Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Thank You Note

Just to demonstrate that not every napkin is well drawn or, ahem, "culturally relevant."

Ansel just completed an intensive six week tutoring program which was staffed by six unfailingly positive, supportive, professional, and not incidentally as far as my son is concerned, extremely attractive young women. I can barely get Ansel to look at a few flash cards with me without all sorts of pain and suffering and maybe even the shedding of blood. They, however, were able to effect a miraculous transformation in his reading skills.

The question of what sort of token to give these exemplary young women to indicate our appreciation for their hard work was one for which I could not really find a satisfactory answer. 
Thus, among other things, this "Thank You Napkin" happened.  I had to make six prints of it, as there was no way that I was gong to manage to produce six individual napkins. 

Although had I done six napkins, perhaps the practice might have led to one satisfactory portrait of Ansel. As it was, I made my son look a bit like a pasty faced, annoyed old lady (a much more apt description of myself).

But it's bright, isn't it?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Dr. Trayaurus and Dan from The Diamond Minecart

Perhaps you are an older adult who does not have a child.  (If so, it is unlikely that you would be reading these words, but stranger things have happened online certainly)... At any rate, in that case, you might not be aware of the phenomenon that is Minecraft, or of the professional category that is "Youtuber."

At the center of the overlapping categories of Minecraft and Youtubing ("Youtubering"?) is Dan of TDM.  He is certainly not the only one, and not even the most popular (with only around 3 million subscribers and over 1 billion views) but he is one of my kids' favorites.  They claim to have watched all of his videos.  I hope this is not an accurate statement as it would be a damning commentary on my parenting.

To return to the hypothetical person who does not already follow The Diamond Minecart: You might ask what does this man Dan do to earn the eyeballs of over three million people?  He plays the Minecraft video game in all of its amazing variations, while narrating his progress. 

Minecraft is a "sandbox" game which is open to endless modification and specialization by its players. Dan demonstrates various "Mods." Among them: "Flying Cows," "Grand Theft Auto," "Super Mario World, and, more disturbingly, "New Girlfriends!"  He is often accompanied by a "villager," Dr. Trayaurus.  Trayaurus is mostly a mindless AI, but Dan uses him as a sidekick and comic foil. 

The endless watching of videos of other people playing video games seemed odd and inexplicable to me back when my sons first started doing so.  I still have moments of disbelief that the kids who cannot bear to sit through a few minutes of expository dialogue in a movie can spend hours listening to Dan as he narrates an activity in Minecraft, often something not exactly gripping like building a swimming pool.  

I have to note that Dan is my personal favorite of the Minecraft Youtubers. He is relentlessly upbeat, his British accent is soothing, and he does not scream expletives when he gets killed by a Zombie Pigman.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Selfie with Uncooperative Kids

....Or, if my sons were to title it: More documentation of child abuse in Brooklyn.

Archer and Ansel were most unhappy to be roped into participating in my profile picture update. And I did not even have the good grace to offer a new toy or more screen time as an enticement for cooperation.

But at my advanced age and chronically sleep deprived state, really the best thing I can do to improve a photo of myself is to put a cute child or two in it, preferably in front of me.

I couldn't quite manage to get them in front here. Orchestrating this picture was harder than usual, as I couldn't see what was going on, and the kids were too busy expressing their disapproval to tell me whether the phone was pointed in the right general direction or not.

Perhaps it was just as well that I couldn't see myself.  I certainly photograph better in marker than in person. Fortuitously, it's pretty much impossible to capture the things that happen to one's neck after age 45 on a napkin.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Attack on Colossal Titan by LEGO Survey Corp

"Attack on Titan" is a licensing opportunity as of yet untapped by the LEGO corporation. 
My sons were displeased to hear that this drawing was not based on a presently available product.

LEGO minifigures and their constituent parts are constantly underfoot in our house, causing me significant physical pain, no doubt akin to that which the survey corps cause to the colossal titan. At least they cannot reach the nape of my neck yet.

Archer told me this drawing would have been cooler if only I had included the clouds of exhaust coming out of the back of the "3D maneuver gear," but there are no revisions on napkins.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Goldilocks, Pinocchio and Red Riding Hood Team-up

Fairytale team-up: Beast Master Goldilocks, Pinocchio the Vampire Slayer and Red Riding Hood the Zombie Hunter.

The kids were quite excited about Dusty Higgins and Van Jensen's graphic novel, "Pinocchio Vampire Slayer."

Somehow Ansel has made it to the ripe old age of seven without having ever seen the classic Disney movie version of the story, so many of the jokes had to be explained to him. Perhaps it had something to do with having an older brother who had moved on to more "mature" and contemporary fare by the time he was ready for Classic children's movies.  

But last night, this big brother told him that he had to watch the movie today so that he could appreciate the book fully.  Archer said, and I quote, "It's a classic movie of American culture- like 'Independence Day.' You really have to see it. And it has all sorts of stuff like smoking and drinking!!"

The promise of drinking and smoking was not enough to sell the movie today. Ansel was also unimpressed by the two girls pictured on the napkin, and particularly did not like Red Riding Hood's basket, even after I filled it with very unQuaker grenades.

But they are looking forward to finishing the book tonight.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Deadpool Slices a Strawberry

Wade Wilson delivers some fruit justice, but is seriously upstaged by a giant strawberry.

Of course my sons like Deadpool.  He's a sarcastic, inappropriate anti-hero, who-thanks to his "healing factor''-survives being constantly shot, disemboweled, and decapitated. And he has a lot of weapons.

Needless to say, Mr Wilson and lunch at a Quaker school don't mix well, so his napkin appearances have been limited.  I am guessing that most of the lower school teachers haven't read "Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe" (and for the record, neither have my sons) so perhaps they would not appreciate just how unQuaker he is.

And it is August, so this napkin is just for the "bank"-( the stack of napkins that sits on the microwave as possible replacements on those school mornings when whatever I've drawn the night proves to be too uncool for school) so it's not going anywhere right away.

I gave Deadpool's sword the strawberry pacification treatment...probably because I knew I was going to enjoy drawing the fruit more than Deadpool himself.  Can you tell?  You can see the disturbing number of napkins featuring strawberries stuck on various weapons at this link.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Zak the LEGO Minifigure

I've never been very good with perspective.  Despite being the occasionally proud recipient of a couple of degrees in visual art, I missed some basic lessons in that area. 

For this reason, I am rather uncomfortable drawing LEGO minifigures.  The fact that they are very small and made of plastic may be contributing factors also.

The makers of "The LEGO Movie" solved the problem of how to render minifigures in an appealing way by lighting them beautifully and making their surfaces more textural and idiosyncratic than they actually are.

I tried to emulate "The LEGO Movie" style here in this drawing of Ansel's latest "custom" minifigure.  (In this case, "custom" means he put it together himself from dismembered characters)
But I was too busy trying to keep my lousy perspective from making the legs pop out of line to really do too much with the light or texture.  

Monday, August 4, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy's Groot Offers Broccoli For Lunch

Groot  the bipedal tree offers some of the sweetest moments of the Guardians movie.  (Some might even describe these moments as insipid, but we are going to go with sweet)  Groot is a perfect all purpose sidekick: he doesn't monopolize the dialogue, is full of hidden talents and is good hearted and selfless.  He 's  Chewbacca and R2D2 rolled into one very vaguely Vin Dieselish package.

Midway through the movie, he offers a young girl a flower that he has grown on his palm.  I thought if he can grow flowers and emit sparkly motes of light, why not healthy lunch foods?

While they are fans of Groot, my sons were not so impressed by this concept.  Like all self-respecting cool children, they prefer to pretend that they hate broccoli,.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Grumpy Cat and Rocket Raccoon

Sarcastic, merchandisable talking animals share a disapproving moment.

"Guardians of the Galaxy" opened last Friday, and seeing it over this weekend was not optional. It certainly lived up to its press as far as our sons were concerned.

That is to say: there was a snarky talking raccoon, and he did have a big gun. As a bonus: there were a lot of explosions and a dancing plant.  There was also a bunch of other stuff that prompted my younger son to plaintively ask several times, "when is this going to be over?" Nevertheless, by the dancing plant at the end, both kids were both ready for the sequel.

And Grumpy Cat? While the kids do find him amusing, I have to admit that he is more my fixation than theirs.  Why are sarcastic animals so appealing? And so lucrative?

Friday, August 1, 2014

Attack on Teen Titans

An obvious mash-up that we could not resist.

We are now on the 12th volume of  "Attack on Titan." Our older son would happily read another 12 volumes if they were available.

The Teen Titans are not so high on the list of popular shows at the moment, but Robin never completely loses his appeal.

I suppose that if this were a genuine mash-up of the two shows, Robin and company should be naked, but I just could not even try to imagine that.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Kid Portraits for 2014

As usual, they suffered mightily while this picture was being taken.  I asked them to be still, and requested some adjustments of hand positions and such.  Torture.

Because their faces are covered, you cannot tell how much they are suffering.

I try to do a couple of portraits every summer during the downtime between summer camp and school.  You can see the previous portraits at the links below to discover whether my drawing is improving... or getting worse.  My camera phone has definitely improved since 2012, so at least the resolution and white balance are better.

Summer 2013
Summer 2012
March 2012

Below are the two individual napkins, photographed in the usual manner.
And a photo of the kids on the floor without napkins, so you can see how much pain they experienced during this project:


Friday, July 25, 2014


Colossatron from Halfbrick is subtitled "Massive World Threat" which appeals very much to Archer's video game sensibilities.

Drawing rectilinear, robot-like things is not something that I do well, and I must admit to shirking most of the details of this city-destroying alien robot snake thing.  I am afraid that I may get another chance.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Demo Man from Team Fortress 2

I haven't drawn an age inappropriate, violent video game character holding a piece of wholesome lunch food in place of a weapon in a while.

Archer tolerated my substitution of flaming broccoli for Demo Man's giant gun with relatively good humor this morning.  The guy still has explosives attached to his vest, after all.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Godzilla and the Colossal Titan

Monster size matters:

Godzilla and the Colossal Titan from "Attack on Titan" seemed too obvious a pair to pass up.

Of course, it had to be "classic' Godzilla and not the star of the 2014 movie, as the new kaiju has grown to something  in the neighborhood of 100 meters. The Colossal Titan is a mere (and much more plausible) 60 meters.

For those who are sticklers about super-monster size, I know that the classic Godzilla should be a bit shorter, at around 55 meters, but perhaps he is standing on his tippy toes. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cybil from Mark Tatulli's Lio Comic

LOL Axe Cat:

Our kids reread the several collections of Lio comics that we have once every few weeks.  They particularly enjoy Cybil, Lio's cute and fluffy, yet well armed and potentially homicidal, cat.

In a one three panel comic, Lio pokes Cybil and she responds by suddenly threatening him with a large axe.  He takes her picture and sends it to "Cat Fancy Magazine"... much to the editor's horror.

This one is definitely not appropriate for Quaker school lunch.  The summer arts camp is much more tolerant, but perhaps we are still pushing the envelope.