Saturday, October 27, 2007

Super Secret Unpublished Cartoon!

Okay, I think it's pretty apparent what this cartoon is about - being raised as something you're not, parents not being willing to see what's in front of them, and all that -- I thought of it after the one I posted earlier in the week about departing from the family banjo tradition.
I never published this one, I think because it didn't seem in keeping with the absurdity standards of Brainwaves - kind of more of a pensive thing, but worth drawing nonetheless. So I just put it aside and now, here it is. Seems this blog is a good place to put it, and in my mind I do relate it closely to the banjo one. So there.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Big Thoughts About Little Drawings: Mom? Dad?

Not long ago, I was the Cartoonist-in-Residence at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco. This was great fun, and one of the unexpected perks was that there was a ukelele concert going on down the street. So before I headed to the museum, I got to sit outside and listen to some quality ukelele.

I also got to thinking about this very strong culture that surrounds the ukelele, and many other things - Dungeons and Dragons, Civil War reenactments, Scrabble, quilting, gosh it just goes on and on. What fun that is.

And from there, I got to thinking about how within families, sometimes these cultures can dominate the expectations for the kids -- sometimes you're expected to go into academia, or be a doctor, or at least partake of the family fruitcake every year (I am the mutant in my family who does not eat pumpkin pie -- although instead of scorn, I just get kind of gratitude for leaving more for other people to eat).

So, that's how I came up with the family with the banjo tradition, and the terrible tension that might arise if one of the kids were to disregard tradition by taking up the ukelele instead. Plus, of course, I got to include the phrase "Family Banjo Tradition." That was worth it.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Big Thoughts About Little Drawings: Pledge!

Look, I'm not an expert on public TV fundraising or anything. I interned at a public TV station once. That's the extent of my knowledge.
But, for gosh sakes, there's GOT to be a better way to do pledge breaks. They are painful. They are awful. And they are sad, because you can tell these people really, really need your money.
But why aren't pledge breaks like the Jerry Lewis Telethon? Why aren't they entertaining? Why don't they bring in local bands who need a break or have karaoke or throw Jell-o at people or something? Wouldn't you pledge a few bucks to your public station if it meant they'd dump guacamole on someone in your name? Wouldn't you even send money if they put on some high school garage bands that were so bad they were good? It could be like Pledge Idol - they've got the airtime, they need to attract attention, and shoot, isn't all of network TV at this point shows about people willing to humiliate themselves in public? PBS needs to tap into this goldmine and quick. Maybe I'll call em up and tell em about it. Then again, maybe you can, next time you're calling in your pledge.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Big Thoughts About Little Drawings: Duck!

I've been thinking about this cartoon a lot lately. It's one of those multilayered ones.
The top layer is: ducks. Ducks are funny. It's fun to say "Duck." It's fun to draw ducks.
The next layer is: Ducks don't have a lot of ambition. As far as we know. Except for Donald and maybe Scrooge McDuck.
The next layer is where it gets interesting. This cartoon actually grew out of my thoughts about how we are supposed to tell our children they can do and be anything they want - the sky is the limit (duck humor again), we believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way, quack quack quack.
But really -- each person is good at some things, and not so good at others. It's a fact. So I'd rather tell my kids,
Play to your strengths.
Take the time to find out what you're good at, what you love, and go do it. You'll be happier than if you're trying to fulfill something because someone said it was cool or your parents expect it or paid for lessons or something like that. Make some messes. Do some stuff badly. Really badly. Go ahead!!
Then, you'll know how to play to your strengths. If you're a duck, those strengths are probably pretty obvious. People, not so much. For the vast majority of us, it takes awhile.
So no, you're not going to do everything, and you're not going to be good at everything. But if you take the time, you can find out what makes you rock out and that is totally worth it.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Take Me Out to the Grocery Store!

Thank you Joyce Doyle, who reads Brainwaves in the Daily Press in Newport News, Virginia. She had the fabulous idea of putting this cartoon with the caption "Grocery Bag Rage" onto -- a grocery bag!

So now, YOU can take these bags to your own favorite store, and when they ask you "paper or plastic," you can hand over one of these instead!

They're even machine washable so even if you take em to the farmer's market and something gets squished in there, it's no big deal. Hooray! I'm gonna get some, too. Thanks Joyce!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Big Thoughts About Little Drawings: Og Meat!!

I often wonder what goes on just outside of what you see - under the surface, before the cameras roll, after everybody leaves...

First, of all, let me make clear that I love the fact that people go to sporting events covered in paint and wigs and stuff. Love it.

But it does make me wonder - do these outfits hang quietly in the closet all week, kind of like the suit in the Bat Cave? Waiting for the right moment on Saturday when it's time to put on the clown nose and the wig and write all over your torso?

And, do these people take on different personas when they don the colors of their team? Like, does the mild-mannered accountant turn into a crazed yelling arm waving maniac, only to put his alter ego back on the hanger behind the door after the game?

And, do you have to stay in character all the way out to your car after the game is over?

Anyway, I just love the whole process. If you know somebody who faithfully paints their face very weekend, tell me about em. It's a great thing.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Big Thoughts About Little Drawings: You Know You Want To.

This one is about one of those things we all wish we could do, but if we did the consequences just wouldn't quiiiite be worth it.
Kind of like all those things you wish you'd said to the rude person on the train or your pushy relative...
In this case, you'd probably be faced with some really irritated waitstaff and a nice cleaning bill.
But, when you're at a restaurant with a lazy Susan, isn't it tempting to just spin the thing a little faster -- and a little faster -- to see when stuff starts to slide off?
That said, a lazy Susan is also a great thing to use when you want to make a zoetrope. A zoetrope is a tool for viewing simple movies or animations. It's a cylinder with slits in it - you put a strip with a series of pictures inside it, and then spin it while looking through the slits. I made a zoetrope for the kids I teach last week and we've been animating all sorts of stuff - blobs, robots, butterflies -- and yes, they like to see just how fast they can spin the thing.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

What the....?

A week of Brainwaves went missing on GoComics! Not sure why, but the files aren't up on the server. So I just uploaded them again -- think of it as a bonus week all at once! Sheesh.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Big Thoughts About Little Drawings: Art

A few years ago I went to an exhibit of Keith Haring's work. They had lots of his sketchbooks under glass for you to look at. As I looked at them I couldn't help thinking, this is not how he envisioned these things ending up. I mean, as an artist you generate a lot of random, smudgy, incoherent doodles. I still remember when my parents made it clear that I was to remove my piles (and piles) of paper from my childhood closet. A lot of it was actually rolled up inside a laundry hamper.
Anyway, even when I'm looking at the work of someone fabulous like Marc Chagall or Keith Haring or Vincent Van Gogh, I can't help cringing a little bit - this is their stuff, all stuck out there for us to gawk at. Surely the artist would be a bit embarrassed to see the equivalent of doodles on a Trapper Keeper folder under glass and protected from UV light.
So if you are planning to be one of those people who get studied and biographied and museum-ied after you're gone, maybe you should go in and tidy things up a bit - just so your random doodlings will at least look cool when they get mounted on a board and put in the middle of a big room. Maybe cut those sketches off the Trapper Keeper folder and glue them instead into one of those hip Moleskine books. They'll still be that manila-yellow color, but you'll seem so very hip to all those future generations.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Big Thoughts About Little Drawings: Real Prehistory

I spend a fair amount of time considering whether people in times past had a lot of the same mundane, humdrum issues that we have today.
For example, you can't tell me that prehistoric people didn't occasionally get on each other's nerves.
Let's face it, major decisions get made these days based on this problem -- getting rid of a roommate, finding another job, and yes, maybe moving to another continent.
We marvel at how ancient civilizations traveled across oceans, over mountains, into the unknown -- but you know, maybe they just needed to get away from somebody who beat them up or talked too loud or stole their girlfriend.

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