Sunday, August 30, 2009

Doodle Penance: "lunette funkadelic"

This week's "Doodle Penance" search term is "lunette funkadelic."

I don't know about you, but that makes me think of an unholy, ill-considered mashup of (a.) a certain anime heroine and (b.) a certain awesome organization dedicated to the creation, circulation, and demonstration of p-funk.

I hate it when Doodle Penance makes me draw manga style.

Why? Why do I taint my beloved funk with that Amethyst-Princess-of-Gemworld-wannabe schoolgirl pop junk?

What is wrong with me? I'm like the Bwana Beast of cultural detritus or something.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Walt Kelly's illustrations for The Glob

It's August 25th, the birthday of Walt Kelly, which means that for me it's practically a saint's day. My devotion to Kelly's Pogo is fairly well documented here already; so it's exciting for me to post about some great Kelly drawings that weren't created for Pogo but rather served as illustrations for a prose allegory of human development, John O'Reilly's 1952 story The Glob.

I first heard of The Glob at the tender age of nine, when my grandmother gave me a copy of The Best of Pogo, a round-up of Kelly work and articles from a Pogo fanzine. The Best of Pogo reprinted a single illustration from The Glob, enough to whet my appetite for more, and I kept a weather eye out for The Glob for years without ever spotting any telltale signs of it. Until this summer, the closest I got to The Glob was a few years ago at a used bookstore in Brattleboro, Vermont, where I routinely asked the proprietors if they had any Kellyana for sale. Turns out they had just sold a copy of The Glob—their only copy. I was out of luck again.

But then it turned out I was just in the wrong town in Vermont. When I joined Isaac at the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction this past June, the first thing I asked for at the Schulz Library was The Glob—and lo and behold, it was in my hands five minutes later. I couldn't take the library copy away, of course, but I was able to snap a few photographs of the gorgeous Kelly illustrations of dinosaurs, saber-toothed cats, and primitive humanity. See for yourself below, and enjoy this votive offering of sorts in memory of my favorite cartoonist, born August 25, 1913, died October 18, 1973.


Dinosaur close-up:

Saber-toothed cat:

Primitive humanity in the guise of the Glob hisself:

And here are the gorgeous endpapers,
a great big scene of animals and people at play:

—and note the bottom right corner, with its echo of awesome old folklore:

Monday, August 24, 2009

Doodle Penance: "8 scenes comics using pronouns"

This week's "Doodle Penance" is going to be unusual, because it's also sort of a trivia contest for you, our devoted (or casual) reader. The term that inspired this comes from someone who was searching for "8 scenes comics using pronouns."

Below you will find eight panels that feature ambiguous pronoun reference, or unclear antecedent.

I leave it to you, Dear Reader, to identify the things to which the pronouns in the following panels refer. (Mike and I have redrawn the panels, or else it wouldn't be a Doodle Penance, and at least one of the panels has been edited to remove the referent.)

For each item in this quiz, the correct answer will be "D: None of the above." Your task is to ferret out and state the actual, specific answer. You can put your answers in the comments section, or you can email your replies to isaac dot cates at aya dot yale dot edu, if you're worried about giving a good answer away.

The person with the most correct answers by the end of the week, or the first person to get all eight, will win a prize from the Satisfactory Comics back-issue archives.

UPDATE! A winner has been chosen! Stay tuned for an answer key!

Here are the questions:


A. Spiro Agnew.
B. Alfred E. Newman.
C. The artist who put my eyebrows on the horizon line.
D. None of the above.


A. Having my horns tickled.
B. Awesome old folklore.
C. Ron Perlman's singing voice.
D. None of the above.


A. Passing my Classics final.
B. Setting all forty-eight VCRs.
C. Applying antiperspirant.
D. None of the above.


A. My pet anole.
B. My new composition for panflute and timpani.
C. My hairstyle.
D. None of the above.


A. A copy of Playboy from the '70s.
B. The Special Edition of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
C. A big bag of Cheetos.
D. None of the above.


A. The collapse of Lehman Brothers.
B. The skyrocketing cost of ink.
C. The rise of furrydom.
D. None of the above.


A. The hatching of a tyrannosaur egg.
B. The blooming of a hybrid tulip.
C. The reconciliation of Alan Moore and Paul Levitz.
D. None of the above.


A. The publication of The Collected Pogo.
B. The creation of heart-friendly Krispy Kremes.
C. The musical adaptation of the film adaptation of the graphic-novel adaptation of a postmodern mystery novella.
D. None of the above.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mark Burrier's Rare Words

The cartoonist and illustrator Mark Burrier is doing something over on his website that's faintly similar to Doodle Penance.

(I don't at all intend to suggest that he's even heard of our project; I just mean to note the similar sort of web-fueled drawing, and to point you in his direction if you haven't seen his site. I've never met Mark, really, though I've taken a few postcards from him at MoCCA over the years. I like his comics.)

Anyway, he's got a place in his sidebar where visitors to Rare Words can input a word or phrase. He then illustrates those phrases, in the order they're submitted.

This, for example, is "Devil Donkey." For some reason that's the first thing that came into my head when I visited his site a couple of weeks ago.

Go check out his site, and make sure you probe around long enough to see "Finding Life," "Comely," and "Believe in Love," which are a few of my favorites from his project.

Which of his pieces do you like the best?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Doodle Penance: "my own droring dodle riter"

So, the "Doodle Penance" that I posted yesterday is actually last week's Penance, about six days late. This week's item comes from a Google searcher who was looking for "my own droring dodle riter."

I wish to emphasize that by putting our Googler's words into the mouth of Plug (from Leo Baxendale's Bash Street Kids), or some near relation thereof, I mean no offense. Those words could have come from any kid. Plug's just more fun to draw.

Mike? Have you found a few minutes to doodle this weekend?

—Isaac, I have. Lo:
My aesthetic here was influenced by the arrival of my new baby girl, still far too young for crayons but likely to draw like this someday...Van Gogh quotations and all, I'm sure. The quasi ad-copy is another family inheritance of sorts; I guess I'm in a familial mood.

Incidentally, just for fun I put "my own droring dodle riter" into Google before we started this post. The first reply to the search was a query:
Did you mean: my own drawing doodle writer
The second was already us, and no doubt inspired this week's penance:

Search Results

Satisfactory Comics: Doodle Penance: "make your own kirby character"

—Why, I have my own Kirby character, of course. ... mutation is probably the sort of thing that a later writer would retcon onto the third ... -
And the third was an actual Doodle Writer (sic) for sale at Amazon.

I think we should use the quasi-Plug-designed Dodle Riter to draw Satisfactory Comics #9. Whaddaya say?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Doodle Penance: "only spider man collecting cloughs"

Hey, it's the return of "Doodle Penance"!

I haven't quite returned to blogging normally yet, but I did run my eyes over the latest search-term logs, and saw an item the absence of which I needed to redress: "only spider man collecting cloughs."

As you may know, many of the Marvel superheroes went through a phase in the late '70s when they were serious about collecting trading cards from an unusual set...

Well, let me show you a few panels from a relevant issue of Marvel Two-In-One, as I remember them:

Please click this one to enlarge it (and read it):

There you go: curiosity slaked, doodle drawn, and penance performed!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dan Clowes on freedom vs. constraint in cartooning

There's a fine new interview with Dan Clowes over at McSweeney's (Mike Sacks asked the questions, in boldface; DC answered in roman). Among many choice tidbits, the following exchange stands out for rule-bound cartoonists like Isaac and myself (you know, for those times when we actually bother to do any cartooning):

Can you have too much freedom as a comic-book writer and artist? If so, can this freedom become debilitating?

The number of choices you have to make is incredible, endless. It's almost too much freedom. Any time I'm working on an assignment and an editor says, "You can only use two colors," I'm just thrilled; it makes life a lot simpler for me.

I can just imagine Isaac nodding in agreement; we didn't contrive the incredibly-constrained Satisfactory Comics #8 for nothing, you know. And one of these days, we'll share our fuller thoughts on rules-based cartooning, constraints, jams, and the like when we post an online version of our Treatise on the Jam...but it is not this day.