Monday, November 1, 2010

The Perfect Gift for the Holiday Season

Sustainability Unpacked: Food, Energy and Water for Resilient Environments and Societies has finally been released, and I'm holding a copy of it in my hands right now. I can't tell you how excited I am.

(I didn't do the cover though)

I was contacted by Maura Shelton in September of 2009. Kriistina A. Vogt, a professor at the University of Washington, and her team were looking for someone to do illustrations for her upcoming book on environmental sustainability. By chance, Maura saw my cartoons in The Daily, and contacted me. I met with Kriistina, Maura and the team, and was impressed by their enthusiasm and kindness.

The next few weeks were a blur of sketching, pitching ideas, re-drawing, pitching again, and finally creating the finished drawings. I won't lie, I felt like I was in over my head a couple of times at the sheer amount of work that went into this project, but I never forgot what a great opportunity it was.

Looking at the book now, it brings back all those memories, and over the next week or so I hope to share them with you guys. So I'll be posting sketches, alternate drawings, unused drawings, and other odds and ends.

I want to thank again Maura Shelton and Kriistina A. Vogt for letting in on this amazing opportunity. It's something I'll always be grateful for.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Not-so-Epic Mickey

Sorry for not posting in a while. Life has a tendency to get really busy at the most inopportune times.

But enough of that, take a look at this: Epic Mickey!

As most people can tell you, I'm a Disney animation nerd, and this game looks to be my nirvana. The game's creator, Warren Spector, is a Disney nerd himself, and will undoubtedly put all the love and care he can into the game.

In honor of this, here's some decidedly off-model Mickeys:

Mickey's a lot of fun to draw because his design is based almost entirely on circles. He was designed to be as animate-able as possible, and now, 80 years after his creation, he's still an appealing character.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Gonna Do Bad Things to You

In honor of "True Blood's" new season, here's a cartoon I did about it during the 2008 election:

"The way you murdered that sheriff was downright disrespectful," pretty much sums up the show to me.

If you want even more "True Blood," here's a blog post I wrote about for The Daily's Dawg Blog, back when such a thing existed.

Everybody loves vampires! From "Dracula" to "Twilight", America’s fallen for our favorite bloodsuckers. This infatuation has certainly fueled the success of HBO’s vampire melodrama "True Blood" (now in its second season), but something else has kept the show from being just another vampire show.

"True Blood" is a prime example of using metaphor in social satire. Vampirism is depicted as akin to homosexuality as numerous references are made to vampires “coming out of their coffin” into mainstream society, and there is a growing vampire rights campaign, along with a growing anti-vampire movement. The Church of Fellowship of the Sun is of course a direct reference to the many evangelical movements dedicated to eliminating homosexual rights.

And there’s more: the young girl, Jessica’s, adjustment to becoming a vampire is a metaphor for sexual maturity, the sinister halfway house Tara stays at is a nod to the shadiness of self-help cures, and the drug made from vampire blood, “V,” is analogous whatever the hot new drug is flooding the market.

The point of all of these metaphors is to show that even with the presence of vampires and other supernatural creatures waiting in the wings, life isn’t going to be that different for American society. Americans are really good at getting used to just about anything, and a sudden growing vampire movement is not going to fundamentally change how we act. We adjust.

Now you may argue that the metaphors do not line up perfectly. “Are you trying to insinuate that homosexuals are as bloodthirsty and cruel as vampires?” you may write in the comments section. Well, that is part of the shows charm; "True Blood" is all about sudden tonal shifts, moving from horror, to romance, to comedy, to drama, to madness. Just when you think you have it all figured out, creator Alan Ball pulls the rug out from under you, leaving dazed and trying to adjust. But like any good American, you will.

That was written right before people realized "True Blood" is actually a comedy, and not a "Twilight" ripoff.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

No Exit Nearby Says Goodbye

You've probably been wondering how "No Exit Nearby" wrapped up its epic and complicated story line. Well, here are the final four cartoons to bring you the closure you need.

May 24th, 2010. "No Exit Nearby" has never been a story-driven strip, but the characters of Jim and Jillian have a been constant for four years, and to end the strip without some sort ending felt wrong to me.

There were many, many options considered for the ending. I remember one involved them meeting the Grim Reaper, who was going to take them away to the Land of Dead Comic Strips.

May 27th, 2010. I do remember that the "We're Canceled" storyline came pretty late. Before any of those strips ran, I talked with the head of The Daily, Kristin Millis, to make sure I would really be out the door come summer quarter's end. Yep.

The inspiration for the storyline came from the large number of strips I've done where the characters break the fourth wall and acknowledge that, yes, they're in a cartoon. If they know they were in a college newspaper comic strip, then logically they should know when their strip's coming to an end.

June 2nd, 2010. I don't remember where the wrap party idea came from, but in retrospect it seems to be ripped off from "Bloom County's" ending where all the characters gather around for a final party before their strip's cancellation.

Yeah, but did it have a cameo from Rae Dawn Chong? I don't think so!

I wanted to do a wrap party finale because I wanted to bring back a bunch of characters who have appeared in the strip in the past. The original idea was to do a strip where every character that's ever appeared in "No Exit Nearby" is crammed together in one panel. That obviously didn't come to pass, but I managed bring back Larry (the guy in the hat who used to be in the strip a lot in the early days), Elisabeth, and the two editors, Mike and Al.

June 3rd, 2010. The last strip of my first year doing "No Exit Nearby" featured Jillian finding an Exit, that led into a weird "2001" parody. Of course, it was not the Exit.

There was a lot of thought over how to end the strip, but I realized I needed to basically thank people for letting in me hang out in their student newspaper for so long, and address the title in some way.

I brought back the title box for old time's sake. I had gotten rid of it a year or two back because it took up too much space, but it was nice to do one more strip with it.

I can't really intellectualize why the final panel works, but Jim and Jillian walking off into the void while discussing the significance of their strip's title (which is itself a play on Jean-Paul Satre's "No Exit") seemed very appropriate.

Don't worry, "No Exit Nearby" will return for summer quarter, and it will continue to exists somewhere on the internet, amid a sea of disgusting fetish comics.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Coming Soon: A retrospective! See how the strip has evolved from something terrible to something less terrible!

Friday, June 11, 2010

This Post is a Mirage

Cartoons are fun. Here are some more:

May 17th, 2010. God only knows what people thought of this one. I was inspired to do this strip by the Werner Herzog film, "Fata Morgana," a weird, pseudo-documentary that depicted actual mirages. I really liked the name Fata Morgana, and tried to incorporate something of it into a cartoon.

The black-on-white artwork worked surprisingly well in this strip; it's a neat visual concept, and I'd like to try it again.

May 20th, 2010. I won't lie, this one was cranked out pretty fast, but I think it's a fairly amusing take on the Husky Stadium negotiation fiasco, which has taken far longer than even the most pessimistic among us thought it would.

Come back soon for the "No Exit Nearby" finale spectacular!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Five Stages of Grief for a Recent Graduate

Sorry I haven't been posting much. A lot's been going on, and blogging has been pretty low on the list of things to do.

However, I've still been doing a lot of fun stuff. The good folks at the University of Washington's student newspaper, The Daily, asked me to do some illustrations for an article in the Opinion section. Doing illustrations was a nice break from my regular cartooning, and I think the drawings as a whole turned out well.

The article is located here: "The Five Stages of Grief for a Recent Graduate."

I'd liked to thank Kevin Wong for writing a funny article, and my editor Ashleen Aguilar for giving me the job.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What Are You Doing This Summer?

Oh lookee here, some more cartoons for you:

May 6th, 2010. This isn't one of my favorites. It sort of lacks a comedic punch, and I think it was a mistake to not have labels for each interviewee. But hey, you can't win 'em all.

May 10th, 2010. I like this one because it's true. No one cares about ASUW elections.

May 13th, 2010. There's something very amusing about opening a newspaper and seeing two comic strip characters talking about their strip ending. In some ways, you almost feel like you've walked in a conversation not meant for you.

Also, I got to remind people again that Scalia sucks. That's an important job.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

FDR Has Some Words of Wisdom

'Nother bunch of strips coming your way.

April 27th, 2010.
I drew this cartoon almost two years ago. My editor at the time asked for a bonus cartoon that wasn't topical so that it could run at any moment. That moment never came, so it's been sitting around for awhile. A cartoon I did just recently ran into some problems, so I submitted this as a replacement.

The FDR caricature in the strip is based on a real caricature I saw from the 1930s. My only real change was to make his head bigger. That made it funnier for some reason.

I've always liked this one, and whenever I pass my portfolio around I usually include this strip.

April 28th, 2010. I received an e-mail last Tuesday asking for a cartoon regarding Mark Emmert's sudden departure as president of the University of Washington. Upon reading this news, my first immediate thought was, "Well, I'm leaving this year, so there's obviously no reason why he should stick around." This joke became the basis for the cartoon.

By the way, this is the fastest I've ever put together a cartoon. From idea to drawing to submitting, the whole process took a little over an hour and a half.

May 3rd, 2010. Nobody ever complains about those damned Canadian immigrants. Stop taking our jobs!

This was a fun one to write, and I'm particularly fond of the "Alan Thicke level of blandness" line. Oh, and there's another "Degrassi" reference, for you "Degrassi" fans out there.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Sorry for not updating in awhile; life's been pretty busy. But here are some cartoons to make up for it.

April 12th, 2010. I'm pretty sure I'm the most self-deprecating cartoonist The Daily has ever employed. Even in a cartoon talking about the strip being canceled, I still manage to take a shot at the strip, implying that it's cancellation is for the better.

I also like that I got a chance to call the Greek system "tired and worn out," which it is. Surprisingly there were no complaints. I assume the frat guys and gals were all far too hammered from their ritual couch burnings to notice the strip.

April 15th, 2010. Oh yeah, here's a real charmer. I want to emphasize that I'm not anti-Catholic at all, and frankly I find it the most interesting Christian denomination. Catholicism seems to lend itself to discussion better than any other subdivision of Christianity (Mormonism is the funniest though).

I made Jillian a Catholic on a whim a few years ago, and it's been a nice character trait for her. I think she reflects a certain kind of religious young person today; she obeys almost none of her religion's tenets, but is still faithful. That's a an amusing concept.

April 19th, 2010. I actually did go the UW's career fair, and it actually was kinda fun. It was also really sweaty, and there were many uncomfortable looking people. There wasn't much in the way of booths for me (animator/cartoonist), and the focus seemed to be more on the business side of the equation. Which is fine, but us artists need attention too!

April 22nd, 2010. I love these kinds of strips. Nothing delights me more than creating strips that really play with the medium. You can't do it all the time, or you'll no longer have any fourth-wall to break, but whenever I get the opportunity, I always go for it.

The inspiration for this strip came from imagining a blank page in The Daily reading in bold typeface, "Bill Gates, Give Us More Money." As funny as that is, it could also be pretty effective. Would you say, "No," to The Daily?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Uh Oh

Let's go see what our friends are up to.

April 5th, 2010. I had done a cartoon similar to this during my first year of the strip, and I felt like it was time to revisit the concept.

The joke in the last panel originally read, "That Sarah Palin TV show airs. The producers contemplate suicide." With this, the bearded producer (Mike) would have had a gun to his head, while the skinny producer (Al) adjusts a noose. It was just too much death for one panel.

April 8th, 2010. Wait, what?

When I came into doing "No Exit Nearby" for the last year, I knew I wanted to end it in a fun way, and considering how long the strip has run, it really necessitated some kind of closure. The strip has broken the fourth wall numerous times, and there have been a couple strips where "No Exit Nearby" was sold or portrayed as in dire financial straights. A story where the strip ended seemed to be the right thing to do. (I am also aware that nobody cares about the "story" of the strip as much as I do, so most of the remaining strips this quarter are going to remain topical and current events based.)

The plan was always to have a strip like this run sometime during the middle of the quarter, but when the jobs report came out last week, I realized it fit perfectly with the strip, and had to do it then.

I like Jim and Jillian's expressions in the last panel; they don't look too happy.

Friday, April 2, 2010

New Quarter, New 'Toons

Spring quarter has begun at the University of Washington, and that means new cartoons just for you!
March 29th, 2010. I think this one speaks for itself pretty well. And yes, that is the 1958 version of "The Fly" in the last panel.

April 1st, 2010. This one has a pretty long story. Earlier this week my editor informed me that she had pushed up an upcoming deadline, leaving me no time to do an elaborate cartoon that I wanted to do. So I frantically tried to think of easy, "cheater" cartoons that I could do instead (no joke, I once did a cartoon with just Jim and Jillian's eyes). Then I realized I had done a bunch of cartoons over Spring Break for my own amusement, and the above cartoon seemed the most fitting to run.

Because of this fairly rushed process, I left in the name, Stephanie Kaye, which is a reference to the study body president character from "Degrassi Junior High." Normally such an obscure reference wouldn't make it into an official strip (I probably would have used Patty Murray instead), but it just sort of happened this way.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I Didn't Know Frogs Even Had Lips

As anybody who knows me can attest, I'm a big Disney animation nerd, so I feel it's my responsibility to plug the release of their return to hand-drawn animation, "The Princess and the Frog" on DVD and Blu-ray. Despite being incredibly biased, I think it's a genuinely great film, and anybody who's interested in animation should see it.

But enough of that shameless plugging, the above cartoon was something I drew two years ago as an exclusive for my Facebook profile. I remember not really liking it when I finished it, but it surprisingly well-received. Looking back I like it a lot more, and I still think the final panel is a nice twist.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Cartoons Out of Nowhere!

Wasn't Martin Scorsese's "Shutter Island" great? What, you didn't see it? Get thee to a theater now!
This one ran on February 2nd, 2010. I really like doing conceptual cartoons like this one; strips that really play with the medium and have fun. Drawing the strip was pure joy, and I knew at the time I was doing something special.

By the way, for you "No Exit Nearby" fanatics out there, many of the characters in the background have appeared in the strip before in minor roles. There are some obscure ones in there, so you better keep the NEN Wikipedia article ready.
February 4th, 2010. I think you can tell on which days I just want to draw monsters. This was one of them. For those curious, the three monsters in panel two are: an ant from Them!, James Arness as the Thing from Another World, and the fly from the original 1958 version of The Fly.
February 10th, 2010. I think this is the third time I've drawn an Avatar related strip, which, considering how much fucking money this thing has made, is warranted. The idea of using Avatar to pimp incredibly dangerous Toyota cars rather than fixing them struck me as very amusing. I'm surprised it didn't happen.

Also, that second panel kinda sweet. Oh James Cameron, you've made me believe in blue cat people.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

All Cartoons Attack!

Sorry I haven't been posting recently. School's been pretty busy, and I've been working on an animation demo reel.

But enough of that livejournal nonsense, let's post some cartoons!
This one ran on January 21st, 2010. I figured I should probably do a cartoon about Haiti Relief, but I wanted to make sure it wasn't sappy or condescending. Cartoon violence proved to be the best answer.
January 27th, 2010. I thought this one turned out to be a suitably bizarre tribute to the late Ted Kennedy. The fact that the caricature actually looks a little like Kennedy really made me happy.
January 28th, 2010. One of the things I try to avoid in my cartoons is really overt anger. I've found that anger and didactic-ism usually make for poor cartoons, and I was infuriated by the Supreme Court decision mentioned in the strip. By really going all out into goofiness I managed to make my point, without being on a soapbox and just yelling at the reader. Plus, I really like drawing giant monsters.

And yes, that turtle is Gamera.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Editors Return!

Hey folks, let's dig something out of the vault! In my last post, I talked about the two editors, Mike and Al, who used to appear in "No Exit Nearby" quite a bit before mysteriously vanishing. For awhile this story arc was their final appearance, and the only time they ever met Jim and Jillian.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:
Damn, now that I look these strips again, they're actually pretty funny. I have no idea why I dropped the characters.

By the way, the above strips were done exclusively for my Facebook profile (friend me!), as a way of keeping my drawing skills fresh during the summer of 2008. It was a fun experiment that produced some of my favorites. Keep tuning in and maybe I'll show you some more.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

More Cartoons For You

Hey, here are some more "No Exit Nearby" cartoons. Both of these ran last week.

The CNN guys are two characters that used to appear in the strip a lot. They usually fulfilled whatever pointlessly bureaucratic role that needed filling. They've been the editors of "Time" magazine, Newscorp execs, ABC execs, sitcom writers, and now CNN editors.

Originally, Jillian was going to name the celebrity in the final panel (i.e. "I bet it's Tom Berenger; there's something weird about him"), but I doubted that my editors would find the allegation that a celebrity was responsible for 9/11 all that amusing (at least not their legal department). So I changed it to "one of those "Little House on the Prairie Kids,"" making it less specific and a little funnier.
I like this one because it's so weirdly mean. I think I wanted to do a cartoon about Steven Soderbergh's "Che," and through the process it fell into this particular take on it. From there I decided to include as many ridiculous stereotypes as I could, so I could offend the UW campus socialists and conservatives at the same time.

Originally the cartoon began with an Editor's Note. My editor told me to make it "Cartoonist's note" instead, somehow fearing (I think) that people would believe The Daily endorsed this cartoon. I thought it was pretty silly, but the fact that my editor let this ridiculous cartoon run at all convinced me to play nice.

Both cartoons can be found at The Daily's website, in the Opinion Section.

Monday, January 11, 2010

No Exit Returns

Sorry for not blogging recently. Life got busy again, and blogs have a tendency to fall by the wayside.
"The Daily" started publishing again last week, so I've been drawing a new batch of cartoons. The above is a sequel to one a did a year or two ago, which also gave (hopefully) practical advice to freshmen. Assuming they still read newspapers.
This one was fun to do, because it involved: aliens, monsters, zombies, and Stephen Lang. How times will I get to do that in a student newspaper? (answer: not enough)

It's a minor detail, but I really get a kick out of the tiny Navi's exclamation of horror. It's so goofy.