BROOKLYN DAILY NEWS interview about the, "I VT NY" benefit we organized for tropical storm Irene relief for VT families and farms

A Few Notes on Dylan Horrocks at Librarie Drawn & Quarterly

I was partway to the Canada border when I realized I had forgotten my camera, so the best image of Dylan Horrocks's appearance at the Librarie Drawn & Quarterly in Montreal this week is a crummy cameraphone picture.

I'm a huge fan of Horrocks (both as a cartoonist and as a thinker about comics). I don't remember when I first read Hicksville, but it was probably back in 2001, when my student Jeff Seymour was writing a paper on it. I've taught it several times, and it's the only book from which I've bought a page of original art. When I found out that Horrocks was coming to North America, and reading just a couple of hours away, I couldn't miss it.

You can see the copies of the new edition of Hicksville in that image, and having read it I can say that the new introduction is a nice addition to the book. I'd say that if you are interested in comics at all, this book belongs on your shelf or your wish list.

Horrocks gave a really enjoyable and informative talk. I was surprised at how much time he spent talking about his days writing Batgirl for DC, but given that the problems of that job led to the opening of his current project, Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen, it makes sense for him to have dwelled on it. And in fact he made me curious to read his run on Batgirl, even while he was dismissing the comics as "terrible writing" for the most part.

The most exciting thing for me about the talk was his description of where The Magic Pen is going—that the book is going to try to discuss the value (and the perils) of daydreams and escapist genres. There's no one I'd rather see writing about that question than Horrocks.

The beginning of The Magic Pen is already online. Go take a look at it, if you haven't. It's good stuff: a smart story, and some of the sweetest cartooning that Horrocks has done yet.

Ah, also, he was kind enough to draw me this cute robot.

Movin' and Groovin'

It's been quite a few weeks here in our house. Eliana has been keeping us quite busy! She is really on the move now... crawling, pulling up, and even attempting to take a step or two while holding on to something. Here's a little peek at how we found her in her crib last weekend after her nap. She is so proud of herself... it cracks me up!

Ellie continues to be such a joy. She loves people, is really outgoing, loves to talk and to laugh... she is just so precious. Be sure to check back in a few days for pictures from her first Halloween!


"A man's never out of work. If he's worth a damn. It's just sometimes he doesn't get paid. I've gone unpaid my share and I've pulled my share of pay. But that's got nothing to do with working. A man's work is doing what he's supposed to do, and that's why he needs a catastrophe now and again to show him a bad turn isn't the end, because a bad stroke never stops a good man's work." William Least Heat-Moon in "blue highways".
It occurred to me that the above is a pretty good description of retirement as I have experienced it. A person's "work" during this chapter of life is to truly do "what he's supposed to do." Retirement gives one the freedom to make choices based on one's character, principles, and values without the constraint of placating an employer or customer.
The fellow traveler sharing his philosophy with the author concludes his musing with, "Any man's true work is to get his boots on each morning. Curiosity gets it done about as well as anything else."
I love being able to respond to curiosity during this season of life. If I read about a class, a lecture, an exhibit, a performance, etc. that interests me I now have the time to check it out.

Two Halloween Minis

I'm happy to announce that we have not one but two small minicomics ready to celebrate the Halloween season.

The first, "Make Me a Bat," has already been the subject of a few posts while it was in progress. Here are a few photos of the finished product, which will also give you a hint or two about the plot of the little comic:

Of course, this simple desire on the part of the little boy is thwarted through a variety of misunderstandings (possibly deliberate misprisions) about what he wants. Eventually, the wrong costumes get both ridiculous and frustrating.

... But the book does have a happy (and cute) ending.

This isn't actually the last panel; there's also an appropriate denouement, not pictured here.

And "Make Me a Bat" isn't the only new little book that we've got this autumn. My colleague Allegra Bishop also worked up a little book—as much an illustrated poem as a comic—about the peculiar headwear of the actress Sarah Bernhardt.

You can click these images to enlarge them and get a sense of both the cartooning and the doggerel in "A Hat, a Bat, Manhattan."

And here's the back cover, featuring the Divine Ms. Bernhardt in all her chiroptero-sartorial glory.

I'm still folding and stapling to fill Halloween bulk pre-orders, so I can't promise to get large orders to anyone else in time for Halloween. But if you just want one copy of each book, I can pop them in the mail (first-class) on the same day you order, so you might still be able to read both micro-minicomics on All Hallow's Eve (or on Dia de Los Muertos, at least).

$1.50 will cover my publishing costs, the postage, and Paypal's fees. Here's a button to make the transaction easy:

Of course, you could also get these books by ordering a three-for-five bargain deal. They'd count together as a single book, for those purposes.

A short film and an even shorter trailer for that short film

The man who made a short film out of my short story "Room Enough In This Town" (retitled "That's Not Me") has released a trailer. Hopefully he'll have information soon about when, where, and how you can see the actual film, but I just thought this was exciting and wanted to show you all NOW, because NOW is always more fun than...well, the alternative.

Room Enough Trailer from Mehran Torgoley on Vimeo.

In related news, which I can't remember if I've announced before or not, I'm deep into the writing of a screenplay for an actual feature-length adaptation of this story. In fact I was about halfway done with it before I had to put the project on hold to finish things up with WARM BODIES, and then I got all fired up about FLASHLIGHTS IN THE BASEMENT and had to write the two epic novellas that bookend that book, and yada yada yada, it's still only half done.

But once I finish FLASHLIGHTS (mid to late November, I'm thinking) I go back to work on that script. Not that this will mean anything tangible to you people for years to come, if ever, case you're my mom or sisters and are wondering what I do with all my free time....there it is.
Marion out.


Water for Elephants

"When you're five, you know your age down to the month. Even in your twenties you know how old you are. I'm twenty-three, you say, or maybe twenty-seven. But then in your thirties something strange starts to happen. It's a mere hiccup at first, an instant of hesitation. How old are you? Oh, I'm-you start confidently, but then you stop. You were going to say thirty-three, but you're not. You're thirty-five. And then you're bothered, because you wonder if this is the beginning of the end, It is, of course, but it's decades before you admit it."
So begins chapter one of "Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen. I enjoyed reading this fascinating novel about a depression era traveling circus and the wonderful characters and animals that populate it. I greatly appreciated the author's attention to detail and the wonderful descriptions of setting up and tearing down the big top and train travel in that time.

Feeling Sheepish?

Heres a little sneak peak of something new i'm working on. Bringing back an older style mixed with some new techniques. Should be done sometime tomorrow

A Much Needed Vacation

I spent the weekend in Mt Pleasant, at a friends retreat in a little pioneer home. This was the same place where I went to be alone to work out some kinks on Remembering Isaac a couple of years ago . I took the family and some friends for a glorious weekend of peace and relaxation. There is something magical about laying in a hammock under the autumn sky. I love all the seasons, but Fall has always had a special place in my heart. The colors, the scents on the wind. There is something so amazingly wonderful about the sweet smell of willows in the fall. The colors, the sound of the wind, the clouds that blow across the sky, the sight and sound of geese and other birds flying south. I love it all. There is something special about Mt Pleasant. It is in the middle of Sanpete County. It is a place where time has a different meaning. I have always felt this way about this place.

My friends purchased this cabin 14 years ago, shortly after their son was murdered up Emigration Canyon. He had gone out to take pictures of the moon with his girlfriend. He was shot and killed instantly by a young man who wanted to see someone die. His girlfriend was shot several times, missing every vital organ, and then left for dead. She survived. This cabin has served for years as a place of refuge for the family who has suffered so intensely. Three years ago, another of their sons passed away from cancer. This has been very hard on my friends. Being down there at their cabin this weekend, I realized how much hope there is in this family. It is a place of peace and quiet reflection. I wish there were more places like this left in the world. It is a place where you can always hear the sound of the wind in the trees. There is always peace, always hope, always a haven for those who seek it there.

I came home with a cold. My voice is gone and so I had to cancel my signing yesterday and will likely cancel my signing tomorrow. I simply cannot talk without pain. I'll get better. Meanwhile, I had a very nice man stop by yesterday to pick up fifteen books to share with friends and family for Christmas. I met him last week in Bountiful at Costco. He purchased the third book in the store and talked me into selling him copies of book one and two in the parking lot since Costco is not currently carrying them. He explained that he had been reading the books to his wife and they had been touched . I have had the chance to speak to book clubs in the last few days too an have sold more than 100 books there, along with a bunch of pots. It seems like this series is gaining momentum, but not at all in the way I thought it would. People are talking and sharing and recommending the books to their friends and neighbors. It is multiplying as it rolls forward. It is so fun to receive your emails and letters, thanking me for the books. It is often very humbling to hear your stories about finding the love of God, wanting to become better, thinking more compassionately about those around you. Thanks for sharing.

Ten days ago, a big change came to my life. I was released from a calling in my church that I have held for more than six years. I am a Mormon, and like the Quakers, there is no paid ministry in my church. People take turns serving each other. For the past six years, I have served as a bishop in my congregation. It has been an intensely humbling experience over those years, one that has caused me to lean heavily on God for direction and guidance as I have made decisions that have effected many people's lives. Being released from this calling and having those responsibilities given to someone else has been another humbling experience. It has been bitter sweet, having learned to love people and knowing so much about their lives has been wonderful. I no longer have the obligation or responsibility to love my neighbors in the same way I did as bishop, but once you learn to love, I am not sure you can ever really refrain. I am grateful for the things I have learned along this journey--to look beyond the end of my own nose, to have a deeper faith, to find the beauty in every individual, to love and be loved, to join hands with other imperfect souls as we work together to become something better than we naturally are. I don't know if your life can ever be the same after something like that, and I am realizing that more and more each day. I have been a part of Niederbipp, and I hope I always will be.
So, for now, I'm signing off. I'm not sure what the future will bring, but I am ready for the ride and looking forward to it. Cheers to the journey!

Fire Maze©NOIA

A new music clip by Isaac NIemand,
this time for this good friends form Montreal, NOIA

Fire Maze
from the album "S/T"
by NOIA​noiasound

Directed, Dop, Cut, Atferelife Isaac Niemand.
Filmed with 5d & Hv30
graphics with Aftereffects
color Mojo

Festival of Cartoon Art, Final Report

The Festival of Cartoon Art at OSU was in some ways a bewildering experience. I think I'm still processing what I saw there, but I can at least post a few of my photos and a few things I remember. It looks like this is going to be a long post. I'll break it up into twelve items of interest.

I've already said a little bit about the opening day of the festival, which provided some of my favorite moments from the whole weekend. On Friday and Saturday, the festival shifted venues (to a movie-theater / lecture-hall space that could hold all the people in attendance) and transformed into a different sort of event: a series of slideshow presentations made by cartoonists with significant reputations, punctuated by coffee breaks, meals, and receptions.

The lighting in the venue was pretty difficult for my little camera, and Jared Gardner over at Guttergeek has already posted some good pictures from the talks, but I'll include my pictures that turned out okay below.

1.) Jen Sorensen is an underrated cartoonist, as far as I can tell.

On the one hand, she's quite successful — as she put it on Friday, she does make a living drawing talking condoms (among other things) — yet on the other hand because her work appears in alternative weekly papers she isn't as well known as hacks with syndicated dailies, nor does she get the sort of critical respect that comes with a "graphic novel."

What I think will stick with me most was the visual she showed to explain how much of her income derives from her website. The point she was making was that it was a small percentage — 2%? 6%? something like that — but she depicted this as a fraction of a bowl of kibble. First, a hundred kibble pellets to represent the whole income, then a handful of pellets to represent the portion that comes from the web.

Now I'm stuck thinking about a cartoonist's annual income as a bowl of dog food.

2.) Dave Kellett gave a talk in which he espoused Kevin Kelly's "Thousand True Fans" business model as it applies to web-cartoonists: give your strip away, and make your money on the profit margin of your merchandise, book collections, and original art sales to the small fraction of your readers for whom your strip is their favorite thing on the web.

In some ways, the "Thousand True Fans" model is really inspiring—it's nice to imagine that all the talented cartoonists (and other artists) out there could find an audience that would keep them at least moderately remunerated. But I wonder about the economics of it. I'm sure there's a way to make it work, but I wonder what it would take, really, to produce enough new sellable material every year for each of your Thousand Fans to spend, again, the hundred dollars that makes up his or her portion of your bowl of kibble.

On the other hand, I left the room feeling more hopeful than skeptical. It was a good talk in that regard, probably especially for the cartoonists in the audience.

3.) James Sturm gave a great quick overview of his career, culminating with a bunch of really beautiful images from Market Day and a description of the Center for Cartoon Studies and what it has achieved so far. It made me proud to have been affiliated with the enterprise of CCS, even if it's only been in the minor way that I have been.

It wasn't during his talk, but over the course of the weekend either Sturm or Charles Hatfield let it leak that next year's ICAF conference is planned to be in White River Junction (instead of in Chicago or DC). I'm excited about that, as well.

4.) Dan Piraro's talk was hilarious — hands down, the funniest presentation in a weekend full of humor. For someone who draws mainly single-panel gags that represent only a single moment in time, he sure has a knack for comedic timing.

5.) The Festival organized an impressive gathering of cartoonists to pay tribute to Jay Kennedy, the former editor of King Features Syndicate and expert on underground comics.

There's Matt Groening and Bill Griffith during the panel. My pictures of Patrick McDonnell and Brendan Burford, who were also on the panel, didn't turn out well. Each of these luminaries related a couple of personal reminiscences about Jay Kennedy, and a composite portrait emerged of a character who had a lot to do with the shape of American cartooning.

6.) Gene Yang gave an informative talk about the source materials for American Born Chinese and the ideas that inspired it.

I hadn't read Gene's account of how even an editorial cartoon by Pat Oliphant informed Cousin Chin-Kee, and I was impressed, both with the overt racism in Oliphant's cartoon and with the seriousness Gene brought to writing such a ridiculous character. I was hoping that this part of the presentation might stir up some conversation back and forth with the editorial cartoonists in the room about the question of stereotyping, but no one took it up.

7.) Roz Chast was totally charming and very funny.

Among other things, she talked about how much she enjoys drawing lamps, and she showed an image of the first cartoon she sold to The New Yorker, a diagram that labeled odd little doodles as "chent," "tiv," "redge," "hackeb," and so forth. I'm used to seeing Roz Chast's cartoons now, but that early image reminded me that in fact there's a deep vein of weirdness in her work.

The Roz Chast correlative to Jen Sorensen's bowl of kibble was a slide or two of her pile of rejected cartoon submissions. It occupies two filing cabinets and four foot-high stacks of paper on top of those cabinets. It's fascinating, really, to imagine how many of those gag comics are probably very funny, and at least at this point completely unknown to the public.

8.) And then there were the big public lectures. Lots and lots of people turned out for "An Evening with Matt Groening." This is just a part of the audience.

The most memorable thing about the Groening talk, for me, was the awkward string of questions he dealt with after the presentation — mostly people stating they were big Simpsons fans, asking him what his favorite "couch gag" or Itchy & Scratchy torture was, and then asking for his autograph. He must have declined to give autographs fifteen times. And for good reason: look at that audience.

One guy even asked if he could have a lock of Groening's hair. (He had scissors and a Ziploc bag all ready.) Failing that, the fan asked, could I tug on your beard for good luck? The whole spectacle made me a little queasy, in part because I sympathize with the cartoonists who can't be forthcoming to every fan request, and in part because I know I still want to ask some people for autographs, too.

If the crowds were a little thinner for Art Spiegelman's talk the following afternoon, it was probably only because he was competing with President Obama, who spoke at a rally about a block away right after Spiegelman's lecture ended.

One of the things that surprised me about Spiegelman's talk is that he still seems to object to the term graphic novel. I can understand why, but I also think that particular taxonomic battle may have been lost now. Do we have an alternative term? Spiegelman's choice, a comic long enough that it needs a bookmark, doesn't seem practical.

9.) Despite the high-power cartooning celebrity in place at the Festival — and I haven't mentioned all of the speakers, much less the cartoon celebrities who were in the audience (from Jeff Smith to Jeff Keane, from Lynn Johnston to Richard Thompson and others I didn't see) — I think the aspect of the event that had the biggest impact on me was the opportunity to connect and reconnect with some of my academic colleagues. It's always nice to come away from an event like this having met for the first time a few fellow travelers, or to have extended your friendships with people you already knew.

I snapped a couple of decent photos of my friends over at "Thought Balloonists," ...

Charles Hatfield (above) and Craig Fischer (below).

(These were taken while we were waiting for the Groening talk to start on Saturday evening.) I didn't get any pictures of Peter Sattler or Susan Kirtley or Jared Gardner or any of the other scholars I spent time with over the weekend, but I think that those connections and friendships are going to be the best thing to come out of my trip to OSU.

10.) By the time I got to the exhibit of Billy Ireland cartoons over at the library, I was pretty over-saturated with cartoon imagery, but I did manage to snap a few pictures, and looking at them now in retrospect I'm really bowled over by the level of craft evident in those pages. Here are some highlights:

On first glance at this image, I thought, "What an effective caricature of William Jennings Bryan." I have no idea why I was able to recognize Bryan — I couldn't have told you what he looked like, but I recognized him before I noticed his name down in the lower right corner. The mind works in weird ways.

(Ireland's The Passing Show often had little observations like this to mark the changing of the seasons.)

And look how well observed these wolves are! (If you're curious about why one wolf is labeled RUEFISM, here's an explanatory link.)

11.) I brought my robot sketchbook to Columbus, and though I didn't ask for a lock of his hair or any other DNA sample, I did have a short conversation with Matt Groening about the design of one of my favorite robots while he drew this quick doodle.

I got a few other robot doodles while I was in Columbus; perhaps I'll post them some time when I don't have other "content" to share.

12.) I think the Festival of Cartoon Art was an incredible success this year, and an incredible testament to the efforts of the researchers and organizers at OSU. I doubt I'll ever be in a crowd of cartooning luminaries with a friendlier atmosphere.

My only uneasiness or ambivalence about the event had to do with the category it occupied. I know I'd have felt more at home—felt more like a researcher doing his work and less like a fan appreciating things I already liked—if the cartoonists had more often presented ideas, arguments, and detailed accounts of their process. It's enjoyable to have a cartoonist reading his or her strips to you, but that sort of presentation doesn't usually provoke much conversation. Given the incredible collection of talent at the festival, it seems a shame that there weren't more challenging ideas about the direction of comics, or the possibilities of the medium, or the problems of cartooning, et cetera, circulating during and after the presentations. This strikes me as a sort of missed opportunity: why not have a gathering like this work as a think tank, as well as a celebration of the medium? Or maybe those impulses aren't entirely compatible.

Factual Facts About Halloween

A good costume idea

Halloween is that special time of year when parents dress their children as classic representations of evil and send them out to demand sugary taxes from their neighbors on threat of violence. But what a lot of kids don’t realize is that there is more to Halloween than just eating so much candy that you throw up and lie huddled in bed all night twitching and cursing God. Halloween is also an important cultural holiday for zombies, vampires, Spidermans, and other manifestations of our collective consciousness’ darkest dreams.

Although witches and demons have been part of our culture for centuries, and skeletons have been around since the early Paleozoic Era, Halloween is a relatively modern invention. After observing the successful creation of the African-American holiday Kwanzaa in 1966, an unnamed zombie proposed a similar celebration for his own people as a way to promote species awareness and acceptance, and also to make hunting easier by flooding the streets with costumed decoys. No one expected the holiday to catch on outside the undead community, but the ‘60s were a time of profound social upheaval, and since the youth culture had already begun to embrace monsters—who possessed an undeniable charisma and sinister cool that humans couldn’t help but envy and want to imitate—Halloween quickly exploded into one of the world’s most popular holidays.

Another good costume idea
Halloween is celebrated in all English-speaking countries and most Pashtu-speaking tribal lands, but the traditions associated with it vary from place to place. In my own city, Seattle, Halloween looks very different than it does in, say, London. The basic spirit is the same; our kids still go Trick-or-Treating and dress up as aborted goat fetuses and schizophrenic hallucinations, but because of Seattle’s frequent, heavy rainfall, we must make some adjustments. Since October is our wet season, the streets are usually not navigable by land, so on the morning of the 31st every family has a “Creepy Craft Party” where we help the kids build canoes out of paper and popsicle sticks. We then load the little rascals into their boats and set them adrift in the floodwaters, where the violent currents whip them through the streets until they eventually run aground on a random neighbor’s porch. From there, the Trick-or-Treating resumes more or less traditionally. The neighbors take the waterlogged tykes inside, dry them off, and perform any necessary CPR. The eager kids are then treated to an extravagant feast of generic bulk candy and put to bed in the garage if the neighbors have one, or under the sink if they don’t. The next morning, the neighbors look up their little guests’ barcode tattoos on, find the parents’ addresses, and return the children home only slightly worse for wear. That is, of course, if they weren’t drowned or eaten by river vampires the night before.
A good couple's costume

All this may sound like an anxious night for the kids’ parents, but playing the odds—even with such morbidly high stakes!—is just part of the Halloween experience in Seattle. With over eight hundred casinos—more per square mile than libraries, schools, and coffee shops combined!—Seattle is known around the world as a gambling city, and the question of whether or not the children will make it home from Trick-or-Treating is the subject of much extravagant wagering. In 2009, an estimated forty million dollars changed hands via Halloween betting. Traditionally, parents will always bet against their own kid, so that if he or she does end up being eaten by river vampires, the parents will at least have their winnings as consolation.

Losing a child is always a hard thing, but the thrill of the risk—along with the fun of friendly competition between neighbors—is what that keeps Halloween interesting for Seattle’s adults, most of whom can no longer enjoy candy due to suppurating stomach ulcers. Some may call our holiday traditions inappropriate or even irresponsible, but after all, it’s Halloween. If you want warmth, good times, and your children to be alive, you can go celebrate Christmas.

Festival of Cartoon Art, Day 2: Some Abstract Rectilinear Landscapes of Columbus, Ohio

Here, without labels or other commentary, are some hard-to-draw interiors and exteriors from around Columbus. You can click each image to make it bigger.

Festival of Cartoon Art, Day 1

I'm in Columbus.

I'm attending the 2010 Festival of Cartoon Art at Ohio State University, where I gave a paper this afternoon on the backgrounds in Krazy Kat. There was an entire panel devoted to Krazy, in honor of the title character's 100th birthday.

And there was a cake at the reception.

I enjoyed the panels today, which taught me about a few comics I'd never heard of before (Scuola di Fumeto looks interesting; the post-Herriman Krazy comics from Dell and Gold Key look like a sacrilege), and I learned new things about comics I'd heard of. (Peter Sattler's presentation on Mutt and Jeff was really eye-opening, especially his description of the inset comic called "Bolsheviki," which seems both harrowing and hilarious. I was also really stunned at the research on display during Michael Tisserand's keynote talk. His forthcoming biography of Herriman is obviously going into my wish list.)

During the conference, as usual, I doodled. Here's a poor likeness of Damian Duffy, scrawled out during his talk on Moore and Gebbie's "This Is Information."

And here's a quick cartoon of one of the most memorable moments in the conference so far. After Toni Pape's interesting paper on Scuola di fumetti, which was sort of heavy with theory jargon but showed some "metaleptic" effects that really exploit the language of comics, there was a pause in the question-and-answer period. The established comics-scholar eminence R. C. Harvey raised his hand, and said, "I have a question for Toni."

"My question is: 'Are you serious?'"

It's hard to know how to answer a question like that. It was clear that Bob Harvey wasn't asking in a mean-spirited way. I think he was asking about the jargon, though the conversation turned to some claims about comics exceptionalism that Toni was more hesitant to endorse than Bob himself was.

And I should point out that the Festival's FAQ page does say that the academic presentations "will not necessarily be aimed at a general audience."

As it happens, a little bit of good-for-the-gander came around during the Krazy Kat panel. While I was giving my talk, Bob Harvey was doodling into his notebook.

(That's Jared Gardner below me.)

... and apparently I make an interesting subject for caricatures.

Later he told me he couldn't decide whether I have a round head or a long one.

Be advised: this is one of the dangers of presenting to a room full of comics scholars.

I'm hoping to have more to report before the weekend is over.

Infant and Pregnancy Loss Remembrance Day

As I have shared the past few years, and as many o fyou already know, October 15th is designated as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Last year I shared some research on some statistics related to this and found the following...

-According to emedicine, the overall miscarriage rate is 15-20%. Some physicians believe this percentage may even be higher, as miscarriage can often occur before a woman even knows she is pregnant.

- Approximately 25,000 babies are stillborn each year in the United States, and according to the March of Dimes, about 19,000 babies die within the first month of life (called neonatal death).

- SIDS claims the lives of over 7000 babies each year nationally.

One of the reasons I am so anxious (in a good way) to get the Isaac Delisle Foundation up and running is that there is clearly a huge need for additional support for bereaved parents. Many, many people are affected by miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss. And if you are one of those people I want you to know this: your child matters.

So, once again this year, I would like to do a few things this October 15th.

First, I would like to pray for you. If you are comfortable, please feel free to share as much of or as little of your story in a comment below. Spencer will be busy with the guys from our small group tomorrow evening, and I would like to take that time to pray. Also, I would like to invite those of you reading to pray for the people who have courageously shared their stories.

Secondly, as the site has announced, you are invited to light a candle on October 15th at 7pm in your time zone to create a wave of light in remembrance of the child/children that you have lost, or in honor of someone else who has lost a child thought miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant death.

So, I will start...

My name is Stacy. In the fall of 2007, we lost baby #1 to a miscarriage due to triploidy discovered at 13 weeks. On October 7, 2008, we met our precious son Isaac at 8:33 am. He passed away due to complications from a series of congenital birth defects 16 minutes later. He is deeply, deeply missed and so incredibly loved.

More Studies

My apologies if this is getting repetitive. I have been making a considerable effort to do as many of these studies for a few reasons. Firstly, i'm trying to touch up on some traditional skills. I don't want to be one of those all digital artists, not that there is anything wrong with that, I just like variety. Im also taking note of different painting methods, how I layer the paint and which order I paint things in, because i'm trying to bring those methods into my digital painting. I think that will improve my digital painting and give it a more painterly feel. The whole process should make for a nice diverse portfolio. Another part of the fun is just studying light. Light makes everything possible in drawing. Light affects, mood, contrast, value, and the overall believability of artwork. Without good light, its hard to achieve the drama a good piece should have. So taking all of these things into consideration, I think i'm getting somewhere.

All of these pieces are for sale, and reasonably priced if you are interested shoot me an email.

Bite Size Matters

Is there any food in the world with more size gradations than Shredded Wheat?

Frosted Mini Wheats are certainly the most popular, so much that most people forget there was ever a non miniaturized Wheat. But there was, and is.

In fact, Mini Wheats are the third largest Wheat. And there is now also a Wheat even smaller than Mini, a seemingly impossible feat of wheat engineering called the Mini Wheat Nano Little Bite. Then, moving up the scale from the standard Mini Wheat, we have the Mini Wheat Big Bite, whose self-contradictory name seems to have been caused by an explosion at the marketing factory when they couldn't figure out how to demarcate the two sizes while still retaining the popular "Mini Wheat" branding.
Then there's the original, the one you rarely see in stores anymore, lurking in the dusty shadows of cereal history, the big daddy that your granddaddy probably used to eat with a knife and fork with no sugar or honey or fruit, soaked in rat's milk from pregnant dead rats he caught in a rat trap he built by hand:


(*"fucking" added for dramatic emphasis)

There's no denying this stuff is impressive--the size! The sheer un-mini-ness of it!--but why was this cereal ever created? Who thought giant bricks of wheat that don't even fit in a bowl was a good idea? And why has Kellogg's been apologizing to us for 50-some years by inventing ever-smaller iterations of Wheats? It's one of the many mysteries of the cereal industry, which has always been shrouded in weirdness.

Since I figure a lot of people reading this blog will be trying to figure out the intended purpose of all the different sizes of wheats, trying to understand the pros and cons of each size in order to determine which one is right for them, I've included this image comparing all four, with a bottle of Sriracha for scale, since I don't have any pop cans, which are the traditionally accepted unit of size in America.

Note that the Mini Wheat Little Bite is not appreciably "littler" than the standard Mini Wheat, indicating that making truly "little" wheats is not physically possible and this new size was created purely to satisfy one of the rarer OCD compulsions known to psychology: "cereal shrinking", the irrational need to constantly invent, produce, and market smaller and smaller cereals.