Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I am Zorry

My spousal unit and I often joke about how the English mispronounce Spanish words even worse than people in the US. "Jaguar" [JAG-YOO-ARR] is one such irritant. It always reminds me of an advertisment for English classes in Tegucigalpa that tried to make learning English seem really easy by using homophones. A cartoon coati is saying "Jaguar you?" to a fox who exclaims 'I am Zorry". If you don't speak Spanish that will make no sense but if you do it's highly amusing.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

An Ape Like Tea

This is based on an actual tea called "Monkey Tikuyin" produced only on the Mo Ye mountains in Fukkin (settle down now) province. The tea plants grow on high cliffs where people can't reach but where presumably it's safe for certain types of monkeys. It tastes like regular green tea. Darjeeling of course is an Indian tea. Kwazulu is from the Natal province of South Africa and is the usual choice for my morning cuppa.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Retro Decoman

Here's me celebrating something or other in the observation bar on the Queen Mary which is docked at Long Beach, California. It's a hotel, museum and dining establishment these days but still oozes with the golden age of cruising decadence. I think I was drinking some odd little cocktail (not shown) and wishing it was 1949 all over again.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Alcoholidays

I like to include a lot of vintage "fad" toys in my strips. Here's one with the thermodynamically powered drinking bird also known as bobble, happy, dippy, dipping, tippy, tipping, sippy, sipping, sippy-dip, dip-dip, dinking, dinky-dinky or dunking birds depending on which part of the planet you live in. It was invented in 1945 by Miles V. Sullivan who was a Ph.D. inventor-scientist at Bell labs in Murray Hill, NJ, USA. I don't know if it would actually work with alcohol as it would be liable to evaporation than water.

Greetings From Yesteryear

I didn't do a holiday card this year but I did find this old postcard design I did a few years back that I never had printed up.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Boop Island

This strip represents the first time I've ever drawn the rabbits' backyard. I guess they now live in the suburbs since I was too lazy to draw anything but tract housing in the background. It's details like this that probably hold me back from being a world dominating cartoonist. I also struggled to think of Eightball's ideal female companion. I originally had Whoopie Goldberg in the rough until I decided that it had to be a non-human. I'm still not sure Betty Boop is a good match for him but as far as I know she's still single and available.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Art Imitates Taquería

This strip was based on a real life offer that my local taquería, Casa Sanchez on 24th Street in San Francisco, was doing a few years ago. They had a much cooler mascot called Jimmy the Corn Man and anyone who had it tattooed on their body got free burritos for life. They would post photos of the tattoos in the window. They soon discontinued the promotion and closed down for several months. They're open for business again now but I don't know if the inked patrons still get the free comida.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Vintage Geekiness

Sorry about the lax postings of late. Hello? Anyone still here? [crickets]. I've been busy with exciting undisclosed happenings. Here's a special dip into the "where are they now?" archives of my past comic strip glory. This was a two-pager that ran in a few fanzines from a series of semi-autobiographical strips I did back in the eighties when was a serious young nineteen year-old in important trousers. I say semi-autobiographical because I'm supposedly the tall one with the buck teeth and impaired vision who had zero success on the dating front. Tex (?!) was my good friend Alan who now lives in France and is now some sort of martial arts expert. I used a lot of Zip-o-Tone back in those pre-computer days (called Letratone in Britain). This was supposed to be a sort of English Archy & Jughead-type feature. It was discontinued after a few months for obvious reasons, most likely because all the strips were just as terrible as this one.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I did this one "on the road" during a recent trip to Arizona. I bet you're probably thinking that the black lines look slightly different. Well, that's because my travel ink is different from my usual bottle of Pelikan since you're not allowed to take glass ink bottles onto a plane in your hand luggage. Is there a finer word in the English language than "prambulator"?

Saturday, November 15, 2008


This is the black and white version of an upcoming Rabbits Against Magic strip. I'm starting to use a lot more solid blacks in the strip so that they will reproduce better in print and not rely so heavily on color. I got the premise from the chapter on the French in "A Child's Geography of the World" by V.M. Hillyer written in 1929 (charmingly embossed as the"new and cheaper edition"). I guess people really did worry about foreign policy even back then.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dead Day

November 2nd is celebrated in Mexico as Day of the Dead. Here in San Francisco, the sizable Latino population in the Mission district joined in the festivities. That's me (right) and my spouse (left) dressed as a tribute to José Guadelupe Posada. I posted a feeble and amateurish video here that does little justice to the vibrant street celebrations and procession.

Monday, November 3, 2008


On November 19th I will be running daily strip number 200 on Comic Sherpa and I drew a special numerically-shaped anniversary themed cartoon to celebrate. The last panel features all eight of my main characters plus the Comic Sherpa himself. Here's a sneak preview. Incidentally I went to buy "normal" balloons myself recently and was staggered to see the cost of those shiny balloons really is $12 (although they did include the helium).

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Honorable Mention

The great Brian Anderson (Dog Eat Doug cartoonist) was kind enough to select my comic strip as his TBBA spotlight on The Gigcast podcast episode 165 a few weeks ago. My web hits went threw the roof in the days following so it's clearly a very popular podcast. It's a great listen so check it out.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Goodbye Opus

After returning twice from the dead, it seems that Berkeley Breathed is finally putting Opus the Penguin out to pasture. November 3rd will be the last ever "Opus" strip as the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist dedicates his output exclusively to children's books. Because no newspaper I read on a regular basis ever carried Bloom County or Outland I was a bit of a Lemon-come-lately to the strip but I quickly caught up through the numerous collections and treasuries. There is no doubting its influence in the cartooning world, especially the way in which it dealt with socio-political issues.

Day of the Dead

November 2nd is Día De Los Muertos, easily my favorite holiday of the year despite not being a day off work. There is something about the combination of changing seasons, the celebration of mortality, the bright Mexican colors and the encroaching winter that tickles my fancy every year. Here in the predominantly Latino Mission district of San Francisco there is an annual procession which always brings an unriviled carnival atmosphere to the neighborhood. Many of the images for Day of the Dead were produced in the printshop of former political cartoonist José Guadalupe Posada, one of my all time favorite artists and a huge influence.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I Captured a Bo Bo

This might be my first ever cartoon. I drew it on Tuesday 10th October, 1972 when I was six. It's the illustration for a story about a man who makes monsters in his office. The blue monster can produce gold coins from his foot (obviously some sort of metaphor for the federal reserve bank). The story ends after the man goes to war against France and everyone is blown up by the Irish Republican Army. And who says children are innocent.

Rabbits Against Dinosaurs

Here's an advanced screening of a forthcoming Rabbits strip. The great Bill Watterson drew a lot of big dinosaurs into his Sunday Calvin and Hobbes strips. Here I try to cram three into one panel of a daily strip. Read into that what you will.

Vintage Zoo Elvis

I just spent a happy hour scanning in some recently discovered art from my past. This one is from a particularly lame comic strip I drew for a local fanzine in Brighton, England back in the eighties when I was at art college. The strip was called "Zoo" and mostly featured a chipmunk who had a crush on a giraffe. This was the only even vaguely amusing strip out of the thirty or so I drew. I'm not even sure what kind of animal that was supposed to be.

Friday, October 3, 2008


I just discovered Wordle, a great application that analyzes text and then creates a "word cloud" based on the frequency of each word. Here's a cloud based on all the text in this blog.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Eightball Versus Candy Blondell

My Eightball character is making a guest appearance this week in the long-running Candy Blondell comic strip. The strip is drawn by the highly talented, Luisa Felix who lives way out east in Hoboken , NJ. Check out page 18 here. Luisa, who is a big fan of the strip says Eightball will appear twice more in his role as "plush toy number two". Candy herself appeared as a subliminal product placement in a Rabbits Against Magic strip back on September 11th.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Vintage Rabbit Machine

Here's a strip that will run in October. The last panel took a bit of work. I spent a substantial (and probably unnecessary) amount of time researching old comic styles. Originally I wanted to do a Victorian political cartoon style but space restrictions and my lack of drawing skills made me turn to George Herriman's pre-Krazy Kat strip "Baron Bean". The mouse at the front of the animal line came out looking way too much like Ignatz, even though I wasn't trying. There is so much comicana (action lines, clouds, sweat beads, dotted eyesight lines) in those old comics. The minimalist influence of Peanuts did away with a lot of that. However, I miss the exaggerated body positions, Vaudevillian theatrics and detailed shading.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Rabbit on a Hot Tin Roof

Today I found myself a month ahead on the strip so I took a few minutes to mess around with some different character styles. This one seems like it would make a cute watch. One month ahead (31 daily strips) is about as far ahead as I like to be. I just did the math and figured out that if I only did five days a week instead of seven I would be nearly four months ahead. Come to think of it if I'd gone weekly from the start I'd be three years ahead. The lesson here is that being too far ahead leaves you too much time on your hands.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Still Krazy

As the Giants finish off another dreadful season I kill my time between innings reading vintage Krazy Kat comics. There is no doubt in my mind (and many others) that Krazy Kat is the greatest comic strip ever (Pogo in second place trails a fair way behind). I therefore hesitated to soil the integrity of George Herriman by using his characters in a Rabbits strip. However, I liked copying his raw scratchy style. It's customary when you do this sort of character theft to write "Apologies to [insert artist's name]" somewhere in the frame but seeing as he died in 1944 I just added a copyright notice so his syndicate doesn't call me... although I'm still waiting to hear back from them after sending them a submission package several weeks ago.

Friday, August 29, 2008

How to Draw a Comic Strip

I amused myself today by crating an obsessive guide to how I crate a comic strip. I explain in great detail how the magic behind Rabbits Against Magic happens conception to completion so that you too can become an expert wannabe cartoonist. There's even some rare interior pictures of my legendary "Lemon's Underworld" home cartoon studio. Please be patient as it takes a while for the page to load all 20 steps.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Podcast Interview

I am the featured guest on the Comics Coast to Coast Episode 49. You can listen to the interview here or download it via iTunes (it's free). It runs for over an hour and includes some spectacularly geeky comic talk as well as some probing into my distant and dubious career.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Veep Mania

All the hype about who Obama will pick for his running mate reminded me to color and post some political cartoons I inked a while ago. Unless she is the surprise pick I will miss drawing Hillary. The current odds-on favorites--Senators Biden and Bayh and Governor Kaine--all have features that match their safe bland personalities.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Scenic Lake Tahoe

We just got back from a little jaunt to South Lake Tahoe which I always enjoy most during the summer months when snow seems several seasons away. It's inspiring scenery to say the least.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Franklin at Forty

Franklin, the Peanuts strip's first African-American character, whose dad was a serviceman in Vietnam first appeared on August 5th, 1967. His race was never addressed in the strip and Franklin never really became "funny". He also encountered accusations of tokenism but he nevertheless lingered in the strip's ensemble for decades and is arguably the greatest black cartoon figure in US history. Here's me in Santa Rosa wishing Franklin many happy returns. I think he looks good with the dreads, even if it looks suspiciously like Charlie Brown in black face.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Acid in Tubes

Friday, July 18, 2008

Crazy Crab

July 18th was Crazy Crab day. If you don't already know Crazy Crab is the greatest mascot in the history of sports. Heck, he could be the single greatest thing *in* sports!

Crazy Crab was the San Francisco Giants’ "anti-mascot" during the woeful 1984 season . It was intended to lampoon the new influx of mascots to baseball in the late seventies-early eighties. Fans were encouraged to boo and even pelt the poor costumed crustacean with hot dogs and popcorn as he scuttled sideways around the field. Even the players would get into the act, taking out their frustrations with bats and resin bags to the point that the crab required reinforced fiberglass coating added to the costume. His reign lasted only one season but in the ensuing years he has become something of a cult figure. He came back for the very last Dodgers series at Candlestick Park (he came out in a Limo and his eye fell off) and today they had Crazy Crab Bobblehead Night. He has a fan site here.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

In March I was invited to be "Cartoonist-in-Residence" at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco. This involved sitting in the museum for a Saturday afternoon fielding questions and drawing a comic strip. It was the semi-official launch of a new comic strip I have been working on called "Rabbits Against Magic". In case you didn't know the Cartoon Art Museum is one of only about four museums in the US dedicated to cartoons and comic strips. They have an excellent permanent collection (including a Walt Kelly Pogo daily and a couple of George Herriman originals, one of which--a Krazy Kat Sunday--is the jewel of the collection). In the Bay Area we are lucky to have two (the other being the Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa. Here's the strip I drew "live" that day. I'm not used to drawing while people are watching.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Doodles Duck Adventue

Occasionally I get actual fun paying projects. Recently I had to make a series of fake children's books to replace some images that were causing copyright issues. All the client requested was that there was a fire truck. I added one of my own comic strip characters and used my favorite pseudonym "Charlie Pencils" to complete the design. Once it was wrapped in a Mylar cover and wrapped around an actual book it looked almost like a real publication.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Devil in a Red Dress

May Day has always been my favorite holiday of the year. Not only is it International Workers Day but in Northern Europe it is Walpurgis Night (or Vappu in Finland apparently). A quick trip to Wikipedia also confirms that it is Green Man Day. Much of this tradition derives from the pagan festival of Beltane although here in the US it is noted for the commemoration of the Haymarket Riot of 1886 in Chicago. This year it was also the "Día Sin Ningún Inmigrante" which was marked by huge protests and boycotts across the nation basically scare the shit out of all the bigots and politicians who are advocating the racist and inhumane H.P. 4437, the so called "Border Protection, Anti-terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control " bill currently winding its way through the U.S. Senate.

As a one time illegal immigrant myself I joined in the solidarity celebration dressed in devil horns to depict the demonizaction of Latino and other immigrant workers. People tend to forget that it's not just dish-washers and cleaners who come from other countries just to make a living. Cartoonists are immigrants as well. In fact the large number of US editorial cartoonists were born outside the country including Pat Oliphant (Australia), Lalo Alcaraz (Mexico), Oscar Berger (Czech Republic), Michael Ramirez (Japan) and Ann Telnaes (Sweden). Even Thomas Nast--inventor of the donkeys and elephant metaphors used for the US poliotical parties--was born in Germany.