Sunday, July 31, 2011

Please Give Some Money

No, it's not for me this time. My son's public school needs cash to keep two artists in residence. Check out the cute video I made. Please donate a few bucks if you feel like helping keep art in an Oakland school.

Monday, July 25, 2011

This Week's Dose of Dangle

This weekend we drove out to Antioch to try to get some summer heat since it was pretty chilly and windy here in Oakland. It gets really hot in Antioch but it was only about eighty with a nice breeze, so it was perfect, almost exactly like Hawaii, except it was Antioch, California. Oscar’s buddy Matthew came along and first we went to Contra Loma regional park. In the giant pool there they have a rule that you must pass a swimming test in order to go into the deep end. Oscar, cocky and overconfident as always, jumped in for his test. His crawl is unorthodox. It’s laughably strange, his arms coming up out of the water in long, loopy arcs that fail to propel him. He didn’t pass the test. The lifeguard said he couldn’t tell what the hell Oscar was doing. It was a heavy blow to Oscar’s ego and a stab to his self-esteem. Then he found a more lenient lifeguard and passed on his second try. The verdict: Oscar needs more lessons. I sat in the shade and read my book, Visit from the Goon Squad, and breathed lighter fluid fumes from nearby barbeques. Then we went to Prewett Park where they have a couple of water slides and several pools and they play blaring ’80s hits over the loudspeakers. Oscar and his pal went down a hundred times or so. Hae and I went down the water slides a few times too. We’re so fat that we bottomed out on the inner tube.

I’ve been going into the studio every day and working on various projects, but I have changed. The isolation I thrived on for so many years is driving me nuts. I walk around the streets but it’s just not doing it for me. If you’re not a weirdo and you want to meet for coffee in Oakland sometime send me an email. Right now I’m working on an insufferably long project with no end in sight. I must remember to always demand a deadline. If I really plow forward and work on it day and night I might be able to finish it in a week. I will, by god, I will.

The other thing going on in the studio is twenty-two years of Troubletown cartoons are stacked up in piles. I’m going through them to find forty good ones for the show at the Cartoon Art Museum. Like I wrote in a previous post, for most of the twenty-two years I used rubber cement to hold together my cartoons with their many paste-ups. My originals are essentially collages. In the early years the rubber cement must’ve been better quality because those are sticking together, but starting around ’93 all the cartoons are yellowed and falling apart. Maybe they changed the formula to make it less deadly and it ruined the adhesive quality. I opened up an envelope of comics and the pieces came falling down like autumn leaves. Little drawings and bits of lettering. Nobody could ever put them back together. Oh well, at least I have ten thousand unsold copies of my books in storage! The cartoons exist in print!

I’ve made some changes over at My pal, Pat Broderick, designed some wonderful new stuff. Take a look at it if you’re interested. I’m changing the focus of my “professional” site to promote graphic recording, the corporate hackery I’m doing now and enjoying.

Hae and I can never figure out who put which movies on the queue at Netflix. She accuses me of loading it up with real stinkers. We watched O Lucky Man, a musical written and starred in by a young Malcom McDowell. Very strange film. We saw Cautiva, very depressing (but excellent) Argentinean film. I watched Louis Black’s Stark Raving Black. I always thought he was funny but he couldn’t pull off a comedy show as a headliner. He’s better in small bits. Then I also watched a Korean gangster shoot ‘em up called The Man from Nowhere. It was gritty with a funny overwrought ending when the good guy and the kidnapped girl are reunited. Took Oscar to see Cars 2 in 3D. I liked it better than Cars 1. Somebody informed me that Iggy Pop recorded a jazz album so as a stalwart fan of the Ig I went to iTunes and listened to the free snippets they give you. Oh, god it sounded awful! It was the worst thing I’d heard since the Bob Dylan Christmas album!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Today's Sketch: Iggy Pop Performing Tunes from the Jazz Album

Conversation with the Man

I never answer the phone if the caller ID doesn’t identify a number or a person, but some no-name caller was ringing my phone several times a day so I finally picked it up.

“Hello, I’m calling from the police drug enforcement bureau, how are you today?”

“I’m okay.”

“Great. Do you know why I’m calling?”


“You don’t?”

“No, I don’t.”

“Well I’m calling because the war on drugs is in a crucial situation now with all the meth out there. I’m sure you’re aware.”


“And we’d like to give you a sticker that shows that you are with us in the fight against drugs.”

“Listen, I...”

“I’m calling today to ask, if we were to send you an envelope in the mail with one of these stickers, would you be able to make a contribution?”

“How would you know where to send it?”

“Don't worry. We know where you live.”

“Uh, money is pretty tight around here, Let me talk it over with my wife.”

“That’s true for everybody these days, but if we were to send you one of these stickers do you think you could dig deep and keep the kids off drugs?”

“We’re really having to limit how many donations we...”

“It don’t matter how much you give but for the sticker do you think you could afford forty bucks? This money is also going to a fund for the families of slain police officers.”

“Well, go ahead and send me the materials...”

“Before we send the sticker, will you make a pledge for forty bucks?”

“I’ll think about it.”

“I really need to have a pledge today.”

“Let me...”

“Can I have a pledge of forty bucks?”


“Okay, thank you.” CLICK.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Shocking Result of Poor Adhesives

Typical Troubletown original from the nineties

Sometime in the last ten years I stopped using rubber cement and moved to UHU glue sticks. I did it mostly because I feared that inhaling the rubber cement fumes was going to give me cancer. I always do a lot of paste up on my cartoons so the glue is important. Well, lately I have been pulling out the old cartoons from the archive and I'm distressed to find that they have either fallen completely apart or they're so delicate that they crumble at the slightest touch. I could use an unpaid intern to come in and restore these cartoons with UHU. At one a week it will take them something like fifteen years, so ideally they would be about ten years old now and financially independent.

So much for my plan of living off the sales of my originals. I guess I'll have to keep working.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Your Weekly Dose of Dangle

My miniature tikis

I just got back to my office after two weeks in Hawaii. Yes, readers, eat your hearts out. It was great. We were on my favorite island, Kauai. I love to hang out on the beach and do nothing for days on end and it’s especially great because Oscar loves the water. I mean he really loves the water. He goes into the ocean in the morning and comes out in the late afternoon. He even asks me to bring him a drink of water out in the waves because he can’t bear to get out. You might think it’s irresponsible parenting to let him stay in the water so long, that it might be unsafe or whatever, but he’s virtually an aquatic animal. Hard pounding surf means nothing to him. Some of my friends were taking a surf lesson and the wizened old native Hawaiian surf instructor commented on my son’s swimming: “Oscar da fish.”

Since we’ve been back it’s been typical San Francisco summer, foggy, overcast, cold. I have been getting back into writing but I don’t seem able to put two words together in a coherent order.

I was asked by Andrew at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco to have a Troubletown retrospective exhibit in the fall. What an honor. The problem is that my friends at the Mercury Cafe also asked me to have a show and an “End of Troubletown” party at the same time. It’s difficult to know what to do. Would it be weird to have two shows in the same town going on at once? I’m in a conundrum. The other problem with having a retrospective is that I used the wrong adhesive on my comics for nineteen years. Rubber cement doesn’t stand the test of time. I’ve been going through the archives. The entire year of 1995 is falling apart. A lot of the comics sucked too.

Review of the iPad, continued

I took my iPad to Hawaii with me and tried to find some use for it. The email program is a mess. Two emails that I had intended to reply to simply disappeared after I read them. (E Yarber, if you're out there, thanks for your message!) After a while I got a notice that my mail server was full. On a laptop I could’ve gone in and deleted a bunch of junk mail, but the iPad only let me select one email at a time so it would’ve taken me forever to throw out enough to make a difference.

The other problem with the iPad is the apps. Apps are mini-applications that are supposed to make the iPad act a little bit like a computer, but unlike most software they are all released while still in early stages of development so they’re buggy as hell and work like shit. You are supposed to be checking the app store all the time to discover the ones that actually do what they’re supposed to without crashing your iPad. I don’t have time for that, I just want things that work reliably. If anybody has any apps that are good let me know about them.

My reaction to the iPad is one of those things that makes me feel the disconnect between me and the American people. They all love this gadget. It puts me another step behind the techno-savvy youth. I asked my friend Pete what he uses his iPad for. He loves to have it in the kitchen so he can watch a movie or listen to NPR while he chops up onions. It’s a thousand dollar radio and TV with a small screen. When I tried watching a movie on mine it kept having to reload. I guess I have to shell out for a faster connection. iPad. Anybody want to buy one slightly used?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Photo from my iPad

I'm still trying to figure out what this device is good for.