Sunday, December 30, 2007


According to the Issac Aasimov short story "Franchise", in 2008 the U.S. president will be selected by a computer program looking for the "most representative citizen".

In the Larry Niven/Jerry Pournelle novel "The Mote in God's Eye", faster-than-light travel is also perfected in 2008. And according to Futurama, suicide booths are invented then, too.

The 1972 sci-fi film Silent Running takes place in 2008. By then all plant life on Earth has died out, and Bruce Dern is committed to growing and preserving plants in geodesic domes orbiting Saturn so that eventually the Earth can be reforested (the movie also demonstrates why we should never put Bruce Dern in charge of anything).

So...some good and some bad things to look forward to next year...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Big Wait

"Well, the fact is I never know where my books come from, and I never go out looking for ideas. It all seems to happen in a way that has nothing to do with me. One day something is there that wasn't there the day before."

--Paul Auster

For the last few weeks I've been steadily waiting for 'The Big Black' to come together, but so far it remains a fragment of an idea. I try not to push it or force it to fit into some preconceived notion of what a story should properly be like, but sometimes the whole process is damned frustrating. Lately I've been staying awake for hours when I should be sleeping, trying to let things connect in my head. I've got to try and cut that out.

Anyways, that's what I've been doing for awhile now...sketching and waiting for the big black idea to coalesce.


There's always a tendency to catagorize the best books/movies/music/etc at the end of the year in a kind of retrospective. I can't make a Top Ten list of the best comics of 2007 because there's plenty potential ones out there that I haven't read yet (like Shaun Tan's "The Arrival", Matt Kindt's "Super Spy", or Paul Karasik's apparently awesome book on Fletcher Hanks, "I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets", if that can be included in such a list), but right now I feel it would be extraordinarily hard to top Acme Novelty Library #18 as the best comic of the year.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Dax's Dreamscape

Today I dreamed that Tony Danza shot me in the leg.

I have to say this is one of those kinds of dreams that defies analysis. Though I suppose if I were to choose an 80's sitcom star to wound me it would be Tony Danza...I imagine he'd be very apologetic about it afterwards, say "Whoa" a lot, and probably get into some crazy mixed-up shenanigans while trying to take me to the hospital.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving with the Geats

Went to see Beowulf tonight. I was apprehensive about it, mainly because of the photo-realistic digital nature of the film. It's not my thing, really...I prefer a healthy degree of abstraction in animation. But I'd read what the writers (Roger Avary and Neil Gaiman) had done with the story and thought it sounded neat-o.

Anyways, it is neat-o. While the technology isn't quite there yet (human faces still don't translate as fully believable in digital), the story was enough for me. I'd been worried that I would wind up sitting through another 300 (no offense meant to anyone who liked 300, I just found it to be mostly empty testosterone), but there's one scene in particular--a scene with King Beowulf and a man at a shoreline near a battle--that elevated the whole movie in the sense that, if nothing else, this film was, to me, justified because of it.

Back to the effects, however: I'm not sure it was a good idea to base most of the characters so closely on the actors who performed them. I mean, if you can create whatever you want within that digital world, why have Hrothgar look like Anthony Hopkins? I suppose they felt it lent a level of reality that the audience could grasp onto, but I think in a way it's actually more distancing, since Anthony Hopkins felt more like "the digital version of Anthony Hopkins". We know what he's supposed to look like, so when he feels 'off' somehow it's that much more noticeable.

However, how can you deny Crispin Glover as Grendel? Speaking in Olde English, even.

I've always liked the Beowulf's the ripping off Grendel's arm bit that tends to grab you as a young boy, I suppose.

By the way, here's an image of that scene by Lynd Ward (and I wish to God I could find his illustrated Beowulf book at an affordable price):

Anyways, while I liked the new Beowulf movie, my favorite off-shoot of the original poem remains John Gardner's novel 'Grendel', told from the point of view of the monster itself. One of my favorite books.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Art of Leszek Zebrowski

I was browsing through the internet in my last hour of work and somehow, through some series of Googlings, ran across a sample of Leszek Zebrowski's artwork.

I'm fairly mesmerized by his stuff now...he's best known for his poster work (both for films and theater projects)...

Here's a link to more of his work:


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ghoulies and ghosties and long-legged beasties

Happy Halloween to the Rustyteeth family and everyone else...

Friday, October 12, 2007

More accurate than any of my self-portraits...

"Dad With A Hurt Back" by Clara Delap 10/11/07

Monday, October 1, 2007

"October Country"

"That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay."

--Ray Bradbury

Happy 1st day of October, my favorite month.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

"The Dress Of Thought"

Here's something you didn't know about me:

Sometimes when I'm looking at myself in a mirror I start to wonder what would happen if I opened my mouth and could only speak in a foreign language.

And what would that language be?

Would my face require German, or maybe Polish?

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Joe Zawinul passed away this Tuesday. He was seventy-five.

Zawinul co-founded the fusion band Weather Report (with Wayne Shorter) and their album "Heavy Weather" is one of my favorite jazz albums of all time.

He was one of the first to include synthesizers in jazz recording, and worked with Cannonball Adderley and Miles Davis, among others.

His most famous song is "Birdland", which amazingly was a radio hit when it came out (people in the 70's knew some stuff, it seems).

Saturday, September 1, 2007

"They take apart their nightmares and they leave 'em by the door."

Here's some studies for the protagonist of a future story of mine, tentatively titled "The Big Black". Click on the image to enlarge.

Like "Look Away!", this story will be based partly on a bad dream I had. It's also got a couple moments lifted from real life (well, hallucinations in real life). I'm still fuzzy on parts of it, though--gotta wade around in the thing and figure it out. Like most of my stuff, it'll be more focused on simulating a particular feeling than achieving a straight narrative structure.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Here's to Jack Kirby

He would be 90 today...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"The most fearful menace of them all!"

Did You Know?
In the language of comics, a drawing of Fin Fang Foom by Mike Mignola is the equivalent of saying "I love you".

© Marvel Comics

Saturday, August 18, 2007

"The last human being to occupy the White House."

Okay, I'm aware that this blog has turned into some kind of art/U.S. history hybrid. Through no grand plan of my own--I mean, I'm as surprised as you are that I wrote a blog about Taft. What was up with that?

Anyways, here I go again. I've been reading two books concurrently, the book by Daniel Ellsberg about his experience in Vietnam and with the Pentagon Papers (mentioned here way back when), and a great collection of interviews with Harry S. Truman that I try to re-read every year, Plain Speaking.

Merle Miller, who conducted the Truman interviews, once called Truman "the last human being to occupy the White House". So he's not exactly an unbiased guy...however, since most of the book is straight from Truman's mouth, you don't really have to worry about Miller distorting reality because of his natural bias towards Truman. For instance, I once read a biography of Eisenhower where the author was so obviously enraptured by Ike that I couldn't really read the book as serious nonfiction.

Speaking of Eisenhower...boy, Truman really disliked the guy. "The fella that followed me" gets a lot of attention from Truman, from Ike's swearing to Truman point-blank that he didn't have any political ambitions (Truman couldn't suffer liars) to Eisenhower's not walking up the White House steps to greet the outgoing President on Inaugural Day (the only other times that has occured were with John Adams and Thomas Jefferson--Adams had already left the White House by the time Jefferson arrived--and FDR and Herbert Hoover--FDR couldn't physically walk up the steps).

See, one thing that comes across in the book is the feeling that Truman just plain doesn't lie, which is stunning for a politician. He's very candid (Nixon gets called "a son of a bitch" more than once) without sounding cranky. He's also incredibly well read...he goes through a list of presidential history at one point, from William Henry Harrison to James Buchanan, with the factual certainty of a scholar. He also brilliantly sums up Chester A. Arthur in one sentence ("the man with the side whiskers and striped pants").

Of course, I'm just as biased towards Truman as Miller is...he's maybe my favorite president, despite a few things that started in his administration that I think were huge mistakes in retrospect (most presidents seem to have a few of those).


I'm not finished with Ellsberg's book, Secrets, but I came to a pretty stunning excerpt in the book yesterday. While talking to Bobby Kennedy about the Vietnam War (this was a year before Bobby was killed), Ellsberg asked him what he thought JFK's handling of the war would've been like if he had lived. Bobby point-blank says that JFK always privately said that he would never send U.S. ground troops into Vietnam--he would settle the issue the same way he did with Laos if it came down to it (meaning: diplomatically). Kennedy, showing surprising foresight at the time, thought that any war the U.S. undertook in the region would end up just as it did for the French.

So far Ellsberg's book has crystalized in my mind just how similar in many respects Vietnam is to our current situation in Iraq, especially in how the administrations of those respective times chose to handle said situations. And how they chose to ignore lessons of history.

Here's a sketch of Ellsberg, derived from a somewhat recent photograph of him that's printed inside the book.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

"Drawing is putting a line 'round an idea."

I wouldn't mind turning into a vermilion goldfish." --Henri Matisse

Here's a sketch I made from one of his drawings:

Saturday, July 28, 2007

"I don't remember that I was ever President."

There's maybe never been a U.S. President who hated being President more than William Taft. His life-long goal was to be a Supreme Court Justice instead--his wife was the source of the Taft family's Presidential ambition.

Taft's presidency was fairly lackluster, and he remains the only President to ever come in 3rd in a national reelection (after Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt, who was running as the Bull Moose 3rd party candidate).

Today he's mostly known as "the fat President". Yes, it's true that he often got stuck in his bathtub, and had an oversized one installed in the White House (it was removed years later). Though within a year of leaving office Taft lost approximately 80 lbs.

I'm not what you'd call a fan of the guy, I really just felt like drawing him (rather than, say, Chester A. Arthur). I suppose I admire the way he ended up, though, as a Supreme Court Justice at last--Chief Justice, actually. Good for Taft.

Not Taft-related: I walked into a gas station this week and saw this ad--

Now, my favorite opening line of any book ever is from Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451--"It was a pleasure to burn." I have no idea how this particular ad slogan was created, but if they lifted it from that line, well, I have to have some kind of respect for that. Even if they're using it in such an outright evil manner.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"...that college life..."

Let me say no danger and no hardship ever makes me wish to get back to that college life again."

--Joshua Chamberlain

Me circa 1995:

Monday, July 9, 2007

"This is not a normal thing I am doing right now."

Briefly, I'm too much of a tennis geek to not mention Roger Federer's 5th Wimbledon championship in a row.

Federer's won 11 Grand Slam championships, and is now just three away from tying Pete Sampras' record (Federer's 26 years old--which is 'middle age' in pro tennis years--but, barring injury, will certainly overtake Sampras).

Consider this: Federer has won 10 of his 11 majors in the last four years. That means he's won 10 of the last 15 majors total. Which is insane.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

"There, I guess King George will be able to read that."

"The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to
God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."

--John Adams, in a letter to his wife, Abigail, on July 3rd, 1776

Adams was off by two days, of course. But the actual vote for independence from Great Britain was held on the 2nd...the vote for adoption and release of the Declaration of Independence was held on the 4th (near midnight). The 4th is celebrated mainly because that's the date on the Declaration.

Fun Fact #1: Vicksburg, Mississippi didn't celebrate the 4th of July for 78 years (1863--1941) because the Siege of Vicksburg ended in a Union victory on July 4th, 1863.

Fun Fact #2: Calvin Coolidge is the only U.S. President to be born on July 4th (John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both famously died on July 4th, 1826; James Monroe died on July 4th, 1831).

Monday, June 25, 2007

"Luminous beings are we."

My scanner and hard-drive are currently not on speaking terms, so I haven't been able to post any of my art on this blog so far. Hopefully, with the help of a sympathetic scanner, I'll have a bunch of stuff ready to put up fairly soon.

In the meantime, here's a little Yoda sketch of mine to keep us company:

Friday, June 22, 2007

"A dangerous servant and a fearful master."

"Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."

--George Washington

Next week the CIA will be declassifying what is unofficially known as "the family jewels"--records of much of the agency's worst abuses, from assassination attempts to drug tests on unaware U.S. civilians. More information can be found at this link:

I'll be interested to see what kind of news coverage this receives.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

"Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."

Stuff I've been reading lately:

--Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, by Daniel Ellsberg. A very detailed account by Ellsberg of his years working for the State and Defense departments, leading to his disenchantment over the Vietnam War and his leaking of top-secret documents detailing the history of the United States' political and military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1971.

--His Excellency, by Joseph J. Ellis. A biography of George Washington. When Washington put aside talk inside the army of him becoming king, and resigned his commission and turned his army over to the legislature at the end of the Revolutionary War, King George III of England was said to reply, "If he does that, he truly is the greatest man alive." What's fascinating about Washington is that, even when you consider his faults, he really was just about as impressive as his sizeable reputation.

Houdini, The Handcuff King, by Jason Lutes & Nick Bertozzi. Nice little book about a particular day in the life of Houdini. Lutes remains one of the very best layout men in modern comics, and Bertozzi adds an energetic, loose quality to the work. I like the historical notes at the end.

--Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus Vol. 1. You may have gotten the impression from my previous post that I love this book. Let me add to that: I really, reeeaaaallly love this book. I've been waiting/hoping for a quality collection of Kirby's Fourth World comics for a long time, and this is just about perfect. The paper stock, reproduction, and color quality are all top-notch. In fact, the only blemish in the whole thing are all those unfortunate Al Plastino/Murphy Anderson Superman heads (DC had artists redraw all of Kirby's Clark Kent/Superman/Jimmy Olsen heads--as well as some figure work--because they wanted Superman and Jimmy to retain a certain established in-house look).


But a giant green Jimmy Olsen clone and a guest appearance by Don Rickles goes a long way to make up for all those heads.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Monday, June 11, 2007

"How use doth breed a habit in a man."

Naked and wet with slime I step blinking into the world of blog.

In time I will update this sucker on a regular basis, sharing sketches, preliminary comic work, rarities, random thoughts, etc.

In the meantime, let's christen this blog with the greatest comic book cover of all time--Shadow Comics vol. 3 #6 (Jan 1943)