Sunday, February 27, 2011

Gimme the Simple Life

Sometimes, I feel like I get a drawing together with just enough lines to make it work. Here is one of those:

This woman was sleeping somewhat uneasily on the subway. Maybe she realized I was drawing her? Maybe her stay-puff marshmallow coat was starting to stick to her in the overheated subway car (I'm least happy with the way her jacket came out)? I suppose I will never know. The light brush of consternation across her face remains a mystery.

Whenever someone catches me sketching him/her on the subway, it makes it difficult for me to continue. She gets self-conscious, I get self-conscious, and a queasy vibe of feigned nonchalance clouds the air between us: she knows I didn't want her to know I was sketching her, I know she doesn't want me to know that she knows, soon she knows that I know she doesn't want me to know she knows, and we slide down, down, inexorably down, into a fidgety spiral of tired sighs and awkward glances. I rush off the subway car one stop early just to escape the humiliation, and wallow in despair for pretty much the rest of the day.

And that's why I appreciate these simple drawings. By capturing someone quickly (and sometimes elegantly - at least I'd like to think so), I've dodged this dreadful bullet. I can leave the subway car at the right stop, and continue on my way without brooding over my embarrassment and the crushing disappointment at the resulting, inevitably terrible drawing.

Excuse me now while I go mope for an hour.

Next up: CAT COMICS! JOY!!!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Highway to Meow

Hello everyone! After a week of darkness, I have returned with a brand new post, IN COLOR. Cats are up to their shenanigans once more, in this new installment of 3-panel strips. These are actually dedicated to my brother, whose love for a certain band inspired the third strip.

Can cats play guitar? Experience has taught me the answer is yes.

With the help of my brother, I was recently able to get my hands back on the electric guitar I had when I was 14 (it was stashed at my parents' house in the suburbs, and he valiantly drove it and my oversized amp into Manhattan). However, for the past few days I've come home to hear a distinct electric hum fading out just as I open the door. When I pick up my guitar, it is tuned a few steps higher than usual, and I've even noticed some strange callouses on the tips of my cats' little forepaws. I also found the following lyrics crudely scrawled onto a piece of paper stuffed behind their litter box. Could it be they are practicing for their rock debut? Hopefully I can catch them in the act before they post something on YouTube account without my knowledge. Here is the song they wrote:

Lyrics by Solomon & Robin Choi

Shedding easy, shedding free
Season changes and I blow my hide
Tail is studding, urging me
To hump furniture in my prime
Don't need bathin', waste of time
Tell you something I would rather do:
Groom around, when I'm so inclined,
My cat-balls and my toe jam too

I'm on a Highway to Meow
Highway to Meow
I'm on a Highway to Meow
Highway to Meow

All nap time, no limits
I get drowsy when I'm on the ground
Bare my fore-claw - you can't clip it
Nobody's gonna trim me down!
Hackin' hairballs in your shoes
Squish around between your toes
Hey Mama! Please feed me!
Wet food 'till my big pooch grows

I'm on a Highway to Meow
Highway to Meow
I'm on a Highway to Meow
Highway (guitar slide)
I'm on a Highway to Meow (Highway to Meow)
I'm on a highway to Meo-ow! (Highway to Meow)
I'm on a highway to Meo-o-ow! (Highway to Meow)
I'm on a highway to Meow (Highway to Meow)

And I'm goin' meow
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaall the way
(guitar: meow-meow meow-meow meow-meow meow-meow meow)
On a Highway to Meow

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Hello dear readers. This week has been a bit on the insane side for me. Running, jumping, buildering. You know, the usual. As a result, my post for today will be uncomplicated, a sort of foil to my life at the moment.

I've been making a moderately successful effort to sketch more than people's faces these days. Though, ironically, the drawings I will likely post next week are very face-centric! Still, I liked the way this one came out, and wanted to share it with you all.

Hopefully viewing this simple drawing will have a calming effect on you, the way completing it had a calming effect on me. I feel so refreshed, so relaxed...I could just...fall asleep...right here...right at the location I'm posting from, on top of the needle of Empire State Building. Hey, I can see your house from here! All of your houses!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Simple Comic for Complex Times

We are living in complex times. Political upheaval, economic woes, globalization, energy crises, global warming, news media's dependence on Twitter - these are all multifaceted issues, and opinions vary about how best to address them. Personally, I think they can all be solved by casting them in simpler terms, much in the way my cats and I have solved the complex problem of inter-species communication:

If Republicans and Democrats, Israelis and Palestinians, Vegans and Barbeque Enthusiasts all sat down at a big table and broke their disagreements down into "Owie" and "Not Owie", they would resolve their differences in no time. I've already petitioned the government to adopt this new strategy, and I encourage you all, dear readers, to do so as well. When we're given the first collective Nobel Peace Prize in history for bringing about the end of all conflict everywhere, all I ask for is a "thank you" and free pizza, forever.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Spy Who Taxed Me

About two weeks ago, I experienced what many psychologists call a "Jason Bourne moment": I was tailed by a secret agent on the subway. She was wearing dark glasses, as secret agents are prone to do, and her hair looked somewhat wig-like - part of some masterful disguise, no doubt. Were it not for my uncanny perceptiveness and constant paranoia, I might not ever have noticed her.

See what I'm talking about? She was a spy, no question about it. But was what could she have been after? She was sitting in front of a poster which demanded, in the strictest of terms, that I DO MY TAXES (online, for free). Was this position strategic? Some kind of cryptic message, possibly even a direct warning? Was she CIA, FBI, KGB? Was she an agent of some shadow accounting firm, trying to threaten me away from free, online competitors? Maybe a plainclothes, for the IRS? Do they do that?

I've never been late on my taxes. Her intimidation meant nothing to me. And as my stop approached, I made my move.

We battled it out in a flurry of Jujitsu and Krav Maga, chopping and kicking in what I can only describe to you now, dear readers, as a Samba of Death. But when the doors opened on 42nd and 8th avenue, our lightning exchange ended in a draw (she was transferring for the Port Authority). Ultimately, I was unable to determine what her dastardly espionage was trying to uncover.

Be warned, my friends: despite my best efforts to subdue her, this woman is still out there, her cold reflective lenses obscuring the soulless pools of deceit that surely lie behind them. If you see her, turn the other way, go home, and make sure you do your taxes.

Thursday, January 27, 2011 COLOR

Do I have a treat for you all today! Not only have a posted multiple three-panel comics here, but I've posted TWO VERSIONS - one in black and white, and color.

That's right, dear readers, like Dorothy touching down in the magical land of Oz, I have entered a new era of entertainment.

Version 1

Version 2

I'll be honest - I can't quite decide which version I like better. The first version has a certain charm and simplicity, but the second version has a bit more verve. As a purist, there's a part of me that's drawn to the stark black and white, but who can resist some colorful eye-candy?

If you're willing, please give me your thoughts in the comments - I would love to hear what you think.

One final note - about two weeks ago, I posted a comic about the lengths my cats would go to, to get their paws on some popcorn. Some of you have kindly pointed out that the second page of the comic would not load, and you were left with a terrible cliffhanger - how would it all end??? Fear not! I have fixed the technical issue. Click on this to access the post anew.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Short Cat Shenanigans

I've made a bunch of these three-panel comics over the past few days, but so as not to run out of material too quickly, I will be posting them piecemeal, rather than all at once. Here's the first one.

Disclaimer: I have never given coffee to either of my cats, nor would I ever allow them to enter into a position where they might even try some. It would be terrible for them!

That said, for two cats that are already very active - rolling, romping, leaping, pawing, and clawing for hours at a stretch - even the smallest amount of any mild stimulant would lead to total chaos in my apartment. I would leave work in the morning, suspecting nothing, and return to overturned bookshelves, shredded kibble bags, a raided refrigerator, and hundreds of dollars' worth of catnip charged to my credit card. Terrible in real life...but great in comics!

More cat shenanigans to follow, later this week!

The Ballad of the DMV

Lately, I haven't been posting portraits. This is partly due to a resolution I made to complete more comics, which means I spend more time drawing cartoony-looking people than real ones. I've also been riding my bike to work whenever it's not raining or snowing, and so my time on the subway has been much more limited. However, one trip to the DMV was all it took to get this drawing together:

The face for the portrait above began at the DMV in midtown Manhattan, while I was waiting for my number to be called. The DMV is a black hole from which time does not escape. The warping and sudden disappearance of whole hours within a DMV office cannot be explained by relativity or string theory. It is outside the boundaries of science, outside the entire space-time continuum. Wars could be won using the DMV's devastating "queueing" technology - don't fire rockets at your enemies, just open a DMV office in their territory. They'll enter, take their place in line, and slowly die of starvation. I barely escaped with my life.

The poor man I was sketching must have been at the DMV for days. His hollow eyes were drained of all hope, and his jaw, at one time probably taught with resolve, hung slack in despair. You would think that someone so dejected wouldn't move around as much as he did, but annoyingly he kept shifting his head. Couldn't he at least have had the decency to accept defeat and stay still? But nothing is ever easy. The final drawing reflects my efforts to reconcile all the different perspectives, without Cubism.

I tried to mold this man's features into a peaceful expression, for even if redemption does not await him at the teller window, at least he can attain it though the power of ART.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Two Pages of Cat Badness

A quick story about cats, and one of their loves I only recently discovered: popcorn. Apparently, they will do just about anything to get it, including climbing bookshelves and knocking over popcorn tins. But don't worry! No actual shelves, tins, or cats were harmed in the making of this story. I put this together on the fly in my sketchbook, without any penciling or planning, but hopefully the story still comes across and is enjoyable:

I don't know what was going on with that circular panel on the first page, where our heroes suddenly transform into strange, non-cat organisms. I think after drawing the vertical panel of the popcorn in all its magnificence, I had a kind of meltdown, and then couldn't deal with drawing the next few panels. Fortunately the layout came back together again after that.

Things have been a bit busy for me lately, so I must apologize for my updates not being as frequent. However, I spent the long weekend working up some new subway portraits and comics, so get ready for more updates this week!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ping Pong Skillzzz

One of the greatest things that happened to me in 2010 was the entry of ping-pong into my life. Since my place of business acquired a ping-pong table this past spring, hardly a day has gone by that I do not play for at least 15 minutes. As my ponging experience has gradually advanced, so too has my knowledge of the vast array of ping pong strokes that can be executed during a game. I've set some of these out in the diagram below. Those of you who play will likely recognize them, and those of you who don't are in for a glorious education:

Mastering the backhand Quarterback Sneak has been particularly difficult for me as I have trouble dislocating my thumb at the appropriate moment. Just gotta keep working on my timing!

People say the best games are easy to learn and difficult to master. If that is the case, ping-pong is one of the best games even invented. It is ridiculous, exhilarating, maddening, and hypnotic, sometimes in the span of a single shot. It is insanely addicting. It has just enough of an element of chance built in to be consistently unpredictable. In short, to borrow an expression from my sister, "It's the illest."

Monday, January 3, 2011

Fake It 'Till You Bake It

One of my and my wife's favorite yearly traditions is the Christmas-to-New-Year's break. For the past few years, we have both been fortunate enough to have the week between Christmas and New Year's off, and it is during this time that we are at our most adventurous. We watch a dangerous amount of movies , sleep precariously past noon, and read comics and other books to perilous excess. Swept up in this heady whirlwind, I often believe myself capable of extraordinary, impossible feats, like baking.

This unfortunate story is all too true. I've vowed that in the New Year, I will learn how to make this bread pudding recipe without poisoning anyone. It's a delicious recipe when it comes out right (i.e. when my wife makes it), and contrary to what my bungling suggests it is really not all that difficult. My wife and I got it out of a Nigella Lawson cookbook, and I've included here a video showing how Nigella herself puts it together. I guarantee that if you use fresh cream, you will not only avoid much unpleasantness, but will also eat the whole thing in one sitting. Enjoy!