More Proof Companies are Fleecing Artists

Read this and tell me you aren't a bit outraged.

Yeah, that's right. My image is being used for a pornographic movie called 'Body Magic'.
Did they have permission? Did they hell.
This happened a few months back (well, since I found out). Somebody noted me saying this company was using one of my pictures.. actually let me get this straight - a SELF PORTRAIT that I took at the age of FOURTEEN.

Then I want you to write about it in your journals. Post it on your message boards. Put a bit in your podcast about it. This is the third time I've seen something like this in the last month alone. I'm almost afraid to go looking for art I've done or photos Mrs. A has done. (Although to be honest, I don't have anything worth stealing.)

But this has to stop. I don't mind people using my image to illustrate a point, all my stuff is under Creative Commons. But this is just appalling...even for the porn industry.

Carry on.

Time Bank

Heard on PRI's "The World."

The World's Gerry Hadden reports that a barter system is catching on in Barcelona, Spain. People register with what's called a time bank to trade services. They might teach a language or do home repairs. The hours they work become time bank credits they can spend. Time banking saves people cash. And for many, it provides a sense of community.

I'd love for this to be instituted in the States. Service for service.


I have to draw more.

So I've been listening and reading more and more the Extra Life Radio media extravaganza and the proprietor Scott Johnson just announced he's doing custom super heroes for $100. You get a poster size art so that's probably half the cost right there, but $100? I can't sell my Robots for $10 and you know Scott will sell a bajillion of these things.

I spent all weekend drawing and coloring and I still don't feel I'm doing enough.

Ah well, I'll keep plugging away at it. Who knows.


Happy Birthday Little Man

Originally uploaded by Cheryl Rollman.
Today is G-man's 3rd birthday. Three years and some hours ago Gregory Powell came into the world to a loving family.

To me, the biggest thing that happened on this date before G-man's birth was the debut of Star Wars, on this day, in 1977. On his 3rd birthday, the geek world is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the beginning of the franchise.

Also on this date, the US tested nuclear blasts in 1989 and 1967. The Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937. In 1896 the Dow Jones index began with an index of 12 stocks.

On this date in 2007, Gregory turns 3. Like his sister, he got a bed. We also found a couple tubs of toys from the last move, so it's like he got a bunch of new things. Three is a weird age. They want to open presents, but I think just to open them. I don't think they know what the significance is until they're four. He got a Spider-Man bed spread and pillow case to go with his bed as those things are more permanent than toys or clothes.

I'm also making banana bread for him as he doesn't much like cake. Mrs. A got the mix and some spice cake. Maybe he'll like those. He doesn't eat sweets or candy, just doesn't like them. He likes bread, pasta and spicy foods (salsa, peppery stuff, etc.) Which is cool with me, we share the chips at Mexican food restaurants.

G-man is a sweet child, loves his sister and his parents. He's got a great laugh and loves to be tickled and at this age still has all the little squeezable parts for tickling. His vocabulary is skyrocketing and he loves to say "al-ah-zizor" for alligator. His favorite show is "backyardidedans" (Backyardigans) and his favorite food is muffins.

I hope he has many happy years to come in his childhood and I hope we do our part to provide that for him.

Happy Birthday lil' dude.


100 Artists Project Update

Hey gang. If you're reading this and you're an artist, I've got an update for you on my 100 Artists Project, benefiting the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and The Hero Initiative.

With under a week left, we're at a smallish 15% of the total participation needed for the first part of the project. If you've been putting this off, now's the time to hunker down and get drawing. If you haven't signed up, now's the time to get your name in.

Deadline or not, the first 100 images will be put in the first book. Also, if you send in a drawing, the Big Mailer sketchbook will definitely be sent your way as well.

Now's the time.

If you're unfamiliar with the project, you can get all the information you need at our site.

If you have any other questions, just ask. Thanks!

Also, if you're reading this, and you have a site or blog or podcast, please write about it. The more people getting into this, the more good we can bring fellow and aging comic book/cartoon artists.

Carry on.


LMA Graduation

Sorry folks, this is really for the family. It's 22 minutes of pure boredom unless you're related.


Heroes, Photographers and Aritsts

Mrs. A goes in today to get her picture taken so they can make her a new press pass with her AP credentials. She shot an event at the Dell Diamond last night for The Bachelor.

Yeah, that Bachelor.

Apparently there's something going on with this show in Austin. So Mrs. A got to meet the staffing producer and assoc. staffing producer of the show and a couple of the Missus-To-Bes and get some shots.

With her AP creds.

Monkey Face

Today is Lil Miss Austin's graduation from kidergarten. This is also her last week of school. Next week I'll be getting pleading calls from home asking me to come take over because Mrs. A will have both kids at home for three months.

LMA's going to camp.

We've looked at a few camps, mostly gymnastics and dancing, but LMA has said she wants to do either ice skating or math camp. I thought that was surprising. And before you ask, it's not a full summer type camp; she's too young for that. This would be more like school for a couple weeks. Drop her off, pick her up. Two weeks later it's done. Do another one.

We'll see how it goes.

***Spoilers, don't read this Joe.***

The season finale of Heroes was on last night. I was really looking forward to it, but it turns out I could have made a couple educated guesses as to what would happen and then made myself a sandwich. It was a really boring season finale with few small sparks of "Ooo, here it goes" unrequited geekiness. Every time something cool could have happened, they broke to commercial or a new scene.

The show doesn't have plot holes, it has plot craters. Peter Petrelli has this ability to absorb other peoples' powers. Sylar also has this ability, but he has to eat their brains (well, doesn't he?) to get it. The entire show has come down to one climactic moment. Both Peter and Sylar have gained power from a radioactive time bomb of a man, Ted Sprague. The Painter has predicted that a nuclear blast will go off in the middle of New York and kill hundreds of thousands of people. So, who will be the bomb; Peter or Sylar?

Turns out it was neither. Peter exploded, but his brother Nathan (who is a flying congressman) zipped his brother into the high air rather than serve out his predestined role of bringing NY and America out of the terrible tragedy that was the explosion. Oh, and the time/space shifting Hiro finally kills Sylar, just like the comic book said.

So, here's my problems.

1) Peter can fly on his own. He absorbed his brother's power. If I were Peter, I'd be keeping a tight mental list of the things I could do. Any infant video game player knows this. Always know your moves. Nathan sacrifices himself so he can sacrifice himself. No one says, "Hey, Pete. Can't you fly?"

2) Illusionist girl says her natural state is a big fat chick and she'd rather not show that to anyone. Yet, when unconscious, she doesn't revert back to her normal body. Not that I think there's a needed hole to be filled where overweight actors and actresses are concerned, but dangit, read your own script people!

3) Reading Minds Cop gets shot with his own bullets (re: Sylar) and as the paramedics are wheeling him off to the ER, the little Cerebro girl stops them and takes an agonizingly long time to say, "Don't die po-wees man. Yor my hee-whoa." Thanks kid, he died while you trundled that pathos out.

4) Hiro trains with his dad, Sulu, for a long time during the last episode. Long enough that his friend Scooby-Ando could buy his own sword and go after the brain-loving Sylar. After Hiro apparently becomes a bad-ass (not my words) he saves Ando and then shows up later to kill Sylar....by running at him screaming for a distance of no less than 20 yards. We've already seen that Sylar is almost faster than the blink of an eye and has stopped Hiro before, yet now with this Gallipoli like run, he calmly pushes a sword through Sylar. No neat warp jumps or time freezes, no kick ass moves his dad just spent a day teaching him. He just shouts like a Scotsman and charges.

5) It's the middle of New York (Kirby Plaza if you believe that, filmed in LA with an LA landmark so obvious even I knew about it) and yet there are only the cast members in attendance. No bystanders, no passerbys, no cabs, no street vendors. This must be New York, Montana and they just didn't tell us.

6) The forensic cops miss a trail of blood that was Sylar going into a manhole cover 10 yards a way. That's some fine detective work, Lou.

7) One of the side characters was this guy called The Haitian. He had two abilities. One, he could erase memories. Two, he could negate your powers if you were near him. All this mother had to do was walk over to Sylar and he'd be rendered bullet-able.

Don't give me a way out and then not use it. A show like this, you have to give yourselves two ways out, no more. One way you're constantly showing me and one that you aren't. Then at the end, switch the possible endings and get a big paint brush loaded with surprise to drag across my face. Don't set up 146 possible ways the story could end, otherwise guys like me will feel write shit like this.

So, they saved the Cheerleader, and she did jack-shit at the end. No one really died that we know of except nuclear guy, the painter and a handful of red-shirted mutants from earlier in the series.

The only cliff hanger is what Hiro is going to do now that he's in Feudal era Japan.


I was more excited about seeing what looked like Galactus's helmet shadow on Saturn during the Fantastic Four trailer. If I'm that excited about THE FANTASTIC FOUR TRAILER, you guys didn't do your job.

This is either a hint or not, you take it as you will.

How about this. I could use some markers. I have some now, and will get some more as paychecks eventually roll in over my lifetime, but howzabout we make a deal.

If, say, this were to come in the mail in the next week or so, or the amount to purchase the item were to be carelessly misplaced into a paypal account somewhere along with an address, I might be inclined to offer in trade a lot of artwork that would produced by this item. I MIGHT be inclined to do a large, 11x17 robotized portrait of the erstwhile contributor. I MIGHT include prints of other drawings I've done as well. Let's say I'd be very moved toward return at least twice that much in artwork.

I'm just saying. It's not like I'm doing tons of robot portraits right now anyway. (Curse you 'net obscurity!!)

If not, I'll buy it for myself as a birthday present.

Carry on.


What's Wrong With People

Not wanting to show another video, I'll just give you a link. But you have to watch it.

Ok, if you don't want to watch it, here's the breakdown. (heh) Break dancer in Times Square subway station is doing his routine. A toddler breaks away from parent into the circle and break dancer kicks kid who proceeds to tumble in the air and land on their head.

Now...I've found this video at least 19,000 places online. YouTube has no less than 30 billion people who have this video. (Look it up, 30 billion. It will be 50 by the time you're done reading this.) And yet no where in any of the blogs, articles, comments, teletypes or smoke signals was I able to find out if the kid was ok.

You know what I found? People saying "stupid parents" and "stupid break dancers."

First of all, I can't speak for the "stupid break dancers." I don't know what the MTA's stance is on performances in the stations. I've always thought break dancing was cool, took a lot of skill and if you're going to pan handle, I'd rather give my dime to some kids breakin' then a dude with his guitar riffing on Weird Man Dylan. But that's just me.

What really gets my fur raised is the idea that the parent of this child was a bad parent. And I'd love to counter with testimony on how hard it is to watch a toddler 24/7 but I know the response to that would be that no one asked me to have a kid and it's my responsibility to keep track of them. And to that I have no response. But, I'm sticking to my guns about it being hard to be ever vigilant. Toddlers are fucking quick and single minded hell-monkeys and they will bolt away from you faster than a spurred horse. Even if you were watching them and were actively keeping track of their movements, they can get away from you and it doesn't take long for them to get into trouble.

Thing with toddlers is they've just learned to walk and run and you want to encourage them to do so, so more and more you have to let the go on their own. They want to walk in front of you, to lead you, to show that they are a big kid and have some power and control over their environment and you HAVE to LET them DO that. But then, as they are a foot away from you, they get a tickle-hair in their ass and they run - suddenly - as if shoved by the invisible man. And you know where they go? Into the street. Into a fenced off construction area. Into the assembly line. Into a break dancer.

So the question arises, why let your kid near those areas? Well, we have a busy street out our front door. When we go outside, G-man comes with us and hovers around our heels. We've got a car to pack or unload and while we take our eyes off him for a split second, he's trundled off into the street. The mom here was probably answering her cell phone or looking at the schedule or - shocker - the performers and for a split second lost sight of her kid. Kids will always take that opportunity to run, always. It can't be stopped, it's nature. In later years that same behavior becomes sneaking out of the house, dating cult members, becoming a member of a political party which you loathe. It's called finding boundaries and it's the way nature promotes growth.

Here's the thing, if that kid is ok, do you think she'll run away from her mom any more?

But dammit, people. The mom is not a bad parent for this. She is not negligent or unfit to raise offspring. There is no need to call for a parental license because of this. I know it's not just the CFBHs out there who feel this way either, it's just people, even parents, who think this mom was out of line.

What happened to calling these kinds of things "accidents" and then moving on? What happened to both parties acknowledging that it was a nexus of fluke occurrences and not something for which one party should be at fault. The idea of the accident has been lost in our world and people are always looking to blame someone. It's one of the true failings of humanity that there always has to be a malicious intent on the part of one person or that their negligence was so egregious that it warrants a punishment beyond reason. I don't think humans would have got this far if there wasn't something inherently forgiving in our nature.

Ironically, I blame civilization for our lack of civility. We've lost all perspective as to what's really important, dangerous and evil. Because we can keep warm/cool, safe, removed, fed and stimulated by our fabricated environments, we've lost our innate sense of danger and preservation. It's a different jungle now. We're not running from mountain lions or bears. We're not spending a week tracking a herd so we can have food for a month. We're not searching for caves before the onset of winter. We're trying to blame a break dancer for causing an accident. We're trying to blame a parent for having a lapse in attention.

Here, do you want to get bent out of shape over something? Go listen to this story. There are people in this world being beheaded, de-limbed, raped, gutted, burned for reasons I'm sure most Americans or Europeans don't understand. Women in the middle east as recently as last week are still being STONED TO DEATH for the same types of actions that will appear on a highly rated network show. Families are being torn apart so groups of men can lord over small areas of barren waste.

And yet day after day I see people getting all fired up because their lucky pants were ruined at a dry cleaners, or they find out that AP is whiter and more male oriented than congress, or that banking machines are charging a fee for their money.

Seriously, no perspective. Non at all.

But, you know, keep watching that video over and over. You can laugh if want, it is kind of funny at first. Kids get a bit floppy with they get kicked in the head. I don't want to come across as righteous, I watch AFV too. But don't tell me that this lady was a bad parent. Don't tell me that performer was breaking a law which then caused this. If you can absolutely and without a shred of doubt in your soul say that this is one of the worst things happening in the world right now, then I offer you my sympathy. Small shit like this should be over-fucking-looked, not glorified beyond imagination.

When we as a people stop killing, maiming and destroying each other over things like land, faith, biological make up or personal preferences, then I will be the first in line to go after the MTA for allowing this kind of thing to go on. Until then, there better be more compassion on the tubernet and a greater sense of perspective.

Carry on.


Only Dreemin

I see a lot of this from reading the online blogs and zines and not-news sites, but every time I do it just makes me feel worse and worse about humanity.

Part of the Story

The Victim

Here's the short of it. An Icelandic single mom art student found through a friend that a print company had used her photos from her Flickr stream and sold thousands of dollars of prints. They not only didn't pay her, they didn't even credit her.

So, when she found out, she had a lawyer help her contact the company and the most the company did was remove the photos from their site. They didn't pay her, they didn't apologize. So she wrote about it and complained and did what we all do online, bitch and moan.

Her photo, with all the comments on it, was deleted by Flickr. Their response was that she was reported to have been harassing someone (probably the company that stole her photos) and that Flickr (see Yahoo!) has the right to delete anything at any time if someone registers a complaint.

Thing is, Flickr didn't original stand up for a member of theirs when it was found that she had work stolen and yet they made a special effort to censor her and all the other members who posted in support of her.

I blame Yahoo! for this. Only Dreemin needs to publically apologize and then pay her for all sales of her art. The story needs to run on Yahoo! New for a week with an inclusion in the story about how Flickr (parent company Yahoo!) censored their own member in favor of siding with the malicious company.

This kind of stuff is crap and is NOT what paying members are paying for.

Well done Flickr. Well done Yahoo.

Carry on.


The Brick

A few weeks ago, a friend of Jawbone Radio was a guest and was an instant hit. Neil also recently started his own blog. I feel completely safe in promoting his writing as some of the funniest in the tubersphere.

So far his preoccupation is food. His guest stint on Jawbone had him discussing the fineries of the fish sandwiches at various speedy eatey establishments. However in the few posts he's written, you can tell the self deprecating humor will allow him to post just about anything and it'll be a joy to read.

Check it out.

Carry on.


Drawing Update

Since I have no commissions right now, I'm going back to the 700 Lists. Mrs. A's sister and brother in law in Houston gave me a sketchbook in a nice leather binder for Christmas and I haven't done anything in it yet. I've decided to try and fill it up with as many of the 700 Robots as I can, then maybe sell the sketchbook (keep the binder) and then start another one. Each book is 110 pages so I'll be going through 7 sketchbooks.

I did 6 yesterday, just pen, no color. Even if I kept up with that rate, it'll take me 5 months to get them all drawn. It'll probably be more like a year since I don't see me drawing 6 robots every day straight for 5 months.

But, weirder things have happened.

G-man's birthday is coming up and we'll probably end up getting him a bed. We did the same thing for LMA on her 2nd Christmas. G-man's been ready for a bed for a while now, the front of the crib's been gone for a good year at least. I'm sure we'll get him some toys or clothes or books as well. 2 and 3 are weird ages. They know what toys are and what toys are theirs, but little or no concept of time and thus of birthdays. His memory is getting longer, but it's still stuck in "today." He remembers some things over many days, but I'd be stunned if he knew what a day was, let alone that his birthday was coming up.

By four he should be more aware of that and possibly even ask for certain things. Which makes it easy now to get them things they need and just wrap them. It sounds mean, but until 3, you could probably wrap toys they already have and they'd be happy with it.

That's all for now.

Carry on.


Adam Koford on Boing Boing

Cartoonist extraordinaire Adam Koford (aka ApeLad) is featured in a podcast on Boing Boing.

Two things, I noticed about the interview.

1) Koford knows a lot about illustrators and artist and cartoonists past and present.

2) Mark Frauenfelder thinks Adam was doing robot drawings too.


Carry on.

Talent Show

This was LMA reading Shel Silverstein at her school's talent show. You unfortunately hear a lot of her little brother whining about not being able to see her.

You also hear a lot of "peanut gallery" commenting.

Mrs. A and I talked a lot about this and she's not going back to this school. It was cemented by the type of "talent" that was shown at the show. When elementary school girls perform current hip-hop/pop songs about their unrequited sexual endeavors, to me that's a reflection on the parents and I just don't want LMA to be part of that. More than half of the acts were 7-12 year old girls lipsynching songs and barely dancing, just kind of wagging their fingers and bobbling their heads. Now, I don't want to hear about racism or high expectations of talent from little kids, but I think there needs to be a line drawn somewhere for the sake of class, taste and image.

But hey, if you're excited about your 7 year old gyrating to Mystical, then by all means, get excited. I just can't, I'm sorry. It makes me feel a little embarrassed and dirty. If this were high school or college, I wouldn't mind it so much. When I was in sixth grade, I was in a "talent" show where me and some buddies did a lipsynch of a Weird Al song, but we had real instruments we pretended to play and it was more humorous than anything. This bordered on raunchy spectacle and I really felt bad for LMA that she had to be a part of it.

I don't know, I may be out of line. Here's another video of G-man getting into the action to help you forget what I've said.


Problems with Sony

Little Miss Austin received as a gift from her grandparents "Transformers: The Movie - 20th Anniversary Special Edition DVD." I was excited because I didn't even own that. It was a two disk set with widescreen and 4:3 presentations, commentary, and a bunch of really extra cool stuff.

Before we go any further, yes, LMA likes Transformers. When asked, I told my dad and they got her some stuff. As much as I am a fan of the toys and show, she's the one with the current infatuation with them, especially Optimus Prime. (God I love my little girl.)

Anyway, we put the DVD in and it doesn't play. We've had some video equipment problems since (and likely because of) the move so I assumed it was the player. When we tried it on another player it stopped in the same spot and then the player shut down. When I tried on a PC it stopped in the same spot. Then I noticed there are two concentric "etches" on the DVD, so I immediately think "copy protection." I'm sure we've all heard the stories about Sony's crappy way they've handled their DVD and CD merchandise and angry customers.

So why I decided to try to get a replacement disk is beyond me, I guess I wanted to see how bad it could be.

My first attempt was to go online and see if other people were having this problem. They were, but they were for newer released movies. However, there was a phone number listed in a blog somewhere saying you could call and get a replacement disk.


That's Sony Picture's customer service. I also sent an email. I received an email saying they didn't distribute that picture and I'd need to contact the manufacturer.

I check the DVD case and it says "Manufactured and Distributed by Sony BMG Music." So I write back and tell them. They reply with, "That's Sony BMG, we're Sony Pictures." They gave me a number to call.


That's Sony Music. In talking to a rep there, I explain I have a Sony BMG DVD that won't play on either DVD player or my PC. They apparently only heard "sony" and "pc" and gave me the number to Sony Vaio support.


I listened to the automated system for about half a second before I realized I didn't want to service a Sony Vaio that I don't own. I called Sony Music back and got the same lady. She told me that this was a merchant number, not a customer number and they usually only deal with merchant orders on their music label. She then gave me Sony BMG's main number in NY.


I called and spun around in the menu options for a while and when none of the options seemed useful (do they ever?) I got an operator, who told me to call Sony Customer Support. Seemed like a good idea at the time. It's what I thought I did originally.


This customer support group asks for my model number, which I don't have because it's a disc, not a player. They say this was only for electronics. They told me to call the main number, which I thought I had. I end up getting a disc support number.


Whoever answered the phone here was the nicest person so far. First, she didn't try to interrupt with a script, ask for information that wasn't necessary and when I explained what was going on, she actually said, "Oh wow, I'm so sorry, I wish I could help." The only other number she had was for Sony Pictures (again) and that this was the Blank Media Group, ie writable disks/drives/tapes, whatever.

I don't even bother calling Sony Pictures back, so I try Customer Support again. They give me another number for Sony Media Software.


I don't even call it. Instead, I go back to Sony BMG's main NY number and try again. They direct me to another automated "I'm a real person" systems (complete with a keyboard typing sound, creepy) which leads me back to Sony Pictures.

I call them right back and explain again that I have a Sony BMG DVD movie that needs to be replaced as it is unplayable. I'm given a new number.


That's Columbia House. The automated system asks for my Prefered Music Account number or some dang thing. I don't even bother.

Mean while, I get an additional email from Sony Pictures saying I could call Sony Music directly.


Which is this first phone number I called. BUT they also provide a link to a feedback page.


Which has a number on it and the phrase...

If you believe a Sony Music product has a manufacturing defect, please call our Quality Management Department at 800-255-7514; 856-722-8224 in New Jersey). So I call. The 800 number no longer exists and the local NJ number is disconnected. The web address is only for feedback and it even says, "We appreciate all feedback, although we aren't able to respond to all of it."

On a whim (since I'm out of options) I call Best Buy. I don't know if that's where the DVD was purchased, I just want to find out what they do if they receive an unplayable disc from the customer. The first guy I got (when I thought I asked for Customer Service) said and I quote, "Uuuhhhhhhhhhhhh......let me get you to customer service."

Ok then. So I get a new guy and explain to him that I don't necessarily have a Best Buy purchase, but out of curiosity, if I did and I brought it back (receipt and all) and exchanged it, how would they go about getting a replacement. He said that they contact the manufacturer, send the bad ones back and get new ones to replace them. I asked if it was a Sony BMG DVD who would he contact and he says, "I wouldn't. Sony's really hard to deal with, even as a merchant. They make it very hard to replace things and they won't believe you over the phone. That's why we're here so a customer doesn't have to deal with that."

Not the best answer I heard all day, but an honest one.

The last phone call I made was to my dad to get the receipt.

Fuckin' Sony.


I call Sony BMG main number back and ask the operator, "Do you have a listing for the manufacturer for Sony BMG DVDs? I'm trying to replace an unplayable disk." She gives me an extension (8655) and I think the voice mail was for Richie Chicho? I left a vm with him, I doubt I'll hear back.


Number Six

Originally uploaded by Cheryl Rollman.
Today at 4:32 PM, Little Miss Austin will be six years old.

Six years ago at this very moment, Mrs. A and I were in the hospital and she was in such pain that she finally agreed to get an epidural. LMA was facing up and her little head was clunking down Mrs. A's tail bone like one of the Stooges falling down a ladder.

This morning her little brother opened all her presents after we had left for school. They'll have to be rewrapped before we get home.

I had to write a few bits about her history for school to go along with the cupcakes:

Year One -
The Avalanche were playing in the Stanley Cup finals against New Jersey. We were in Houston helping Mrs. A's mom with her house as it and the city had been flooded by a tropical storm. The local ABC stations were all carrying flood coverage. We found a bar with satellite and took her with us to watch the Avs win the Stanley Cup.

Year Two -
LMA's favorite movie is Dinosaur. She loves dinosaurs and watches a lot of Discover Channel shows that talk about fossils and such. She roars every time we drive passed the Mangia Pizza truck.

Year Three -
Two weeks after her third birthday, LMA's little brother was born. Two months after that we bought a trampoline. She liked the trampoline more.

Year Four -
The day after my vasectomy, I'm taking LMA to school and I've got a bit of a limp. When the teachers ask what's wrong, she blurts out, "Daddy had an operation on his hinnie parts so he can't have any more babbies."

Year Five -
Mrs. A and LMA have a conversation where LMA is asked if she knows where she comes from. She says, "From mommy's belly." Mrs. A says, "Before that?" LMA says, "Um, can you give me a hint?"

Year Six -
By this time she's had her hair dyed about 8 times (couple shades of pink and red and black and a few to get back to her normal color), a broken arm and two missing teeth. She sings like a cat, plays like a dog and reads like a 3rd grader. She still jumps on her trampoline...

...and her brother.

And at some point she ate a lightning bug.

Happy Birthday little lady.



So I was watching a Jonathan Coulton video today and in the intro he talks about George Plimpton and maybe 3 people in the audience responded. I was shocked. Surely there are folks my age who remember the shorts Plimpton did on MTV, not to mention the book "Paper Lion" as well as his commercials for Intellivision. Whatever literary mastery he obtained in the 60's and 70's, he only augmented it with his later short cartoons.

The fact that few people remember him is sad. Here's a refresher course.


I feel like an idiot. Serves me right for assuming.

Bill Plympton is the animator of the above short and has nothing to do with George Plimpton.

Frankly I'm almost too embarrassed to even continue writing this blog.


Free Comic Book Day 2007

Free Comic Book Day 2007
Originally uploaded by xadrian.
Happy Free Comic Book Day.

Happy Cinco de Mayo.

Happy National Cartoonist Day!

This is going to be my new Father's Day if my little ones, especially my little girl, keep going to the comic shops with me. I haven't so much as stepped foot in an LCS for years. Mrs. Austin told me about a brand new shop opening up in our area called Ninja Pirate Comics so I decided to take LMA with me and check it out.

First, the women were all dressed as pirate wenches and the guys were all in black. It'd been cooler if they were ninjas, but all black was ok. I also realized that I was the old man in the store. The other folks my age were all around a single table either sharing some stories or playing a weird corporate RPG I've never heard of involving PE Ratios and Back Plane Management and Entry Stripe Coding. Everyone else was closer to LMA's age than mine, with exception of the owners.

I haven't purchased a book in years and I can't pinpoint the exact reason I stopped. I got a little tired of reading basically the same stories over and over again and I ended up either following artists or writers I knew from conventions or online communities. But even that was hard to do after a while as their books were delayed or canceled and in the end I'd end up only buying a handful of trades a month. I think I remember one Wednesday I picked LMA up from school and instead of taking our normal detour to an LCS, I just drove home and didn't realize I'd forgot until later. I wasn't upset about it either.

So as I perused the selection of Ninja Pirate's books, I was hoping for some spark of consumerism, some trigger that would release the pent up love I had at one point for comic books. I have fond memories of the feel of comics, the smell, the heft in my hands, the traditional scanning of the new comic racks. I don't know if it was because I was worried about LMA getting Spiderman cupcake icing all over the new books, but I just didn't find what I was looking for. Which was odd because the kids running the shop were always asking people if they were finding what they were looking for. I felt like saying, "Yes, do you have the latest issue of what happened to my love for comics? I'm about 2 years behind and I don't know where I left off." I'm sure they'd have assumed it was an indie title so I didn't bother.

LMA got a bit bored and only really wanted mostly anime/manga related toys behind the counter; eg a Super Mario mushroom on a brick box. I don't think it did anything but take $10 from me. Maybe that was its whole purpose.

May 5th for me wasn't as happy as I wanted it. I wanted to go in and have that inner-geek rekindled. (I have an outer-geek already, he's in charge of video games and cartoon art and sci-fi novels.) But it felt more like a relationship you try to rekindle after years apart; the memories are better than what actually happened and what is happening now.

I'll read these free books and see what happens.

It can't be any worse than Spiderman 3.

You heard me. Spiderman 3 wasn't as good as it could have been. It wasn't horrible, but I honestly felt it wasn't as good as the other two.

Don't get me wrong, the movie had some really REALLY great scenes. It had great fights, great effects and some decent writing and acting. But there were really odd bits that seemed out of place, really ham-handed direction and a story that seemed forced. A friend of mine reiterated that this movie was trying to do in two hours what the comic book took over 100 issues to do.

It fell pray to something I like to call Villain Overload. Batman had a problem with it, X3 had a problem with it. I'm sure the new Batman's and Superman's will end up having a problem with it. See, superhero comics generally have tons of villains. Spiderman alone has something like 80-90 bad guys he's fought over the years; some are major and some are either one-shot or other people's arch enemies. When a movie franchise hits it big and they decide to make sequels, you can usually tell that they try to force more bang for the buck by introducing more villains. Hey, Batman can beat just one guy, next time we'll do two, then three, then we'll just empty Arkham and see what happens.

What happens is the plot becomes shallow. Instead of two archetypal characters duking it out physically and mentally which each other, you have 5 or 6 people fighting just for screen time. A blockbuster needs fights and kisses and good effects but if you have more back story to tell because you have 19 bad guys, you're sacrificing good movie storytelling time by doing it.

In this case we have to find out what happens to Harry Osborn and then watch the creation of a new villain (Sandman) and then the subplot that creates Venom (Eddie Brock.) All this time Peter is being a schmuck to MJ and working out more personal demons than James Bond.

I was left feeling a bit flat. I wasn't tingling all over like the first two had done, but I left feeling like there could have been more of something and less of others. Yes I was entertained, but the same way Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom or Return of the Jedi had done.

And by the way, if you have a youngling less than 10 years old, I don't know that I'd take them. The fights are no less evil than the Green Goblin or Doc Ock fights from 1 and 2, but Venom is evil incarnate. He is all black and fangs and shrieks and strikes with a vengeance you might see from a demon in Lord of the Rings. It might scare little kids. Little kids might also not get all the inner turmoil bits and the relationship strife Peter and MJ go through.

Yes, it's PG-13, but I wouldn't push it with little kids. Girls especially, but any little kid might get freaked at Venom's befanged maw.

Adults might want to do a matinées so as not to fell bad about dropping $8-10 on an average blockbuster.

Go get some comics today.

Carry on.



First off, my little girl will be 6 next week.


I take solace in knowing that she gets upset if I don't put on my season one DVD of Transformers. She just walks around the house whining, "Optimus Prime! Optimus Prime!"

G-man is still at the age where he is both a lion and a princess.

So last night, Mrs. A is telling LMA a story. She had come down asking for something - a cup of water, handful of grapes, whatever - and Mrs. A told her to come sit with her on the couch. At first she asked LMA to tell her a story and she did. I didn't hear that part. What I did hear was Mrs. A telling LMA a story that paralleled the Gift of the Magi. Details were different, but the theme was the same; two people loved each other and did something for the other that rendered the other's gift useless. In Mrs. A' story the girl cut her hair to buy buttons for the boy's nice coat and the boy sold his coat to buy a nice brush for the girl.

Mrs. A finishes the story and LMA and I share an "oh my" look. She then says, "Oh man, I bet he doesn't like her anymore!"

We woke G-man up we were laughing so hard.

Carry on.

Happy Spiderman Day

Yes I'm wearing my Spiderman shirt. Yes I'm going to see the movie today.

Here's some Spiderman videos of note to help you get through till you go see the movie.

(I have to stop linking so many damn videos.)

Carry on.


This is Unsettling

So, if you're a cartoonist and possibly a shooting hobbyist, best not try for any government type jobs. And if you already work for the government, don't make gun jokes so near a mass shooting.


To top it all off, he was later visited by police detectives for making a comic about his experience, because it was a “borderline terroristic threat.” (Is “terroristic” even a word? Did they get that from the Colbert report?)