Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Fashion Animals

Fashion Animals 1990-2021:

This was a recent birthday card I made that referred to a project from 1990. I made a bunch of life size “fashion animals” - ladies in designer dresses with animal heads out of paper maché and assorted other stuff for display in a shoe store (yes, my mother’s shoe store!) 

Please remember this was over thirty years ago. I was not afraid of the difficulties of fabrication...or critical judgement- I have to at least appreciate those qualities in my younger self. 

The following images are the animals in my swanky first studio in Chicago, where I slept immediately next to my plaster and cement mixing and casting area, and the elevated train ran past the windows approximately every five minutes. 

(How often does the train go by? So often you won’t even notice it!- accolades to those who know what movie that quote comes from)

Not sure that my rendering ability has become much less awkward in the intervening three decades... but I still enjoy the opportunity to draw an aardvark in a dress. 

And there was a warthog in the original set of figures- but it does not feature in these photos I unearthed from a dusty filing cabinet.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

July Fourth Hotdog

Happy July 4th

Joey Chestnut, again the winner of the annual Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest, prepares to ingest Hotdog Rick.

This napkin was a very brief effort, mostly executed between viewing the NYC fireworks and the broadcast of the latest episode of Rick and Morty. 

An exciting evening at our house.

Hope your fourth was exciting.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Captain Planet for Earth Day 2021

Clumsy Cheadle Portrait Meets Combustible Crucifer

When our younger son suggested I draw Captain Planet today, he was thinking of the original animated show “Captain Planet and the Planeteers” from back in the 90’s.  It was considerably after my time, and well before his.

I gather both of our kids were aware of Captain Planet because of its memeification... (is that a word yet?) and because one notorious episode concerning drug addiction features an overdose, so the internet is interested in that sort of thing. 

But despite the amazing list of celebrities voicing the villains, (Ed Asner, Jeff Goldblum, Meg Ryan,  Martin Sheen, Sting, Malcolm McDowell, etc, etc) I can’t remember ever having seen the show. 

But I do remember the Don Cheadle parody where the Captain goes insane and turns everyone into trees: “Remember to recycle or I’ll turn you into a f*cking tree!”  He is quite on the wavelength of Ultron and Thanos, destroying humanity for its own good. 

I think there was also a bit where he turned a guy into broccoli for failing to recycle a bottle. 

We had a long history with my passive aggressive representations of broccoli on my kids’ lunch napkins, so a flaming floret seemed appropriate for today. 

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Valentines Day Grogu Cupid

Happy Valentines Day 2021

I once drew napkins to gratify my sons’ wishes, now my goal might be to make them cringe. Is this my job as a parent of teens? 

We might all be tired of Baby Yoda, but it seemed like the obvious choice.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Happy New Year 2021

One last incendiary image for the year, badly drawn on an absorbent paper product.

Our most inflammatory napkin was the pairing of Trump and the Star Wars prequels buffoon, Jar Jar Binks, back in the pre-end times of January 2016.  At the time, I wrote something about how my sons, despite knowing little about politics at the time, had an irrational hatred of Donald Trump, which was possibly only exceeded by their irrational hatred of Jar Jar. 

We had just watched “The Revenge of the Sith,” so I was thinking about the fanboy theory that George Lucas had originally intended for Jar Jar to be revealed at the end of the saga to be the top Sith Lord, the ultimate bad guy. My title for the post was “Could Idiocy Mask an Evil Master Plan?”

There’s definitely been enough idiocy and genuine evil to go around this year, (and the four years that preceded it) but I don’t think the two have been conspiring in quite the way I was suggesting back in 2016. 

As I mentioned, it was definitely our most vehemently protested napkin post. Unsurprisingly, no one spoke up to support Jar Jar. I had not considered that we had many followers who would be so offended by this pairing. One irritated commenter memorably suggested that I needed to draw Barack Obama with Satan to even the score.  

Poor Jar Jar. At least he presumably lives long ago in a galaxy far, far away.....

Here’s to hoping that 2021 will not be so frequently described as a container of burning trash.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Inktober 2020

 Inktober 2020

(Minus one drawing, inexplicably missing at the time of the photo...later discovered stuck to the back of another. Not a great loss, as it was perhaps my least favorite. And it’s absence turned the unwieldy 31 into a nicely composed 30)

Definitely not a success overall, but completed nonetheless.

In years past, I’ve felt that the Inktober exercise, while uncomfortable, ended up pushing me to make some drawings that I felt pretty pleased with in retrospect.

This year, not so much. Something about the viral video / meme source material, and my rather flat-footed, ‘draw what you see,’ approach to them, provided me with a fine opportunity to make a lot of crappy drawings. Or maybe I am just losing whatever shred of drawing insight I might have had. There might be maybe two drawings in there that don’t totally embarrass me. Maybe.

Looking carefully at the videos and involving my family in choosing them (even the other adult in the house participated!) was, however, interesting and worthwhile. And in the original spirit of the daily napkins project of course. It is always intriguing to see someone else’s slice of the Internet. And of course, always good to have a reason to check in on what our kids are looking at. 

But I am glad this one is over. When I tackled a meme or video in the napkins in the past, I always tried to put a more personal spin on it, so I didn’t end up trying to make an interesting drawing out of a grainy video that didn’t really want to be reduced to one image anyway.

But, I always tell the MFA students that I work with not to be afraid to make some crappy work... so here I am, executing my own advice, making a lot of really crappy stuff. 

Hope it is a step in the path to making something more interesting.

Now Here I Go Again

I Don’t Keep My Visions To Myself:

Inktober 2020, Day 31

Okay, yes, I finished this drawing on November 1st, so in the end, I didn’t manage to complete 31 drawings in 31 days. But let’s just say it’s close enough.

I don’t think the original Ocean Spray/Skateboard/Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” tiktok clip by @420doggface208 was particularly popular at our house, but both our kids and my spouse showed me spin-offs. 

I was initially a bit confused by the video clip of a man drinking out of a Titebond glue bottle (The woodworker version). Our younger son showed me the Halloween version by Kiel James Patrick (a clothing company) featuring a pumpkin headed person (wearing a stylish sweater) who pours something in a Starbucks cup (a pumpkin spiced latte, one presumes) onto, and into, his jack o lantern head. 

By then, I had looked up the original bit by a Nathan Apodaca. I observed that the parody videos did not quite have the looseness of the original, or the aesthetically pleasing composition of selfie arm draped in fluid sweatshirt material, so I tried to take the best of each. Minus the wood glue of course (sorry!)

A belated happy Halloween. 

And, if you are still here, thanks for making it through another Inktober of bad drawings with me!


Mouse Centerfuge

 Avian Rodent Abuse

Inktober 2020, Day 30

Is animal abuse more funny when perpetrated by another animal?

In this widely viewed clip, a businesslike parrot efficiently picks up a small white mouse, puts it inside a running wheel, and then proceeds to crank the wheel at high speed, effectively centrifuging the rodent. There is definitely no running involved. 

Viewer comments argue that the bird has been trained in this nasty behavior. There are other videos of the bird toting the mouse around, and shutting it in its cage, so there does seem to be a generally bossy bird situation. Whether this is a result of human intervention, I really can’t say.

I thought the whole event was a bit hard to see in the video, so I tried to draw it from another perspective. 

Ha, ha, perspective, not my strong suit, as you can see here. 

Perfectly Cut Diet Dog


The First Thing You Lose On A Diet Is Your Sense of Humor

(even if you are a tiny, fluffy dog)

Inktober 2020 Day 29

In this video, a Pomeranian watches a human hand deliver a pitiful two bits of kibble to its bowl, looks down at the food, looks back up, arranges its cute features just a little into a scowl, and makes to lunge at the bearer of bad meal tidings.

Perhaps he or she was irritated at obviously being set up for a meme.

Hilarious Kitten Distress


Continuing to Fill The Cat Quota:

Inktober 2020, Day 28

The urban legend in the early days of the Internet was that the web was 15% pictures of cats. I seem to remember that statistic was disproved, but...depending on the day, it can seem like an underestimate.

This one, “Unhappy Kitten” comes to our family from @perfectlycutscreams which is is both a social media account and a genre. The unifying characteristic is of course that the video ends with a cut off scream. The unhappy kitten might not be in fact a perfect instance of the category as there is a scream in the middle also..... but it’s got a kitten!

Motorcycle Fail/ Not Fail


Any Crash You Can Walk Away From:

Inktober 2020 Day 27

We like to watch video clips of people performing amazing feats. The ones that are shown to me by family members usually involve an element of danger- mountain biking near a precipitous drop, or performing amazing parkour leaps. 

And of course we also like to watch other people fall off things, get hit by things and generally have dreadful accidents.

And then there is the happy combination of an accident, and a physical feat. 

In this particular clip, a shirtless man successfully rides a motorcycle over a series of barrels, only to flip over the handle bars when he reaches the grass on the other side. But then he is back up, as if gracefully lifted by wires, to casually walk away, looking as if it were all just a planned part of the trick.

If only all motorcycle spills were so elegant and injury free.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Massive Feline

The Internet Adds 15 Pounds

Inktober 2020, Day 26:

I have neglected to mention another favorite category of animal videos: the huge, the massively rotund, or the generally fat. Why are obese animals so compelling? I can’t begin to attempt to explain.

But I have not done this particularly epic feline justice.

Always Has Been


Wait, It’s All Doge?

Inktober 2020, Day 25

I can’t say this image came directly to me from our sons, rather the two precursors did. 

One son showed me a descendant of the “Wait, It’s All Ohio?” meme template. In the original....(if there is an actual point of origin) Two astronauts look at the earth. One says, “Wait, it’s all...?” The other one prepares to shoot him, replying, “Always has been.” Ohio can be replaced by other countries, a hat, chicken tenders, or...Doge.

The Doge meme proliferation was so, well profuse, that I was aware of it years back.  If it needs explaining, I will only note the high points: pictures of a particular Shibu Inu dog, pidgin English statements in neon comic sans font, and a dysfunctional internet currency, Dogecoin, which is now, more or less worthless.

But suddenly, Doge memes are back.  Our son showed me one recently which perplexingly involved horniness and several other things that I could not possibly retain, or unpack here if I could.

Maybe it’s not all entirely Doge, but it seems like it could be at any moment.

Monday, October 26, 2020

No No Drawing


No No, Don’t Draw That There:

Inktober 2020 Day 24

(Still lagging behind, I know)

As usual, this meme features the confluence of two things that I did not know anything about. Our son showed me a clip of a strange avatar with what appeared to be brushes protruding from his head. He is sitting (sort of, the rendering makes him part of the chair) on a rooftop, chanting, “No no, don’t touch me there. This is my no no square.” 

A similar figure walks up to him and picks up his chair, screaming, “Fuck your No No Square!” and flings him off the roof.

Apparently the “No no Square” song was released in 2008 to work against sexual abuse- the square in question referring to a body area. It was repurposed by multiple TikTokers in 2012. This particular video comes from a bit recorded in VRChat, a free to play, massively multiplayer online virtual reality social platform (according to Wikipedia)

That information did not really help me to understand the appeal or the humor, but there it is.

Definitely an opportunity for proving that my drawing is no better than a crappy video still, though.

Cruciferous Induced Gagging


Cats Gagging at the Smell of Broccoli

Inktober 2020 Day 23

...And apparently, other cruciferous vegetables, citrus, and, at least in one case, the scent of a newborn human’s head, can prompt an extreme gagging reaction in cats.

As cats are obligate carnivores, it is not surprising that they would be repelled by fruits and vegetables. (The infant is more of a mystery)

Having lived with several cats before I married a man who was seriously allergic to them, I can report that they do have a special talent for gagging. And back in the dim dark days before YouTube, it would never have occurred to me that waving a broccoli floret under our pet’s nose would be a path to internet fame.

Great flamethrower! Where can I get one?

The Gayest Flamethrower You Have Ever Seen:

Inktober 2020 Day 22

This clip has been around since 2016, but my older son was enjoying it enough recently to show it to me. I thought it looked like it came from a movie, but couldn’t place it immediately.  A disheveled man sitting on a bus suddenly jumps up and yells out the bus window in Russian, “Great Jacket! Where can I get one?” at a man who appears to be wearing a top made of mirror shards. The mirrored man responds promptly by shouldering a flame thrower and setting the bus on fire.

The clip is easily found online by searching for ‘Great Jacket’.... or by the preceding line delivered in English by the same character, “That has got to be the gayest jacket I have ever seen!”  One can also discover that the clip comes from the 2016 Russian film, “Hardcore Henry.” 

I remember how much our younger son wanted to see the movie when it was released. It is essentially a feature length first person shooter, filmed by literally strapping the camera to the central character’s face. Henry is relatively inactive in these few seconds of film, but for the rest of the movie he is shooting, punching, jumping, running, or blowing things up nearly incessantly. 

I don’t think I have the stamina to make it through the entire movie, so I cannot explain the reason or the sexual orientation behind the mirrored jacket. But it is an incongruous moment in the movie, perfectly suited to memehood.

Suggestive Hand Gestures


Trump Plays The Accordion

(Or Maybe the Concertina) 

Inktober 2020 Day 21

Huw Parkinson’s videos of Donald Trump apparently yanking an accordion back and forth while delivering speeches were in broad circulation back in January of 2017. But sadly, our kids did not bring them to my attention until relatively recently.  

Once one has had it pointed out that Mr. Trump repeatedly makes peculiar hand gestures that positively beg for the addition of a cartoon squeeze box, it is very hard to unsee it.  I was on the lookout for the gesture during last night’s debate, and was not disappointed. It is good to have something to occupy one’s attentions besides what is actually being said.

In the past, anything remotely approaching a political commentary here has been received with a fair amount of negative blowback.  Our younger son would like me to remind you that, during a Star Wars / Politicians series of napkins, after I drew Trump next to Jar Jar Binks, one commenter posted that the only way to appropriately even the score would be to draw Obama next to Satan. 

Perhaps I should draw Biden with an appropriate musical instrument? Or a Star

Wars character?

Lumberjack Fail


Workplace Fails: The Graceful Lumberjack Edition

Inktober 2020 Day 20

Most of the videos for the Inktober series were brought to my attention by our kids, but I thought I should give my spouse a chance to select.  He is partial to the #OSHAisthisok genre of humorous workplace accidents.  

Many of the situations are based on astoundingly bad judgement and poor understanding of the mechanics of the physical world : ladders on top of ladders on top of joint compound buckets, opening beer bottles with angle grinders, tipping over ridiculously top-heavy forklifts, backing excavators into bodies of water, etc, and the ensuing accidents seem well deserved.  Others involve substantial and cringe-inducing injuries that seem undeserved even by unsafe idiots. 

This particular example hails from the @lumberjack_daily account, and features a remarkably graceful back flip performed by the lumberjack as the large tree he just cut take out the platform he was standing on. Having looked carefully at the video, I am reasonably certain that his chainsaw landed safely far away, so hopefully there was not any serious injury.