Thursday, July 16, 2020

Pre-school artwork, 1970, the Proverbial Apple Tree

Here is a bit of early artwork I did when I was about four or five years old in pre-school in California. It is a crayon transfer from a piece of sandpaper to a piece of cotton bed sheet. I remember doing a few of these because it was made from simple shapes and essentially solid colors. Initially I just drew the tree and grass, but having been encouraged by a teacher, I added the sun, the flower and apples as an afterthought. I keep this on my desk to remind me that even a simple idea, when fleshed out can be inspirational.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Deep-Breakfast Therapy and The Threat of Failure

I think I'm ready to talk about this strip now. It's only been twenty-eight years since I wrote it down in my sketchbook, but it still feels raw and silly. In fact, it sat there in my sketchbook as a very rough outline without really being drawn out and inked.  I was living in Seattle working for Fantagraphics Books in their circulation department. At that time I didn't have a therapist, but that did come later. 

The title, of course, refers to one of my favorite albums of music, "Deep Breakfast" by Ray Lynch. This strip is an homage to the Dick Tracy newspaper meta-strips that were Chester Gould's attempts at self-parody back in the Sixties, featuring speaking wood shavings and named appropriately "Sawdust".  I think the rest speaks for itself... After all, it is an animated corn-flake.

"Homey-boye" was a pseudonym I came up with to commemorate a passing fancy with a cute bank teller I regularly saw during work hours. Initially, I didn't think he was flirting with me directly, but once we'd been acquainted and determined to be friendly, he dubbed me "my homeboy" and I was naturally too flattered and a bit confused as I didn't really pick up any attraction vibe from him before. The next week he invited me to a performance of his Ska band, where he said he was playing bongos. 

It was at a pub in Pioneer Square and the music was good, but strangely the drummer for the band was someone else and there were no bongos to be seen. At first, I thought I'd wandered into the wrong bar as I was almost immediately targeted by women wanting to dance with me. I was clearly out of my element and once the band was done, I went home by myself. I couldn't help but feel I was somewhat "set-up". 

I don't remember if we talked again about his absence at the performance. I also found myself seeing the bank teller less at the bank windows I visited, which again I do not remember now if that was by intention or circumstance. In my mind, I like to think he was intentionally flirting and then seeing me speaking with women at the bar, changed his mind and lost interest, even if this is purely an imagined scenario and doesn't really account for the substitute drummer or the women coming onto to me aggressively. 

Nonetheless, I only used "Homey-boy" a few times more as a signature, changing the spelling each time, because I couldn't wrap my head around using what I thought of as a "street" term that was otherwise entirely unfamiliar to me. You can take the boy out of the country...

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

December 1972, Memories of Sledding in Northern Idaho

Something I drew in school back in 1st grade. It was a challenging year for me, because our family had lost our home to fire after moving to Northern Idaho from California. This picture commemorated the experience of sledding in the snow.

There is something of a story there beyond the subject matter. I remember distinctly I'd gotten a low grade on that project, basically because it was about following instructions and not about creating a memory image.

Miss Olive, our matronly teacher was something of a martinet, when it came to giving us instructions and I'd already established my problem with authority whenever she singled me out for discipline. I wasn't a problem student, I just didn't like her manner of raising her voice with me, so I admit I would respond by sticking my tongue at her in defiance.

Anyway, she'd started this exercise with having us write our names in the middle of the large piece of construction paper we were each given. She'd lead into it saying we were doing art, but I knew you signed an artwork after you created it and I wasn't willing to put my name to something I hadn't already committed to paper, so I resisted the instructions. Turns out it was a practicality, because we were going to finish our crayon drawings with a whitewash to simulate snow.

Luckily there were other people besides myself who didn't put their names on the back either, so before they were hung on a bulletin board we were singled out to write our names on them. A month later, when they were handed back to us to bring them home, the teacher apparently had trouble deciphering my name, so again I was singled out to retrieve my drawing from a pile of unknowns.

Upon examining how I'd written my name I realized I'd just written a vertical line for the "h" in my name. But, why didn't she recognize my name with those well crafted lower case letter "a's"? Hmm, maybe that is what threw her off. So I wrote the uppercase letter "a", and corrected the letter "h" with it's lowercase hook...and then realized what a mess I'd made of my signature. Demoralized by this, I wondered if I could ever write my name with finesse.