Archive for May, 2010

day one hundred twenty six.

Posted in comics on May 31, 2010 by Christopher Pearce

the final chalkboard drawings of 09/10!

Posted in chalkboard drawings with tags , , , , on May 31, 2010 by Christopher Pearce

An unceremonious end to this year’s chalkboard drawings, sad to say. We ran right up into the end of the year in my classroom with classwork… and the last five days of school are final exam days, and I don’t draw on the boards for final exams in deference to how serious I take them.

Here are three of the last drawings though!

As a last lesson, we do a small two-day mini unit on haikus. This is born mostly out of the fact that I’m not a huge fan of how most English teachers teach the haiku. Almost all the emphasis is put on the 5/7/5 syllable structure, and there’s a heck of a lot more to them than just seventeen beats.

By the by, this drawing was totally ripped off from Stan Sakai.

I have never been a big fan of E.T. but naming my son Elliot has doomed me to countless questions about the origin of his name. I usually just tell them that I named them after Law & Order tough guy Elliot Stabler.

Shrek 4 came out on the Friday we were doing sustained silent reading.

thrift store finds: dennis the menace-make believe angel

Posted in thrift store finds with tags , , on May 29, 2010 by Christopher Pearce

(Thrift Store Finds is a mostly-weekly “column” of sorts where I discuss some of the cool books I’ve happened upon in my neighborhood’s St. Vincent DePaul store. Please don’t mistake me for an expert on any of the things I am writing about… I’m just a fan of a bargain.)

As I’ve mentioned before, a lot of my initial experiences with characters from the Sunday funnies did not, in fact, come from the funnies themselves. Rather, the great licensing and marketing juggernauts that were begat from those Sunday comic strips is where I first learned of certain characters. I think I talked about Heathcliff in this respect. I have similar experiences with Dennis the Menace.

Hank Ketchum’s daily one panel gag strip featuring the trials and tribulations of the Mitchell family, focuses primarily on the titular Dennis. When I was a kid, I did not read the Dennis the Menace comic strip, although I was familiar with the charcter. There were two Dennis the Menace TV shows running concurrently when I was growing up: a surprisingly long-running animated series from the 1980’s was on weekday morings, and reruns of the live action program from the 1960’s aired daily on Nickelodeon.

I enjoyed both these TV shows as a kid, especially the black and white sit-com starring Jay North. It doesn’t seem like the type of thing a young kid in the Eighties would dig, but I’m guessing that Nickelodeon ended up kindling a love of classic TV in a lot of kids who grew up in that time, as they padded their lineup with old black & white reruns quite frequently. I honestly can’t imagine kids today sitting for half an hour to watch an old episode of Lassie, but I watched it every morning before I went to school.

Geez, where was I? Oh yeah, Dennis the Menace!

The one thing that really bothered me about Dennis the Menace was quite simply… he wasn’t menacing. Occasionally he was Dennis the Mildly Annoying, but more often he was Dennis the Cutesy. Dennis the Adorable. Very little menace about this kid, from what I could see.

Of course, the standards for menacing change with the seasons- at the same time I was gorging on old re-runs of Dennis the Menace, the media was all abuzz about how Bart Simpson was ruining a generation children by inspiring them to be underachievers, “and proud of it!”  Nowadays, in the wake of South Park and Family Guy, that notion seems quaint. Hell, South Park did an entire episode pointing out how supremely evil and badass their Eric Cartman character is when you compare him with Bart.

Where was I, again? Oh yeah! Dennis the Menace.

My original point: Dennis the NOT Menace while being a total puss in his other-media incarnations is also a total puss in his daily newspaper comic. The Comics Curmudgeon, one of my favorite blogs on all things comics culture, points this out weekly. In its’ current version (probably drawn by the great-grand-nephew of Hank Ketchum, I’m not going to bother to check), Dennis spends most of his time lobbing gentle puns at adults who roll their eyes and look perplexed. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a comic strip like that, understand. It’s just… we were promised MENACE. I was told there would be MENACE.

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friday odds and ends

Posted in commentary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 28, 2010 by Christopher Pearce

– As of this Wednesday, the ’09/’10 school year is over for me! My school district starts quite a bit earlier than most others. It’s a bummer going back to school at the tail end of August, but it’s nice to be off from work while most other people are still sweating it out in the classroom.

– Various teacherly things I am doing this summer: I’m teaching a week-long prep class for students who want to take (or retake) their Ohio Graduation Tests in both Reading and Writing. I’m doing some work for my school’s flex credit program (more on this in a few weeks). I might be substitute teaching for summer school, although that’s tentative right now. I should also relax a little, I suppose.

– Ellen and I have been burning through the Netflix movies: we watched Sherlock Holmes and Fantastic Mr. Fox this week. I’m a big Holmes fan from when I was a kid, reading the short story collections in study hall. I can see why aspects of this movie pissed off hardcore fans, but I liked a lot of it. I was relieved by the ending, but the relentless build-up for the inevitable sequel kind of bugged me.. Fantastic Mr. Fox was really lovely. I can see why it made squat at the box office, but as a fan of the book, I can say I walked away pretty happy.

– I’ve been on a Saturday Night Live reading kick lately and I’ve finally gotten around to reading Wired: The Short Life & Fast Times of John Belushi by Bob Woodward. I’ve never been a huge fan of Belushi, although he’s undeniably talented as an actor and a comedian. I think one of the reasons I never dug him is that so many guys I know in real life have been unconsciously influenced by Belushi that I feel like I grew up with the actor embedded in some of my friends. Like, people act like Bluto from Animal House who have never even heard of Animal House. That’s not fair to Belushi, I suppose… but of the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players, I’ve always preferred Dan Aykroyd.

The book is lurid and somewhat annoying in the way that Woodward constantly stacks the dramatic deck with anecdotes that foreshadow Belushi’s death. I can see why so many people who knew the actor were angry when this was published.

– Since school’s ended, I’ve also had (to my great surprise) time to play video games! From our local public library, I rented Lego Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues for the Wii. These types of games are about as far as I go into playing video games… the more realistic stuff makes me uptight and nervous. The Lego games are always fun, although I have to admit, playing a standard type video game on the Nintendo Wii is a little annoying.

– I also took out that massive remastered boxed CD set from The Beatles, full of every single one of their albums. I have to say, I’m really enjoying the music, but I’m more enjoying the fact that I didn’t plop down $200 bucks for the set.

– Finally, I had a truly epic haul at the thrift store the other day… tons of vintage Family Circus, Hi & Lois, and a bunch of other collections of comics I had never heard of! Those always make for fun Thrift Store Finds columns. I also found a first edition of the first ever collection of Doonesbury comics! There will be a new Thrift Store Finds up tomorrow and then for (hopefully) the next few weeks. I let those slip a bit, not because they aren’t written… moreso that scanning all the pages for examples is time intensive.

day one hundred twenty five.

Posted in comics with tags on May 27, 2010 by Christopher Pearce

This may be the stupidest comic I’ve drawn so far this year… but it was also really fun to draw, so maybe we’ll just call it a draw.

day one hundred twenty four.

Posted in comics with tags , on May 26, 2010 by Christopher Pearce

This was sadly an across-the-board problem with my students. I think the problem is that they are so used to using the Internet to find information. This makes a lot of sense for the 21st century of course… but my issue lies in the fact that the websites they use are either completely unreliable or they just look at the Internet as a means to an end.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had a student print up a couple of paragraphs from Wikipedia and try to pass them off as their own.

day one hundred twenty three.

Posted in comics, commentary with tags , , on May 25, 2010 by Christopher Pearce

The Coming Collapse of the Post Office is an actual book that is in my high school’s library. You can read about it over at one of my favorite websites, Awful Library Books.

day one hundred twenty two.

Posted in comics with tags , , on May 24, 2010 by Christopher Pearce

For those who don’t have long memories, my class is currently working on a research paper keyed to our unit on The Odyssey.

getting my arm back into practice

Posted in sketchbook with tags on May 22, 2010 by Christopher Pearce

Besides some truly unbelievable bruises on my back and thighs, I’m pretty well recuperated from my wild ride down the staircase. I’ve been able to draw and ink a couple of comics, so I should be back in shape to post by Monday. In the meantime… 

I was fooling around during a meeting at work today and I pretty much filled a cheap-o notebook with stuff like this. If I keep doing the comic next year, I want to try and get more variety into my characters and their body language. I’m very cognizant of the fact that this was an entire year of two shots.

As an end of the year goof, I shaved off my beard. If you’ve had a beard for over a year, I think you’re required to mess with your facial hair a bit before you shave it all away… so I gave myself this “asshole police officer from 1973” look that Ellen hates. I’ve still got it right now. I think I’ll shave it off on Sunday night and start my beard over from scratch.

a top ten of random thoughts

Posted in commentary with tags , , , , , , , on May 19, 2010 by Christopher Pearce

We’re in finals week here, which means lots of proctoring tests. Since I’m not drawing, I thought I’d take a second and post some random thoughts and links, very few of them teacher related. Proceed with caution.

1. My arm is feeling MUCH better, as is the rest of my doughy, unattractive body. I’m going to give drawing a go tonight and hop to be on track with posting new comics next week. Thanks to all for the kind words, comments, e-mails and the like.

2. I found this interview with writer Kelly O’Rourke on Halloween Fans that may be of interest to some readers here. You may remember her from this Thrift Store Finds entry I did a few weeks ago about the strange YA series based on John Carpenter’s seminal horror masterpiece. She sounds like a cool lady!

3. Also, I found out in that interview (and subsequent searches on eBay) that those Halloween novels go for a ridiculous amount of money on the secondary market. We’re talking like, $50 bucks per book! Of course, that price is contingent on being able to find someone who is willing to spend $50 bucks on a YA Halloween novel… but it sort of cracked me up that two books I found in my thrift store and paid less than a dollar for could potentially net me $100 dollars. I felt like I was on a low rent version of Antiques Roadshow!

4. Similar update: Remember when I wrote about The Superman Story a few weeks back? Well, it turns out that you can read the entire thing FOR FREE if you click over to Google Books here. It’s not the most enjoyable way to experience the book, but the scans are big and clear, and it’s a fun story.

5. Ellen and I finally took a tentative step into the early 2000’s by signing up for Netflix. I used to have a subscription myself, but when the DVDs started piling up for months at a time, it was cut from the budget. We’re enjoying the Watch Instantly feature of our subscription like crazy. In the past few weeks I’ve been taking in a lot of stand up comedy specials that I’ve been meaning to see for a long time… Ellen’s been re-watching TV shows she used to enjoy when she lived in England… and Elliot’s become obsessed with the PBS animated series Arthur.

6. Internet Pal Tyler Stafford just put out a great comic book! Dead Man’s Dream (and Other Stories) can be yours for the low, low price of $3.50. I just received my copy and it’s great. Tyler has this weird, techno-organic style that’s a joy to look at. See some samples and buy the book here.

7. Some other books I’m currently reading: Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live by Tom Shales and J.A. Miller (This is a re-read, honestly… but such an amazing book), The Bachman Books by Stephen King (I’m currently in the middle of The Long Walk), The Tomb of Dracula Omnibus 2 (A $100 hardcover collection of the 1970’s Marvel series… goofy fun), and I am slowly making inroads with The Book of Lost Things by John Connelly. Looking forward to the summer so I can perhaps finish one or two of these.

8. I’m not much of an online video game player, but like most people my age, I’ve become totally enraptured by Super Mario Bros. Crossover, wherein you can play through the original Super Mario Bros. with one of five classic Nintendo heroes including Mega Man, Simon Belmont, Link, Samus from Metroid, and the guy from Contra. If you recognized any of those characters, you would probably enjoy giving this game a looksee.

9. I recently discovered the WordPress feature which allows you to see the terms that people used to find my comic in a search engine and they’re weirdly fascinating to me. Things you’d expect are at the top of the list, terms like romeo and juliet comics, chris pearce comics, and other likely phrases… but then there’s just weird ones. Like, someone found this blog by doing a search for pretty horse pictures. I can only assume they found me because of this She-Ra painting I posted.

10. Oh wow, Disney and BOOM! Studios are doing a Darkwing Duck comic book! I’ve always thought that Disney’s leaving a lot of money on the table when it comes to the animated characters that comprised their Disney Afternoon block of programming in the Nineties. I was 10 years old in 1991 and fairly obsessed with Darkwing Duck, Talespin, and Ducktales, and they finally seem to have decided to cater to my nostalgia. BOOM! has a great track record with licensed characters (their Muppet Show comic book is easily one of the best comic series I’ve read in the past year) so I’m definitely going to give this a try!