Archie Andrews and Medicare

Back when I was living with three friends in Menlo Park, I managed to get the local college newspaper The Stanford Daily at Stanford to publish my comic strip. It lasted a semester, it faded from general awareness in 1979 after its debut in 1978, and no one shed any tears. It was a fun time, I managed to piss off both the physical education department as well as some humorless women’s libbers (at least in my view), and I probably grew a bit through the experience, as well.

No, I didn’t actually attend Stanford as a student, having already graduated from college a couple of years previous, but living in a lively college town, making my way selling hot tubs, falling in love (again), getting fired for the first time from a job I held only two weeks, and getting my comic in the local paper made for a memorable 1979.

Now…some thirty plus years later I put pencil to paper once again in a little exercise to see how I might put together a newspaper (or web, for that matter) comic strip featuring…featuring.. .umm…well, Archie and the gang all grown up and ready for social security.

Naturally I wouldn’t and couldn’t use those copyrighted characters or any semblance similar to them, but if you’re going to write and draw a comic about what you know…then write about that generation of your own.

There are newspaper strips out there featuring older characters, and I suppose those cartoonists may be putting together some livelihood doing it, so what the hell.

Here was a page of sketches delineating a cast of characters, all in retirement or soon to arrive in that post-62-years-old state; some ready financially, some not, but all having to deal with the tribulations of life…loneliness, desire, poverty, health, and…simply forgetting shit.

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Body of the Artist

Left a bit early for work and stopped in at the new Lindgren Cafe on Dwight. Parked my bike right out front and ordered a cortado and sat down to it this drawing together.

It was nice to be out and about on my bike, taking different paths to my usual destination. It occurred to me that if I were to head out to different places each day a little earlier than usual, I could find some interesting places and things to sketch. A different place each day–and get new ideas for comics stories.

Wife and I had an interesting discussion about the drawing; area or item she noticed that could have used some attention. Huh! Only one problem she saw to note. It’s a valid observation and I corrected it, but only on the original, NOT on what you see. If you notice it, I hope you can live with it for the 30 seconds you might remain here on this blog.

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What I’m Doing With My Life

The day is long, life is long, and while not many of us make a mark to remember our passing like famous writers, statespersons, film stars, or philosophers, we all make an impact to one degree or another on those in our own, immediate circle.

I once wanted to be, at best, a comics artist that made his living drawing pictures. It never happened, I’m not convinced it ever will, but I haven’t quite given up. Along the way I’ve done some interesting things; been a hot tub salesman, vitamin peddler, new age hardware store clerk, soda jerk, barista, comic book store manager, and even singing telegram messenger.

In Japan for three years I taught English and had a part in a rock video. I’ve actually been paid to do commercial art, bought a sailboat that I never sailed, kissed a lot of girls and didn’t make them cry, and now…now at nearly 60 I’m mostly working in a bookstore selling old and new comic books, baking for a local cafe, and even anticipating some possible crazy changes in the next few months (more on that if I can bring myself to write about it).

In this mood the other day, I threw this little piece together.

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What Does It Mean?

Our daughter, Stephanie, is an artist who has been reasonably successful in her chosen career as an independent creator of ‘sculpture’ since she graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute (and picked up an MFA from Stanford just a couple of years ago). She had wanted to be an artist since…well, since we met when she was seven and I became her stepdad. The one piece of work that I wish I still had (and she no doubt wishes I would forget) was the camera she made from an old tampon box. You pressed a ‘button’ and out would pop a photograph.

Now her work is in the permanent collections of a couple of museums of modern art. Go figure.

One thing I remember I would ask her whenever we attended one of her show openings was ‘what does this piece mean?’ Navigating the rarified world of post modern art is no easy task, but she would be patient in her consistent demand that I needed to, and I paraphrase here wildly, to figure out for myself what it meant–to me. What did I the viewer draw from the experience of seeing this piece?

So look below. What do you see and how do you understand this comic?

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Where Did 30 Lbs Disappear to?

In addition to this blog of my scribblings, I have a food blog here. I try to eat healthily, in that nearly all of my food intake is composed of fresh ingredients and much less from boxes or packages. This allows me to control fats, salt and the like, and it allowed me to continue in mildly sedentary ways (my day job has me on my ass most of the day) yet continue to lose weight.

Right now in these winter months, I’m vacillating between 210 and 213 but anticipate with the spring I’ll be back down to 207 or less as my physical exercise increases.

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Drawings With Greys

A simple thing like a pencil when faced with its dexterity as compared to a digital stylus, the cost difference is amazing. With a simple 2B pencil, one can get a sharp line, greys through crosshatching, light or dark grey tones..all with a simple 50 cent piece of wood and graphite.

I bought a digital stylus a few months ago for over $100, and its pretty amazing in its ability to emulate natural pencil strokes, pen strokes, brush strokes and the like, but…it’s a lot of button pushing. It has its place, but paper and pencil still can’t be beat.

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A Day Off In Four Pages (Pt 4)

Why did I start a drawing blog? Simple, really–a motivator to push me to put pencil to paper again after something like ten years of distraction. Oh, I never stopped drawing, I have a couple of boxes of sketchbooks in our shed in the backyard, but I felt like the ‘public face’ of a blog was enough of a motivator to get myself drawing and elevate my projects from sketch doodling to storytelling once again.

It has worked.

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A Day Off In Four Pages (Pt 2)

I love Mondays lately since I usually have it off–since losing my corporate job in 2008, my splendid career has taken as many directions seemingly as when I was in my 20s–barista, comic book store manager, wine and cheese seller, purveyor of Spanish groceries, baker…god, what else?

This blog also will be an exploration, in general, of what my focus is going to be, as I think I have an interesting story to tell, interesting drawings to make, and given my perspective and experience moving much closer to ‘retirement’, a viewpoint that many older-sters might find appealing.

Here is part the two of my day. The plot sickens.

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A Day Off In Four Pages (Pt 1)

Sophie Yanow, a young comics artist whom I used to work with, has been going to town lately since she left Oakland for a cartoonist’s residency in Montreal. She just recently visited the Angouleme comics festival in France and intends to stay in Europe for a few months. How she is managing this financially, I have no idea, but the fact that she is doing it is very impressive.

She got me started by doing a comic that reflected her entire day in hourly segments. I thought to give it a whirl myself–and Monday, February 4. 2013 was the day. It was not embellished in any way at all–and all events chronicled were true. Really.

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Continued…