Friday, December 30, 2011

Bent-Con Article

Check out this link to read about this month's Bent-Con 2, at the Bonaventure Hotel. It's by Ginger Mayerson, of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society. There's a nice little section about me.

Bent-Con Article

Check out this link to read about this month's Bent-Con 2, at the Bonaventure Hotel. It's by Ginger Mayerson, of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society. There's a nice little section about me.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

My ALASKA VACATION, 2011, Part 14

MONDAY, JUNE 27, 2011, PART 1
Sunday night was miserable. It was warm in the cabin when we went to bed because of the fire Dennis and I built in the glass fronted franklin stove. In fact it was TOO warm; I thought I was developing a fever by the time I pulled the ladder down from the 2.5” x 2.5” foot hole in the ceiling and crawled up to the loft to explore the attic in preparation for bed.
To my surprise, it was much cooler in the attic. I found 2 twin mattresses side by side with a foam egg crate pad lying atop them. I called down to Carrie, asking if our hosts had any sheets. She called back that, even if they did, we wouldn’t be using them because we had no way to wash them. “Sleep inside the bag”, Lolly ordered. I tried, but found my sleeping bag (which I had borrowed from the house in Anchorage) too short, too hot, too constraining. I tried opening up the bag and sleeping atop the foam, but found the texture irritating. I was reluctant to discard the foam pad for fear of the years of accumulated dust I anticipated on the mattresses.
I was trying to suppress my sneezing, coughing and snot blowing for fear of disturbing my downstairs neighbors. And to top it off, Sheila, at 3 different junctures, barked loudly and lengthily at a dog roaming around the cabin. I heard Lolly try to shoo the dog back to the beach. Eventually it went away.

Friday, September 30, 2011

My ALASKA VACATION, 2011, Part 13

SUNDAY, JUNE 26, 2011,  PART 3
On the drive to Homer, Dennis described a Sartori experience he had in San Francisco on the Sunday after his weeklong Aikido boot camp ended. He was sitting on a bench in the Embarcadero, watching the afternoon light hit a building across the street. Suddenly, he realized everything was fine and beautiful, the building was beautiful, the street was beautiful. For several hours he was in thoughtless awareness, unmolested by the incessant mental chatter that afflicts humanity.
“What bought you out of it?” Carrie asked from the back seat. “I think I’m still in it”, Dennis mused.
I didn’t want to bring him down, so I carefully asked how he fit this “everything is fine” awareness in with an early rant he gave about the greedy morons who caused the ’08 economic melt down and how they should all be in jail. “I guess I fell sorry for them. Their hearts must be pretty small to be pulling that kind of crap.”
“Death is very much on my mind these days”, I told him. “Not just because of John (my spouse of 25 years who is dying of metastasized prostate cancer), but because of everything else. For instance, on the front page of the Wednesday Anchorage newspaper was an article about a group of scientists who predicted that the world’s oceans would be dead within a generation of Mankind does not take drastic measure. “A catastrophe unprecedented in human history”, the article concluded. I admitted that I thought about this article every time I looked out the window at Cook Inlet as we drove along side it. “Things don’t look fortuitous that our leaders will be able to do what needs doing, given how corrupt, greedy and paralyzed they’ve been lately.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011



SUNDAY, JUNE 26, 2011, PART 2
I was a passenger in the front seat of Dennis’s Toyota Tundra truck on the way to Homer from Anchorage; Carrie and Will shared the back seat. Mom and Lolly drove in Mom’ Subaru station wagon.
We arrived in Homer @ 2:15PM.  The water taxi, “The Toriega” was due to depart from the Homer Spit at 3:00PM, so we had some time to kill. Carrie had craving for chocolate chip cookies, so we stopped at the “Two Sisters Bakery”, a favorite haunt of Dennis and Carrie’s from when Carrie used to work in Homer one day a week. The bakery is a Silverlake/ Echo Park style hipster hang out, seems to be run by young lesbians or straight women who could be lesbians. It seem like the sort of place that ought to have poetry readings, open mike nights, etc., though I can’t see any place where they could do it. Lots of cool pastries, cookies, muffins; all home made. And, of course, various coffees, teas, etc.
We reached the small boat harbor on the spit around 2:30. I set out to find chewing gum to help with my acid reflux, which was in high gear. Carrie tasked me with acquiring a tide schedule. She suggested I try Target Tours, a tour/gift shop across the street.
The lady running the cash register regretfully informed me they had no gum but gave me a free tide sched and directed me to the General Store on the opposite side of the Salty Dog Saloon at the end of the Spit.
I got back to the cars around 2:45; Dennis and Will were still unloading our gear from the back of the Toyota Tundra. We started carrying it down the steep, long (100 feet?) gang plank to the small boat harbor docks, to the water taxi, thankfully close to the bottom of the gang plank. I passed the gear from the pier to the Skipper and his nephew, who was studying computer science at Fairbanks University.
The taxi was heading into a fairly stiff wind that kicked up moderate white caps, causing large amounts of spray shooting over the covered bow, onto the open stern. Anything out there would be quickly drenched. Sheila went out to explore, lapped up some of the salty water on the stern’s floor. She retreated into the cabin, licking her chops to get rid of the unexpectedly salty taste.
The taxi let us off on the black gravel beach; it turned out the rain boots were almost unnecessary. After we carried our gear up the beach and hill to the cabin we were left to our own devices. I sat on the back porch and sketched the bay, including a small boar one of our neighbors used for regular transportation. I then sat up on the beach to do a reverse angle on the cabin. This was difficult; the foliage on the hillside so obscured the cabin, and it was at such an odd upshot, that a photograph wouldn’t have been successful. I decided that this was a perfect reason for me to do a sketch. I could cheat and edit like crazy, using my 28 years of professional animation training to create the scene as it should be, not as it actually was. Oddly, this was a slight revelation for me. One of my self-critiques is that my drawings lack imagination; it’s like I’m photo-swiping from life. I feel as if I’ve had some sort of minor breakthrough. This is the cool thing about drawing rather than taker of snap shots. I realize that this is why I haven’t bothered bringing along a camera on my last several trips. There’s no skin in the game, no interpretation. Just click and shoot. Why bother?
If you want to see these sketches, see the PART 1  posting; I put them up there.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fogtown Character Designs, Installment 7

All this week, in celebration of "Fogtown" in its new paperback release, I'm blogging/posting preparatory artwork done way back in late '06. The project was long in its genesis, given that it wasn't published until August '10 in hardcover, and August '11 in paperback.
Our final installment is composed of miscellaneous designs.
This is "Colonel" Thorpe, self-righteous wielder of the bully pulpit, the Glen Beck/Rush Limbaugh of his day. In reality, he was a sexual pervert/predator and secret crime lord. I based him off Karl Rove.
Next up is Carmen, early male-to-female transgender. I tried to get this across by making his/her hands and feet a little large, and giving him/her a slight brow ridge. However, we don't see enough of her in the course of the novel for it to really communicate. As is frequently the case, one does way more research and prep than is rarely used.
This is Greg, ex-hustler, now altar boy at the Blood of the Lamb ministry. I based him off James Dean, but tried to make him look younger and tougher.
This is the exterior of The Blood of the Lamb Ministry. I put as much work into designing it as I did any of the human characters, so I thought I'd include it here.
Lastly, we have Magda, pretend mother of Carmen. In reality, she has been hired by Thorpe to engage Frank to find Carmen, setting our poor anti-hero up as the patsy. She's based on Lupe Ontiveros, star of Mexican cinema and occasional supporting roles in the USA.
Well, that's it. If you haven't read Fogtown, and find your curiosity piqued by this blog, check it out on Amazon, or buy it direct from me. I recommend doing the latter and paying full price; buyers from my site will get the added value of a sketch of one of the characters inside the front cover.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fogtown Character Designs, Installment 6

All this week, in celebration of "Fogtown" in its new paperback release, I'm blogging/posting preparatory artwork done way back in late '06. The project was long in its genesis, given that it wasn't published until August '10 in hardcover, and August '11 in paperback.
Today we look at "Bone" White, Ex-pugalist, "Colonel" Thorpe's main henchman and Frank Grissel's down-low fuck buddy.
These first drawing made him look too tough; Andersen wanted him prettier. The character was fiercely protective of his face; none of his opponents could ever land a blow on it. His hand were another matter; they were supposed to be gnarled, scarred from abuse.

This was more in the right direction. I came up with the idea of making his hair "period" by going with the "conk" look.
Then I wanted to see what he looked like with his clothes off, assuming that he would appear thusly at some point in the novel.
Anderson thought he looked too beefy in this drawing and wanted to go with a more "slimmed down" look.
Like so.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fogtown Character Designs, Installment 5

All this week, in celebration of "Fogtown" in its new paperback release, I'm blogging/posting preparatory artwork done way back in late '06. The project was long in its genesis, given that it wasn't published until August '10 in hardcover, and August '11 in paperback.
Today we concentrate on Madame Tze, femme fatale of the piece, in collusion with "Colonel" Thorpe.
I assume we decided this version wasn't sexy enough.
This version is headed in the right direction, but is was too generic for my tastes.
This was my fave. I really liked her outfit in the drawing on the left. 
Andersen liked it too, but insisted I cop the hair style worn by Jean Simmons in the early 50's noir flick "Angel Face".  The drawings above are basically taken from freeze frames of that movie. 
By the way, the drawings were done on the back of an blank "Batman" storyboard page. The logo and the blank panels can be seen ghosting through the paper.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fogtown Character Designs, Installment 4

All this week, in celebration of "Fogtown" in its new paperback release, I'm blogging/posting preparatory artwork done way back in late '06. The project was long in its genesis, given that it wasn't published until August '10 in hardcover, and August '11 in paperback.
Today's post focuses on Loretta Valentine, Frank's Girl Friend/ Girl Friday.
Andersen wanted Loretta based off an actress Eileen Brennan. My first pass made her look too middle-aged; Andersen wanted her younger and sexier.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fogtown Character Designs, Installment 3

All this week, in celebration of "Fogtown" in its new paperback release, I'm blogging/posting preparatory artwork done way back in late '06. The project was long in its genesis, given that it wasn't published until August '10 in hardcover, and August '11 in paperback.
This installment focuses on Eliza Grey, Frank Grissel's estranged daughter.
Andersen's original concept was that her name would be "Bette Noir", and that she would be a dominatrix prostitute.
Here are 2 more dominatrix versions.

Yet another dominatrix, based off Natalie Wood.
Karen Berger, the group editor, suggested making Bette something other than a kink-whore. Andersen modified her into a psychiatrist studying teen whores in the North Beach area of San Francisco.

Andersen was looking for something more bohemian, almost "Beat". I couldn't get a handle on her until I  came upon the "Ayn Rand" hairstyle.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fogtown Character Designs, Installment 2

All this week, in celebration of "Fogtown" in its new paperback release, I'm blogging/posting preparatory artwork done way back in late '06. The project was long in it's genesis, given that it wasn't published until August '10 in hardcover and August '11 in paperback. This installment, I'm focusing on the main character in "Fogtown", Frank Grissel, hard boiled, bisexual private eye. As you can see, he went through many changes.
In this drawing, I'm playing around, trying different possible looks.
If memory served, this drawing is based off #2 from the previous drawing. At least, that's how it appears; I actually don't remember.
This is a version modeled off Robert Mitchum, fleshing out original editor Bob Schreck's suggestion.
This version is based off John Gavin, as per writer Andersen Gabrych's suggestion.
Andersen later changed his mind, deciding he wanted Frank to look like Randy Couture, "mixed martial arts Hall-of-Famer, and former UFC title holder.
In the end, he ended up looking vaguely like Darwyn Cooke's version of Slam Bradley.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fogtown Character Designs

I was filing tonight and found a cash of my preparatory character designs for my recent graphic Vertigo Crime graphic novel, "Fogtown" (recently out in paperback). I'll be posting some of them over the next few days.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


SUNDAY, JUNE 26, 2011, PART 1

We (Mom, Lolly, Dennis, Carrie, Will and Myself) are on Hesketh Island. Hesketh Island is a 20-minute water taxi ride from Homer, Alaska, which is a 4 or 5-hour drive from Anchorage, Alaska. We are staying in the cabin owned by Chuck and Elaine Burgess, close friends of Carrie and Dennis. Carrie and Dennis have been enjoying the use of this cabin for around 12 years, before Will was conceived. Mom has been here too, but always in the Spring or Summer. If she came in Autumn, she’d be able to identify a questionable tree by its berries. Mom is a lover and student of nature, well educated in plant and bird identification.
On Saturday, the tickle in the back of my throat that started when I arrived in Anchorage finally blossomed into a full fledge cold: cough, runny nose, slight fever. Damn. I NEVER get colds, whuzzup with this crap? I suggested it might be best if I didn’t go on the outing, more for everybody else’s sake than mine. However Carrie said she wouldn’t go on the trip if I didn’t, and Mom expressed disappointment also.  “Okay, don’t blame me if y’all come down with it too.” If it had gotten worse I wouldn’t have gone in spite of their remonstrations, but it seems to have plateaued.
I asked Mom if she had any handkerchiefs I could borrow; she gave me two of Dad’s. So I’ve been blowing my nose on my departed father’s snot rags all day. I feel like I’m furthering the mood of filial communion I’ve been experiencing this vacation. Just think; Dad may well have blown snot on these very rags. Trippy…

Hesketh Island has 13 lots on it. The Burgess cabin sits just off the middle of a 200 yard long black gravel beach, which is bound on either side by rugged cliff escarpments. There is a neighboring cabin near the left end of the beach, and neighbors on the other side of the escarpment on the right, hidden from view. The Burgess cabin is built atop a small cliff; one has to walk up a short, steep trail from the beach. It has 2 floors, one room to each floor. Mom and Lolly commandeered the futon chair and couch on the ground floor. I will be staying up in the attic.  Carrie, Dennis and Will put up a tent on a wooden platform just off the beach and will bed there, as seems to be their custom. The platform sits next to an abandoned house. Dennis told me its story. It was built from a Sears Catalogue mail order kit sometime in the 50’s. The owner, who also built the cabin we’re staying in, moved into it with his mail-order bride. She fled back to civilization after 3 days. Chuck and Elaine own this building as well. They tried to fix it up when they bought the property, but gave it up as too much work. Dennis and I both agreed this was a shame that the house was being allowed to fall in on itself. “They don’t make them like this anymore”, he observed as he indicated the teak wainscoting along the base of the wall in the narrow living room. The front window were all blown out and covered ineffectually with visquine, allowing the harsh ocean element to enter at will. “It won’t be long now”, he predicted.  I flashed on the pre-“Snow White” Disney animated short, “The Old Mill”, which is basically a romanticized documentary about a long abandoned mill that almost falls in on itself during a particularly violent storm.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My ALASKA VACATION, 2011, Part 10

SUNDAY, JUNE 26, 2011, Part 2

After dinner, Lolly and I went to the nearby dog park to walk Sheila.
The dog park is about a mile from our house, surrounded by nearby housing development and University of Alaska land. Very woodsy; one has to watch out for moose, and on occasion, brown bears. The dog park itself is built around a gravel pit that has been turned into a small L-shaped lake surrounded by trails and, on parts, a dirt road. In the middle of the lake is a small island with trees and a beaver lodge built nearby. The beavers have been known to attack dogs that swim in the lake.
The dog park was crowded with humans and their canine partners, most off the leash but some on. And a stray cyclist. Lolly put Sheila on the leash as the errant human passed. If it had been me, or if I had been there without Lolly, I would have let Sheila stay free. It’s a dog park, darn it. If the jerk wants to crash our turf, he does so at his own peril as far as I’m concerned.
Sunday evening was our second outing at the park; the first was on Wednesday. On Wednesday, we strolled alongside a middle-aged woman and her lab/rotweiller mix puppy. He was about Sheila’s height but longer, and faster. Sheila was more agile, avoiding the lab, stopping and turning on a dime, letting him fly past her, and stop, waiting for him to check his puppy momentum and turn back in her direction. A couple times they wore each other out and would stand there panting, or trotting slowly to keep pace with their humans. It was highly amusing to watch.
On Sunday, all the dogs seemed to be traveling in the opposite direction, except for some occasional jogger/dog combos. Sheila kept herself busy, charging up and down hills, in and out of the forest like a hyper- active bat out of hell. Unlike Wednesday night, she didn’t seem to tire ever. Lolly remarked on this; perhaps it was a side effect of the chocolate that will or Carrie had left within Sheila’s reach on the arm of the couch (Carrie reported on Saturday).
Sheila had been hyper and demanding of attention all day. She would stand by me as I was sketching and stare at me, whining plaintively. In the morning, it had worked. Assuming she to do her doggie business, I took for a short walk outdoors. She only wanted to explore. Back inside, she goaded me into playing with her by throwing her stuffed squirrel across the length of the narrow downstairs hallway to our childhood bedrooms (this is the house we grew up in). Lolly ignored us; she had set up her home office in what used to be our rec room at one end of the hallway. She was preparing for the upcoming school year, reading and taking notes on a new math textbook. Lolly runs the math department at Chugiak High, 20 minutes outside of Anchorage proper.
As the day had progressed I stopped giving in to Sheila’s whining demands for attention.
In fact, I started sketching her as she sat near me, staring at me. She didn’t much like this and would turn away from me. She would go back and forth between Mom/ Lolly, checking them out as they packed for Sunday’s trip to Hesketh, and myself, until she got annoyed by my staring back at her.
Lolly’s interpretation was that Sheila was on high alert because she recognized packing behavior and didn’t want to be left behind.

Monday, August 22, 2011

My ALASKA VACATION, 2011, Part 9

SUNDAY, JUNE 26, 2011, Part 1

I made a commitment to sketch all of Dad’s sculptures today. Dad took a sculpting class at one of the local colleges back in the 60’s. I had grown up with these sculptures sitting around the house for the whole time I was growing up. Father had never formally studied drawing or taken any anatomy classes, other than what he needed to go through medical school back in the early 50’s. (Duh). It has always impressed me at how good it was and what a shame it was that he didn’t stick with it. Later on, he carved our front door out a solid sheet of mahogany, in Inuit pictographs, telling the story of “Little Red Riding Hood”. And he took a ceramics class in the early 80’s, not long before his fatal third heart attack in 1984. 
The sculpture of the negress is made of clay, with a semi-gloss black glaze, measuring about 1.5 feet high. It sits atop the baby grand piano in the living room. I used to stare at it when I practiced my piano lessons in Jr. High and High School.
"Eve Emerging From The Clay" (my title; I don't recall if Father ever named it) is of soap stone. polished silky smooth on most of the flesh area, but left course in others, to (I assume) symbolize her intermediate state. It is not quite 1' long.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

My ALASKA VACATION, 2011, Part 8

SATURDAY, JUNE 25, 2011, Part 2

Mom reported on Ramona Signs’ wake.
Paul Signs was looking good. His eldest son, whom I’ve never met and is now in his 60’s (and who’s name I do not know), from his first marriage, was there, as were all the kids he had with Ramona. I regret not going to the wake with Mom, but I’m glad I was able to finish touching up the dragon on the front of the cabin. I feel like I’m communing with Dad from beyond the grave somehow. I feel that I’m preserving his artistic legacy, memorializing him.
Mom told me that Paul reminisced about the incident where I accidentally broke one of the Signs kid’s shoulder while rough-housing. I would play “Cannonball” (I would lie on my back, have them sit on my raised feet, at try to launch them as far as I could) or I would hold onto their outstretched arms, spin them around until their feet left the ground and let them fly. Dad set the boy’s shoulder (I don’t remember his name either) and Paul took the kid to the doctor the following day. I don’t recall ever rough-housing with the Signs kids after that. It was sad; we all really enjoyed it.

Animation Insider Interview

I did an on-line interview with Mike Milo's Animation Insider site a couple months ago and it was finally posted today. Check it out; it's a really interesting site for all those interested in animation.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My ALASKA VACATION, 2011, Part 7


SATURDAY, JUNE 25, 2011, Part 1

It was raining hard when we woke up this morning. Last night’s dark clouds were not a vain threat.
Dennis, Carrie and Will slept in a tent, rather than in the cabin with the rest of us. They informed us that it rained really hard during the night. I sleep with earplugs; I was blissfully unaware.
One of the smaller windows in the cabin façade was covered with water droplets. Lolly found this curious, as it was covered by the roof’s eaves. I ventured that the rain had bounce off the stepladder I had left leaning against the house, but this seemed improbable. However, Dennis later made the same speculation, unprompted by either Lolly or I.
I was ambivalent about the rain; it meant I wouldn’t be able to finish painting the Tlingit Dragon Sigil on the cabin façade. On the other hand, I had an excuse to be lazy.
Mom and Amy left around 10:00 AM to return to Anchorage. Mom had a memorial to attend, and Amy had a modeling job that afternoon. I considered returning with them to attend the memorial (for Ramon Signs, the wife of Paul Signs and the mother to 3 kids near my younger siblings ages we used to play with as children in the late 60’s/ early 70’s). I don’t remember why I didn’t; I regretted it later.
As it happened, the rain stopped around 10:30 and it became semi-sunny soon after. I completed painting the black parts of the Dragon Sigil by 12:30 PM. We had no salmon, white or jade colored paint, so I was unable to complete the project. However, Carrie, watching me work, pronounced that the job wasn’t nearly as daunting as she’d anticipated, and predicted that she might finish it later.
I was surprised by my lack of pain when I awoke this morning. Usually, when I overdo things with my ankles, I suffer for it the next day. I had been standing as I worked for about 4 hours, which definitely qualifies. I was pretty achy as I finished the task but I was actually more bothered by my low back than my ankles. I was pretty wiped out though; I couldn’t stay awake for the drive back to Anchorage, and, when we arrived, I crashed out until about 6:00 PM.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My ALASKA VACATION, 2011, Part 6


FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2011, Part 3
After dinner, Lolly and I pull out our guitars and jammed. Carrie, Amy and Mom sang along, mostly to Beatles songs, but some other stuff too, depending on what Lolly had brought in the way of sheet music. Occasionally we sounded pretty good.
Around 9:00 PM, Carrie announce that she, Dennis and Will were going on a boating expedition to Meadow Creek, on the other side of Big Lake. She invited me along, insisting that I bring a sweater and rain slicker even though the day was still warm and sunny. We set off in Dennis’s powerboat, Carrie and Will on the bow, I sitting inside under the visquine cover, Dennis captaining. Sheila, Lolly’s Australian Shepard bitch, moved aimlessly around the boat.
It took 20 minutes to reach the stream head on the marshy flats. This was the wet lands/ estatuary part of the river. Swamp grass was as high as our heads, cutting off the view. There were lots of lotus-like flowers growing out of the water, and bird nests (which were pointed out excitedly and I was unable to spot). Muskrats swam out of our way. Carrie pointed out a beaver lodge in the center of the water way, which was barely twice the width of or boat and shallow to the point that sometimes I could feel us scraping the top of the swamp grass waving languorously beneath us. Small cabins were scattered throughout the swampy plane with “No Trespassing” signs posted nest to moored flat-bottom boats.
After about 30 minutes of this, Dennis killed the motor and we drifted in the waning light. Frankly, I was tired and bored, so I lay down in the on the bow. Sheila kept me from dozing off as she moved excitedly around me; at one point Carrie had to grab her to keep her from jumping overboard. “She hasn’t learned”, Carrie critiqued. Apparently this had happened before. All this noise bothered Carrie; she wanted silence so she could appreciate the sounds of nature. Dennis voiced a desire to spend the night there, moored to the creek-side. He couldn’t figure a way to keep the insects at bay though. I tried to overcome my boredom by approaching the experience as meditation. I might as well be here as anywhere. I abstained from asking what the plan was, specifically when we were due to return back to the cabin. After a while, Carrie asked how I was doing. I said I was tired, so Dennis fired up the motor and we returned as we came.
By this time it was almost 11:00 PM. The twilight sun skimmed the tree lined, hilly horizon. Overhead, the sky was obscured by dark clouds, lit bright orange and purple by the lingering sunset.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

My ALASKA VACATION, 2011, Part 2

JUNE 22, 2011, Part 2
Around 11:30 AM, Cousin Janet arrived. She asked what I was doing later. She wanted to introduce me to Angie, 17-year-old adopted daughter of Julia, one of Janet’s best friends. Angie’s goal is to be a Manga artist, and Janet wanted me to take a look at her work. Julia and Angie lived near-ish by, so Janet and I arrived around noon.
Julia was tall, thin, white haired (women in Alaska don’t seem to feel the need that Los Angelina’s have to dye their hair as middle age sets in), bobbed short. Angie is a pretty, slightly pudgy, Raven-haired girl. Julia asked for advice on how Angie could best apply for art schools. (I confessed to having not a clue.) Angie showed some recent work, a manga inspired 6 page comicbook sequence drawn in a spiral bound sketchbook. She had fairly good drawing chops for a teen-ager, and I told her so.
On the drive over, Janet warned me that Angie was head-strong, arrogant, too sure of herself. “She does most of that talking, isn’t inclined to listen. I didn’t find this to be the case, though Janet later told me that Angie had been on her best behavior. Angie accepted with good grace my lack of interest in Manga; to me Manga was just another style. I came up with a list of American cartoonist I recommended she investigate. She pulled out an iPad and did so as I wrote, looking up Alex Toth, Russ Heath, etc. I told here she needed to work on, well, everything. If she wanted to do what I do, she would have to be able to draw anything, from any angle, doing anything, at any time of day, in any weather condition. This skill could be applied to drawing Manga or anything the hell else she wanted to draw.

My ALASKA VACATION, 2011, Part 5


FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2011, Part 2
Around this time Carrie and Will arrived in their SUV; a few minutes later, Dennis rode in on their aluminum outdoor motorboat. Dennis and Carrie were dismissive of my insistence on going to the store; Dennis didn’t see the need for the caulk; Carrie didn’t want to have to build up her chi to do a big work project so soon after their arrival. I assured her that this way my initiative; they didn’t have to lift a finger. Lolly wasn’t much into making a trip, but I insisted: What was the big deal? We had a window of opportunity; it was warm and sunny; let’s do it.
At the hardware store, in nearby Houston (Houston, Alaska, a small town we passed en route to the cabin), I saw a disposable paper jump suit. “What a great idea”, thought I. “Now I wont have to mess up my clothes”. However there was only one size available, which was just BARELY fit. I gave myself a wedgie every time I lifted my arms my shoulders to the great amusement to the spectating swimmers and sunbathers. I posed for several photos. A straw sun hat completed the ensemble.
The jump suit’s too-smallness also verged on the dangerous: If I reached out too far to the left, the paper fabric threatened to pull me off balance, which was precarious in any case.
As time wore on, I was worried that I’d run out of steam. I have weak ankles that can start to pain me if I’m on them for more than an hour. I worked alone for much of the time. Lolly joined me after a while, painting most of the window frame, and Amy finished up. I repainted about half of the Tlingit dragon before I ran out of steam and had to give up for the day, although I helped Lolly and Amy with the parts of the window frame they couldn’t reach.
Early on, Mom kibitzed that her primary concern was the window frame, not the dragon. I was annoyed; there were four other adults loitering around who could join in any time they wished. I diplomatically pointed out that the new caulk needed time to dry before it could be painted.
We finished up around 7:30 PM, when Dennis fired up his propane grill and cooked up cheeseburgers and corn on the cob.

Friday, August 12, 2011



FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2011, Part 1

We arrived at our family cabin at Big Lake while it was still morning, traveling from Anchorage in 2 vehicles. I was a passenger with Lolly in her car; Mom drove the other, with my college age niece Amy along for the ride. My other younger sister, Carrie, her husband, Dennis, and my 9 year-old nephew, Will, arrived in the afternoon.
It was hot and sunny all day, finally clouding over around 10 PM, though one wouldn’t notice it because the twilight sun was so low to the horizon that the dark clouds above didn’t block it out before it finally ducked behind the horizon, sometime around midnight.
After lunch, Mom put me to work re-painting the front picture window frame, and the Inuit Dragon protective sigil that my father had drawn, designed and carved into the façade of the cabin, and the family had painted some 35 years prior. Actually, the way this went down was: Mom casually mentioned that they had scraped the old paint off the window frame 2 weeks prior and that she was amazed how much work the spiders and other insects had done since then in that short period of time. I took the hint and started earning my keep. I was amazed at how inadequate was the previous job of scraping. Mom directed me to the ladder stored under the porch; it was homemade from 3” x 5”, 9’ tall and HEAVY. It barely reached the top of the window frame, creating a triangle the bottom of which was 2’ from the wall.
As I began re-scraping the window frame, I saw that the Eskimo dragon’s paint, especially the black, was fading and cracking/peeling. I resolved to give it a touch-up as well as the window frame. I went over it with a stiff 10” long, 2.5” wide bristle brush, getting rid of the insect schmutz and much of the old paint. While thus engaged, I noticed that the original caulk between the upper part of the window frame and the cabin façade was decayed and coming loose. Lolly told me that we had no more caulk or black paint. I insisted we make a run to the nearest hardware store.


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