there’s a new complete story on “read a comic”!

The technical difficulties have been solved, and new stories have begun appearing over on my “Read a Story” blog. I hope to post a new story every week for the next month or two, to reward you for your patience and build up a nice little library for new readers or those who want to see samples of my work.  Eventually,  I plan to start a proper ongoing webcomic, but I have a lot to learn before I  get to that point.  But this little archive is, I think, well suited to the minicomic as a form.  If you have issues with it or any comments you wish to share, please post them here and I will do my best to work with them.

But for now, please enjoy “Birds in a Sluddle” with my compliments, by doing me the favor of clicking here. It was tied for first place in the competition for Best Minicomic at this year’s SPACE Prizes.

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porch yarn

A friend of mine is back from a trip that included a yarn dyeing workshop.  We looked at her finished yarn on the porch.

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paperwork to the moon!

aldrinBuzz Aldrin is one of our favorite people around here.  The second man on the Moon has always been an opinionated son of a gun with a dry sense of humor and an appreciation for all of life’s little ironies.  In old age he is still keeping up with the latest technologies and using them to give us all a bit of a laugh at the expense of The Man.

Click here to see some highly significant, yet totally petty, pieces of government paperwork he posted on his Twitter this week: the actual travel vouchers Buzz filed for his trip to the Moon.  Note that he traveled from Cape Kennedy Florida to the Moon, and from the Moon to “Pacific Ocean” on what is described as a Government Spacecraft.  “Government meals and quarters” were furnished.

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butterfly and zinnia

The phone camera continues to display strange and wonderful competence at the most unexpected moments.

Macro-style shots of butterflies on zinnias?  Really? 

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Apparently so.

It’s one butterfly on two different zinnias, if you want to get technical.  Interesting how one flower matches one set of the butterfly’s markings, and the the other matches the other set.  This particular butterfly is an insect with an excellent color sense.

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around the neighborhood with my new camera

Somewhere along the line in the last few weeks, I finally got my hands on the camera I’ve been wanting pretty much constantly since I went digital seriously about two years ago.  (See pretty much the entire “photography” tag in this blog.)  I agree now with everyone who advised me then– this would not have been a great first “real” digital camera.  The DSLRs are more flexible and do so many things so well, and they have taught me so much.  But this one … I think it’s going to be special.  More soon about what it is, exactly, but here are three pictures I’ve taken with it. coneflowers-overcast-blog

sidewalkarrow1-blogblueandredporch-classic chrome-bw-blogThat last image would have pleased my film-camera carrying younger self very, very much.

(Camera buffs are free to speculate about the crazy thing I’ve done– you’ll really only need one guess.)

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the twins/tutor series

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“The twins with their new tutor, in the lab, with Abacus, Boiling Henry and the Thing.”

As we restart the weekly “Best of the Drawing of the Day” feature, here is the latest outing in the Twins/Tutor series, which has turned up periodically since the second or third sketchbook in the project. As always, click on the image to see the full sized version.

The inspiration for the series, as far as I remember, was a simple pencil drawing of two children and an adult, wearing clothes that looked vaguely Victorian or Edwardian.  I flashed on a book that I have (Country House Camera by Christopher Simon Sykes), full of photographs of daily life in Victorian and Edwardian country houses, taken by amateur photographers, primarily women.  These people weren’t photographing pretentious upper class life or making some kind of social comment, they were shooting their friends and family members, having fun, going about their business, and hanging out.

So the children in the drawing, who seemed to be about the same age, became the twins, the adult became their new tutor, the set became the garden, and some object in the scene (I don’t remember now what it was) was added to the caption to finish it off.   The unnamed photographer, or the person adding  the picture to the family album, was almost certainly the kids’ loving, though possibly deranged, mom.  In the following years I’ve made at least a dozen of these drawings, with the characters getting crazier and the situations getting even more absurd while the standard form of the caption remains unchanged.

So the latest installment features a pair of patchwork twins, a young mad scientist (mad graduate student?) as the tutor, being photographed in the lab with Abacus (the longcat), Boiling Henry (in the flask), and the Thing (under the table).  When I do a finished version of this drawing, and I almost certainly will, I promise I will draw some proper lab equipment.

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dire floorgi

After a walk on a hot day, there’s nothing better than to flop down on your belly on the cool kitchen floor in an air conditioned house.  Keen observers will notice this is not my house, but a dire corgi does not care about trivia like that.  All floors are his floors.floorgi1-blog floorgi2-blogI made these little squares on my phone camera.  As always in this particular house, the white balance was way off, so a quick conversion to monochrome was needed.    One was processed with the “Pluto” cool grey filter pack in Android Photos, the other in the “Eris”pack of sepias and warm greys. I don’t claim to completely understand the photographic process these filters are supposed to mimic– I just messed with the sliders until I liked the results.  You can overthink these things.  Especially on a hot day.

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i wish i was more of a jerk

I wish I was more of a jerk. I probably would be a better photographer.  Unfortunately, at least for my image output, I actually have some manners.  These were taught to me as a kid, and like so many annoying things your parents taught you that you mightily discounted in adolescence (otherwise known as the “jerk years”),  they turned out to be both entirely true and useful in adulthood.  We’re not talking about what fork to use at a fancy dinner party here, but concepts like simple table manners, waiting in line, taking turns, thanking people when they do something nice for you, and not making a scene.  Not being a jerk, basically.  It’s not easy for me and it never really came naturally (I think I was born a fairly selfish and jerky person) but I do try.

So what does this have to with photography? Quite a bit, actually.  Because since I started carrying a good camera around, I’ve been noticing that my artistic impulses are in serious conflict with my desire to Behave Myself In Public.  It’s one thing to sneak a shot with the phone camera when you are pretending to engage in the almost universal modern pastime of “messing around with your phone”, but it’s another to haul out a Big Black Camera, or even one of the Fujis, and start pointing it at people.

It was bad enough to not get a shot of the man I saw in a restaurant a few weeks ago: he had his hair in a bun and horn rimmed glasses and the most elegant wrists and would have been a perfect model for a character in a prose story I am working on.  But he was sitting at the next table at a nice restaurant with tablecloths and rum drinks and just, no.  Even though I had the big Pentax with the excellent fast portrait lens mounted right on it sitting in my bag between my feet and the shot would have been good, I know it would have … still, no.  Even after a couple of rum drinks

But today’s situation was even worse.  I was walking around the neighborhood architecturalizing  with the new Fuji, and I came across a guy sleeping on a porch.  Awesome shot, right there: great porch furniture, interesting railing, guy was wearing clothes that were exactly the right colors to make a good composition, ideal lighting, perfect camera with the perfect lens for the job.  It was the middle of the afternoon.  My subject was dead to the world asleep. No one else was outside. No passing cars.  Not just no one to stop me, no one to see me doing it. I stood there for what felt like a long time: just me, and the Fuji, and the absolute knowledge that it is Terribly Rude to take a picture of anybody you don’t know really well when they are asleep.

You want to take a picture of somebody in the street when they can see you coming with the camera, and they don’t kick up a fuss, that’s fair.  But not when they are asleep on a porch.  Even if it would potentially make an excellent photograph and if you didn’t show it around town nobody would ever know.

So that’s why there’s no photograph here to illustrate this post. And why I sometimes wish I was more of a jerk.

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portrait of a (flying) junkyard rat

Among my convention table toys is a rubber squeaky rat I got at the dollar store one Halloween.  The plan is to fit him with wings and make him into a flying junkyard rat like the ones in Kekionga.  This is the kind of crafty project that has true nightmare potential, and I’ve never figured out a solution that doesn’t involve razor blades, glue, or both.  And who needs that?

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So, rubber squeaky rat.  But in the drawing of the day sketchbook, any rat can be a flying junkyard rat. 

The flying rats are the heroes of the rat people, born into normal rat litters and carrying the flag for all of the intelligence, cunning, and flexibility that make the rat one of the multiverse’s great survivors. To be a flying junkyard rat, chosen to guard the secrets of a great esoteric junkyard (like Bud’s Kekionga Salvage) is the highest of ratty honors.

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time to buy a gong

Because we are now well equipped to keep it clean.

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Seriously, I never knew that this common kind of scrubbing brush, with its squarish head and straight or slightly curved handle, is properly known as a “gong brush”.

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A full fifteen minutes of serious Googling were insufficient to uncover the story behind this interesting name.  I wouldn’t think that gongs need too much scrubbing- once over with a microfiber rag and the occasional polishing should be sufficient.  This gong brush is designed for heavier duty. 

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For messes at a distance (or extra long gongs), try the Extra Long Gong Brush.

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