Monday, May 4, 2009

Doodle Penance: "dan clowes -canavan -daleks -ghostwriter -scooby -grantbridge"

This week's "Doodle Penance" is ridiculous. Someone came to the site looking for Dan Clowes minus "canavan," "daleks," "ghostwriter," "scooby," and "grantbridge." I'm not sure why this frustrated searcher needed to eliminate those terms, but I figure that his or her mental process looked something like this:

That's the (relatively) new U.S. Grant Bridge (which connects Portsmouth, Ohio, with South Shore, Kentucky), there, looming on the right, and our friend and Sat Com 7 contributor Gerry Canavan wielding the placard in front of the daleks. Sorry I didn't ink the doodle. My fine-point Rapidograph is all gummed up, and I've got end-of-the-term business keeping me busy.

I'll let Mike explain Clowes's speech balloon.


—Oh, hey! Yeah, "Vee-ess" is a term borrowed from a boyhood semi-friend of my little brother. Said semi-friend was at our house one day brandishing a stick and leading a procession of small fry around the backyard. I asked him "What are you doing?" He answered, "We're gonna vee-ess the cat!"—that is, attack or oppose our cat, "vee-ess" being his way of pronouncing the abbreviation for versus. (Whether he knew that that's what "vee-ess" stood for, I'm not sure.)

Anyway, to our prompt, which looks like this:
dan clowes -canavan -daleks -ghostwriter -scooby -grantbridge
To my eye, that doesn't look like a series of subtractions. For those initial hyphens to function as minus signs, they'd either need another space between them and the subtracted terms or no spaces at all, thus:
dan clowes - canavan - daleks - ghostwriter - scooby - grantbridge
dan clowes-canavan-daleks-ghostwriter-scooby-grantbridge
I'll grant that it's hard to be sure quite what was intended with that notation, however. It does make the non-Dan Clowes items look as if they have negative values, even if a subtraction formula doesn't seem quite right. Perhaps it represents a "dan clowes" standard robot to which attachments can be affixed à la Voltron, to create the "dan clowes-daleks" bot or the "dan clowes-scooby" bot, say, culminating in the grand agglomeration of the "dan clowes-canavan-daleks-ghostwriter-scooby-grantbridge" bot. And now that I think of it, that might have been amusing to illustrate. But that's not what I drew.

No, I figured the initial hyphens were a way for the Google searcher to indicate a sort of bullet-point list within the limits of the single-line search field available to him; and with that in mind, I just sought to produce a single drawing that incorporated all of those elements. So of course I produced the only really satisfying solution:
This is a swipe of Dan Clowes's Madman pinup, where I have substituted the name of Gerry Canavan for Madman where appropriate and unmasked the faces of his loyal blog followers. Like Isaac, I opted to read "Scooby" as "Scooby Doo" and fudged "ghostwriter" by reading it as "Ghost Rider." As for "grantbridge," seasoned travelers may recognize the background as a view of 16 Grantbridge Street, Islington, London N1. (See it for yourself on Google Maps street view!) I took the liberty of eliminating a large tree that would have cluttered the middle of the composition, but that's basically Grantbridge Street, right there.

But here's the skeleton key to the image: I found that Dan Clowes Madman pinup on a blog called, yes, Grantbridge Street and other misadventures, where "Dan Clowes" is one of the keyword tags. So there you have it: "dan clowes -canavan -daleks -ghostwriter -scooby -grantbridge." Possibly the most specific, yet most obscure, search term ever to lead a searcher to our site.


Gerry Canavan said...

What did I ever do to Dan Clowes? Or Daleks? Or London?

Isaac said...

You know, Mike, even with the distinctly pronounced philtrums, those guys look more Dorkin than Clowes to me. Is it something about your line? About the roundness of the figures? (Early Clowes guys always sort of look like cardboard cut-outs.) Not sure...

Mike said...

Gerry, don't ask me!

Isaac, you see what you see, I guess, but I set that sketch against Clowes's original and I still see more Clowes than Dorkin, despite my unfancy Sharpie line. Either way, it's a pair of artists with a "total wise-ass" period to their work, which suits the subject... (the doodle, not Mr. Canavan!)