Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Dark Knight Returns

I finally got to see the new Batman movie tonight. It was very intense -- by no means for young kids. But very exciting.

I thought it was awesome. I give it an A+.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

ABC Challenge --- University

The Mighty Andar is out of the frying pan and into the fire! Each week I accept the illustration challenge posed at James Gurney's website. Each challenge I make into a three page comic strip. I'm taking it a step further by trying to piece together many of the strips into a single story. This week's challenge is to illustrate the line, "It seemed as if the entire planet was a university."

I apologize for the cropping, or lack thereof. Our computer is ill, and we are without Photoshop for now.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Whole Lot of Super Going On

There's nothing funnier than someone wearing a Superman suit. The less super they look, the funnier they are.

The city of Metropolis, Illinois planned to set the Guinness Book of World Records record for the most people in a Superman uniform . Even though there was no existing record, there were a ton of rules established for setting the first one.

The minimum necessary was 100 people and they had to wear authorized Superman costumes. No red towels for a cape with a hand-drawn “S” was permitted. The Guinness folks are a might fussy. And it had to be a SuperMAN costume, no SuperGIRL costumes were allowed.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Kingdom Bound Contest Update -- We Got Tickets!!!

Remember our family comic we created for the Kingdom Bound contest? Unfortunately, we did not win. I was told we came in second out of 71 entries. Today in the mail we got what I guess was a consolation prize -- four tickets for one day of the event!

The winning entry was a 3-D Pop-up art project, which truly was impressive. Check it out below. These people won four days and three months, which truthfully, probably would have been too much for us to handle with aa toddler in tow. You can see all of the entries of the contest here.

The Mantle of Elijah -- Part 2

I've finished the story and I've come to a conclusion: I do not like to draw crowd scenes. Unfortunately, if I'm going to illustrate any more of these Bible tales, I'll probably have to do more of them. Crowds frequently seemed to assemble in those days. Until the advent of CNN I guess people had to go check things out themselves in person.

The other tricky scene to illustrate was the parting of the Jordan River. Having never seen a river parted in person, I can only speculate what it must of looked like. Did it pile up on one side or did it momentarily solidify like jello. My drawing looks like the latter, but other than that, I'm pretty happy with how this turned out.

ABC Challenge -- The Man Looked Bored

For the Art by Committee Challenge this week artist James Gurney (of Dinotopia fame) gave this line to illustrate: "The man looked bored."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Mantle of Elijah -- Part 1

The church I go to is quite small, but once a year, we let our pastor go on vacation. When he does, we all do our best to fill in for him. Somebody grabs a guitar, somebody else a Bible and attempts to say something edifying. Last week was my turn. What I do is make a comic ahead of time. I make each panel a slide in a Powerpoint program. Then I tell the story with the pictures and make comments along the way. This story is about many things: zeal for God, discouragement, burnout, and the Call of God on an individual's life. I believe God has a job for each one of us. We do what we can for others and for Him and that's responding to that call. He is the ultimate artist, who has made a separate design for each one of us.

As in the story of Gideon I drew, this Bible story refers to The Angel of the Lord appearing. Many Bible scholars believe this is a pre-incarnate visitation of Jesus.

That's all that is done so far. I will add more to it next week.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Panel Discussion Word Art

File this under "Fun things to waste time on". A website called Wordle will take text you provide and assemble it into Word Art. Or, it can take recent posts from your website and assemble words from it randomly. When I submitted this websites address, this is what it came up with.

Panel Discussion Word Art


Monday, July 14, 2008

Cow Farts collected in Plastic Tanks for Global Warming Study

I know that I report primarily about comics, but there are times when a civic minded blogger must deviate from established patterns and let you know about latest scientific research, like this report about Argentine scientists who are collecting cow farts in plastic tanks. The report says that

Experts said the slow digestive system of cows makes them a key producer of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that gets far less public attention than carbon dioxide.

In a bid to understand the impact of the wind produced by cows on global warming, scientists collected gas from their stomachs in plastic tanks attached to their backs.

The Argentine researchers discovered methane from cows accounts for more than 30 per cent of the country's total greenhouse emissions.

As one of the world's biggest beef producers, Argentina has more than 55 million cows grazing in its famed Pampas grasslands.

Guillermo Berra, a researcher at the National Institute of Agricultural Technology, said every cow produces between 8000 to 1,000 litres of emissions every day.

Methane, which is also released from landfills, coal mines and leaking gas pipes, is 23 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

Scientists are now carrying out trials of new diets designed to improve cows's digestion and hopefully reduce global warming. Silvia Valtorta, of the National Council of Scientific and Technical Investigations, said that by feeding cows clover and alfalfa instead of grain "you can reduce methane emissions by 25 percent".

Comments around my very scientific family so far have been:

"Imagine if that thing broke open in the lab!"

"I hope no one lights a match!"

Friday, July 11, 2008

ABC Challenge: Roasted

The Art by Committee Challenge is an art game I play with some fellow artists. This is how it works: Each week artist James Gurney (of Dinotopia fame) gives us a random line from a science fiction book. Our assignment is to illustrate it as we see it. It is a lot of fun to see the wide range of creative approaches to each prompt. There is a lot of creative talent that turns out to give their vision of the line. Our assignment this week is:

My submission for the art game is:

The Eclectics are Here!

My first shipment of copies of Eclectic Comics #1 came from the printer today. I'm using a print on demand service called Ka-Blam. They look very sharp and professional, if I say so myself.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Movie about a Cartoonist?

I have had this vague memory of watching a movie about a cartoonist when I was a kid. I knew that it starred Jack Lemmon, and I can vividly remember the main character working on a comic strip with pen and ink. It was a revelation to me at the time that comic strip artists work on large pieces of bristol which is later shrunk down. Up until that time, I can remember looking at the newspaper comic strips and thinking, "Wow, how do they draw in such tiny squares." This movie set me straight.

After an internet search I learned that the name of the movie is "How to Murder Your Wife" (1965) and that it was available on our Blockbuster website. After reassuring my wife that she was safe, I ordered the movie and we watched it tonight. There are some very funny scenes and it was neat to see how the main character projected his Walter Mitty fantasies and everyday frustrations into his comic strip. However, it is full of 60's era "dames are gonna be the death of us" misogynous humor and a very dumb resolution to a courtroom scene.

The comics that you see in the movie were actually drawn by cartoonist Mel Keefer, a cartoonist who is actually still working today. Here is one of the strips that appear in the movie.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Politics -- But not as Usual

As teachers, we need to remember that our classes are made up of students with different dominant learning styles. We should present information in a “multi-layered mixture of styles” (Smith, n.d.). Too many teachers get in a rut of teaching in just one mode. We need to make sure we’re doing all we can for each type of student and to try to blend the styles together.

I enjoy collecting political cartoons to show my students. I especially like to find examples that use the symbols of elephant to represent the Republican party and the donkey to represent the Democratic party. When I show one of these images to my students, they will undoubtedly laugh. Not many of them are aware of the symbolism behind them. This coming school year is a good time to do this unit, since by then, most of them will be aware of the presidential race that is going on. When I explain to them, that there are two teams – the elephant stands for McCain’s team and the donkey stands for Barak Obama’s team, the illustrations I show them take on new meaning. I also show them examples of political cartoons that use the Uncle Sam symbol to represent the United States. Before we begin to try to interpret the different cartoons, I explain the difference between fact and opinion. I explain that these cartoons have a message from the cartoonist. He is trying to tell us his opinion about something. We may or may not agree with his or her opinion. I tell them that opinions are not right or wrong. You have yours and I have mine.

After looking at several examples, we practice drawing the elephant, donkey and Uncle Sam. The homework assignment is to go home, watch the news, talk with parents and pick a side. Most children choose the political party that their parents support. As I work with the students, I am careful not to express my own political opinions, but just give suggestions as to how they can present their opinions effectively. At the next art class, the assignment is to make a funny drawing that makes one side look bad or silly or foolish and to present the other side in a better light.

Since visual learners “think in pictures” (Kelly, n.d.), this assignment is automatically appealing to them. They want to see how things are done. They enjoy watching the demonstration. They often ask, “Can I see that again” (Smith, n.d.)?

Auditory learners learn best by listening, so hearing verbal descriptions of the images from the teacher and classmates help them understand the images better. They prefer to hear explanations and like to talk their way through things. They like to hear things and say it out loud for themselves. We need to remember not to yell at them for that. They can often follow directions after being told very precisely once or twice what to do. They will do what you say – exactly what you say. It is not enough to say, “Draw the elephant’s trunk like this. You need to say, “Make two curved lines that get closer together toward the end.” They often ask, “Can you explain that again?”

Kinesthetic learners learn best by doing, so the process of actually making the cartoons is what helps solidify the information. They like to follow along as you demonstrate. To meet the needs of these students, it’s important not to go on and on talking about political cartoons. They can’t wait to get started. They often ask, “Can we do that again?”

This project has something for every kind of learner and is a great way to look at the humorous side of our differences -- something people tend to get contentious about. Here are some of my students drawings:

Kelly, M. (n.d.) Learning styles: understanding and using learning styles in teaching.

Smith, C. (n.d.) Sensory learning styles: visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning styles in grappling.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Mighty Marketplace

My son Daniel is slowly trying to teach me how to color with Photoshop. These images are the result, although he did all of the real work. I had an idea for making a clock with the image of the Mystic Yak on it. I wanted to make one to hang in my studio to remind me to get to work, and that when things look overwhelming, the only sure way is to get started. Below is what the clock will look like.

There's a neat website called Cafepress. You can order objects with your own images on them. I designed a few different products with the images Dan and I colored. The store is here.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

T.A.I.L.S. #49: The Field of Glass

Below is my most recent completed T.A.I.L.S. comic. Apart from the fact that it is mice and a turtle making these discoveries, the science in the story is true.

Each T.A.I.L.S. comic is followed by one page of knots instruction. I was told by Boy's Quest that I could do whatever I wanted with the comic as long as it led up to one page of knots instruction. I look at them as the advertisements that bring you this comic.
Here's the knots page for T.A.I.L.S. #50, which I had not completed until now.