Austin wouldn't be the same without adopting a couple of stray cats.



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Patio Roof is not our friend from Ireland

Now that you've all had a chance to read and probably hear about certain marital issues, I'm going to move back to some regular stuff. Exciting to us, maybe not to others, but just the same it gets its place here.

First off, a quick recap of Chicago for those that don't have our phone number and who we've talked to since last week. Chicago was really great. I can't come up with any other metaphors than that, although I'll do my best to keep you readers entertained. (It was good. That's great dude, click back to Google.) It started out a little odd, the flight to Rosemont was pushed back an hour while we sat on the plane and waited for our flight crew that was delayed in LA. But I had my mp3 player and a book so I was fine. Got into Chicago later than I wanted, had to hang around for a shuttle (Chicago's a big ass airport come to find out) all the while dragging a very heavy portfolio case and a box with all my books in it. Get to the hotel, check in, meet some PJers at the hotel bar where we were gauged on prices for beer and Midwestern tasting quesadias (sorry guys, you have to come to Texas to get good Tex Mex) and then hit the hay, a little drunk, ready to start the convention. Friday was kind of a bust. Other than meeting all the PJers who came and hanging out with Jeremy and his wife and brother in law, the day drug on like a three toed sloth eating peanut butter in the heat of August. Broken up by quite a few smoke breaks and a few trips to the "Expoteria," it was a really long day. Jeremy and I didn't have much to say to each other and ended up staring into space just dying for some foot traffic, conversation or spark of inspiration. That night was spent meeting new people in the bar.

Saturday was awesome. Friday a couple from a cable access channel some distance north of Chicago asked us if we'd do an interview. They were wanting to talk with small press creators, try to get a grass roots look at the big business, such as it is. We said we'd do a short interview, didn't cost us anything and they went off. The next day a camera and a few people show up at our table and really made us look probably more impressive than we deserved. Jeremy was all business and very articulate, I was talking through a haze of cotton mouth and blood-in-the-ear idiodicy. I don't expect to ever see the interview so it doesn't matter. We could have requested a copy, but I think that would have required a "donation." The rest of the day was just as exciting. Jeremy and I decided to actually work together and draw something, so he'd sketch random characters and I'd color them. These mo's sold like hotcakes. That and we offloaded about 20 books, I sold some pieces of finished art and Jeremy's wife got a lot of sketches and photos. It was a good day.

Sunday was more of the same, little less traffic, but still very cool. We got to wander the exhibit floor a bit and see some freaks and cool things. The amount of money put into this event is just staggering when you consider some insiders' views that the industry is dead or that comics are just for kids. Screw them. This place was bigger than most car shows I've been to, and I've been to a few. Made it home safe and sound, a little heavier in the art portfolio as I bought a case and Jeremy donated some boards.

You can see some con pictures here.

I came home and was treated to a good ol' Texas style freak storm. I can't really explain it any better. It wasn't just a thunderstorm, nor was it a tornado, it was somewhere in between. Right on our neighborhood, all the cold air over Texas decided it was going to drop through thousands of feet it what's called a downburst. It has tornado style impact on property because it's moving at up to 70mph. I'll get some damage pics up later, but let's just say it's enough to fell trees, fences and roofing. We sustained some moderate hail damage to car and house and our patio umbrella was shredded. We lost power for about 15 mins, but everyone was ok. So to commemorate the passing of the umbrella, Mrs. Austin and I decide now would be a great time to build that patio cover we'd been threatening to for the past year.

So here it is. It only took about 4 hours to put up, including shopping time for supplies. We had no plan, barely any measurements and just enough moxy to get this thing in place. We didn't even fight. Then we took on the arduous task of trimming back our mesquite tree. Folks, let me tell you, mesquite is the devil's tree. Both MA and I received some thorns in our feet because of this tree so we were more than happy to cut it's damned branches off. I'm pretty close to cutting the whole thing down, but it offers some shade so it stays...for now.


Things to do When Your Husband Forgets Your Birthday

Things to do When Your Husband Forgets Your Birthday

10. Pick a fight at 11:30 p.m.

9. Break all his pencils.

8. Let your child loose on his artwork with a bottle of glue and permanent markers.

7. Consider getting cozy with that divorce lawyer you used to work with.

6. Buy yourself expensive jewlery.

5. Use photoshop to black out his face in every family picture.

4. Subscribe him to that service that calls you to remind you of important dates.

3. Call his mom and tell on him.

2. Cry.

1. Use it as emotional blackmail for the rest of his life.

- Mrs. Austin


Happy Birthday To Me!

Twenty eight years ago Cliff and Sharon had a beautiful baby girl. They reached down and took her tiny hand in theirs and said hello for the very first time. She hasn't let go since.

I love you guys. Thanks for giving me a great start.

-Mrs. Austin


What would Jesus Castillo do?

Texas is not without it's share of stupid shit. Man I love Austin, but we got some uber-winners when it comes to the governing body of this state.

I'm sure most of you across the nation have by now heard about the Dems that have left the state to protest/avoid/delay the special session called by Gov. Perry to work on redistricting. That's national, that's debated, that's up to each person to decide what's right and wrong.

What you probably haven't heard is a little known case dealing with one Jesus Castillo, a comic book retailer in Texas. Castillo was convicted for selling an adult comic to an adult from a store that handles its adult material very carefully. However, the stores proximity to a school and in one counsel's remarks, comics being for kids, the jury ignored expert testimony and followed the trial with a guilty verdict based on an emotional closing argument.

For those with little kids, please cover their ears.


Here's an excerpt from the close.

"And, again, why are we here? ... This medium, the medium that this obscenity is placed in is done so in an appealing manner to children. Comic books, and I don't care what type of evidence or what type of testimony is out there, use your rationality, use your common sense. Comic books, traditionally what we think of, are for kids. This is in a store directly across from an elementary school and it is put in a medium, in a forum, to directly appeal to kids. That is why we are here, ladies and gentlemen. I want to re-emphasize that the fact that all this smut is out there, does not mean it's acceptable and is decent by our community. We're here to get this off the shelf."

I'd like you to look at two things. First, comics are traditionally for kids. Yes, traditionally, in the 1950's! The average comic book subscriber is now late 20's early 30's, works a steady job and is more often then not married or has kids of their own. Getting a conviction on the opinion that comics are for kids isn't any better than getting a conviction for a Wal-Mart employee found selling an adult video game, rated R movie or firearm to an adult. Where does it stop?

Secondly, the phrase "and I don't care what type of evidence or what type of testimony is out there...use your common sense." What? WHAT? You don't CARE what kind of evidence is out there? This asshat needs to be careful what he says, he's going to end up setting Rules of Evidence cases back 30 years with this bullshit. And as a juror, would you listen to a lawyer that said that? I don't care what kind of evidence is out there. I don't care about this airtight alibi, or the eyewitnesses, or the lack of forensic evidence, or the fact that the defendant wasn't in the country, doesn't your common sense just tell you that he's guilty? Look at him? Jack McCoy would be having a FIELD DAY with this case.

On the heels of just printing up my own, PG-13 comic book (no sex, mild violence) I'm really worried about this case. If a retailer can't sell it, what does the creator do? Why aren't these guys attacking the adult video stores? Why is sex even a problem in this country? The Italians are just laughing at us. Now that we have Reverend George Bush in the White House, this kind of emotional legal crap is going to slide down that slippery slope like Peekaboo Street coated in KY. This absolutely infuriates me. What's worse is both the Texas Court of appeals AND the Unites States Supreme Court have refused this case. So this poor schlep just trying to make a dime by selling comic books gets to spend a year under supervised probation, and pay $4000.

Now before you get up on your rebuttal soap box and say, "But Mr. Austin, don't YOU have a child? Would you want her exposed to this kind of filth?" Let me say this. First, the material in question was clearly marked, away from general viewing and required a photo ID to purchase. If you're under 18, you wouldn't have been able to even see it on the shelf. Second, I know what is bad and what is good. I know what's best for my child. I know how to watch out for her. I know what I'll tell her when she's older so she can appreciate adult material for what it is, adult material. I can't stop her, but I can educate her. It's the parent's job to teach and protect their children. I'm insulted that the legal system feels it's their job to not only obliterate my 1st Amendment rights, but to assume that my child may be in danger from a threat no worse than the Playboys in 7-11. This case is an abomination and shouldn't have gone as far as an appeal to the USSC, it should have died in the grand jury. The judge should have taken one look at this case and said, "You're kidding right?" But on the heals of the Minor Protection/Put Your Child In A Government Funded Bubble actions being taken in Arkansas right now, I fear the life of the comic book industry is slowly coming to an end. Meanwhile, prostitutes and crack heads are free to walk the streets. Yeah, I don't see the distinction either.

On a separate note, but relating a little to first part of this entry, Mrs. Austin and I met Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Travis County) last night at our local National Night Out event. Mrs. Austin had some question for him about his stance on the Dems breaking quorum and he said he was totally for it and in fact they're having a rally this Saturday to protest Gov. Perry's 2nd special session in the house. Mrs. Austin knows her stance, knows it's wrong to waste money on these sessions while the budgets are being cut. I'm not so sure. I want to cheer the Dems on, but I have no reference for it. I don't know enough about it to make a stance. The last couple months I've had tunnel vision and haven't paid much attention. So Mrs. Austin will be at the rally while I'm in Chicago. Please, if you're in Austin, come by the south steps of the capital at 11:30am on August 9th and make yourself heard.

If you're not, well then go find something in your state to fight for.



As you know Mrs. Austin and I try to take time on the weekends to do all things Austin, or at least all things Central Texas. We have a guide book from Austin Monthly Magazine that comes out in May of each year chronicling the cool things to do. Well it's gone. Our oracle of knowledge about the 103 best things to do in our fair city is missing. Whatever shall we do? We'll be relegated to movies and bowling and never again experience the rapture that is swimming in a secluded spring or enjoying fine German cuisine.

It's not all that bad, but we're a little disheartened. Mainly because we turned our house upside down looking for them. (There are two, one from last year as well.) There was no stone left unturned, which leads us to one sad conclusion. The books were taken.

Now I'm not one to point fingers, so I won't. They're just magazines and we can back order more. But if turns out someone did abscond with them at some point in the past 2 weeks, how low. How low to remove a magazine from someone's house. We wracked our brains trying to think if we'd lent them to somebody at work or family, but just couldn't make any connections. They were on the table, now they're gone.

Yeah, not a lot going on at our house lately. Can you tell?


Well it's done. After 3 months of staying up late, getting pissed that some pages weren't as nice as I wanted and finally getting a great deal on printing, my comic book is finally finished. Next to being a dad, this trip to Chicago is probably the most importan thing I've done or probably will do and it wasn't an easy road. The family's made a lot of sacrifices, financially and emotionally to help make this happen and I owe them big time, especially Mrs. Austin who almost had to put off going back to school to get this going. We've had to put off a few fun things this summer and I've had to postpone my brother's birthday present as well. (I'm getting that to you by the way.)

I've learned a lot doing this, mostly in the art department. I've learned I CAN draw fast if I need to and that if I didn't need to I could do a really good job. I've learned a lot about lighting and mass and points of view. Most importantly I've learned the value of having friends and family. Between them I've been given time to work, gracious bits of work and inspiration and constant coaching and critiques that have helped make this the best it could be in the time given. I'm DEFINITELY looking forward to starting the book as a series now, making it my life's work as well as my hobby. I don't plan on quitting my job, but it's nice to have something other than a rat-race 9-5 to come home to. By this time next year I may even have a full 26 page color book. Wouldn't THAT be something.

So now I've got a box full of 100 copies of Project: Gemini sitting on my kitchen table. Some are going to a party tonight so I can bask in the limelight a little, the bulk are going to Chicago with other bits of artwork and whatever's left is going to the local comic shops. (Yeah, a book on the shelves even, how exciting!)

I'm also glad it's done, I've been slacking on chores and time with the family. Life In Austin has lately turned into Life of Mr. Austin so I hope that will change too. As much as I like drawing comics, I can't let it rule my life...yet. When it pays well enough to take care of my family, then it can do what it wants to me.