It’s been a while, but as a birthday present to myself, I am going to try to get back into the swing on things around here.
It’s been a while, but as a birthday present to myself, I am going to try to get back into the swing on things around here.
I just wanted to let you know that the Iguanodon Cheese page is now live!
It’s still fairly simple, but new comics will be posting over there from now on. I have also moved the full Iguanodon Cheese archive over there and deleted it from this site. Rescue Archaeology will still be online, but I like the idea of giving in and Iguanodon Cheese their own spaces.
Remember when I said that I was going to work on a new project?
Yeah, it turns out that every idea I had for that comic worked better as part of Rescue Archaeology.
Things should be back to business as usual around here. There will be new comics on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and I might even update this blog section once every few months. I would like to redesign the site at some point, create some mini-comics, and other stuff like that, but for now I want to focus on getting back into the comics groove.
Thank you everyone for sticking around through this hiatus.
And please feel free to spread the word that Rescue Archaeology is back (or about Rescue Archaeology in general). You can be the cool friend who introduces everyone to this new comic they’ve never heard of. You want to be cool, don’t you?
I think my old computer died. I put on a podcast, left the room, and when I came back there was a note on the screen about needing to reboot my computer. Now it just brings up a folder icon with a “no” symbol in the middle of it.
Fortunately, I have most of the stuff backed up. I was behind on saving the comics, and might’ve lost the last month’s worth (if I can’t recover anything), but I still have them all in physical form, so it could’ve been much worse.
But there were other things on that computer that I don’t have on the new one, like Photoshop, which means that I can’t easily finish and post comics until I replace that. Now I know that there are other options, and that I could always download something like GIMP, but I think I need this break in routine.
I’ve been posting to Rescue Archaeology three times a week since April of 2008, and it’s the most rewarding creative project that I’ve ever done, but I’ve been feeling the urge to expand beyond the short autobiographical snapshots for a while now. My problem is that I am a creature of routine, and the same obsessive tendency that kept me from missing my self-imposed deadlines, also keeps me from starting on a new project, even if I know it could be the right move.
When my computer died, I was surprised that part of me felt a little relieved. I bought a new laptop last month, so it wasn’t my primary machine anyway. I transferred most of the files off of it, so I’m not losing all of my data. As soon as I saw that broken folder, part of me realized that I’d found an excuse to move in a different direction. I’m not comfortable with the idea of dropping Rescue Archaeology to run off in an untested direction, but if I can’t post anyway, it means that I can work on my new comic and have it somewhat polished when I am able to post again.
What does this mean for Rescue Archaeology? I don’t know. I still have lots of strip ideas, and I’d like to keep the option open to post here again, just more sporadically. Any autobiographical work that I do will probably fall under the Rescue Archaeology label, and I might even keep it going as a weekly feature.
Or my new idea will turn out so awesome that we all forget about this stuff. Who knows?
I was looking through the archives the other day, and I’m amazed by how much my art and writing have changed in the last year and a half. I’ve never grown so much creatively in such a short amount of time, and I want to thank all of you for reading. Thank you for your comments, your feedback, your support, and for mentioning the comic to others.
I’m still going to be posting on twitter, and I might even post some sporadic strips while I’m working on my new project (which, of course, I’ll announce as soon as there’s something to announce).
In the meantime, I kinda love the idea that the last comic shows a future run by evil robotic cats. I think it does a nice job of recasting Rescue Archaeology as memories of our civilization before we were all forced to live in a giant litter box.
Yeah, that sounds like the right note to end things on.
We rarely had sugary cereal around when I was a kid, which was fine with me. I’m more fond of kid’s cereal mascots than I ever was of the cereal itself. Honestly, I’ve always preferred normal Cheerios over even the Honey Nut kind. I should also point out that I never fully understood the cereal in milk thing. I’ll do it occasionally, but I’d rather have crunchy cereal and a glass of cold milk instead of soggy cereal and luke-warm milk.
2: Microwave Burritos
My breakfast throughout most of high school was a microwave bean and cheese burrito and a cup of black coffee. That probably says more about me than it should.
3: Cold Pizza
Everyone knows that half the point of ordering and/or making pizza is the leftovers. What I don’t understand is why some people insist on reheating the slices of cold pizza. If there were a way to melt cheese and cook the toppings without heat, I’d insist that chilled should be pizza’s natural state.
4: Peanut Butter and Jelly
This was my standard breakfast the entire time I lived in Maine. Because of that, I have a hard time thinking of PB&J as anything other than a breakfast food.
5: Restaurant Breakfast-o-Rama
There are few better was to start your morning than a huge breakfast. Unfortunately, making one involves a lot of work before breakfast, which sorta spoils the point. That’s whay Breakfast is my favorite meal to go out for. Of course, given that most folks I know aren’t morning people, it’s also the hardest to arrange.
As I’ve mentioned a few times, I never had an NES (or any video game console) growing up. That meant that my favorite games were those that I could easily enjoy while playing for a few minutes at a friend’s house. Here are my top five of those.
I honestly believe that Tetris is the greatest video game ever made. It’s simple enough to be fun, even when playing against someone much better than yourself. Having played it at friends’ houses also helped me dominate the scoreboard when my family got our first PC, on which Tetris was the only game
2: Mega Man II
The great thing about all of the Mega Man games is the fact that any level could be the first level. This meant that, unlike most games, I got to see a lot of levels without ever playing for more than five minutes at a time. I couldn’t win most of those levels, but it was a lot of variety. It also helps that Mega Man II is often considered to be one of the best NES games by serious games as well.
I knew this first from the arcade before ever playing it on a console, and that alone was enough to make me a fan. Add to that the fact that I could play as Donatello, and I could play along side someone who knew what they were doing, and you have a game that was always fun. I barely remember anything beyond the first level, but I think that all of the levels were basically the same, so that’s not a big loss.
4: Duck Hunt
This was the first game I ever played that had an element of virtual reality to it, and it’s the only game with a gun-shaped controller that I’ve really enjoyed. It’s abstract enough to not make the laser-pistol feel out of place, but the technique of flashing the screen and reading that in the gun is implemented so well that it really does feel like you’re shooting that duck. The NES Zapper is one of the rare bits of video game technology that feels more impressive 20 years later.
I don’t think I’ve ever played past level 1.2 without going to the warp zone. Getting to level five in a matter of minutes never fails to feel like an accomplishment. Of course, I usually died soon after I arrive, but at least I wasn’t dying on the first level.
As much as I loved the Lego sets I had, I also loved pouring over the catalog inserts and imagining the sets that I would never touch.
What kind of kid doesn’t lust over public transportation– on the moon? The most interesting thing about it was the elevation, which kept the track from looking like a big oval. I mean, it was a big oval, but the idea of minifigures being able to hang out and work beneath the tracks had too many story ideas to ignore. Also, with some extra track, you could run it all over the place.
I can’t tell you why I wanted this set. Looking at it now, it’s a gas station and the world’s smallest parking garage. That said, the car wash brushes are pretty cool looking, and I do like the idea of the cars taking an elevator up to the top parking lot. Now if I could just figure out why the flowers are growing from concrete.
This was one of those sets that I wanted more for the individual pieces than for the intended model. There was a river, a bridge, a ladder, a Forestmen shield (still my favorite Lego castle insignia), and the only female Forestman (Forestwoman?). You knew she was a woman because she had heavy lipstick, an oddly curvy blouse, and she wore a rag on her head. I kinda understand the first two, but I could never figure out why she didn’t get to wear one of those cool Peter Pan hats.
Lego space stations tend to be sparse and impractical. They ususally consist of a few large glass panels, some computers that are open to the elements, and a landing strip of some kind. While this set had all of those elements, it also appeared to have some interior rooms and hallways. That’s important when you’re working for some kind of criminalistic CIA in space. Or at least that’s what I always assumed the Blacktron faction was.
In high school, I was a frequent lurker (and occasional poster) to the rec.toys.lego Usenet group. Until then I had never heard of The Yellow Castle, which was the first Lego Castle set ever released. To be honest, it’s nothing very special. I could make it out of parts that I have lying around my apartment (excluding the minifigures), but it had the allure of being first and rare. I was also frequenting Magic: The Gathering newsgroups at the time (damn, I was a cool teenager) and I thought of this set in the same way that I thought of the Black Lotus. It was more a legendary piece of history than anything else. At least by my definitions of “legendary” and “history.”
The best Lego castle money can buy. Up until this point, Lego castles were usually dull gray with a slight bit of red trim. After this, the castes were gimmicky and built into raised baseplates. This castle was near perfection. The black and gray combination gives it a striking, almost sinister look. While not quite to scale (looking at the figures, I think my apartment is the same relative size) it still manages to appear massive. Plus, the minifigures actually looked like a medieval army, dressed in scale mail instead of t-shirts with team logos on them.
This has to be the sturdiest vehicle in Lego history. The wheels seem like overkill for something that is essentially a giant UPS truck, but they sure make it look impressive. I also like that it has a bridge in the front. Lego spaceships tend to be solitary affairs, but here you have a crew of three pilots who work together to drive, operate the crane, and whatever the third one did.
What I loved about this ship was the fact that it could be reconfigured into a fleet. Those two cockpits in the front were each independent ships, and the satellite and garage sections could also separate, giving you one ship, two ships, three ships, or even four ships. Granted, the back two sections didn’t look as impressive on their own, but many important meetings were held in the back section after it was escorted to a secret asteroid.
Can you tell that I was a big fan of Lego Space? This was a fairly small and simple ship, but it was also a very fun set. It was just the right size to hold in your hand and swoosh around the room, the jail cell would often detach at inopportune, but dramatically appropriate, moments (often the result of sabotage), and there were laser guns that could be tucked away under the side panels. What more do you need in a futuristic police cruiser?
I had no idea how small this set was until I starting writing this. In my memory this was so much bigger. I think that there was more going on in this set than the photo does justice to, but I think it also says as much about me as the bricks themselves. Now it just makes me wonder if there were ever airports where you went through the security gates directly in to the open air, and could then lounge on the roof.
1: Jim’s Big Ego:The Ballad of Barry Allen
Honestly, this is my favorite representation of The Flash. Jim Infantino focuses on the loneliness of living in a different time frame than everyone else around you where of every moment for the rest of your life stretches out like a long afternoon. It’s the height of terrifying monotony.
Also, Jim Infantino is the nephew of Carmine Infantino, which gives him major comics credibility, and adds a more personal layer to this song.
2: Peter Mulvey: November
(to get an MP3 of this, follow the above link, scroll down to “Brother Rabbit Speaks / Rain” and download the sample song)
The comic connection only comes out in the full title, “November in Calvin and Hobbes.” That title instantly sets the colors for the song, and the lyrics perfectly reflects the tone of the Watterson’s late-fall sunday strips.
3:Barenaked Ladies: Same Thing
(The song begins about 3:15 into that clip)
I like this song because the second verse reminds me so much of growing up as a comic fan. Not just because the first comic that I bought on my own was an issue of The Fantastic Four, but I remember (like most geeky teenagers in the mid-90s) reading Wizard and thinking that I might one day live off of my comic collection.
Of course, the industry is still recovering from that kind of thinking.
4: Paul McCartney & Wings: Magneto and Titanium Man
This is not exactly one of the greatest songs of all time, but it is catchy (like everything, good or bad, that McCartney has written). I like it because of how obscure the choices of Magneto and Titanium man are. None of these characters had any non-comic exposure in the mid-70s, and using that group adds to the comic feel more than more archetypal villains like Lex Luther or The Joker would have.
5: The Tragically Hip: It’s a Good Life if You Don’t Weaken
I don’t know if this is actually connected to the comic of the same name by Seth, but the tone is so close to that of the comic that I’m going to include it. Plus, it’s just a beautiful song.
I’ve had dinosaurs on my mind a lot lately. Here are my five favorite species:
I don’t remember how Iguanadon became my dinosaur, but it has been as far back as I can remember. While it’s one of the most historically significant species, there isn’t anything particularly flashy or unusual about about Iguanadon. From what we know, they’re essentially the cows of the early Cretaceous period. But their thumb spikes do give them a permanent thumbs-up, and they were one of the inspirations for Godzilla, and I was obsessed with Iguanadons as a kid. I also went on and on about Iguanadon Cheese, which I’m sure will be the subject of a future comic.
It’s a saurapod.
And a thumb spike.
And it could stand on its hind legs when necessary.
When the Planeteers combine their powers, they create Captain Planet. When dinosaurs combine their powers, they create Saltasaurus.
To be honest, I like Ankylosaurus the same way some people like cars. I just think it has an incredibly nice design, and the armor and tail are bonus features. Bonus features that make it the dinosaur equivalent of a medieval knight armed with a mace.
I like all of the Ceratopsian dinosaurs, but Styracosaurus is the most striking. Growing up, I had a Triceratops and a Styracisaurus toy. At some point I decided that they were married, and the Styacisaurus was the wife. My dinosaur toys often lead more modern lives than those of other kids.
Long before Jurassic Park came out, I loved Deinonychus. I loved it for all the reasons that people love Velociraptors today, which makes sense since when people think “raptor” they usually picture a Deinonychus instead. Still, I have to admit that “raptor” is an easier name to remember and say, and historical accuracy hasn’t really done any favors to the image of either Velociraptor or Deinonychus. I’m sure that feathers offered them many evolutionary advantages, but contemporary restorations look more cuddly than terrifying.
I’ve decided to start using this blogging space.
Starting today, I’m going to post a new top-five list every Monday.
So, here goes nothing…
If I’m drawing, then there’s probably a podcast playing in the background. I find it helpful to occupy the vierbal and aural parts of my mind while I work on the visual part of the comic (on the other hand, I can only listen to music or ambient noises while writing). I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone in this. In fact, I recently learned that Scott McCloud’s wife would read to him while he was drawing Zot. So, with that in mind, here are my five favorite podcasts. There’s a pretty good chance that any comic on this site was drawn while listening to one of these.
I’ve been listening to SEQALAB since before there was a SEQALAB. Just as I was reading through the archives of American Elf, the founding members of SEQALAB were subbing on Around Comics where they interviewed James Kochalka. From there, I followed them to their own show, and I’ve been listening weekly ever since.
The cast of SEQALAB is made up of students, faculty, and alumni of the Savannah College of Art and Design Sequential Art Program, and it often feels like all of the best things about the art and writing workshops that I took in college and grad school. The thing that I enjoy the most about SEQALAB is the mix of personalities and interests on there. Most of the comic podcasts that I’ve found tend to be focused on a single form of comics, and they usually dismiss the others. SEQALAB is the only comic podcast that enthusiastically covers everything. And, because everyone on the podcast is a cartoonist, there’s a big focus on discussing what works (or doesn’t) and why it works (or doesn’t). The podcasts tend to run a bit on the long side (1:30 seems to be the average) but that tends to be the perfect amount of time for drawing.
Along with SEQALAB, Webcomics Weekly has been both a great source of background entertainment, and a huge inspiration for my work. The discussions tend to be more focused on the business side of comics than the art side, but that’s a big part of why I find Webcomics Weekly so valuable. It’s essentially a chance to eavesdrop as four successful cartoonists talk shop. That may not sound exciting, but it’s ridiculously informative, and (given that they are all humorists) often hilarious.
I’m not sure if there’s a lot to say about This American Life that hasn’t been said. It began as an antidote to the tone of public radio, and has now come to define it. But it’s still a fascinating show, especially for someone like me who if fascinated with everyday life and other people’s stories. This American Life is also how I discovered Sarah Vowell and David Sedaris, who have both been major influences for me.
4: Radio Lab
Radio Lab is science through stories. It’s like This American Life, but the focus is on science rather than everyday life (although it’s often about the point where those two intersect). I enjoy drawing to Radio Lab, but it’s even better to listen to while on a long walk. Also, the episode on memory has had a pretty big impact on my writing and cartooning.
Like Fresh Air, each episode of The Sound of Young America tends to feature either an interview with someone who I find interesting, or an interesting interview with someone I’ve never heard of. Unlike Fresh Air, the guests on The Sound of Young America skew strongly toward the nerdy and comedic. It’s also notable for the informal tone, which leads to much more interesting conversations than most interview shows. It sometimes feels like The Sound of Young America is made of the tangents that get edited out of other interviews, which is a big part of why I like it.