Thursday, November 30, 2006

Hot Bliggety Blog!

This past week, I’ve invested a bit of my procrastination time doing some internetworking (did I just invent a new term? Probably not). This entailed setting up a new “MySpace” page (you know, for the kids!) and an account at deviantART. Permanent links are now on the sidebar here.

I still don’t know what the deal is with MySpace. It has some of the features of Blogger, but with horrible esthetics. A little browsing uncovers a mish-mash of useless information and confusing imagery. Its only redeeming feature seems to be that it appeals to a younger demographic. My MySpace page is basically a portal to this page and to my other myriad websites. It’s like I’m creating a giant…web! A “world-wide” web, if you will! If you have an account, you should visit my page and become one of my very good “friends!” Please validate me. It makes me feel better about myself. ;)


The deviantArt website is a pretty cool thing. It’s been on my radar for a while, because some artists I admire (like Becky Cloonan) have their work there. Like MySpace, users get blogs, ‘friends,’ and stuff like that…Plus, artists can post artwork. The art can be viewed or, in many cases, be turned into products like art prints, postcards, calendars, etc. This seemed like a good place for me to join. I can ‘mingle’ with artists and promote my own work. You should check it out.

A nifty side-effect of all this experimenting is that I’m being forced to learn a bit more HTML. Now, I will use some here to provide these links (Happy Thursday)…

My MySpace:

My deviantART Page:

Sigh. This just reminds me that I really need to update my online portfolio. Been too long. Will this never end?!?!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thanksgiving Thoughts

As the Thanksgiving Day extended weekend comes to a close, I’ve been thinking about what I have to be thankful for.

The short answer is that I’m thankful for everything that I have.

You only have to browse the news headlines to see how fortunate you are. Even if things aren’t going particularly well, there is always some horrible story to remind you that things can always be much worse. I’m not a religious man, but I can honestly say that I feel blessed to occupy the space I’m in today. We really have no control over so much of what happens to us in this life.

Actually, we can’t control any of it. Our actions did not dictate who our parents are and where we were born, for example. Instead of being born in New York City, fate could have dropped me in Darfour, Bagdad, or Pyongyang—just to pull places from the news. That’s not to say that life is terrible for everyone in all those places, just that I know I’m fortunate to have been given the life I have.

Yep, we can’t control those elements that shape our lives. All we can do is control how we respond to the things that happen to us, the opportunities we are given, and the people we meet. That’s why Thanksgiving is important—it reminds us to be humble and grateful for our good fortunes, and to put the bad stuff in perspective. If people could do that all year, the world would be a more tolerable place.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Be Thankful, Be Very Thankful

Haven’t blogged in a few days. That’s cuz I’m so gull-durned BUSY!!! Yeah, I’m pounding away at my manga pages. I’ve fallen a bit behind, and I’m burning some of that late-night oil to make up the lost time. In fact, I shouldn’t be taking this break to blog. Don’t tell my editor!!! Luckily for me, he’s too damned busy himself, so I know he isn’t reading this!

Anyway, I’ll justify this exercise as just that: an exercise. It’s important to write a little every day to keep those creative juices flowing, regardless of the content. I just pity you, dear reader, who is wasting precious moments of life, reading this drivel.

Just to make myself useful, I will recommend another, more interesting blog for you to waste time reading:

Is the blog of John Kricfalusi. He is most famous for creating Ren & Stimpy, but he’s also the creator of many fine and demented diversions. This blog was recently written about by Heidi MacDonald of The Beat (also a good blog). John K.’s blog is a vast well of knowledge worth reading by anyone who’s interested in art, animation and animation art.

Please to visit. He’s selling stuff on Cafe Press, too. You should buy some. But first, buy mine. The Comiculture Anthology makes for a fine holiday gift!

Speaking of which, Happy Thanksgiving! You may now be thankful that this blog entry has come to an end. ;)

But first, a turkey, by my son...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Manga Preview

So, hey! Here's a sneak peek into the project I'm now working on! It's a new manga called Battle of the Bands that will be published by Tokyopop next July! On the bar to the right is a link to my special Tokyopop blog. Bookmark it, cuz I will be posting more preview art there in the future!


Voting Sux!

Just for the record: I DID vote yesterday.

But, it pisses me off. And not because I think that ‘votes don’t count’ or that they are somehow ‘rigged.’ What bugs me most are two distinct (but related) issues…

First, there are all the court appointments that we had to vote on (in California, at least). What really bugs me is that there is no easy way to learn about the people are who may be appointed to judge. Who are these people? On my ballot, there were about 15 different court seats open for new Justices on the Supreme and Appellate Courts, with about 35 candidates who needed a “yes” or “no” vote to be elected.

Now, I actually sat down and read through all of the voters’ information guides that came in the mail. When it came to these candidates for judge-ship, there was NO information to be found. I did find a website ( that listed all of the candidates, each of whom had a dry ‘resume’ page. This tells you where they went to school, if they were in the military and specifics about jobs. But not who they are and what they stand for.

The voter’s guide says that these people are “nonpartisan.”

But what does that mean? These days—and especially in a state like California—there is a disturbing trend for judges to actually MAKE laws instead of interpreting and enforcing them. And the voters seem to like this idea. Therefore, I think the politics of these candidates should be made public and easy to determine.

It makes me want to vote “NO” for ALL of these candidates. How can I hire someone who I don’t know?

The second maddening thing about voting is all the Propositions and Ballot Measures (are they the same thing?).

Yesterday, Californians voted on 13 Propositions. Some involved with “Rebuilding California,” one about parental notification for minors to receive abortions, and the much-publicized “Prop 87” which deals with “New Energy.” Fun stuff like that.

Like everyone I know, I have been inundated with information about these Propositions. I don’t watch TV, but I’ve heard plenty of radio ads, received a ton of mailers arguing the pros and cons, listened to proponents and their opposition on talk radio, and even took part in a phone survey about “87.” My favorites are the recorded phone calls from Arnold. I personally received 4 with Arnold’s voice and maybe a dozen from others. One was from Clint Eastwood who wanted me to vote for his “buddy,” Tom McClintock (or was it Tony Strickland…?)

I read the descriptions of all the Propositions, I read the analysis, and all the arguments and rebuttals.

And I still had no idea what to do about them.

The problem is this: I am not qualified to determine the legal or fiscal ramifications of the proposed laws.

It isn’t even like you can just take a moral stand, because the issues, and more specifically, the methods of dealing with them, are not black & white.

For fun, I’ll make up my own Proposition, to make my point…

Lets say, for example, that fictitious “Proposition 5000”claims to “end racism without raising taxes” by selling bonds to raise money for groups to spend on education, or whatever. That sounds good, right? Who can argue with that? (Whoever does argue with that would probably be labeled as a ‘racist,’ but that’s a separate issue)

Still, I read through my imaginary voter’s guide, and try to comprehend the letter of the law. It seems reasonable. So, I move on and read the “Argument For Prop 5000,” which has been prepared by the group behind it: “Peoples Against Racism.” It is basically the advertisement; a nice mixture of hyperbole, fear-mongering and name-calling. Still, it sounds pretty good.

So, I read the rebuttal: “Nobody likes racism, but Prop 5000 is a sloppy piece of legislation that will do NOTHING to end racism! It was drafted by SPECIAL INTERESTS that can use the money at their own discretion! No Accountability! Misleading fine print! Phony reform! Et Cetera…”

Hmmm. That sounds good too. I hate racism, but what’s the point to spending money on something that won’t work? I continue reading…

“Argument Against Prop 5000” is a more fleshed-out version of the rebuttal. It is even more convincing. When I’m done, I’m sure that Prop 5000 is an insidious plot that will actually increase racism, raise my taxes, and doom the future of California for generations. Next is the rebuttal to this argument. It says, “ DON’T BE FOOLED BY SPECIAL INTERESTS! Opponents to Prop 5000 are pawns of big-business, the tobacco industry and big oil!” It then repeats the main selling points from before.

This example may seem hugely over-simplified, but I must say that ALL OF THE PROPOSITIONS, ARGUMENTS AND REBUTTALS READ EXACTLY LIKE THIS. How can one really make a decision about these issues based on these arguments? All one can do is make knee-jerk decisions. Maybe the best you can do is read from the list of who supports what Proposition, and try to align your vote with the supporters you recognize, if not trust.

I actually read all of the materials for the propositions on my ballot, and I can admit that I am clueless about which ones will actually WORK, which ones benefit only the groups that support them, which will raise taxes or cause legal loopholes. I can only assume that a huge majority of voters did NOT read all of the materials, and were therefore even less qualified than myself.

This makes me want to vote “NO,” to all propositions. And I did just that. So there.

What is the point of these measures anyway? Do they exist because our elected officials run into logjams trying to push through legislation of their own? Are these Propositions the only way to ‘get things done’ because putting the issues to the voters is the only way for government officials to circumvent opposition or partisan politics?

If that is the case, then I think it is ridiculous. All it does is put the decisions in the hands of more unqualified people, who, in any case, can be bullied by partisan politicians and interest groups who flood the media with ads.

Don’t get me wrong—I generally trust the American voter. I’m not saying people are stupid, but I do know that the average Joe & Jane are not qualified to interpret and understand the ramifications of these new laws. In any case, they probably never even read them. Personally, I think we should let our elected representatives make these decisions and give them the power to do the things we elect them for.

If you have anything to say about this, please comment. Maybe I’m just missing something. I ain’t no fancy-talkin’ college graduate, after all. Just a disgruntled citizen yappin’ on the blogosphere.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Adrienne Shelley Update

The other day I wrote about how shocked I was about the actress Adrienne Shelley's apparent suicide. Today, I got a link from Marie to today's New York Daily News article that reports Shelley's death was actually murder, not a suicide.

Either way, the news is terrible. In a way, the suicide story seemed more disturbing because it made no sense; friends and relatives all believed Adrienne was a happy person. She had a young child and a blossoming career.

I guess the bottom line is that a murder means there is a murderer...someone to blame and be furious with.

People suck.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Good Morning

So, my brother called me this morning to tell me about the death of someone we don't know. I'm kinda bummed out now.

The sad story is about the actress Adrienne Shelley, who apparently killed herself by hanging last night. Not exactly a household name, I know, but I've always had a fondness for the "indie actress" ever since I first saw her in the Hal Hartley movies Trust and The Unbelievable Truth (you know, back when Hartley made good movies). She was a talented actress who also directed some indie films.

Okay, I admit it: I used to have the biggest crush on Ms. Shelley. I mean, look at this photo. She was gorgeous.

It's weird that the death of a film actor can affect us in this way. I mean, putting the "crush" aside for a moment, I'm sad that I won't be following her career anymore. I am looking forward to seeing Factotum on DVD (missed it in the theater, natch). but I wanted to see that anyway, because I am a fan of the book by Bukowski (I love that drunken bastard!).

I suppose that we can become attached to the characters that actors play, and attribute the character's qualities--good or bad--to the people who play them. We feel like we know the actors personally because we've seen them vulnerable.

I did not know Adrienne Shelley at all. I did have one personal encounter with her, though. It was back in 1993 (or so). Just after moving to Los Angeles, I was back in New York, visiting friends, when some of us went to a performance at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe on Avenue C. Honestly, I don't remember what the performance was--it was a reading of an unproduced screenplay--but I do remember that there were a few familliar faces in the cast of readers, like Frank Whaley and, of course, Adrienne Shelley.

Probably the reason I don't remember the content of the reading is that I spent the whole time staring at her. I don't know if I was starstruck or just drooling.

Maybe it was my imagination, but before the performance, I was upstairs waiting on line for the men's room, when I first ran into her. She was just hanging around in the 'loft' area, waiting for the show. The loft is small, so I was standing right next to her, trying not to look at her. But, she was looking at me.

I'm a shy guy. Less so today, but still pretty quiet around groups of people. By 'groups' I mean more than two or three people. Back then I was much worse--especially where beautiful women were concerned. So there I was, standing next to Adrienne Shelley, sweating bullets, averting my eyes, waiting to pee. Finally I did look up, she was smiling, I kind of gave her a goofy grin and an inaudable, "hi."

Then the bathroom opened up and I fled.

When we sat down to watch the show, my friends and I lucked out with front-row seats. When the actors came out, they all sat down in a row of chairs that were set up in a line, and they went though the script, each reading a different role. Though I don't remember the script, I remember enjoying it, and I remember that Adrienne Shelley's seat was right in front of me.

How could I not stare the whole time?

ANYWAY, that's it; the whole story. I didn't really see her after the show--she was hanging out with the actors. Not that I would have talked to her. For a long time afterwards, I fantasized about what might have happened if I'd just opened my goddamned mouth. Would she have let me buy her a drink? Would we find a common ground for a conversation--or more? COULD I HAVE DATED ADRIENNE SHELLEY??!?!?!

It's stupid. I've had that same experience in dozens of bars with pretty women, not famous, who I also did not have the nerve to speak to. But because of that connection we feel with the personalities we watch on the silver screen, this particular episode has always stayed with me. When I've seen the infrequent film freaturing Adrienne Shelley, I've always smiled inwardly. I've smiled at my own goofiness and shaken my head at how memory can build up such insignificant moments as those spent waiting for the men's room with a girl you don't even know.

The details of Ms. Shelley's apparent suicide are pretty awful, and those who know her can't believe she did it. They say she was a happy person; they're shocked. It's impossible to know what goes on in other people's heads, and events like this drive that point home. I certainly know nothing about the inner Adrienne Shelley, but I'm shocked too. What drives people to do such things?

I still want to see Factotum,, but I know it will make me sad. Here's a random thought: wherever she is, maybe Adrienne's hanging out with that ole barfly, Charles Bukowski! If so, buy her a drink for me, Chuck! I should have done it when I had the chance!

Now, back to work...