, my dog, and he ground. Talking about eating the fruit of knowledge! This piecing-together began to occur with beef eventually and in high school I began getting really freaked at eating chicken on a bone. I was getting increasingly disturbed to be rending animal muscle from bones and I just couldn’t do it any more. Meat had to be completely removed from its natural setting before I could eat it. Hamburgers, chicken fillets, even boneless steak were fine and I ate one of those every day from then on. No problem.

That is to say ‘no problem’ until about 5 years ago when it started to become more and more difficult to do that ‘creative disassociation’ of meat and flesh. I began to start finding disturbing things in the hamburgers and chicken filets I was eating, like weird yellowy heart ventricles and bone chips that kept finding their way in between my teeth. One day while eating a taco from Jack-In-The-Box, I bit down on a little screw! I guess it came off of the fryer or something, who knows. Maybe it came from the factory, but that was it for Jack-In-The-Box. I quit my favorite fast-food restaurant cold turkey. (That was amazingly hard because I really grew up on that place. It was always my favorite fast food joint and when I was living back in New York, I knew exactly where the closest Jack-In-The-Box was so that when I drove home to Arizona each year I’d drive right to it in one marathon day of driving. It was in East St. Louis by the way.)

I was starting to get really shkeeved by meat in general, and when I discovered my corn allergy (as droned-on about in an earlier blog entry) I started reading how cows and chickens are fed corn in massive amounts now. All that meat is now laden with corn. I began thinking, ‘NOW what do, I do I can’t give up meat. I grew up in “cowboy-ville”, how could I possibly survive not eating anything with corn in it AND meat?’ I was really wondering what to do.

Then one day outside the Charles Schulz museum I had a great conversation with Dan Piraro, the genius who does the comic Bizarro. He had come by for a visit and we sat down and talked about my ‘issues’ for a good long while and he put my mind at ease. Dan is a die-hard vegan and activist, and while I couldn’t see the practicality of going full vegan at this time, I decided to quit being a wuss, suck it up, and take charge and do what I felt was right for myself. Since that day I haven’t eaten any meat or anything with meat protein in it- at least not on purpose. Sometimes a little meat grease will get on something and I get sick as a dog for about half a day. That’s just something you have to deal with sometimes. Ya’ try to be as careful as you can to avid that. I don’t make my wife go vegetarian, she’s happy to help me with it and makes whatever I want. My kids are not vegetarian, they eat meat every night at the table and it doesn’t bother me at all. As I said, I’m pro-choice like that.

I must point out here that technically I am not full vegetarian, but a pescetarian since I eat fish. I have to. I know, I know, there’s mercury in that. But I have to eat fish and seafood occasionally because I go to Japan every year for business (I’m going again next week in fact) and if I don’t eat fish there,… I don’t eat. I have to maintain. I know this is probably just more ‘creative disassociation’, but I have no moral nausea at eating fish because I just don’t feel like they are that close to me as a creature on the Earth. At least not close enough to feel grossed-out about eating an air-breathing brother like dolphin, canary, or cow.

So finally, here’s the tiny bit of preaching. You’ve been warned. Don’t say vegetarians are a-holes who want to tell me stuff I don’t want to hear because I told you this was coming.

Here goes:

It is better for the Earth and everyone who lives here if you eat a salad in a Hum-vee, than a cheeseburger in a Prius. What? Why? What does one thing have to do with another? Emissions. Meat farms and stockyards inject much more methane gas into the atmosphere than chloroflourocarbons do.

They don’t tell you that, do they? Meat is a huge industry, much bigger than the auto industry and probably as big or bigger than the oil industry.

Think about that at the drive-thru.

So that’s why.