Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Bear Hug with Teddy Bear


"You sleep with a little stuffed version of yourself?"
Or: Cute and funny meets realistic, and realistic does not prevail.

Our younger son desperately wants a pet.  Our older son, however,  is pretty clear that if he were confronted with the choice between playing a video game or dealing with a real animal, the video game would win every time.

Nevertheless, they are in agreement in their appreciation of animal cuteness.  They spent the weekend repeatedly calling up the insipid Youtube video of "Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom" (by Parry Gripp of "Nerf Herder." Glutton for punishment, are you? Here is a link to the video)  The video features clips of mostly small and furry animals eating, accompanied by an incessant, and incessantly annoying, soundtrack of Nom Nom Nom Noms.

I considered drawing a baby animal gnawing something for today's napkin, but decided that minus the soundtrack, the image would not achieve the appropriate level of precious hilarity.

But, let's be honest, the real problem is the way I draw.

In place of one of the Nom Noms, I drew Wink the bear, a character from the kids' preferred comic of the moment, Rob Harrell's "Big Top. I thought the fact that Wink sleeps with a stuffed version of himself (available at the circus concession, of course) would provide a cute animal opportunity.

The kids were unimpressed this morning. Archer helpfully pointed out that my version was too realistic. Ansel took a napkin from the backup pile.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Snow Goons Run Rampant in New York


Happy Snow Day:

As you may have heard, it snowed some  in NYC last night. If you don't live in the vicinity, perhaps you missed the mayor announcing on television that not only was he recommending that everyone should stay home, but that any unauthorized person found driving after 11 pm would run the risk of being arrested. The subways were shut down also, so transportation options were rather limited.

Of course the storm did not live up to its once in a lifetime, "stay home or die...or at least be arrested" predictions. 

Which leads up to the question of why was martial law declared last night?

Perhaps it was snow goons.

(If you are wondering why I say "snow goons"...I mean the Calvin and Hobbes variety: here's the book, and a gallery)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Biker Bear from "Big Top" Comic


Rob Harrell writes a daily strip called "Big Top" about Pete, a ten year old boy growing up in a circus populated by talking animals who appear to be acting in loco parentis as well as being his pals and roommates.  His primary companion is Wink the unicycle riding, tutu-clad circus bear.  Early on in the series, Wink reveals to Pete, that he has a colorful past involving smoking, leather and a motorcycle. For obvious reasons, I had to omit the cigarette.

Before starting the drawing last night, I somewhat tentatively Googled "Biker Bear," thinking that I wasn't going to see many images of four legged creatures. The results are heavily devoted to teddy bears wearing pleather and bandanas, so cute bears on motorcycles does seem to upstage other uses of the term.

This is the second motorcycle that I have tried to draw in the last week or so. Definitely too complicated, I should avoid them in the future.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Dragon from Kid Beowulf


It's easy to be disapproving if you are a dragon.

We've been reading the first book in Alexis E. Fajardo's "Kid Beowulf" series, "Kid Beowulf and the Blood Bound Oath." It is a sort of prequel to the classic Beowulf story which imagines a back story for Beowulf and Grendel that involves a sarcastic dragon living under the mere.

Looking at the Kid Beowulf website this morning, I discover that I have made the dragon the wrong color and neglected to provide him with wings.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Zarf and Kevin Littlepig


Middle School can be rough, particularly if you happen to be  a pig or a troll.

As I mentioned earlier this week, our boys enjoyed Life of Zarf by Rob Harrell.
Last night, we finished reading the story of Zarf's trials as an unpopular troll in middle school.

In addition to dealing with obnoxious popular kids (some whom are goats), he and his friends defeat a dragon and rescue a king.

I did my best with Zarf and his friend Kevin Littlepig, but I probably should have just drawn the dragon instead.

http://www.amazon.com/Life-Zarf-The-Trouble-Weasels/dp/0803741030

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Liō and Stitch


Intergalactic troublemakers separated by only one letter:

There can never be enough of the Liō comic as far as my kids are concerned.  Our Liō books are constantly off the shelf and in backpacks, in beds or generally underfoot. Mark Tatulli's strip is mostly wordless (I see that the official term is "pantomime") and follows the adventures of a little boy as he hangs out with pet monsters, zombies and aliens.  Punchlines are often macabre and sometimes involve mass destruction. 

It seemed like he would have plenty in common with Stitch, another one of my kids' favorite creators of mayhem.  I briefly considered drawing them blowing up the moon together, but decided to put them in space with a less disturbing explosion.

Just in case you are not the parent of Disney-saturated kids and are wondering about the "separated by one letter" statement above: "Lilo and Stitch" was both the title of the first Stitch movie and the ensuing TV series.

....And yes, of course the idea for this image was generated by my sleep deprived brain being unable to distinguish between the words Lilo and Liō. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Disney Monthly Magazine in Malaysia


This spread ran in the December 2014 issue of the Kuala Lumpur based magazine.  
You can visit the magazine's website, or their facebook page.

Archer wanted me to get all of the text on this page translated for him.  This seemed like a unreasonably difficult undertaking, although I am sure that the English-to-Malay-and-back-to-English-again titles of the napkins would have been fairly amusing.

The two items that were apparently untranslatable were the name of the Star Wars character "Zeb Orelios" and, perplexingly, "Super Dino."

Monday, January 19, 2015

Paddington Earns Doctor Who's Disapproval


Alternate use for the Sonic Screwdriver?

Of course we had to go see the Paddington movie over the weekend. I'll admit I took some pleasure in pointing out to my sons that Peter Capaldi (aka the 12th actor to portray Doctor Who) was there in the story as a buffoonish, meddling neighbor. I was trapped too close to the screen in the third row, watching Nicole Kidman in a ridiculous white nurse bondage outfit try to stuff a talking bear...so I had to get my kicks where I could.  

The information that this guy was also the Doctor led to a lot of excited exclaiming from our sons, which was no doubt not appreciated by the mass of toddlers and their beleaguered parents seated around us.

Walking home from the theater, we discussed Peter Capaldi's acting range: ridiculous fuddy-duddy or powerful immortal time traveler? Archer opined, "You see, playing Doctor Who was a good career move for him. Now he can get parts in other movies!"

Yes, I am sure Mr. Capaldi is very grateful that the role of Doctor Who enabled him to get a part in the Paddington movie....

We also discussed how the bear and the Doctor should be paired in an image. Archer and Ansel thought he should be shown sticking the Sonic Screwdriver into his ear...the earwax extraction scene being both the highpoint and the most memorable moment of the movie. I feared that would suggest a possibly unfortunate, brain splattering, end for the bear. I decided the depict the aftermath instead.

Given his fairly distinctive face, I didn't think Mr. Capaldi would be particularly challenging to draw.  But, as you can see, I had a bit of trouble with his likeness. Perhaps I sensed his desire not to be associated with ursine earwax.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Wishing Tree on Triumph


Arboreal Wish Fulfillment 

Like they did its predecessor, "Monster on the Hill," our kids are finding "Life of Zarf" by Rob Harrell to be quite entertaining.

Zarf the troll tells the story of his career in a middle school that's in a contemporary fairy tale universe.  Fellow students include an annoying prince, wizards, ogres, and talking pigs with the last name "Littlepig" ("little pig, little pig, let me come in").... but the kids have cell phones and play the game "Angry Dragons" which looks a whole lot like "Angry Birds." Goldilocks appears as "Ms. Locks," a middle aged lunch lady with a hobby hunting bears.

The generously illustrated story is full of nice little bits like the Wishing Tree.  This is not a tree that grants wishes, but rather one that itself makes wishes constantly.  Zarf explains that he understands why the immobile tree constantly wishes to ride a motorcycle, but is tired of listening to it.

The napkin recipients' dad is a serious rider, fixer, and stockpiler of motorcycles, so riding envy is a topic that does come up frequently around here.

I don't think I was really able to take advantage of the visual opportunities of a tree on a motorcycle. I got too involved with just drawing the bike and getting it to sit on the ground. I didn't get around to suggesting wind or speed.  And that tree definitely needs more roots.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Rocket Raccoon with Tongue and Goggles


Rocket Raccoon makes a lewd joke in the "Guardians of the Galaxy: Annual #1" (by Brian Michael Bendis and Frank Cho) that our sons didn't really get, but found HILARIOUS nonetheless.

They had not been big fans of the Guardians comic series, outside of those focused on Rocket and Groot, and I wasn't sure that they were going to be interested in this issue.  In the annual, the Guardians discover the SHIELD helicarrier floating out in space. It is populated by a lot of relatively obscure Marvel characters and a white guy version of Nick Fury.

But had I known that there would be an image of Rocket sticking out his tongue on one of the opening pages, I would not have wondered if my kids would want to read it.  In that scene, Rocket is interrupting Captain Marvel as she tries to record a video message to send back to Earth. She asks him sarcastically if he even knows anyone on Earth, and he responds, "Not intimately!" and sticks out his tongue...just in case any children in the room might have missed the joke.  Carol Danvers recoils and says, "Don't put that image in my head!"

My kids claimed to not understand what he meant by "intimately," but it was all still so funny that they had to turn back to the page repeatedly and giggle over it.

Rocket looks quite different in Cho's drawings. My rendition is of course not so amusing. He seems more wistful than lewd. But perhaps that is for the best, given the 2nd grade lunch context.  I went with the image of Einstein sticking out his tongue for source material.  Although if you Google "raccoon sticking tongue out  there are more images than you might expect, or need... and I am pretty sure none of them are making jokes about interspecies sex.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

El Deafo


Super Bunny with Hearing Aids:

Our kids were very taken with Cece Bell's graphic Novel "El Deafo." 

Ms. Bell tells the autobiographical story of her years in lower school, struggling to fit in and feel good about herself while wearing a clunky hearing aid. Everyone in the story is drawn as cartoon rabbits: clothes-wearing, human-hair-having rabbits.  

Our boys were perhaps slightly disappointed by the lack of dire plot developments.  Nothing explodes, There are no weapons. Cece is not even apprehended at the conclusion when she uses her hearing aids as a tool to enable her friends to get away with goofing off in class when the teacher is out of the room. 

Our dyslexic younger son, nonetheless, was particularly moved by the message that being different can actually turn out to be a super power. 

Having a lunch napkin with a picture of a rabbit with bangs and what now looks like ear buds probably doesn't quality as a super power, however.

An image from the cover of El Deafo:

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Wall of Flesh from Terraria


Possibly the last thing you would like to find in your lunchbox...and the last thing you would want to put in your child's lunchbox.

Or...

Definitive evidence that the napkin project has "jumped the shark."

Firstly, in defense of the indefensible, I want to mention that this image was specifically requested by my sons...at least in the abstract. They have been avidly playing a game called Terraria.   Similar to Minecraft, it is a two dimensional "sandbox game.'  If you are not the parent of video game playing kids, and/or that does not mean anything to you: The players can alter the environment, collect raw materials and build things. There are also animals to exploit and bad guys and "bosses" (ultimate bad guys) to battle.

The kids had requested the "main boss of the underworld," this "Wall of Flesh."(helpfully abbreviated as "WoF") I discovered this morning that they had not yet reached the appropriate level in the game and didn't really know what the WoF looked like. I had googled last night after they went to sleep and was indeed dubious that I was going to be able to come up with something that could go to lunch without inducing nausea. Delusionally, I decided to forge ahead and try to pretty it up a bit.

How can I explain that decision?
It was late and I didn't know what else to draw? I had been at an indoor water park over the preceding weekend and inhaled so many chlorine byproducts that my judgement was impaired? (Ironically, after a few hours at the park, my eyes looked quite a bit like these eyes on the napkin, but less attractive).

As to why I used the phrase "jumped the shark": I mean that less in the sense of "the point at which something that was once great reaches a point of sharp decline in quality and popularity" and more in the sense that I have been drawing these napkins for a long time and am willing to try something that is destined for failure just for variety's sake.  Many of the napkins end up with a similar format: a character or two close up in the foreground and some indeterminate sky and green stuff in the far background.  We just don't have too many hot pink walls of anything.

There have been other gross napkin failures in the past. Most memorable among them was the night that Archer perversely insisted that what he really, really wanted on his napkin was "a cut toenail blasting a pile of poop with a laser." Yes, model parent that I am, I tried to draw that for him. And yes, my tone here is sarcastic. I didn't do a particularly good job (It was no "WoF"!)  I think that the casual viewer would have assumed the image was a strange piece of modernist sculpture spraying yellow paint on a large pile of soft serve chocolate ice cream. Maybe.

Archer, in his then 5 year old wisdom, decided not to take the toenail napkin to school.
And this morning, Ansel sagely took a napkin picturing Paddington Bear holding a lightsaber.


Here's the WoF in the game:


Monday, January 12, 2015

Barry From Jetpack Joyride


I am afraid that I am going to make an ugly admission, but I think I was born without the ability to enjoy playing video games. 

In particular, those that are all about eye/hand coordination- getting some animated mass of pixels to jump or shoot at just the right time- leave me rather cold. 

I don't think my lack of appreciation is just a result of my advancing age. My family were among the early adopters of things digital and had an Atari Pong game for our television set. (Yes, I am THAT old.) In fact, aside from a brief obsession with playing Galaxian in an arcade during a 7th grade class trip, (so much better than talking to boys while wearing a bathing suit!) I think "Pong" may have been the last time I was really excited about playing a video game.

As I mentioned, I don't think my age or gender are the only problems. I have had many friends over the years who tried to convince me of the Fun to be had in playing. I had acquaintances who lost college semesters to Tetris, and boyfriends who subjected me to endless explanations of the joys of first person shooters.

And now there is the matter of my sons.

I am usually successful in at least appreciate the games they play as a spectator. I still don't want to play them myself...If, for instance, I play Minecraft, I immediately fall into a hole and can barely be motivated to get my pathetic self out...

The thrill of games like Halfbrick's Jetpack Joyride definitely elude me. We logged some time in an arcade over the weekend, and I had trouble understanding why we should spend gobs of money to play a game that the kids already have on the iPad. 

But clearly, it was worth it.

Ansel was not impressed, however, with my goofy napkin version of Barry. He told me in no uncertain terms that the original comic version was much better.

...Just telling the truth, mom. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Hypnotoad




Everybody Loves Hypnotoad:

Our younger son adores age-inappropriate television.  He has a simultaneously gleeful and almost anthropological interest in profanity, sexual innuendo, and references to controlled substances.  Even when he doesn't understand a joke that is intended for adult audiences, he seems to enjoy just knowing that it's there, and is no doubt taking mental notes for future reference.

Consequently, he really likes "Futurama."  It is much like Matt Groening's other creation, "The Simpsons," but more so when it comes to the liberal use of the word "ass" and jokes about strippers.  Watching an episode with my son does offer all sorts of opportunities to discuss gender politics, which can be ok...and then very bad, in rapid succession.

Hypnotoad appears only briefly on Futurama, but still spawned an internet meme that traveled far beyond the show itself. Hypnotoad does not take drugs, swear, smoke, fornicate or make jokes about pole dancing. In that, it is among my favorite Futurama characters, and one of the few appropriate for discussion at a 2nd grade lunch table.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Apathea Ravenchilde and Selke from "Americus"


Characters from the story within a story in MK Reed's graphic novel "Americus," illustrated by Jonathan David Hill.

Ansel loved this book, insisting that there "HAS to be a sequel!"
But he was not so impressed with my  dippy rendition of the characters.

"Americus" is both about the power of reading fiction, and about becoming an adolescent nonconformist in a conservative American small town.

The main protagonist is a 13 year old named Neil who is an avid reader of a Dungeons and Dragons like fantasy series called, "The Chronicles of Apathea Ravenchilde, the Huntress Witch." When conservative Christians move to ban the series from the town library, he is driven to take action. Along the way, he discovers the joys of punk music, wearing black clothes and hanging out with other non conforming kids. Neil's story alternates with selections from the Apathea books.

My sons are growing up in the trendy wilds of Williamsburg Brooklyn, wearing too much black and subsisting on a diet of science fiction and fantasy graphic novels.  Conservative Christian middle America is a totally foreign concept for them. They were fascinated by the idea that someone would want to ban a book because of religious beliefs.

Unfortunately, the topics of intolerance and censorship are particularly relevant after yesterday's events in Paris.