Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Silas and Miss Lupescu from "The Graveyard Book" Offer Lunch


The graphic novel version of Neil Gaiman's "The Graveyard Book," adapted by P. Craig Russell, was obviously appealing for my macabre minded sons.

They were, however,  immediately annoyed that I had not procured Book 2 yet.  (It will be released in a few days)

The story centers on Nobody Owens, a toddler whose entire family has been murdered and is then protected and raised by the inhabitants of an old graveyard. Since ghosts aren't ably to shop for groceries, he has the additional guardians Silas the vampire, and Miss Lupescu, a werewolf. 

Ansel really like the characters- and the idea of being raised by a vampire- but was not impressed with my drawing.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Rocket Raccoon Feeds Chewbacca


Another "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Star Wars" mashup.

If Groot is the Chewbacca of "Guardians," does that make Rocket the Han Solo?
I based this image on the scene in the recent movie where Rocket perches on Groot's shoulders while blasting away with a gigantic gun.

Blasting enemies with a huge weapon is not so appropriate for Quaker second grade lunch, so here Rocket is offering the Wookie some healthy lunch food.

Since my children are too cool to admit that they often willingly eat broccoli, there is a bit of a sadistic quality to the situation here.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Star Lord with Light Saber


"Guardians of the Galaxy" Meets "Star Wars,"
Or, Disney Corporate Synergy Motivates Halloween Shopping:


It is not yet October, but I feel the hot breath of Halloween on the back of my neck.
My kids start planning their Halloween costumes yearly on November 1st, but the situation does not usually become dire until October. It becomes more dire the last week of October, and then often completely leaves the realm of the possible on the evening of the 30th.

I made the grievous mistake many years ago of cludging together a homemade Captain Rex costume the night before Halloween. Archer had changed his mind at the last minute and could not possibly wear whatever costume it was that we already had.  I don't remember the original costume plan.  I'm sure it was one in a long line of shifting costume choices...And I should also note that I don't get enough sleep to actually form long term memories.

I created the false impression that a complete costume can be created overnight out of nothing but cardboard, masking tape, American Apparel pants and a lost night of sleep. A couple of years later, I further screwed myself by making Archer an Assassin's Creed III jacket (that time it was an American Apparel turtleneck dress).

This year's "but they don't sell costumes for kids" franchise problem is Skyrim,  Archer is presently working to convince me of the absolute necessity of making a Skyrim "Dovahkiin" or "Dragonborn" helmet. Last night, we watched a youtube video of a teenager fabricating one out of cereal boxes, toilet paper and glue in his bedroom. While I do theoretically make three dimensional objects for a living, this thing has horns, and eye holes and goes down the back of the neck to the collar, and will have to fit and be comfortable enough to wear for an evening......and the client will not be paying me for my time....and I try to avoid working in toilet paper.

As a result of the aforementioned helmet threat, I was grateful that Ansel thought that the components of his costume could actually be purchased.  Unfortunately, he "needed" to be two characters at once: Ezra Bridger from the new Star Wars TV show "Rebels" and Star Lord from "Guardians of the Galaxy."  I don't think Disney will be offering discounts on crossover driven double costume purchases.

Ansel had already talked me into buying an Ezra Bridger helmet despite my well founded fears of last minute costume changes. Last night, Ansel decided that the Ezra/Jedi part of the character did not need the already purchased helmet and would instead wear a knit skull hat and sunglasses. 

And of course he told me that in order to complete the costume, he will need a "real" lightsaber.  I don't think toilet paper with white glue is going to help us there.


Ansel's concept for the costume is below.  (Can you believe that I messed up the color of the lightsaber and gave him a Sith style red one)
And following are the previous costume  indulgences







Sunday, September 28, 2014

Chicken Jockey


TWFS (Too Weird For School)

I am told that in Minecraft, a baby zombie riding a chicken is a extremely rarely occurring antagonist (or "mob"). According to the Minecraft wiki entry for Chicken Jockey:
"In a chicken-free environment, this gives each spawned zombie a 0.25% chance of becoming a Chicken Jockey; if chickens are present, the chance increases to 0.4875%."

Usually the combination of cute and creepy (and Minecraft!) is a hit, but Ansel told me in no uncertain terms today that he would not be taking this one to school. I asked him which element was the problem, the baby zombie or the chicken?

He said that both were definitely the problem. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Giant Pet Rat


Unsafe At Any Speed:  Biking and Giant Pets

Biking is always a sore subject in New York, and recent tragic events in Central Park have not made people who don't bike feel any better about bikes and the people who ride them.

Not only am I a person who endangers myself and the general public by cycling a couple of hours every day, I am particularly culpable because I put underage children at risk by schlepping my sons back and forth to school in a cargo bike.  I find that motherhood generally offers unending opportunities for both self inflicted guilt and public judgement. Something about the combination of biking and motherhood, however, stirs hostility and disapproval like almost nothing else. People are so concerned about my kids' safety that they feel compelled to scream profanities at me as we pass.

So what could possibly be worse than biking one's kids around the city?....Perhaps doing so with them seated in the lap of a giant rodent? (Visibility would definitely be obscured, but at least they are wearing their bike helmets)

My younger son is terribly pet deprived. Since there are some dog allergy issues in the family, during the quest for a furry pet, the idea of a rat came up. Earlier this week, he and I had discussed whether a small well trained pet like a dog....or a rat....might be able to ride with along in the bike on the way to school....And since there was a giant pet dog on the napkin yesterday, why not a giant pet rat today?

So there you have my excuse for this drawing. Ansel was not convinced.

You can see several napkins related to biking in the 24 hour comic series
The kids in the actual bike, without any pets:


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Giant Chihuahua


A Boy Has Fed His Dog Too Much:

Because he is intensely dyslexic, Ansel's comprehension far outpaces his decoding abilities (as they say in the teaching business).  In other words, he would like to be reading books written for young adults, particularly graphic novels full of exciting violence, horror and sex, but his reading skills are not yet up to it.

I've debated mentioning the dyslexia issue here, because it is my son's story more than mine. But lets be honest, nearly everything I write here is an overshare of a sort and at least a slight invasion of my kids' privacy.  I do always try to be mindful about not divulging anything that is too personal or beyond the usual ridiculousness of parenting and childhood in general.

I think dyslexia is a different issue however. Discussing it is unlike revealing that my kids wipe snot in the crevices of the couch (not that either one would do that, EVER)  Dyslexia is just part of who he is, and the more that he and the rest of us remove the stigma from the term, the better.  Of course dyslexia is not the same for everyone, nor is it a perfect description for anyone's situation.

In Ansel's case, it is not just a diagnosis of a learning delay, although it definitely does mean that learning to read has been a horrible pain in the neck for him.  He is a good example of the dyslexic as a person with a different style of brain.  Ansel is very bright (I know... so says his mother) probably both because his brain is different from the norm, and because he has been doing a huge amount work to learn the stuff that comes easily to most people.

At any rate, as a result of his reading challenges, I have force him to read a "baby book" out loud every night in addition to my readings of more mature stuff that he actually wants to read. Despite a library of kids books that threatens to swamp our apartment, it is still a challenge to pick out a book that he will actually enjoy slogging his way through.

Last night we reread a "A Fish Out of Water" (By Helen Palmer and P.D. Eastman) and I think it is one of the exceptions where the language  is simple enough, but the spare plot and humor is classic enough to not be babyish.  A boy feeds his pet fish too much, despite having been warned not to do so, and disaster ensues.  He ends up calling the police and the fire department to deal with his rapidly swelling pet.  All the adults repeatedly exclaim, "A boy has fed his fish too much!"

Yesterday as usual, Ansel and I had been discussing the possibility of getting a pet dog someday, and I had observed that given the family allergies, it would have to be something like a Chihuahua,  very small and washable. Ansel told me in no uncertain terms that he did not like Chihuahuas.

In perhaps a moment of parental perversity last night, I drew a boy standing in the lobby of the our kids' school with a giant dog.  "A boy has fed his dog too much" doesn't have quite the alliterative quality as "A boy has fed his fish too much."  "A  boy has dished his dog too much" isn't quite as good either....

And the perspective in the drawing is a mess, but the dog is kind of cute. Ansel found it amusing enough this morning.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Griever from "The Maze Runner"


Not Too Creepy for School... apparently.

Months ago, Ansel had insisted that I promise that we would see "The Maze Runner" as soon as it was released. Having slogged through the book in preparation, I was a bit concerned that seeing the movie in a theater would be too scary even for our "Sharknado" loving seven year old.  His older brother, while of course already an authority on the plot of the story, opted out.  Archer loves aliens and monsters, he prefers those with weapons and technical gear, or at least those who can be dispatched with a proton torpedo. While viewing "After Earth" a couple of years ago, we discovered that he is really very much not fond of watching multi-legged cgi monsters picking on unarmed protagonists. And I prefer that he be able to go to the bathroom at night without feeling that he has to run.

Any concerns I had about excessive scariness going in to "The Maze Runner" were reinforced during the previews which included a trailer for "Annabelle." This prequel to "The Conjuring" appears to be a shameless creep fest full of gotcha moments featuring the scary doll, an endangered baby,  a running nightgown clad demon, and the horror standard of the screaming woman being jerked off screen by unseen forces. By the end of that preview,  my child, who often thinks himself too mature to hold my hand in public, was out of his own seat and huddled in my lap.

The preview proved to be the more frightening moment of the afternoon, however.  Ansel toughed out the many scary scenes with the spidery bio-mechanical Grievers without too much cowering.  He was clearly pleased with himself afterwards, and went home to build Grievers out of LEGOs and cheerfully berate his brother for wimping out.

My rendition of the Griever is more silly than scary, which seemed fine given a classroom of seven year olds. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Dark Pikachu


 A happy and ever popular Pokemon... but of course it is the dark version.

There is no doubt that Ansel gains plenty of pop culture boy cred courtesy of his older brother.  He's on top of all of the video game trends and is an early adopter of all sorts of age-inappropriate content and behavior.  When all the parents in Kindergarten received an email that said something like, "Your child may have been exposed to some inappropriate language today at lunch time..." we did not have to ask which child was the source.

Archer is 4 years older, and he works hard researching the stuff that he is too young to access directly. As a result, much of the material that he shares with Ansel is way too far ahead.  (I'll just offer two very disturbingly linked phrases:  "Grand Theft Auto" and "lap dancing")

While I have my own concerns about the larger issues of the transmission of  inappropriate content, on a lighter note, I think the situation makes Ansel's napkin pictures rather obscure for his second grade lunch friends.  When Archer was seven, the napkins were all Pokemon, LEGO or Star Wars.  Those topics were instantly recognizable and cool from his friends' perspective.  I engaged in a lot of napkin compensation: When Archer felt deprived of the latest Pokemon card or Star Wars toy (something that happened pretty much on a daily basis) I could at least draw a nice picture of it on his napkin.

Ansel's napkins often feature whatever his 11-turning 25 year old brother has been yammering about the day before.  Last night's topic was the horror video game "Five Nights at Freddies."  At bedtime, Archer announced to me that Ansel was really interested in this game.  This prompted the question, "I wonder who told your seven year old brother about this creepy game featuring killer animatronic creatures?" (parental disclaimer: Archer has not played this game...but he knows all the details anyway)

For today's napkin, I decided to forgo the homicidal robots and instead feature the more age appropriate Pokemon that Ansel and his classmates were arguing about at pickup yesterday.

Homicidal robots next week?


Below are Ansel's superior drawings of Pikachu, light and dark, bleeding through on opposite sides of one sheet of paper:




Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dormouse in Power Loader from "Aliens"


Remember what the Dormouse said:
...was it, "They mostly come out at night, mostly"?...or "Get away from her, you bitch"?

Ansel's interest in things small, cute and furry was focused on the Dormouse this last week.  He was reading "A Bed for the Winter," which according to Amazon is " the harrowing story of a little dormouse and his frantic search for a safe place to hibernate." He was also wondering if Dormice make good pets.  (probably not)

Everyone in our household seems a bit under the weather lately. Today we were introduced to the nifty term "viral torticollis" to explain why one child's head is on sideways and he can't bear to go to school.  I am definitely suffering from some back-to-school-virus related dementia myself, so this is probably not one of my better efforts in terms of concept or execution. 

I thought maybe since the Dormouse is always trying to avoid being another animal's dinner, perhaps he or she could use some technological assistance.  I was originally planning to come up with some sort of Dormouse appropriate mech suit, but decided to take the easy way out and borrow Ripley's backlit power loader from "Aliens."

Just for the record, Ansel has not seen the movie, but he thought this was cool enough anyway.

(And this one prompted me to add a new label category "Small Furry Things with Weapons" as that does seems a rather popular category here.)




Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Napkins Online Other Places Than Here

https://www.facebook.com/SeeWinter/photos/a.136565888204.108958.131987913204/10152708246268205/?type=1&theater

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiMS_qz2awk

A couple napkins experienced some mild notoriety over the weekend:

Archer's napkin was shown at the beginning of "Diamond Dimensions #138":  Dan Middleton's latest minecraft mod video. As Dan is my kids' favorite minecraft youtuber, this was a really big deal for a few minutes at our house last night.

And the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, (home of Winter the inspiring dolphin and scene of the very recently released "Dolphin Tale 2") kindly posted Ansel's napkin featuring Rufus the pelican. Their timing was good, as we had just seen the movie during its opening weekend.  I was touched that the aquarium referred to me as "one talented young woman." 


I can't remember the last time I was described as a "young woman."

(You can click on the images to see the actual pages)

Poultry Carcass Man


While my sons think themselves too old for Dav Pilkey's magnum opus, "Captain Underpants," they are always happy to revisit his "Dumb Bunnies" series. The Dumb Bunnies are, as you might imagine, a family of comically stupid anthropomorphic rabbits. Dad wears tightie whities, Mom's in a bra, the baby is either picking his nose, wearing his shoes on his head, or driving the family car off a cliff. Sublime stuff as far as Archer and Ansel are concerned. (Note to Mr. Pilkey: My children would force me to buy an infinite number of "Dumb Bunnies" books that should you deign to publish more.)

In "The Dumb Bunnies' Easter," the family performs a toxic mash-up of all the major holidays: nailing valentines to the window, painting fried "Easter" eggs with cans of black spray paint, and most relevantly, "carving" the turkey like a Halloween pumpkin. (You were perhaps wondering how the Dumb Bunnies could possibly be related to this image?)

Ansel really likes the creepy poultry jack o lantern, and suggested it should be yet another web comic character. In his scenario, the carcass is like the "headcrab" from the video game "Half-Life": a parasitic intelligence that affixes itself to a human host and then assumes control of the body.

I was thinking it could be a situation like that of the DC comics' character Doctor Fate, where putting on the helmet grants one super powers at the expense of independence. I hoped this might put a slightly more positive spin on the idea of possession by roast fowl.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Weeping Angel Offers a Strawberry for Lunch


Don't Even Blink:

After many attempts, Archer finally managed to infect his younger brother with the Doctor Who virus over last weekend.

He started by showing Ansel the episodes with Weeping Angels, appealing to Ansel's burgeoning interest in all things creepy. Archer is not all that much a fan of dialogue, romantic intrigue or humorous banter between the sexes, so his interest in the Whovian universe is mostly about the various powers and weapons of the aliens.  Ansel is much more willing to sit through a TV series where people talk more than shoot, so perhaps he may end up more of a Doctor Who fan than his brother.  He did ask me midway through the first episode why one of the actresses had such yellow teeth. Clearly we've have been watching too much Disney and not enough BBC.

As I mentioned below regarding the "Angel with a Squirt Gun," my attempts to draw a lovely, Baroque inflected stone angel were not a success. The Weeping Angels are supposed to be scary malevolent aliens anyway, but obviously that was not a good concept for lunch.

The angels can only move when they are not being watched, so one has to wonder what she is going to do with that strawberry when she gets a chance.

Angel with a Squirt Gun


"Angel with a Shotgun":  The Quaker school version.

Archer listened to The Cab's song "Angel with a Shotgun" on repeat for much of yesterday afternoon.  He acquired the obsession with this song the same way that he has developed most of his preferences in music lately: from watching "Attack on Titan" videos.  He particularly likes a version of the song where it is sped up- becoming something like "Angel with a Shotgun" performed by the Chipmunks.  And whenever Archer is listening to something, so is his seven year old brother.

While I was cringing yesterday, I tried to remember what my favorite music was when I was eleven, or seven...back when dinosaurs walked the earth.  I'm afraid I was on a pretty much all classical diet at the time. But I do remember that one of my best friends in sixth grade had an obsession with Styx and the song "Come Sail Away,"  I should not be too judgmental of my sons' music choices.

Of course, this song is not just about the aesthetics of music for them.  When Archer and Ansel think of angels, they are thinking of the "Weeping Angels" in the Doctor Who series.  The idea of a creepy all powerful alien who can impersonate a stone figure who is now also armed with a shotgun....well, how cool is that?

On a final unrelated note: I set out to draw the requested weaponized angel with the idea in mind that I was going to make it look like one of Bernini's lovely baroque stone angels.  The angels in the TV show are of course clunky cludged together life casts as well as live actors. 

Almost 30 years of sculpting has certainly taught me that I am no Bernini. A few minutes of sketching last night indicated that I am also not capable of drawing a Bernini-esque angel on a napkin.  I ended up using some very different source material, which might have been titled something like a less polite version of  "Cute Young Ladies with Squirt Guns"  I don't think I am going to be any more specific than that as my older son often reads what I write here.  Thus the "angel" on the napkin suffers from modern malnutrition and an awkward pose. 


Friday, September 12, 2014

Skull Pinata Head Guy



Ansel is developing a real taste for the macabre.  He spent the hour before bedtime last night wearing a skull head pinata (from last year's birthday party) with various drapery, trying to transform himself into a "jump scare."  When he finished wearing the head, he carefully composed it on the couch (note the placement of the tv remotes- even death's heads need their media) for maximum shock value for his brother in the early morning.

He decided that this skull guy really should be a character in our ever developing- yet still nonexistent- web comic.  I really liked the idea of a creepy individual who wears an old pinata on his head, but I suspected that Ansel had a literal skull in mind.  I tried to split the difference in the drawing.  There is some suggestion that it's a pinata, but Ansel still thought it was cool and not silly.

The main horror of this skull guy's visit last night was that he left little scraps of white tissue paper strewn all over the apartment.





Thursday, September 11, 2014

Rufus From "Dolphin Tale" Dominates a Shark


A possible plot development for "Dolphin Tale 3"?

Ansel is very much looking forward to the next "Dolphin Tale" installment opening this weekend. His older brother, who is mostly interested in movies that feature murderous aliens, technologically advanced weapons or at least a high body count, could not be less sympathetic.

I thought perhaps if there were more conflict in the storyline, Archer might be willing to sit through a dolphin movie.  However, I was rather traumatized by "The Day of the Dolphin" when I was around Ansel's age (a million years ago in the mid 70's).

I decided therefore to keep the dolphins out of any potential conflict and go for comic relief with the Rufus the pelican 'with issues."