Kobe

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When famous people pass, you get a feeling. A different feeling with each one. Most remind you of your own past, maybe of your own youth and you mourn them like the rest of the world. But there are others that you feel are family members and they hit you hard and I don’t know why. It’s so random.

I remember in the past when Elizabeth Montgomery passed, it hit me hard, and also Audrey Meadows. I didn’t feel the same as when Jackie Gleason passed, not that I didn’t mourn him, but Audrey Meadows felt like a family member and I don’t know why.

Lucille Ball felt like family and so did Anthony Bourdain. His death hit me like a brother. Weird. Tom Petty hit me pretty hard, too, and Prince. And so many random people.

I wasn’t a basketball fan, but for some reason Kobe Bryant’s death hit me very hard, too, like a family member.

My own bother passed away almost a year to the day six years ago (January 29). And I’ve had strange feelings about so many friends who have passed recently. I was driving home late on Friday night and for some reason, all my friends who are on the other side popped into my head. I started thinking about my best days in the 1980s – my favorite decade. And then the music started to play on the radio from that time, music that reminded me of my friends who were gone. Strange, but comforting.

It’s festival season

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Ocean Drive, South Beach

Art season has started in Miami. For the next few months there are lots of festivals and art shows. I attended two this weekend. Two old ones, they have both been around for years.

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A scene on Ocean Drive, South Beach.

Today I was in South Beach for the Art Deco Festival and yesterday we went to the Beaux Arts Festival in Coral Gables. That festival is close to home, it’s on the University of Miami campus. I’ve been going to both festivals since I’m a kid. Yes, they’ve been around that long. It’s also Regatta season for the next six months, but I don’t really deal with that. I live on the water, but I’m not much of a boater.

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Vintage cars lined Ocean Drive for Art Deco.

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I know a lot of the artists from over the years and from the neighborhood. They tend to go from festival to festival and so do I, so I guess I’ll see a lot of them this coming winter.

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Eating my way through.

My favorite thing is to eat my way through the festivals. I love festival food and other great food and drinks. One of the festivals in February has an English tea room and for all three days of that festival I have tea and scones with friends. Whoever is around, I drag over with me and everyone enjoys that – English tea with scones with jelly and clotted cream! I go for three days because the festival is right in my neighborhood and it’s easy to just stay put for the weekend rather than deal with the traffic in and out of town. I’ll post pictures of that next month.

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How can you pass up this paella?

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Beaux Arts on the UM Campus

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Can a comic strip have seasons?

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Drawing Hal.

I’m working on my comic strip Hal and High Water, and hopefully will start publishing daily, but I have an idea that I’ve been considering. And that’s taking breaks, sort of having seasons, with breaks in between.

I know, I didn’t even start yet and I’m talking about taking a break! But listen, seriously. What I mean is, cartoonists work 365 days a year, they never stop, they never get vacations and if they do they have to build up that time by working extra hard to get a backlog of comics so that they can take time off. But what if the comic ran for a month or two or three and then there was a break, sort of like a tv show. The comic runs, ends with a cliffhanger, takes a month off, and then comes back for a new “season.”

A webcomic can do that very easily not so much a newspaper comic. But why not?

What if a newspaper comic ran for three months, then took time off and in that time another comic ran? What if three or four comics took up one space in the newspaper – sort of like the old days with tv, when a show would take the summer off and there would be a summer replacement. Years ago, that was the norm on tv and these last few years it’s been like that where there are not many reruns, other shows take up the time slot and there are usually three tv seasons now in a year.

So a newspaper comic would run a few months, maybe three months or six months, then take a break and in that three or six months another comic would run, then perhaps another comic or the original comic would come back, but they would run on some sort of schedule.

I’m thinking of doing that with Hal and High Water as a webcomic – running it for a period of time and then taking a short period of time off. Hopefully the readers will be there upon its return, but a good cliffhanger may be needed for that – sort of like a “Who shot JR?” cliffhanger.

I had written once about switching up my own comics over the year – run a panel cartoon for a few months, then a comic strip, then something else, but that would defeat the purpose of having time off. It would allow me to publish my different ideas and features over time, but it would not give me time off.

So I’m toying with the idea of taking breaks during the year – yes, even before I started publishing.

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Jojo was limping all day; we were worried

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Jojo checking out the neighborhood.

So I went to my parents house yesterday for our usual family pizza night, I usually get there early to avoid traffic; I arrived about three hours before most of the others.

As I entered the house, I noticed their dog Jojo was acting weird, he was sort of walking on three legs. One of his front legs was extended out, as if he was avoiding walking on it.

I asked my father, “What happened to him? Did he run into a car again?” A few months ago, Jojo darted out of the house and ran right into a speeding car, luckily he wasn’t hit by the car, but he hit the car. My brother and nephew rushed him to the vet, but he was ok, he just had a hard time getting around for a bit, you know, like he couldn’t jump up on the couch and bed and things like that, but in a few weeks, he was as good as new.

So when I saw his leg extended, I assumed the same had happened. My father told me that he hadn’t run out of the house, he thought he might have hurt himself when jumping off the bed. And that was the explanation. For the rest of the day, he walked sort of limping, on three legs. It started in the morning and extended into the evening.

He had a hard time getting up on the couch, but he did jump up and down and when I held his leg in my hands, he didn’t flinch. I tried to look for a thorn or something in his paw but I didn’t see anything. So this limping went on and he really wasn’t himself, he was very lethargic the whole time. He almost had a pleading look in his eyes, as if to say, “Please help me!” He didn’t seem like he was in pain and I wondered if we should take him to the vet or hospital or something.

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Looking at me like I’m an idiot. This is an old picture, so he must always think I’m an idiot.

When people came to the door, he just remained on the couch, he didn’t run or bark and jump up and down at the door as usual. A bit later I took him for a walk and he seemed better outside. I didn’t force him, I asked him if he wanted to go out and he did. But he never whimpered in pain, he just had a hard time walking.

Anyway, a few hours later the rest of the family started showing up. My sister-in-law Laura took one look at him and called us all “idiots” or something to that effect. She solved Jojo’s leg problem in a second.

He had put his foot/leg through his collar. Picture it – his leg was through his collar around his neck – that is why his leg was extended. I am laughing out loud as I type this. I can’t stop laughing.

When she took his leg out of the collar, he was back to his old self – his old annoying self. All of a sudden he was jumping, running non-stop barking – just going crazy as his usual self.

For the rest of the night we all laughed and felt like morons. Poor Jojo. And stupid me – I literally put the leash on him to walk him and I took the leash off, and I didn’t notice the foot/leg through the collar.

I can still see him in my head hopping around on three feet with his one leg/arm/foot extended in the air. Even when he was lying on the couch next to me, he had his one leg extended, maybe trying to tell me something and I just thought he was babying the injured leg, which ended up not being injured at all. I can still see him looking at me, which I thought was in pain, but he had his leg extended and that look was saying, “Can you please release my leg?”

I’m still wondering how he managed to get his leg through the collar.

Missing the holidays in small town America

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I had to come home to Miami from NYC a few days early, due to a Nor’easter or something similar coming this weekend. I left early Saturday morning and the storm is coming Sunday and Monday and possibly Tuesday. I had planned to come home Monday morning, which is no big deal except for the fact that I am going to miss the Christmas parade and event this year in Southampton. I have many pictures here from last year.

It’s such a great event, I looked forward to it for months. I drive out there from the city with some of my cousins and we make a nice day of it – eating, shopping, the Christmas parade, the tree lighting and fireworks, all in small town America!

I was lucky to be able to change my flight so easily. I had choices, too, so I wasn’t stuck with some awful flight. I got an early 8:00 am flight and by noon I was at Publix, home in Miami, food shopping!

One funny thing is that my aunt told me she understood that I was leaving early and hated to see me go, but snow can be scary. I think she thinks I’m scared of snow. First off, it’s a storm, where the weather lady on tv said don’t leave the house all day Sunday, and secondly, and mainly, ever see that chaos at the airports where flights are canceled and people are waiting around for hours, sometimes days, for a flight home? That’s what I wanted to avoid. And I did. Glad to be home, but I miss NY.

A perfect day in Central Park

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We spent yesterday in Central Park and it was perfect – 60 degrees and sunny, you almost didn’t need a jacket.

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After a little searching, I came across my favorite piece of 1887 graffiti. It’s above the Bethesda Fountain, up the big flight of steps. I’m sort of hesitant to share it but I know you guys will protect it. As you can see here, a few jerks put graffiti near it and almost toughing it. It’s almost 133 years old, you can’t have anything nice. That “L” or whatever it is to the left is not part of the original 1887 thing and neither is the PJE below it.

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Time-saving drawing tips

I saw a video on a page I follow on Facebook, the video, “4 Time-Saving Tips from a guy who spent 13 years drawing a comic” is by cartoonist Lars Martinson.

Lars worked on a very detailed graphic novel called Tonoharu, for 13 years, from when he was 25 to 38. The fine detail on each page is what killed all that time.

As I had stated in the past, Hal and High Water is taking me from 2 to 2.5 hours to create each strip. And I work fast. Ironically, one of the top syndicate guys told me I worked too fast, without even knowing me or seeing me work, he saw my work, he just didn’t see me work! But he is right, I work fast, so that 2 hours or more for one single strip is a bit much.

I’m trying to pare it down. I see many comic strips that use the copy and paste method where characters are concerned, you know, using the same images over and over again by cutting and pasting the same image in each panel. I don’t care for that method, so that way of saving time is out for me.

But Lars is the extreme – he goes all out with every drawing, where I’ll focus on one panel usually and I pare down the details on that, but I do put a lot into that and in others I’ll use no or little background.

storeI recently drew a country store panel, a general store actually, that could have so much background, picture a general store, there usually is not one space that doesn’t visually capture your eye. Well I redrew that strip twice, so that made that a 5 to 6 hour strip in work time! But it was important to pick and choose the correct images for the store without going overboard.

I could have added so many more items to the panel, but I wanted to keep it simple but still convey the idea of a general/country store. I didn’t want the background to take away from the characters, Hal, looking at a soda can, and Sam, speaking to the proprietor behind the counter. In another panel I show candy jars and Hal reaching onto a pickle barrel, but it’s not all in one panel.

Lars talks about having to have certain scenes in his comic because he thought of that scene in his head and didn’t want to change that. I have changed scenes often, I’ve changed angles and people in the scene. I’m not as strict as Lars. He calls them, “Carved in stone first drafts.”

Lars has four tips for time saving, I won’t give them away here since I do want people to watch his video. But one thing he talks about is being “lazy” and what he means is that to save time, you have to be lazy in some instances – like in Anime comics, there is not much movement, whether you realize it or not, there’s a lot of time saving in drawing, he shows an example on his video. Also, not spending a lot of time on backgrounds and details in every single comic and every single panel saves time – a lot of time.

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