This is a Public Service Announcement:

If you're still on dial-up for your internet connection, pay your damn phone bill.

This is another Public Service announcement:

If you're still on dial-up for your internet connection, and you're paying your phone bill, go ahead and pay over the phone. Most of them now take checks and debit cards for payments, and instead of waiting for your payment to clear or just plain arrive at the main office, it's done instantly.

This is yet another Public Service Announcement:

If you're still on dial-up, and you're paying your phone bill, and you're paying with your checking account or debit card, when the phone company says your service will be turned back on in 24 hours, that's a generality. What they really mean is, "Your phone service will be turned on when we can spare the time to get someone to flip the switch to your number."

Amazing how when they send you your warning, "Your service will be interrupted any time after 9.00 a.m. Tuesday," they'll slam down your service faster than fresh shrimp at an all-you-can-eat buffet. But once they have your payment in their grubby little paws, they lose the post-it note as soon as they stick to their computer monitor.

And who says deregulation is a bad thing?

Doc "One Ringy-Dingy" Absurd



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Cthulu, that Wacky Elder God 

Okay, so it's been a few days since I last posted. Can I blame it on Janet's flash during the Superbowl?

Honestly, I've been working diligently on hammering down Cthulu. The actual character sketch took only a couple of hours from start to finish; it was the damn coloring that took the beter part of the past two days. I'm nothing if not meticulous. Well, I call it meticulous; I can be p.c. about being slow.

Here he is:


A few things of note:

1) This is scanned direct from my pencils. A while back I started scanning in some quick sketches for another web-gallery; at that point, I suddenly realized just how tight my pencil work is, so I decided to try coloring some pictures without inking the finished product (in a vain attempt to shave a few hours off my work time). So far so good. I'm currently working on a short story without any inking involved. I can't wait to see the results.

2) Yes, he is being crapped on (no doubt by the bluebird of happiness). I'll be working this scene into a one page story, but even before then I knew I had to have him look pissed at something. It seemed fitting that his first modern venture into universal destruction would be met with some criticism.

3) Here's another example of how strange the creative mind truly is. Initially I had just figured on giving him leather gauntlets around his wrists; visually he needed something to break up his "nekkidness". I toyed with a vest or a sash, but nothing worked (although I may still give him a pair of britches to push him over the animated cartoon edge), so I just threw on a pair of gauntlets. It was just enough. Well, while I was putting the finishing touches on his colors this evening, I happened to stand up and pass by my Roger Rabbit video and I noticed that Roger has a pair of yellow gloves. *BAM* It hit me! The classic gloved three-fingered hand! Half an hour later and he had the finishing touch.

No doubt you're wondering why I give him -- and all my other characters -- three fingers. That was a deliberate decision early on in my cartooning development. A long time ago I saw an interview with the great comedian Jack Benny, and someone asked him why he always put up three fingers to his cheek as a sign of exasperation.

His answer was typical Benny: "Because three fingers is funny."

Sure, I'm not the first cartoonist to use triple digits; it's probably one of the greatest cartooning conventions in existence; and I am entirely capable of drawing four fingers and a thumb. But when I decided to screw the more "realistic" aspects of cartooning, Benny's quote stuck prominently in my mind.

Probably one of the trickiest things in making this version of Cthulu was trying to be entirely original. I mean, he's been translated into models, plush, paintings, and dozens of comics over the years. Thank God for Google; I was able to find loads of reference material for him not to look exactly like. His head is straight from Lovecraft's description; I had to include the wings (although mine are bit more bat-like than most of the other versions I've seen); the tail is there to help make him more bestial; and it was an entirely concious choice to keep his body as simple as possible. His arms are quite long, but again I did that to emphasize the fact he ain't entirely human.

I am quite pleased with the coloring, particularly the glow around him. Getting that effect in PhotoShop is a bit tricky, and I've only done it one other time; it took me a while to remember exactly what the hell I did the first time. I'll end up taking a day away from it, and then see if I can get it to work as a full-screen wallpaper; I need to come up with some sort of logo.

It's always something; even when you think you're done with a picture, you're guaranteed to find something else to tweak if you give it time.

Hey, I think I may have just stumbled on my next topic.

Doc "Necronomicon" Absurd


So, as I mentioned, I'm a cartoonist. A typical struggling cartoonist who's had more chances at success than any average creative-type person should have had. Yet nothing ever seems to pan out. Did you know I've had no less than 3 non-mainstream publishers fold up around me? And even more small press ones have bitten the proverbial dust whilst I was in their "employ" over the years.

Needless to say, I've been a bit gunshy about actually getting my work out there.

Thank God for my Things. Nothing says "Get your ass in gear!" like having a family around to constantly ask to see your newest creations. Granted, some see this as "nagging", but creative people are notoriously lazy when left to their own devices. And I'm no exception.

Anyway, before I get too far into a good wallow in self-pity, I thought I'd use this space as a sort of guided tour into the mental workings of of a nutbar -- cartoonist. Y'know, kinda like seeing how I might go from the germ of an idea to the actual infection of a finished story or strip (I'm hoping to get some sort of webstrip going soon, so I figured I'd better add that little quantifier in there).

For example . . .

Last week-end, during a trip to the local grocery store, I ran across an old video (yes, VCR tape; that used to be the cutting edge of home-viewing technology, y'know) of a collection of Roger Rabbit shorts. Now, despite Roger being one my absolute favorite animated characters, I never got around to buying this stupid video, so I practically tripped over myself leaping to the rack in a desperate attempt to be the first person to snag this gem before anyone else. Yeah, like there was a crowd of rabid fans locked in fatal combat for this.

To make a long story short (too late), I bought it, proudly waved the bag like an enemy's conquered flag, placed it gingerly on top of the entertainment center in smug triumph, and immediately got too busy to watch it during the week.

Ever so typical.

In the meantime, I found a toy online that I'd been hunting for for over a year (yes, I also collect toys; that surprises you how?). I just recently managed to land a gig doing toy reviews in the upcoming months, so suddenly my budget for toy collecting has doubled. Granted, twice of not much still ain't much, but it's more than it was.

Oh, yeah, the toy in question? A silly little Plush Cthulu figure. Don't ask me why; there's something innately hysterical about making a cuddly toy out of a fictional bringer of universal death and destruction. And I immediately found myself in a mental struggle not to make this Dark Lord of Ancient Evil into a cartoon character. Not that I knew what to do with him; I just wanted to make a silly picture. Fortunately, I was far too busy with another deadline to worry about it.

Flashforward to yesterday. I actually found a couple of minutes to sit down and watch the Roger Rabbit video. And I haven't laughed so hard at a bunch of cartoons in ages. These are just too stupidly funny for words. Ended up watching this three times in a row.

And after the last viewing, it suddenly struck me:

Why not make Cthulu like Roger Rabbit?

Inside of ten minutes, I ran over a bunch of idiotic scenarios with the missus, nailed his voice, and captured a simple image in my mind.

So now I'm finishing up the first pencil sketch at the end of a semi-productive day.

And that's how a creative mind can work sometimes. Scary, innit?

Doc "P-p-p-p-please" Absurd

All right, so what the hell am I thinking?

Well, that really depends; you feel like climbing through the jumbled cesspool of excess creativity that is the jokingly-referred-to-as-the mind of a cartoonist? A cartoonist who is also the stay-at-home parent of two rambunctious children (forever named Thing 1 and Thing 2), the cook, the maid, the teacher, the owner of a far too dependent cockatiel, and is currently suffering from one of the worst cases of sub-freezing temperature induced cabin fevers in written history?

Oh, you do?

Damn. I wasn't prepared for that.

Doc "Off Guard" Absurd



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