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.