Friday, December 25, 2009


This is about as late in the game as anything you'll ever see on this site, since, as a rule, teen-agers' art is as painful to look at as childrens' art is great. It's next to impossible to avoid a bad five years or so before you get your mojo back... and of course, for lots of folks, it never does come back. For boys, it's usually an ill-fitting obsession with the rendering of chrome, or abdominal muscles, or the particular curve of the spoiler on a 280-Z. For girls, it all turns into stiff horses with flowing manes and giant-headed doe-eyed girly men. Nowadays, the ubiquitous manga influence* lets clueless teens combine both these benighted aesthetics into a unified horror embraced by both sexes.
    My work here is a late-to-the-party example of the duck craze seen in comics fanzine art in the late '70s, inspired of course by the popularity of Howard the Duck. I had certainly read and admired Howard by this point (not following it as it came out--I was a bit young for that-- but buying them from quarter boxes, from which they were then readily available). I'm not sure if I'd seen any of the fanzine stuff yet, since at this point I was only reading current issues of The Comics Journal and its less intellectually challenging little sibling, Amazing Heroes. I believe that this may have had its origins as a possible candidate for the latter magazine's regular "silly cover" feature, though I'm certain that I never actually submitted a black-and-white version for consideration. I do recall another attempt to create a submission featuring "Nick Furry, Agent of S.H.E.E.P.", based on this cover, but, again, I never submitted it and it's presumed lost.
   The "Rudolph, the Radioactive Reindeer" character may have been conceived of prior to this piece; I definitely did a good number of drawings of him, as well as his springtime counterpart, the "Easter Beast". At some point after this, I renamed him"Randolph", since I'd decided that he was in fact a separate character. and not literally Robert L. May's beloved creation. I don't think I ever really tried to compose any stories featuring him, content to only draw "cool" action shots. Which brings us right back to paragraph one. Mea culpa!

*Before someone chimes in here, let me note that this is not a critique of manga, per se, so much as an observation that certain surface elements of popular manga styles intersect horribly well with seemingly-inborn teen badness. It's just a very effective template upon which a kid may construct doo-doo. Not that we don't have plenty of equally effective building blocks right here in the good old U.S. of A.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

TV Christmas Special (In SMELLOVISION!)

    My grandfather at one point had a big stack of grey catalog envelopes that he used for organizing his business receipts, like the one pictured above. For whatever reason, I found them very pleasing as drawing paper, though this was obviously not the optimal application (I did at least use them to make a scrapbook for our vacation to Walt Disney world, binding them in a large checkbook binder so that each page was an illustration, with related postcards and other paper goods  held inside the appropriate page... but generally, I was just wasting envelopes). This particular one is devoted to some sort of television program involving a dancing candy cane on stage (the cactusy-looking things are footlights). You may be asking "Why is the TV set is equipped with a special (labeled) 'Smellovision' attachment?" No amount of study of the drawing would lead you to any conclusions, and at this point, the physical object no longer bears any traces, but if you were in close proximity to the paper when it was new 31 years ago, you'd have smelled the peppermint-scented ball-point ink it was drawn with, from a pen similar to this:

...but with a green cap and no corporate logo. I'd provie a link to the site I stole the phptp from, but these are apparently discontinued, any way, so what's the use?
I really don't care for ball-points as a rule, but I really liked these pens... they smelled funny, the plastic had a very satisfying texture to chew on, and the cap was surprisingly sharp at its point. What more could one ask of novelty school supplies?