Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

I had a great new The Inquiring Minds cartoon for today, but I'm suffering through a few personal crises, so it is not finished on time. Not to let the spooky Holiday go by without tribute, though, so here are two haunting toons from days gone past!


PS Okay, to avoid being called lazy, I will share with you the pumpkin I carved today. As an added bonus, I will show you a Halloween horror!! It's scary what those darned evil squirrels have done to my other pumpkins, as seen in the photo below! Darn them!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Krazy & Ignatz: He Nods in Quiescent Siesta. A Review

Image from the Fantagraphics website. See more at their site.

Krazy & Ignatz, 1943 to 1944: He Nods in Quiescent Siesta, is the final book in the complete Krazy Kat reprint series from Fantagraphics. From the image above, you can get a hint at the beauty to be found in George Herriman's masterpiece, the eclecticly delightful Krazy Kat. If you are a fan, then this book is a must have, being the last book, and collecting the final two years of the strip.
Along with the strips is what makes each of these books special... extra biographical information about Herriman's life, personal photos, and a reference page explaining some of the words, phrases, and objects that made sense in the early 1900's, but are now forgotten by us here in the future. These historical references are not only useful in explaining the strips, but are pure candy to a history buff like myself. This book contains some fascinating biographical information that explains further some of the strips within.

These strips are all mostly in Herriman's bold colors. His work really speaks to me, and I can get lost staring into his drawings, especially the huge landscapes he created to sit under dark night skies. True beauty that I cannot explain... his pen marks, random squiggles that are actually Native American designs, pure colors in perfect balance, the living landscape itself... I can go on, but you have to see it for yourself. Any student of art is going to learn something from studying Herriman's Krazy Kat.

The only fault I have is in the introduction by Bill Blackbeard. he's a scholar, and we should give him much thanks in his work preserving these strips, but the introduction is really a bit much. Herriman suffered in his personal life, and supposedly had crippling headaches. His work was everything to him, and he continued to work until the end, and his final strips seem very prophetic. I've seen the final strips before, and the last Sunday does show what appears to be Krazy Kat drowning, and Offisa Pup carrying her body away from the water. It's not hard to read into that, and Mr. Blackbeard does just that, going a little overboard in interpreting these final strips. Sure, it makes a dramatic intro, but as a scholar, I believe he loses some objectivity here, and he actually bends the interpretation a bit in his analysis of the strips.

Still, that's my only fault with the book... two little paragraphs that you can easily skip over. The rest of the book is a grand finale to a terrific series. I own most, if not all, of the Krazy Kat books, and this is one of the best on many levels. Many of the final strips I have not seen before, and as Mr.Blackbeard points out in his intro, you can see Herriman's art being to degenerate. The characters become simpler in design, and even their words become simpler. Herriman, the master draftsman with a pen line to kill for, was beginning to lose his art. A tragic ending to a brilliant, and at times controversial, career.

Don't know about that career? Well, I recommend Krazy Kat: the Comic Art of George Herriman. It's my favorite biography ever, full of wonderful art, a look at the early 20th century, and the life of my favorite Cartoonist. The Fantagraphic books then add to this book with the complete strips, and extra biographical notes, and photos and so much more.

I became a Cartoonist because of one image I saw by George Herriman. I learned by studying the rest of them. Any art student can do well by studying this Master. Krazy & Ignatz, 1943 to 1944: He Nods in Quiescent Siesta, is a must have in this regard.

Cheers, JOHN :0)

You can see a very Herrimanesque landscape in this Knight and Day strip of mine... one of many tributes of mine to his art.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Ghost Pirate Skeletons of Three Craters Lake!

Okay, so that's a long title, but The Inquiring Minds are known for their enthusiasm, not their talent for selecting titles. Besides, the title sounds really cool, so I can understand the kid's choice. As Bobby says, though, that's a lot of words for one t-shirt!

So we finally get to the heart of the story: The Ghost Pirate Skeletons of Three Craters Lake is really what the entire Big Summer Adventure is all about. When I was a kid, I was totally absorbed in building the zap-action Pirates of the Caribbean model kit that Disney put out... there just was nothing cooler than pirate skeletons with hooks for hands and clothing tattered with time to reveal the bones beneath... and when done right, the models actually moved! Whack! Down comes the sword! Why they didn't remake those models when the movies came out is beyond me... these days Disney pumps out tons of merchandise that ends up in the bargain bin for $1.99 a few months later, when they really should be concentrating on producing really cool quality items that people would treasure.

Anyways, first there were the models, and then my first trip to Disney World. I honestly don't remember my first time on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.. I was about Bobby and Albert's age, and I'm sure I must have loved it because I love it today. The ride is a truly virtual experience, and it's such a joy to be totally immersed in such an awesome environment that not only tells a story, but gives you something new to discover in every time through.

So, even though Iris is now an official member of The Inquiring Minds (see the recent strips) the idea of The Ghost Pirate Skeletons of Three Craters Lake comes from my love of Disney's Pirates, that I share with my creations Bobby and Albert. The Inquiring Minds has always been about the imagination and fun of discovery of these two guys, so it was only natural that this storyline came about.

Unconfirmed sighting of a Ghost Skeleton Pirate in Three Craters Lake!

I'm having a blast creating this, and hope that you are enjoying it as well. And there's lots more to come, including more terrific landscaping by Bobby as well as his crayon sketches and Albert's never-give-up enthusiasm and Iris' cool head keeping it all together.

Stay 'tooned, and please let me know what you think, eh?

Cheers, JOHN :0)

PS See the whole story HERE at

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ahoy, Matey's!

So there be a slight delay in The Inquiring Minds Big Summer Adventure, but we're back, and hopefully it were worth the wait! I'm on a wicked deadline creating the artwork and cover for a magazine right now, but the comic strip is never far from my mind.

I'm also having thoughts and second thoughts about how to present this storyline, and whether I should post it all online, or finish it and offer it as a print only title, or what to do. The complete storyline with extra art will definitely appear in the upcoming Complete Inquiring Minds comic strip collection, but I'm thinking of putting this together as a special edition comic book as well. After all, the book won't be ready for a while yet.

What are YOUR thoughts? How do you like the story so far? I know some of you are following along, and hope you're still here after the delay, and I'd love some feedback, eh.

Anyway, we're finally getting to the true heart of the story! AS you may have guessed, this storyline has been inspired by Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean... the ride, not the movies. Don't get me wrong, I did like the movies, but the ride is an incredible truly virtual experience, and this story has been inspired by, and will be a tribute to, the spirit of those great Imagineers who created this one in a billion experience.

Much more about that coming soon, and more of the story, of course.

Cheers, JOHN :0)