Archive for June, 2010

day one hundred thirty seven.

Posted in comics with tags , on June 29, 2010 by Christopher Pearce

Ok, so for some reference, here’s Day 136:

And NOW, here’s Day 137:

sketchbook sketchbook sketchbook

Posted in sketchbook with tags , on June 28, 2010 by Christopher Pearce

As someone who enjoys drawing as a hobby but isn’t a professional who depends on my scribbles for sustenance, there are worse problems to have than the one I’m having right now. I’ve been drawing journal comics in one form or another for the past seven years and I’ve never hit a wall the way I have this past week.

I only have TWO comics left to draw to close out the 2009/2010 school year, man! Two more comics, and I just CAN’T. Get ’em done!

…so lemme say this: I will get them done. I will get them done this week. I promise. In the meantime, here’s a couple of sketchbook drawings, done when I was still considering including other teachers in the strip.

I also found this Harry Potter drawing I really liked. I don’t get to do a lot of shading in the daily strip, so occasionally it’s fun to sketch something like this. If memory serves, I was using some kind of weird Japanese pen on this drawing.

Alright. Tomorrow night! Comic!

thrift store finds: bringing up your parents by will eisner

Posted in thrift store finds with tags , , , , , , on June 26, 2010 by Christopher Pearce

Most times, these Thrift Store Finds entries write themselves. Part of the reason for that is the disclaimer I attach to the beginning of each entry which reads, as follows:

(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 St. Vincent DePaul store. Please don’t mistake me for an expert on any of the books I am writing about… I’m just a fan of a bargain.)


Saying that essentially frees me from anything resembling authority on the topics I’m writing about… and therein, any responsibility to be knowledgeable about the latest comic strip collection I’ve happened across. It’s a cop out, yes. I will own up to that completely. It’s also the thing that allows me to even begin to think I have anything to say about these books, most of whom (even if I make with the fun) are created by incredibly talented artists and writers.

Well OK, 101 Shark Jokes excluded.

Even with the above proviso, I now find myself somewhat stumped in writing about today’s Thrift Store Find, as it was written and drawn by someone who is inarguably one of the finest and most groundbreaking artists comics have ever seen. This guy literally wrote the book on how to make comics. He’s revered in a way that is entirely befitting his tremendous talent… and now I find myself sitting here and trying to think of something to say about Bringing Up Your Parents by Will Eisner.

Continue reading

friday odds & ends

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

As you may have noticed, there haven’t been any new comics this week. I could give you a ton of excuses, but I realized the true reason I stopped comic-ing this week: I only have TWO comics left to draw about this past school year! One of ’em will be up on Monday to finish out last week’s batch, and then I have another “one comic covers a full week” strip similar to the comic I drew here back in February. That’s pretty much all she wrote for the 2009-2010 school year, and I think that sort of froze me up a bit. I don’t often have insight like this into my creative process (as cheesy as it sounds); most of the time, I’m just plodding away blindly.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I feel I learned a lot about the things that work and the things that don’t work about this comic, and I’m anxious to get started on next year… one that I think you’ll see, is a crucial one for both my career AND my school in general.


I got sunburn this week. First sunburn of the summer, and with my pasty complexion, it’s sure not to be the last sunburn. I couldn’t sleep last night, so I stayed up late reading my new book, The Passage by Justin Cronin. I usually wait until I am done reading a book before I give it a recommendation, but it’s a real page-turner in the vein of early Stephen King. Heck, I think The Passage owes quite a bit to King, especially his post-apocalyptic masterwork The Stand, and I say that as a compliment.

I won’t give away too much more than that, except to say that Cronin does something absolutely genius in the first third of the book by setting the time directly before the world ends in a distant future America where a tank of gas is $200 dollars and New Orleans exists only as a toxic waste dump. By taking the problems of today and ratcheting them up to a not-entirely insane degree, Cronin creates this great “out of place” feel for readers that just gets more and more eerie as the story goes on.

That bein’ said, the first third of the book is a preamble for the rest of the story, dealing with the literal and figurative fallout of what happens in the beginning, and I’m only now getting into that section. If you’re looking for a great summer read, look no further.


As I think I’ve mentioned before, I don’t watch a whole lot of television. You could say that I am in the presence of television quite often, as I normally lie on the floor and draw while Ellen watches stuff… or we both watch things together, and I pay half of my attention toward. I’ll listen to a TV show, almost like a radio play, as I’m drawing comics. This is how I’m able to know what’s going on with ABC’s The Bachelorette without being able to pick any of the contestants out in a line-up.

There are some shows that I’ll put away the pen and Bristol board for, however. Summer for Ellen and I has become synonymous with “cooking reality shows” and Ellen and I were both pumped for the return of Bravo’s Top Chef and the lesser but still enjoyable The Next Food Network Star (from The Food Network, natch). Weirdly enough, we’ve also really gotten into this other show on Bravo, Work of Art: The Next Great Artist. It’s a premise that’s absolute baloney, taking 12 aspiring artists and having them compete in challenges akin to those on Project Runway. I don’t think anyone expects “great art” to arise out of this hoary premise, but it’s been fun to watch in the past few weeks.

lori & nick’s wedding: part two

Posted in comics, lori & nick's wedding with tags , , on June 22, 2010 by Christopher Pearce

These are the second half of the mini-comic I posted here yesterday.

During college, my friends and I were big fans of the 1984 film adaptation of The Outsiders. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, there are some seriously strange edits throughout that movie that made it fun to obsess over.

Lori also had a weird dance she would do whenever we played the Billy Joel song “Pressure”.

I think the first panel is self-explanatory, but the second needs a little clarification. When we were all in college, I was a cartoonist for Fredonia’s newspaper. Nick was a staff reporter for the paper and also contributed a one-panel comic that only occasionally veered into the realm of “making sense”. My impression was always that the comic page editor asked Nick to do something to fill those pages, which were always a little anemic. I knew I had to include a crossover panel in this comic. I am sure there were at least eight people who read this who were thrilled.

…and that’s that. I know this was probably pushing the limits of what people visit here for, as it has very little to do with teaching or my classroom… but I enjoyed drawing this little comic, so I was glad to share it!

not teaching comics: lori & nick dean’s wedding

Posted in comics, lori & nick's wedding with tags , on June 21, 2010 by Christopher Pearce

You’ll all have to wait an extra day to hear more about haikus. The family and I just got back from Western New York, where we went to the wedding of one of my friends from college. I decided to draw them an eight page mini-comic as a wedding present. I thought I’d post ’em up here over today and tomorrow.

They didn’t scan the best, but these comics were really fun to draw. It made me realize I’ve been drawing a LOT of desks and lockers over the past ten months. More tomorrow!

thrift store finds: children of the atom

Posted in thrift store finds with tags , , , , , , , on June 21, 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.

Additional Warning: the Nerd Quotient on this week’s Thrift Store Finds is quite a bit higher than usual. You have been warned!)

Buying actual comic books at a thrift store is kind of a crapshoot… the emphasis on “crap”. In the past twenty years, most non-geeks have become clued into the fact that comics can be worth money on the secondary market. Every once and awhile you’ll see a story on The Today Show where a rich insane person payed a cool $1 million dollars for the first appearance of Superman, and that kind of thing sticks in the mind of a normal person. The upshot of this fact is that MANY people think that because Action Comics #1 is worth a fortune, that ALL comic books are worth a fortune. I mention this because over the past few years, I’ve pawed though my fair share of Babylon 5 comic books from the mid 1990’s marked up to $15 dollars apiece, despite most comic book retailers not being able to give Babylon 5 comics.

Secondly, most comics that make their way to a thrift store are, in my experience, pretty uninteresting to me as a comics reader. I’m more interested in newspaper comic strips than anything else, and although I have some plain ol’ comics that I’m reading right now, I’m not actively looking to expand my collection.

Finally, thrift store comics are usually in horrible condition. Even if I did manage to find a comic I was both interested in AND was worth something on the secondary market, the chances are that by the time I found it, it would look like something the cat dragged in.

At any rate, luck was on my side this past week as I walked into our St. Vincent De Paul store and found a sizable stack of comics on the front counter with a sign on them that said they were $1 dollar each. Condition wise, most of them looked like they had just come off the rack, rather than festering in a thrift store back room. Having sufficiently caught my eye with price and presentation, I started browsing and found some real gems.

What you see here are an assemblage of early issues of the “new” Uncanny X-Men, written by Chris Claremont and drawn by John Byrne. While the X-Men comic book had already run for a couple of years, these are the issues that defined what it is most people think of when they hear the name The X-Men. The issues I found include #129 through #131, #134, #135, and issues #137 through #140.

Although there are significant gaps, one of the big X-Men stories, The Dark Phoenix Saga, is represented pretty well in these comics. For you normals, The Dark Phoenix Saga is a storyline from the comic books that was strip-mined for the big X-Men movies that came out a few years ago. This story was pretty darn revolutionary at the time it was published and I say that as not even that much of an X-Men fan. You’ve also got some “first appearances” in these comics, including the titular Dark Phoenix herself along with X-Men baddie The White Queen and the young X-Man (or X-Woman, I guess) Kitty Pryde. Oh, and also the disco queen superhero The Dazzler. All of these characters went on to play big roles in the X-Men comics throughout the 1980’s up through today. I was surprised to find these sitting in a secondhand shop.

Counter to another thrift store/comic convention, these books are in pretty great condition. X-Men #131 has a creased corner; ditto #135… but for the most part, like I said, they look terrific. I paid a buck apiece for these, $9 dollars total. Conservatively, if I were to hock ’em on eBay, I could probably get anywhere between $50 and $75 dollars for the lot. I believe the market has somewhat fallen out of collecting individual issues these days, as comic companies get more clued in to the ins and outs of traditional publishing… but there’s always someone out there who wants to own the original printing, no matter what the cost or condition. These were good finds.

…but wait, that’s not all! I also found a comic book I have, no joke, been looking for for YEARS. That would be The Avengers Annual #10, pictured dead center. Along with some spectacular Michael Golden artwork, this comic features the first appearance of Rogue! I know, you’re saying to yourself, “Who the heck is Rogue again?” Rogue is the X-Man (or X-Woman, again) who can rob you of your superpowers simply by touching you. Not ringing a bell? Rogue is the character played by Anna Paquin in the X-Men movies. You with me? Great.

No lie, I have been looking for a copy of this book since 1992, when I was first getting into comics. I read in a magazine somewhere that this was a big “under the radar” comic that was going to be worth a lot of money someday because of that big First Appearance. Although I’ve never been much of a collector, I really wanted to own a copy. It’s worth like $30 bucks now.

Truth be told, I don’t care very much about the X-Men. I’ve always been more of a DC Comics fan… but all in all, this was a good day at the thrift store.

friday odds and ends

Posted in commentary with tags , , , , on June 18, 2010 by Christopher Pearce

Just finished reading The Big Bang: The Lost Mike Hammer Sixties Novel by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins. The Big Bang isn’t great but it’s a quick and dirty read that I enjoyed. I don’t know if you’d call that a recommendation or not.

I’m a bit of a fan of detective fiction, although my tastes usually run toward the other side of the pond in my leisure reading. I prefer Sherlock Holmes to Sam Spade, Hercule Poirot to Lew Archer. If I could get introspective for a moment, I would imagine this is because, by and large, American detectives are bruisers as well as keen observers of crime. As a kid who was never the most athletic on the playground, I preferred the English detectives, with their penchant for brainwork over physicality. Mike Hammer’s probably the best example of the American brawler detective, a brutal, prejudiced, sexist lout who shoots first and asks questions later.

The Spillane novels aren’t my favorites, but they have a roughness to them which distinguishes Hammer’s novels from many other private dick books. I suppose part of it is that, at the very least, Mike Hammer at least occasionally rises above the muck and tacitly acknowledges what a terrific jerk he is. I don’t want to say that redeems him (it certainly does not) but it makes him a bit easier to take as a main character.

Your average Mike Hammer story reads much in the way your average superhero comic book does- it’s pure adolescent male fantasy. Everywhere Mike Hammer goes, powerful and dangerous men are afraid of his power. Every woman he encounters is interested in bedding him. He talks down to pretty much everyone he encounters and doesn’t share much of what he’s thinking with the readers until the end of the story. He’ll walk around for 2/3rds of the book saying things like “I have a hunch about what’s going on…” and then sock you over the head with it in the last 15 pages. Of course, the mystery of The Big Bang isn’t exactly hard to piece together, but you get the feeling that Hammer enjoys knowing something while you do not.

LIke I said, it has its’ charms, but Mike Hammer’s not for everyone. I don’t know to what extent Spillane was involved with the publication of this book; he passed away in 2006. I do know that I’m a fan of Max Allan Collins’ writing, which takes some of the Spillane tropes and updates them with awareness. His Ms. Tree character is basically Mike Hammer’s secretary Velda in a starring role… and I’ve loved his recent return to his working class hitman character Quarry, who embodies all the nastiness of Mike Hammer… but in a persona that better fits being an unrepentant ass.


I am very late at weighing in on this, but by now most of you have read about the kerfuffle revolving around the Internet campaign to get comedian Donald Glover, an incredibly funny actor on the NBC sit-com Community, an audition to play Spider-Man, a traditionally Caucasian character, in the next big Spidey movie.

This prospect made a lot of people angry… or at least, it made a lot of Internet people angry. I’m never sure how Internet anger translates into real life anger. Personally I think Glover’s pretty darn hilarious on Community and I wouldn’t mind seeing him as Spider-Man one bit. He’d handle the wisecrackin’ aspect of Spidey really well.

Community was one of the few TV shows I was watching every week this past year. It was quite fun to see the show improve week after week, and I think Glover’s character Troy had a lot to do with that improvement. The thing I liked best about him were Troy’s interactions with fellow student Abed (Danny Pudi), which struck me as a happy accident that the producers seemingly stumbled upon. If you watch the first few episodes Community, they are clearly positioning Chevy Chase’s character Pierce to be Troy’s foil. Over the course of a few episodes of the show, producers must have realized that Glover and Pudi make a formidable comedic duo and they started pushing the two actors together to great effect. TV shows are often too expensive, stodgy, and mired in the “rules” of what they have already decided needs to be done that off-the-cuff pairings and story lines like this don’t get a chance to shine. My favorite bits of Troy and Abed can be found in the 30-second end credits bumpers that Glover and Pudi get to do every week. Here’s my absolute favorite:

Poor Dmitri, indeed.

I wanted to talk about this Glover/Spider-Man thing for an ENTIRELY different reason however… and that has to do with me. I suppose this story is finally making its’ way to people who are casual fans of pop culture. I don’t know if Nightline did a story on this or what, but over the past week and a half I’ve had three different people here at work, independent of one another, ask me what I think of a black guy playing Spider-Man.

THAT annoys me. Not the prospect of someone interpreting a comic book character in a new or different way than the accepted material, that doesn’t bother me at all. What bothers me is the prospect of being asked to sound off about this Internet flare-up over and over again for the next few weeks because I am… THE COMIC GUY. I draw comics and people know about my initiatives to bring more comics into classrooms, so I’m the go-to person with which to have this conversation.

I think the last time this happened en masse was when Iron Man 1 came out in theaters. I guess people hadn’t really heard about Iron Man in the wide world outside of comic books because I must have fielded half a million questions about the character and the movie. Nevermind that I don’t know ANYTHING about Iron Man (He’s a guy in a robot suit and he has a mustache and that’s pretty much all I know, even today). Nevermind that I didn’t see the movie until about six months after it came out on DVD. People just expected me to KNOW stuff, and I got nothing. It puts me on edge and makes me feel like I’m disappointing people all at the same time.

I suppose there are a lot of people who deal with this kind of thing. You probably have Sports Guy at your workplace, or a Video Game Guy, or a Guy Who Knows Everything About The TV Show M.A.S.H. I shouldn’t complain; there are far worse things to be known for!

day one hundred thirty six.

Posted in comics with tags , on June 16, 2010 by Christopher Pearce

Anyone who e-mailed, commented, Twittered, or did anything that resembled contacting me in the past two days: I’m sort of “on the run” at the moment, getting ready for an extended weekend away from home. I will not be the most reliable of correspondents in the next few days, but I will do my level best to get back to you as timely as possible.

Unfortunately, this’ll be the last teaching comic this week as I haven’t had time to scan any others in before we leave in like… 20 minutes. I will have some posts (Friday Odds & Ends, and a new Thrift Store Finds) provided I can pick up some WiFi at either my inlaws house or the hotel.

Have a good one!

day one hundred thirty five.

Posted in comics with tags , , on June 15, 2010 by Christopher Pearce