Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012

Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012
Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas at Luche Libre Taco Shop in San Diego, March 2012

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Sailors All Respect The Seas

No desert exists that is as barren as the ocean appears to be
Yet still a paradise beyond imagination
                                          The ocean is full of life
     Forests of kelp
                                                Filled with                                             
                                                                            Giant monstrosities
                                                                            Graceful as ghosts

                     The final destination of all rivers yet home to none

                                             The ocean provides nourishment 
                                             But it's water cannot be consumed
The wonders of its depths are legendary
As are the horrors

                         Men have sailed across the ocean for eons
                                           And though some claim to be
                                           Masters of the ocean
                                           All take a knee
                                           When the ocean rises up

The ocean has allowed men to conquer the globe
But no man will ever conquer the ocean

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Spring Thoughts In Winter's Doldrums

                                                Rose blooming in my garden last spring

Growing Roses like a Samurai
                                 Care being taken 
                                 To prune out the deadheads
Hybrid Teas dominate, the Chrysler Imperial being a favorite
Though the Mister Lincoln 
             With those vibrant velvety red blossoms
             May have to be introduced in the garden
There are 6 plants facing south 
Bathing in the sunlight
                     Memorium, with it's soft white to pink petals
                     Kentucky Derby, dark red and vibrant
                     Garden Party, a classic white that never fails
                     The Chrysler Imperial, big and bloody red
                     Peace, fragrant, tough, and incredibly yellow
                     Oklahoma, dark red and durable
These roses are Mother Nature's art
beautifying the front of the house
Just like a pagan temple in ancient Babylon

Monday, January 28, 2013

How Many Rain Dances Does It Take To Fill A Reservoir?

                                     The storm that hit Denver today making it's way in.

The local papers and newscasts have been harping about the snowpack being only 60% to 70% of normal for the year (10% variance depending on the source) lately. In typical oh-my-god-we're-all-going-to-die alarmist journalistic fashion, the talking heads and pundits have mapped out doomsday scenarios wherein reservoirs dry up, crops fail, and the world as we know it comes to a screeching halt.

Is there some special school that story editors who work in news media attend where they learn worst case scenario reporting tricks and techniques? Distorting Data 101? Manipulating Historical Context To Exaggerate Weather Extremes (with required Lab)? Advanced Misstatement Of Scientific Research?

In the time I've lived in Colorado, the snowpack has fluctuated dramatically from year to year. My first visit to Denver, courtesy of the USAF, was in 1981 (It was also the first time I ever experienced snow). 1981 was a below average year for snow, but it was the most snow I'd ever seen, so I thought it was a lot. The very next year, 1982, one of the heaviest snowfalls in Denver history was recorded. That was really a lot of snow.   

This winter has been fairly average in my recent experience, which covers the past 15 years of winter in Colorado. Everyday I hear a friend or co-worker comment that this winter is much dryer than any other, but they can't be basing their statements on facts, just a memory of extremes such as the nearly 3 feet that fell in March of 2003.

Because the facts are the facts. NOAA's National Climatic Data Center reports that the Denver area only averages 16 days a year of snowfall that exceeds 1 inch. That's based on three decades of averages, BTW. That's really not a lot of snowfall, and fairly easy to dismiss as insignificant, especially since it usually melts before it can accumulate.

Of course I may be a bit biased about what constitutes a lot of snowfall having lived through 9 winters in Anchorage, where the snow doesn't melt until April or May.

Yesterday's paper stated that this January's snowfall along the front range will be close to normal, which is 7 inches.

The paper also quoted a couple of weather people making dire predictions about the consequences of no significant snowfall in the foreseeable future.  

Then the storm came. Today, one day after the doomsday statements were printed. The paper reported that this storm is expected to bring anywhere from 1 to 2 inches of snow along the front range, but in the mountains the all-important snowpack will increase by 8 to 16 inches, and in southwestern Colorado possibly up to two feet.

The actual snowfall for 1-28-2013 in my backyard smack dab in the middle of the front range, just a tad over 4 inches (advanced precision measurement device used is similiar to the ones the National Weather Service employs) 

I should have been a weatherman - I'm wrong all the time and I never get paid for it.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

With The Refinement Of A Wharfie

                                            A Quaint Little Place In Glasgow, Scotland

At some point people give up on other people. I know this because I have reached that point with a few people myself - thus I egotistically assume it must be universal.

The point, the crucial point, is no doubt directly correlated to the level of tolerance a person possesses for the idiosyncratic behavior, deviant activity, etc. that people exhibit.

Me, I reach that delicate point, that tipping point, when people however close blatantly disrespect me.

Example: I got four great tickets to a major sporting event last year. I had made plans with a woman I was fond of and two of her friends to attend this major sporting event. The morning of the major sporting event we meet for brunch and then proceed to the major sporting event as a group. While at the major sporting event the woman I was fond of and I made plans to continue the day after the major sporting event with dinner at a restaurant we both enjoy.

The sporting event ends. We make our way to the parking lot and to her vehicle (she drove me and two other people - this is a crucial point, so remember it).

Getting out of the parking lot after a major sporting event generally takes a bit of time. As we are patiently waiting for traffic to proceed, the woman I was fond of gets a call on her cell phone. I am not privy to the conversation, but from what I do hear I gather:

1) The person calling has an extra ticket to another major sporting event (basketball as opposed to football) occurring within an hour of the major sporting event we are currently trying to leave,

2) The woman I am fond of is oblivious to the fact I even exist, much less that we made dinner plans while at the game we are currently trying to make an exit from.

3) The woman I am fond of tells the caller that she has to drop people off before she can meet up with them to attend the second major sporting event.

Remember 5 paragraphs back when I mentioned a crucial point that needed to be remembered? The crucial point was that she drove. The thing was, she wasn't planning to. The only reason she drove was we missed the game day bus because we spent too much time at brunch.

What that means is, since she was not planning to drive to the game that day - an hour on a bus to the major sporting event we attended was a given, both there and back (two hours travel time total) - there was no way the second major event she was invited to was ever in the picture that day.

What that means is, when she was called while we were trying to get out of the parking lot of the first major sporting event, she had no idea the second sporting event would be on the table for her. However, when it was made available to her, I ceased to exist.

There was no "CRB, I have to ask for a rain-check on dinner as friend X just called and offered me a seat at this second major sporting event this very evening - I'll make it up to you, hope you don't mind."

So, we traveled in silence back to the parking lot of the restaurant we had met up at for brunch. As we all exited her vehicle, she asked what everyone was going to do. I can't clearly recall what her other two friends said, but I know what I said: "I'm going to the restaurant we made plans to have dinner at."

That was pretty much the last thing I said to her. 

Some people could no doubt tolerate being treated so disrespectfully. I just don't have it in me. I'm all "Fcuk disrespectful people."

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Screw Surviving, Strive For Thriving

            Chris Bakunas at the gorge Raven Creek passes through, Crow Creek Pass, 1996 

One chooses to walk across the street
                          And one dances

One chooses to minimize the risk
                          And one takes chances

Reading a book doesn't make one an academic
                          Learning to swim
Doesn't make it easier to cross the Atlantic

Everything and everyone 
                         That you chose to believe
Could be a verifiable reality
                         Or designed to deceive

Learning to get back up again
                         That's how one survives

Wallowing in one's failure
                         That's how one dies

Friday, January 25, 2013

On Exceptionally Clear Evenings You Can See The Bottom Of The Barrel

                  Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the Americas.
                  Taken from the Brooklyn side in August of 1995.

It was not a contemptuous disregard for the consequences
like his family and friends assumed
He often gave himself insightful, appropriate advice
Based on a clear perception as to the cause of his problem
He just never grasped the truly insidious nature
Of the affliction

So he ran
Again and again
From one imbalance to another
Hoping beyond hope to feel

To be able to engage in a conversation without rambling
Or be at a loss for words
To be able to acknowledge the similarities
And to appreciate the differences
To be able to enjoy the silence of a quiet moment
While relishing the sound of every voice

He knew people he regarded as normal
They lived normal lives doing normal things
Never feeling out of place, never feeling out of sorts
Always able to reckon with whatever came their way
The pathology of such behavior eluded him

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Dream I Have In Which I Am Soaring Over Alaska

                                                   I am always 30 in this dream

I was flying, flying over the Chugach mountain range
Soaring high above Mount Marcus Baker
That noted climber's life taker

My hair, my hair was whipping in the wind
And my glasses kept fogging over
But I could still see everything, I could see forever

I flew like an eagle through the slate blue sky
OK, maybe like a large, ungainly pterodactyl
Or some such pterosaur

Still, I was flying
Over and above and through the clouds
Beyond the clouds

Yes I was flying
Over and above and through the clouds
Beyond the clouds

I flew like an eagle through the slate blue sky
OK, maybe like a large, ungainly pterodactyl
Or some such pterosaur

I looked down upon Tolsona Lake resort
Some people were fishing off the floating pier
I remembered a girl I knew who used to work there

Soared my way towards the Richardson Highway
Made a wide circle around Copper Center
To see Wrangell - St. Elias in all it's splendor

I was flying
Over and above and through the clouds
Beyond the clouds

Yes I was flying
Over and above and through the clouds
Beyond the clouds

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Breaking The Curse

                                 Dall Sheep, South of Anchorage, Ak., August 1990

Some years ago a curse was placed upon me. The person who cursed me, who damned me to a hell beyond the imaginings of even Clive Barker or Jonas Mekas, was most likely not aware that they had placed a curse upon me, and if they were, they did not realize the severity of their actions.

The curse affected every aspect of my life, especially how I interact with women. In effect, the curse cut off my manhood. Not literally, but figuratively.

Last night as I sat pondering the universe and my place in it I was suddenly overwhelmed by the memory of  the night I was cursed. It had been years since I had thought of the incident, but it came back to me with a lucid clarity that was terrifying.

After a few minutes of reliving in my mind the events that led to the curse being placed upon me, and the actual moment I was cursed, the means to break the curse was made evident.

So I did it. I did what was necessary to break the curse. 

It worked. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Crazy Neighbor Lady

                                                London...Catering To The Tourists

Stood in her underwear
              Screaming at the top of her lungs
              At the neighborhood kids 
              Playing in the streets
She had three children
              That she pushed away
              After she pulled the plug 
              On their father

Accused her cats
              Of speaking in tongues
              Covered all her windows 
              With old discolored bed sheets
Complained to the Mayor
              She was being harassed by the KKK
              Spent most of her day 
              Wallowing in anger

We all knew they'd be coming for you Mrs Delfino
Coming for you before too long
What happened to you Mrs Delfino
Where the hell did it all go wrong

Most mornings she sat in the kitchen
             Cleaning her guns
             Ready to defend herself 
             From the secret police
Swore when they came for her
             There would be hell to pay
             Had her finger on the trigger
             Bullet in the chamber

When she needed anything
             She called up one of her sons
             Not the one who had her arrested 
             For breach of the peace
A few years ago
             On Mother's Day
             The one who now 
             Regards her as a stranger

We all knew they'd be coming for you Mrs Delfino
Coming for you before too long
What happened to you Mrs Delfino
Where the hell did it all go wrong

Monday, January 21, 2013

Resolved To Tackle A Few Resolutions

                       Glasgow, Scotland, My 5th Favorite City In The World
I resolved not to write a blog about New Years Resolutions until at least three weeks into the new year. It's Jan 21st - I kept my resolution!

See how easy that was?

I like New Year's Resolutions. They give a definite starting point for taking action. That works for me.

I know people who believe that's ridiculous, that if one has a bad habit or wants to learn or do something new, then they should just get the endeavor underway the minute it's thought of.


See, that's good in theory, but history bears out the practicality of planning and preparing for a course of action, and that generally means that a start date will need to be fixed.

As the holidays almost always result in me throwing out all discipline when it comes to diet, exercise, budget, etc., the 1st of January is a freakin' convenient time to start getting everything back on track.

That's all my New Year's Resolutions ever are, just me getting back on track. Getting back to healthy eating habits, going back to the gym on a regular basis, doing away with the cavorting and carrying on of the holidays.

Not that I do a lot of cavorting and carrying on, but what little I do, I stop.

Every so often I will add something to my list of New Year's Resolutions, something I want to accomplish or at least attempt.

This year, along with the usual eat healthy, go to the gym regularly, draw daily, paint weekly, learn Spanish, write a novel and read In Search Of Lost Time, I added "Sculpt something".

I've never sculpted. Not even Devil's Tower in mashed potatoes.

This year, I will sculpt something. Not quite sure what yet, but 'm going to do it.

The medium of choice is still up in the air. I don't want to go overboard and attempt to carve something out of granite or marble. It would have to be an affordable medium, too, but I want it to be more permanent than clay.

Maybe bubble gum. Gum is cheap, and pliable, and that stuff last forever. I wonder if I could sculpt a statue of the three stooges riding Dumbo the flying elephant in gum?*

It's worth a shot.

*This is not a clever idea on my part - I watched Neal Adams draw this for a fan at an S.D. Con in the '70's, at the fan's request.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Impromptus No. 2 In E-Flat Major

                                                  On the 16th Street mall, August 2012

Another poetic soul corrupted by the temptations of the world
Sobered up enough to play for coins
And the occasional dollar
                                 Talent married to developed skill
                                 Adroit fingers
                                 Entertaining passing strangers
                 In a suit he's slept in for weeks or longer
                           His hair matted, unwashed
                                           Something bright
                                           Something romantic
                      "Thank you, brother" 
             When you toss in a contribution
                      With a smile

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Top Of The Flops

    That crazy-ass rug peddler thought he was a soothsayer
    He suffered privately for those who were dying quietly 
                     Imagine that
He may or may not have been telling the truth
In the words he was screaming as he fell from the roof
                              You know how it goes with all of those            
                              Pseudo intellectuals
                 Stage diving into a sea of bugged-out humanity 
                 Lonely women and even lonelier men      
                 From Kansas City to Copenhagen
                 Learning from Brahman masters of humility
                                       To cry out
          Aware of all the subtleties
                    Afraid of the possibilities
                              Of illusions and realities
                                         And purple mundane majesties
It is easy to turn a blind eye on your past
Pretend there never was a time
When you needed the largest crane in the world
To pull your head out of your ass

Friday, January 18, 2013

Think, Thought, Thunk

            Wisdom begins with the admission of ignorance...I think. Does that sound dumb to you?

Every person wants to think that their thoughts are of a cultivated, higher order, right? Don't we all walk around thinking we are capable of understanding the basic concepts, of grasping the essentials without burning out too many grey cells? 

It's possible, of course, that there are those who really don't give two shites if they are perceiving the world as it actually is, or whether or not they are wise to the workings of the Universe. Reality for them may be centered around something other than pondering the mysteries of life or investigating what constitutes the limits of one's own intellectual development.

Hell, for a lot of people, I imagine just finding a way to earn a decent living and coexist peacefully among fellow humans is quite enough in terms of self-realization. Not everyone gives a hoot about philosophers or sages.

Maybe it's a result of practically living in a library as a kid, but curiosity, about what it is possible to know, about what it is possible to learn, has always been a part of what makes me go. 

Not that I'm some Megalopsychos (fcuk if that's not the most pretentious thing I've ever written), but I do enjoy crackin' open a good website and reading about some discovery or revolutionary new concept. I absolutely love the age we are living in - how anyone can possibly believe that we are not living in the best of times is well beyond the keen of my intellect.

Just about everything the human race has ever learned (and was astutely recorded) is available via this wonderful thing called the Internet. 

Have a hankerin' to know how Confucius summed up the qualities of a learned man? Want to read how Ernest Rutherford came about determining that the energy involved in radiation was internal? Stumped by the seeming dichotomy between magnetic and electric lines of force? Boom goes the Internet!

These days you don't even need a PC (or Mac) to access all that delicious, nutritious information. It's mind-numbing to consider that my cell phone is a far more powerful computer than what was used to put man on the moon. 

Which means that all of us, at least all of us with cell phones that have Internet access, can strive to improve our thinking, eh? Learn a new word or two everyday, maybe broaden the ol' horizons? Well, that's what I'm shooting for.

And, as a bonus, I can surreptitiously check the score of the game while I'm sitting in a dull meeting, too 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Day Like Every Other

There was nothing special about today
I didn't have to slam on the brakes 
Or swerve to get out of anybodies way

Just another day when I didn't have to eat
Any of the words I chose to speak
Just another morning when I didn't wake up
In my car

Nobody took a potshot at me
The police didn't ask to see my I.D.
No angry ex-girlfriend poured oil on my lawn
The sun wasn't blotted out by an atomic bomb
The neighbor lady didn't corner me and ramble on
The radio didn't play any really horrible songs

There was nothing special about today
I didn't get bit by any rattlesnakes
Or have any ravenous beast consider me prey

Just another day when I didn't need a receipt
To get a refund on shoes too small for my feet
Just another morning when the house didn't smell
like smoldering timber

Nobody stole my identity
The Doctors didn't have to hook me up to an I.V.
No bureaucratic snafu damaged my calm
That new girl at the pub wasn't posted on psychos.com
The new episode of Archer didn't make me yawn
The Universe didn't ask me to right any wrongs

There was nothing special about today
At all

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Nagging Dreams & Damned Aspirations

            This is one of my earliest attempts at cartooning. From February of 1977. I was 13. 

Everybody dreams, everybody aspires. Or do they? Maybe that's just a base assumption on my part. Okay, how about, some people dream, some people aspire, and I'm one of those people.

For the majority of my lifetime, say from about the age of 5, one of my primary dreams/aspirations (up there with secret service agent, architect, artist in residence, revolutionary traffic management engineer, novelist, successful businessman, stand-up comedian, and one-hit wonder), has been to be a cartoonist.

When I was 5, my sister Kathy got a chalkboard and colored chalk for Christmas. My brother Tom got a pull-and-speak toy that featured characters from Charles Schulz' Peanuts cartoon. I got socks.

So I took the pull-and-speak toy my brother got, sat in front of the chalkboard my sister got, and drew the characters depicted on the toy as best I could.

That doesn't sound anywhere near as exciting as, "The first time I heard the Velvet Underground I knew I wanted to be a rock star..." but that is how it happened. At least that's how my older sisters related the story to me. Truth be told, I don't remember that far back.  

       A quick sketch done in January of 1980. The joke was as old as Vaudeville then, but I laughed.

I have been drawing for as long as I can remember though, and I have filled sketchbook after sketchbook with ideas for cartoons. When I was in school, I did cartoons for the school paper. Well, I did them when the editor couldn't get the far more talented Pulu or Thibodeau to do them. 

                            From June of 1980, the end of my Junior year of High school

I was a high-strung teenager, and it amazes me how much of what I felt inside was reflected in my cartoons. The figures were stiff, unwieldy, and rectilinear. The proportions were distorted, and not in an amusing, Basil Wolverton manner.The lines were clunky, and heavy. 

Sign I painted in 1982 for the Graphics shop. We would be moved at least once more before I left.

After High School I enlisted in the USAF. That was not done because the USAF offered opportunities for the artistically inclined, but rather just to get the hell out of the neighborhood I was raised in (see, http://cbakunasart.blogspot.com/2012/05/we-could-be-heroesin-right-era.html if you want more info).

The USAF did provide me with the opportunity to work as an artist though, or at least as a cartoonist and illustrator.

  Comic strip attempt from my second year in the USAF (1982), never accepted by the base paper.

While in the USAF, my primary AFSC was Graphics. I worked in the graphics shop, drawing posters, creating flyers, putting together 35mm slide presentations, etc. 

This was before computer graphics - it could take days to put together a 25 slide briefing.  

I'm going to digress a minute here, because the complexity of putting together a single slide for a presentation just hit me.

Lettering the slide was initially done one of three ways. As the lettering had to be as clear as possible, and as none of us in the shop (Ralph, Carl, Vancie, Tim, Cathy, & Mike) had decent hand-lettering skills, we used one of the following (or a combination of all three):

A Leroy lettering set, which was a pantographic device with a stylus that fit into a plastic strip engraved with lettering, and had a holder for an India ink filled rapidograph pen on the other end. It required the user to line the rapidograph pen up on the illustration board and carefully guide the stylus along the letter needed. This was repeated until the word, then the sentence, then the paragraph, was completed. It was frequently messy, as estimating whether the India ink was dry could go horribly wrong.

The AM Varityper Headliner photo typesetting machine. It required the user to feed a strip of film into the machine, then, using a plastic disc of typefaces and fonts, literally take a picture of each letter until words and punctuation were photographed onto the strip of film. The machine had the necessary chemical bath needed to develop the film incorporated into it, and after you patiently put together the phrase you wanted, the film would then be spit out. Then you would cut it to fit your lay-out, peel off the irritatingly thin red film that keep the adhesive in check, carefully line the strip of lettering up on your paste-up board, and repeat until finished. 

Or Letraset lettering sheets that had perfect letters in various typefaces and fonts on them that you would line up as precisely as possible, then rub on the plastic face of the sheet with a pencil to transfer the letter from the sheet to the paste-up board. It took a bit of practice to learn to peel up the sheet so that the letter stuck to the board and didn't tear in two, with half the letter on the board and the other half still affixed to the sheet. Of course, you had to repeat the process until the word was finished, and then again until all the lettering for the slide was done.

Eventually, in my last year in the USAF, we got a Kroy lettering machine that had the different typefaces and fonts on easily interchangeable plastic discs which could stamp whole words and sentences on white strips of adhesive-backed thin vinyl. Those worked at light speed compared to everything else. That was the equivalent of man discovering fire to graphic artists, let me tell you. 

However, we still had to draw illustrations for the slides, shoot the paste-ups on Kodalith film, have the photo lab develop the negs, then hand-color those negs using Dr, Martin's dyes and a jewelers loupe!

My assignment to Graphics was direct duty, meaning I did not attend graphics school. I had (and still have had) absolutely zero schooling in the field of graphics. Everything I knew then and everything I know now was learned on the job.

Fortunately, I had started to take the idea of being an illustrator, if not a cartoonist, seriously, and began to broaden my cartooning and illustration horizons, studying the work of artists from fields other than the comic-book industry.

         While in the USAF, I taught myself all about rough drafts and composition. This is from 1983

When not putting together serious presentations about wind shear and twenty degree low-angle bomb runs, our little shop would produce posters and signage for the various units on the base. That sometimes allowed me to indulge in my desire to be a cartoonist. Of course, my style, though more developed, was still stiff, which suited official USAF stuff.

Early 1984 - I had become disillusioned with the idea of being an artist, much less a cartoonist.

Near the end of my USAF career, events transpired that led to a spell of depression that lasted longer than I care to admit. It greatly affected how I looked at everything - art, life, the universe. The whole artistic temperament thing was getting to be a drag. Still, I persisted in attempting to create cartoons, whether it was quick sketches or completed illustrations. 

                                    Max Headroom, marker, 1986

By July of 1985 I was out of the USAF and in college (I finally took a college level art class - got a "D"). I still maintained a sketchbook, but it was a very spurious thing. Trying to keep my head together took up most of my time.

                                          Wino Bear, in collaboration with Thibs, 1987

From June of '85 through August of '87, I worked for a couple of blueprint companies in the San Diego area. Not a lot of creativity going on there, just running off blueprints. However, Thibs and I, along with Greg D., got the idea we would put together a T-shirt company, creating funny shirts to sell at the S.V. swap meet. Rick and I came up with a few ideas for "I Don't Care Bears." We were going to make a million bucks. Right.

In September of 1987 I moved to Lancaster, Ca. for about 8 months and worked for Hart Printers. Again, not a lot of creativity, just mundane paste-up work, burning plates, and cleaning up negs. I did get a bit of cartooning in, but the sketchbook from that period is M.I.A.

Returning to San Diego at the end of April, 1988, I found work with two different printers, but again, it was just paste-up and minor illustrations.   

                   Page from my sketchbook, done while I was on the boat, 1989

Circumstances in my personal life turned south in an ugly way in April of 1989, such that I was compelled to make a complete break and get a fresh start - so I set off for Alaska. 

Initially, I found work as a commercial fisherman in Homer, but that was short lived. The majority of the time I lived in Alaska I was in sales, first for an electronics store, then in the furniture business.

Being in sales brought an amazing amount of stability to my life. Oh, that and not drinking. Not drinking really, really helped. 

Instead of cartooning though, I took to sketching caricatures.

Tom Bradley has looked much better...1990

As I was a compulsive newspaper reader, what I would usually do is spot a pic of somebody and if it appealed to me, sketch a quick caricature. I still do that, BTW. 

Political figures always seemed to be caught looking either smug or surprised, two great expressions to draw.

                           Boris Yeltsin has no idea how rough it's going to get. 1992

Occasionally, a local figure would pique my interest. Pastor Jerry Prevo, Anchorage's self-righteous, self-appointed moral compass with all the trappings of a fire & brimstone Southern Baptist tent revivalist, was made to be caricatured. 

                                             Jerry Prevo wants to save your soul

Of course, I still put the occasional idea for a single-panel gag cartoon down in my sketchbook every so often. This one's from 1995.

                   The caption is "Come on Larry, you have to find room for Miss January."

It was in 1995 that my friend and co-worker John and I decided to try our hand at collaborating on a comic strip. It started innocently enough, with a dumb gag about the furniture business.

                                                    Our first attempt. John and I are a riot! 

John came up with a funny shtick about a single guy in Anchorage trying to navigate the dating scene. To this day I have no idea how he came up with such awesome ideas - he just seemed to pull them right out of the ether...

              We were sure King Features and United would be soon engaging in a bidding war.

Those are pretty much all we ever got done. I was dreadfully slow at getting the strip produced, and John soon left Anchorage for Oregon. After John left, I continued to dabble in caricatures and cartoons.

                                                   Cartoons of Baseball players done in 1996

In 1997 I left Alaska to try my hand at learning a bit about becoming a fine artist. While I studied painting techniques in Glasgow, I still managed to sketch a few cartoons in my sketchbook, though the style was a little less cartoonish.

                                                   I thought it was funny...1997

Returning to the U.S. in 1998, I found myself living in Denver. I was also back in the furniture business. It was not too long after I returned to the states that I was married, and that made cartooning (or any drawing or painting for that matter) somewhat of an indulgence.

I would occasionally put down on paper some of the sarcastic comments myself or fellow salespeople would say behind customer's backs (a number of these bits were quips of John's I remembered from our time working together at Morgan's in Anchorage)

Gag sheet from 1999

Gag sheet from 1999

Caricature , 2000

Caricature still held my interest, but what little precious time I had to myself was spent painting more than sketching or cartooning. Until I got divorced that is. 

Then I found myself with a whole hell of a lot more free time, and I started sketching down ideas for cartoons again.

This idea came to me as I listen to a few co-workers discuss palm reading. 2002

Now that I had all that free time, I could actually produce finished cartoons from my sketches (uhm, more accurately, now that I had nothing else to do I stayed at home and finished my ideas).

Finished cartoon, 2002

I still had the caricature bug though, which I indulged in more than ever.

Caricature, 2003

As I restarted my social life though, my ideas were soon relegated to rough, half finished sketches. 

This was inspired by a trip to the Home Show, in 2005

This one was part of a conversation at a bachelor party in 2006

This one came about when I was told for the thousandth time I didn't look like an artist.

This one from 2008 was a variation of something a girl I dated said.

Every so often I sketch out an idea and like it so much I just have to do a finished cartoon. The one below was done in 2009. 

This idea came from a comment a friend of mine made at the Baker Street pub.

Ever have a partner interrupt an intimate moment to answer a phone? I have, so I jotted it down like so.

True story bro. - 2009

I  liked it enough to finish it, but I didn't like the finished cartoon.

Something about it is just not quite right. 

A visit to Arby's inspired this cartoon in 2010

The urge to cartoon is a strong one, but it's also a vile one. Much like heroin I'm going to assume. It takes a lot for me to actually go from idea to finished cartoon, and it can be frustrating as hell when I'm not able to take the idea out of my head and put it down on paper the way I imagined it.

That won't prevent me from continuing to try though. It's that strong of a compulsion. Beats the hell out of being obsessed with swimming the English Channel, scaling Everest, or bringing peace to the Middle East - at least to me.

Someday, I just might get it right.