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Thursday, January 3rd, 2008
8:49 pm - The fabulous bouncing blog
Hi gang:

Technical problems have been resolved, and this blog has moved. Please check out No Silver Cars Version 2.0 at WordPress:

http://sharkipede.wordpress.com/

I'm working on getting this blog archived on the new one, and until I can figure everything out, this journal will remain open with the occasional brief update. But all the action has moved to the new site, and I hope you will follow it there.

Sharkipede

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Monday, October 8th, 2007
3:09 pm - strange events and SPX
Hi everyone who's still out there somewhere.

Massive changes have hit Sharkipede World Headquarters since I felt so confident about what was going on, and would be going on, now and in the immediate future.

The big change is that a good friend of mine, who is also my sometime writing partner, is now planning to leave the country for several years, starting sometime early in the second quarter of next year. I'll spare you all the personal whining-- I'll miss him like hell-- but this has also completely changed my current plans and my plans for the next six months.

A large project which we have been working on since May of this year, and which had been perking along slowly on the back of the fire, has been moved to the front burner and has been boiling nicely. We want to take a shot at having it ready to go to press before he leaves the country.

We've been busting our chops over finishing the scripts for a month, and if all goes well, I should be able to start working on the breakdowns and art next week.

This week, of course, is SPX. I am planning to be there, with lots of minicomics, including a lovely little new one with a silk screened cover. If you're going to be there, please come by and say hi, and also heckle me as I present an award at the Ignatz Banquet.

I'm going to talk to my friend about blogging as it relates to the project, but even if we decide to keep it on the quiet, I'll try to find more things to write about. If nothing else, it should get cooler eventually, and I'll be able to plan something more than rants about the heat.

Sharkipede

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Saturday, September 1st, 2007
6:06 pm - title block and business cards
Hey, guess what? The title block sucks!

This is actually a good lesson. A title block that looks pretty good on a blank piece of paper can look highly stupid when you stick it on top of a crude pencil test of a comics cover. I may have to go with something much simpler. I want the KEKIONGA title to be clear, but not to overcome the title of each story.

On this plus side, I wrote new dialog for the cover and it is at least moderately funnier, while still providing what I think is the appropriate comment on the story. It's one of those covers that illustrates the theme without representing an actual plot event, which I feel is fairly "comics" of me ... I've always been so literal before.

Business cards. I got me some business cards. Me a big shot now. Staples, in my quarterly giant envelope of random coupons, sent me one for 100 free color business cards. It expired yesterday, so I dragged Mr. Shark over to Staples and the poor guy had to hang around for almost an hour while I experimented with different layouts, fonts, and content, and tried out least half of the ten thousand horrible pieces of color clip art. After trying and rejecting a pie, an odd looking car, a blue monkey, an open box, a gazebo, a taco, traffic cones, a fox, a dragonfly, several handprints, twelve kinds of leaves, a dancing devil, and several abstract designs, I settled on a rather handsome griffin, which reminds me of the carved griffins on the Telephone Tower in Kekionga. So now I have to write a story about a griffin.

Like I need something else to do.

Sharkipede

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Friday, August 31st, 2007
3:30 pm - work update
I actually have been working on the new comic. Not as fast as I would like, but there's been a lot going on, like cleaning up after some truly horrific storms (no serious harm done; we were much luckier than some of our neighbors), making a delightfully amusing purchase with some of the money I was hoping to put toward a HD TV setup-- that would be a delightfully amusing head gasket for the Buick (sucks to be Junior!)-- and generally trying to get the studio shoveled our enough that I have room to work. Oh well, we have no basement to flood, and I've been watching low def TV for many many years with no harm done. And the studio will always be a hellhole no matter what I do.

I now have a final page count, 28, and a final title, JUNKYARD DOGS. I've made final choices on the page size; JD will be drawn big, 10 x 16 image area on an 11 x17 sheet, which will allow for a 50% reduction onto a 6 x 9 finished page. This is the same reduction I've been using for years on my 1/4 page minis, and I really like the way my art looks taken all the way down. Plus its the only way to get the lettering small enough-- I'm too old to squint over a tiny little pen.

The cover design is finished; it will have a Golden Age flavor and be based on a Curt Swann cover from 1955. The new KEKIONGA title block looks great and has a similar feel. I hope this block will become a permanent feature of the series. All that remains of the planning stage is to figure out what goes on the four extra pages that will bring the package's total page count to 32. I'd like at least one to be an image, but the rest will be made up of indicia/credits/thank yous/story so far/notes/whatever.

Next-- drawing the cover and title page.

Sharkipede

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Tuesday, August 21st, 2007
6:04 pm - Happy Birthday
I've actually spent so much time working on the new comic today that I don't have time to do the blog update I was planning to do this evening.

But I had to come on to say Happy Birthday to our very own Rocket Dog, the Digital Dog of the New Millenium, Toby Comet. T is six today and still a puppy, rolling in mud and eating flying ants (which apparently don't sting him the way they do me) and chasing his older brother Chester through the discarded newspapers on the living room floor. No neat pile is safe from this black brindle rocket.

Good boy, Toby. Good dog.

Sharkipede

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Saturday, August 18th, 2007
3:15 pm - Mr. Bear back on patrol
Vladimir Putin scares me. I've never been able to get a handle on the guy, which is disturbing after growing up in the shadow of the old Soviet Union. There was never much trouble figuring out what was going on with the Soviets, at least in general. ( A lot of the specifics were pretty obscure.) How much of that was "Sovietness" and how much was characteristic "Russianness"? Who knows?

This is a drawn out introduction to what is basically an airplane gush. My rational self was somewhat disturbed, and my aviation buff self was overjoyed, to read this morning in the Tribune that Putin has ordered the resumption of Cold War style long range strategic bomber patrols. And when the aircraft involved are described as Tupolev-160s and Tu-95 MSs I'll admit to a ragged little cheer.

Tu-160 is the Blackjack, a modern, supersonic, variable geometry heavy bomber, roughly similar to our B-1 Lancer, but more complex technologically and with a slightly larger payload. Her crews call her "the Swan", which is more elegant than "the Bone". She's quite a pretty ship-- I've always been partial to the looks of tail surfaces mounted high on an aircraft's stabilizer.

The Swan in flight
http://www.lizdas.lt/aviacija/rusija/1966-1985/tu_160/tu-160_01.jpg

Actually, just go to this website and scroll down. Lots of great Blackjack pics, plus a nice surprise low down on the page. Clever Russian-speaking Photoshoppers ...

http://www.flankerman.fsnet.co.uk/tu-160.html


But the Tu-95 is the fabulous Bear, and there is nothing like her on the Earth, nor never was. A monster conventional turboprop aircraft, with swept wings and tail surfaces and eight huge counter rotating props, a Bear in one of the great flying wonders of the post war era and the fastet turboprop aircraft ever flown operationally. They say a Bear makes enough noise to deafen not only its own crews but the those of escorting aircraft, and her legs are so long that Bears were regularly seen patrolling off our Pacific Coast from bases in the Soviet Far East until well into the 1980s. The Bear entered service in 1955 and I had no idea any of them were still in service. But then, what could possibly replace them? The same is true of our B-52s, their rough contemporaries. I wonder if some of the Bears, like some of our BUFFs, are being flown by the the grandsons of their original pilots.

Bear for size (the escorting aircraft being one of our F4 Phantoms, familiar large fighter bomber of roughly the Vietnam era)
http://www.aviapress.com/engl/amo/amo72004_2.jpg

Museum Bear (probably at Monino)
http://www.aviapedia.com/files/bombers/Tu-95/Tu-95MS_2_big.jpg

It's great that these wonderful planes are flying again, but no shooting, guys. Please.

Sharkipede

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Thursday, August 16th, 2007
4:06 pm - cars in Chicago
Before we move on to working on the new comic-- and work has actually begun-- there are some car spotting reports to make.

Gibson's: Mr. Shark's and my favorite restaurant is Gibson's Steakhouse. The reasons are many: super steaks, prime rib, veal chops and other delights of the carnivorous, plus great desserts (giant carrot cake!!) sourdough bread, mojitos with fresh fresh mint, great waitstaff and bartenders, actual live person playing the piano in the bar, etc. etc. etc.

But let's not forget the valet parking. Not that we ever let a valet touch any of the Shark family travel cars, all of which are more or less beaters and not worth the added expense. But Gibson's, unlike most fancy pants restaurants puts the valet lot right outside the front door. Nothing goes better after a large meal and several drinks than a walk around a very expensive valet parking lot. (Cigars and cigarettes are optional, but much enjoyed.) This particular lot usually provides a pretty thorough survey of the latest product lines of Mercedes Benz and Porsche, along with a a few custom Cadillacs, and a smattering of fine Italian, and English iron. Most visits yield at least one prime sighting, and this year was no exception.

Howzabout an ... Aston Martin?? Brand new DB9 Volante convertible,with a manual tranny.
http://au.carnewstoday.com/car-news/images/thumbs/lrg_article_355-img_0.jpg
http://pictures.topspeed.com/IMG/crop-460x335/db9_volante_2_cw.jpg

All Aston Martins are terminally cool by definition, but for me this beauty is the quintessential big luxury sports car. And you can take your 911 and ... well, I'd have the Aston any time.

This example was particularly handsome in a devastating color scheme of slate blue metallic over acres of snow white English leather. No silver cars!!! And there's always something deliciously decadent about a light colored leather interior-- who has the time to keep it clean?-- and leather in pure snow white is just a thumb at the nose to anything resembling common sense.

9 points for being a very fine British sports car, plus one for the color scheme for a total of 10 points for the Volante.

Howler: And no trip on Chicago's massively overcrowded freeways is complete without somebody driving something incredible in a totally insane manner. We heard this guy before we saw him, Mr. Shark lifting his head and saying "V twelve", with just enough time to get the words out before he had overtaken us, passed us, and disapeared into traffic, high pitched Italian howl in his way. The highly detailed wedge shape was unmistakably Lamborghini, a great big black Lamborghini, almost certainly a Murcielago.
http://www.carbodydesign.com/archive/2006/02/25-lamborghini-murcielago-lp640/Lamborghini-Murcielago-LP640-3-lg.jpg

9 points for any Murcielago-- rare, delicate, and totally nasty, plus a point for making beautiful noises, for a total of ten points for the black bull.

Toll Plaza Beauty: Finally, three cheers for the Ferrari F30 Spider next to us at the toll plaza-- you had your top down, and mineral grey over red leather is a great look on a Ferrari.

Next time:
Comics process begins.

Sharkipede

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Tuesday, August 14th, 2007
3:21 pm - New Comics, and a userpic
Hi everybody!
"Hi, Sharkipede!"

Sorry for taking a month off, but it was the blog or the comics, and I think in the long run you would rather have the comics. Or at least posterity would.

If there is a posterity.

The aforementioned month was the month before Wizard World Chicago, and I had not one but two new comics ready for the show. One has a title almost too long to fit on the cover of a mini: "Professor Gideon Lykander's Hand Picked Selection of Really Rather Bad Werewolf Jokes"-- it's a twelve page mini of werewolf jokes featuring Gideon/The Moondog with Soup and Iowa as his straight man and comic foil respectively. Jokes may not be all that funny, but the drawings are a lot of fun. The second is the latest installment of the Dream series, "The Dream of the Moondog"-- sixteen pages of werewolf hijinks with a heraldry theme, of all things. I think it came out rather well, and there are several of the "naked werewolf" appearances that seem to be universally popular.

Also debuting at the show was the new box set, the Kekionga Werewolf Box, featuring six Gideon/Moondog comics, including the two new ones, under a color cover.

Anyone who is interested in ordering any of this stuff should please email the sharkipede at
sharkipede@yahoo.com for all the crucial details.

The important thing is it is done. The next item on the agenda is Kekionga #2, "Junkyard Dogs", and I'm going to try to keep the blog more involved in this one, perhaps by posting occasional updates and philosophical comments on how the work is going.

Would anyone be interested in that kind of thing?

Finally, you will notice that I have finally gotten a userpic. It's a fruit crate label and the dog is probably Rin Tin Tin, which is how the Moondog thinks of himself. I like this pic a lot, but I'd like to have more-- if anybody knows of any great archives with this kind of image, or any other interesting icon sources, please let me know.

Next time: Car sightings in Chicago.

Sharkipede

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Friday, July 13th, 2007
6:26 pm - Needed: new dog food storage system
Never get a smart dog.
Now, all corgis are smart, but our Toby Comet has always been particularly brainy. We are lucky that he also has the attention span of a housefly, so he's unable to plan any sustained campaigns to outwit us. But even so, he's the only corg we've ever had who's learned to let himself out of his crate, and more recently he's made substantial progress in figuring out the dog food storage buckets.

For more than sixteen years, since the late great big grey dog Scooter was a baby puppy, we have kept our dog food in a five gallon plastic bucket with a snap on lid, and it worked perfectly. Some months ago, Toby learned to unsnap the lid. So then we used a five gallon plastic bucket with a snap on lid topped with a heavy weight. This worked well as long as we remembered to put the weight on. All right, as long as I remembered to put the weight on.

A half hour ago, he discovered that a good hard shove will not only dislodge the weight, but knock down the entire bucket, pop the lid, and spill dog food ALL OVER THE KITCHEN FLOOR. I heard it happen, so no serious harm done. Toby managed to wolf down enough in the time it took me to figure out what the noise was to make himself quite ill. Chester, who I do not suspect of being the mastermind, was still caught in the act of eating his share of the ill gotten gains, but he is a more moderate eater and I don't think he got more than an extra meal out of it.

The food is in a replacement bucket, with a replacement lid, up out of the reach of a short dog on the kitchen counter, and I daresay I'll find an alternative storage system, preferably one made of prestressed steel and featuring a combination lock. A small bank vault would probably do the trick.

If a certain pair of brindle Cardigan corgis think they are getting their usual breakfast in the morning, they are in for a rude awakening.

Sharkipede

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Friday, July 6th, 2007
12:43 pm - Fourth of July aftermath
I will try to lift myself out of the pit of depression I fell into when I was not able to buy the buffalo shoes. My size was sold out. That's what I get for sleeping on it before deciding. Next time I will pounce without thinking. Harborchick had it right in her comment!

On the positive side, we have gotten through at least part of the Fourth of July horrors with minimum damage. In a way it's good it's been so hot-- our old war horse of an air conditioner makes quite a racket and if we also leave the TV on, our neurotic elder corgi Chester seems to be coping fairly well without meds. I wonder if he is losing some of his hearing ... Anyway, combine all those factors with a middle of the week Fourth and it hasn't been quite as awful as it could be. I expect this weekend will bring the last of the bad days.

Please, everyone. Don't blow off fireworks. It's expensive, dangerous and terrifying to many creatures, including some people, who are sensitive to sudden loud noises. If you can't resist, try to limit it to the Fourth itself, and maybe a weekend on either side. I'd like to be able to walk my dogs again next week!

In the interest of encouraging people to enjoy fireworks in a quiet way, here is my occasional list of Cool Names for Stuff taken from a fireworks catalog I got in the mail last week. Some would be good names for bands, others would make good story titles, names for characters in science fiction stories, menu items in trendy restaurants, or names for the kind of pets (fish, spiders, newts) that can't be expected to come when you call.

Dominator Cake
Spider Egg Smoke Ball (you could name a cat or dog this, with Spider or Smokey as a call name)
Salute Cracker
Crackling Chrysanthemum
Rip the Sky
Loud Cloud
Ring Thing
Pyroclasm
Titanium Tail
Three Minute Smoke
Atom Smasher Cake
Crackle Storm Fountain


I've had better lists other years, but there are some good ones here, and all of them are quiet and won't blow your fingers off.

Sharkipede

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Friday, June 29th, 2007
3:58 pm - Buffalo shoes, and wolves, and dogs
Buffalo shoes, won't you come out tonight: I'm thinkin' about buyin' me some buffalo shoes. Buffalo saddle shoes, that is-- full welt men's oxfords made of bison hide, with the body of the shoe a dark, dark cordovan, almost purplish, and the saddle and backstrap cognac brown and heavily tooled. Soles are black. I love shoes, especially men's saddle shoes-- my dress shoes are black and white saddles with red soles from Amazonas of Brazil. I need these shoes.

And they are $100 off!

Of course all my current dress clothes are black and dark grey, so I can wear the black and whites with them. Do you see a light grey suit in my future? I will need a good brown hat as well. What fun. I could also wear my buffalo shoes with khakis. This would be cheaper.

Almost talked myself into them buffalo shoes.

Wolves and dogs: I'm putting the Moondog on the cover of another comic, and once again I am struggling to balance his appearance. He is a wolf pretending to be a dog. How much of a dog, of any dog, is acting? How much of them is still a wolf, inside? It's all in the shape of the face, the size and placement of the ears.

He will look a little goofy when I am finished drawing him, just like he always does.

Sharkipede

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Tuesday, June 26th, 2007
4:24 pm - Spacepod and other sightings
One of the best things about being interested in cars is that The Car Game (identify each car you see and give one interesting fact about it) is a great way to amuse yourself in certain very boring situations. If you have to wait somewhere, a view of a busy street can be a godsend, and as for being stuck in heavy traffic, well, it's an automatic win. (If you are with other people, play quietly. Very few other people are interested in just how many Acura TLs you've seen today.)

This was proven on Sunday when I attempted to go with a party to Ravinia to see a concert. The car, a year old or so Honda Accord, the passengers, five (two of my pals who happen to be sisters, husband of one, boyfriend of the other, and the Sharkipede). Anyone familiar with the Accord knows that this means three people are sitting in the back seat. Going to Chicago. On a Sunday evening. In the summer. Uh oh.

We got stuck in traffic. Three or four distinct times. A drive that normally might take an hour and a half took almost four. We missed the concert.

But hey, it was fun. We are pretty good friends with a fair amount of common interests, so we had plenty to talk about, and we have similar tastes in music, so we were able to amuse ourselves that way. The AC did not go out. Nobody lost his or her temper (much), and we had a really excellent dinner at a sweet little Chinese restaurant called Jade. The best Mongolian beef ever, and I've eaten an awful lot of Mongolian beef.

And we saw a lot of cool cars. Enough Porsches to fill a large basket, including several pretty Caymans-- I like that little gator car. (Also, the very interesting sight of four Cayennes parked in a row in a public parking lot-- grey, black, silver, grey. Lots of dough on the North Shore.) Two Ferraris. A Lamborghini. A complete set of current Mercedes, including what I'm pretty sure was the new C class, and some really fine S classes. The aforementioned TLs, at least a dozen on them. This is a car I think is very cool and they are thin on the ground around here.

There was one ten point sighting: a very handsome Ferrari F430 Spider parked on the street with its top down, positively inviting the Sharkipede and her car loving pals to put their grubby little hands all over it. We restrained ourselves but it was difficult. Color: rosso, of course. Interior pale yellow tan with red piping. Transmission: some kind of paddle shifting mutant manual. Engine: absolutely gorgeous under a nice little window behind the seats. It's a V-8. http://images.automotive.com/cob/factory_automotive/images/features/auto_shows/2005_LAAS/2005_Ferrari_F430__engine.jpg Body: by Pininfarina and just about the definition of what a modern Italian sportscar should be.
http://images.automotive.com/stock/300/FERRARI/F430/2006/2CA.jpg
Nine points for being a good Ferrari in the proper color-- I also will accept fly yellow. And I know I'm crazy, but I actually like these smaller V-8 powered cars better than the 12 cylinder barn burners-- they seem more balanced to me. Plus an arbitrary extra point for still being hot and ticking.

And:

Spacepod! We got a very good look at this semi customized New Beetle-as-UFO on the drive into town. Silver with a Spacepod vanity plate, spacy side logo, cool luggage rack, customized badging, and a silver front end bra that one of my friends said looked like the tinfoil hat UFO enthusiasts are supposed to be prone to wear, Spacepod is the coolest. It even has its own website advertised on a decal in the rear window. Go to
http://www.spacepod.org/
to find out all about Spacepod and follow its current adventure as it heads to Roswell NM for the New Beetle car show. It is on the road right now and there is a live webcam. Follow other links to tons more about the New Beetle, too. This combination blog and NB fansite is one of the best new things I've found on the internet for a while, and the Spacepod itself gets a whopping nine points, five for the basic New Beetle, plus two points for being a cool art car, and another two for the website and the general high level of automotive enthusiasm it represents.

If all silver cars were like Spacepod, I would have to change the name of the blog.

Sharkipede

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Monday, June 18th, 2007
5:06 pm - Komodo dragon rant and other stuff
1) As Granny Weatherwax's sign says, "I aten't dead." Just lost in a jumble of stuff and work and people getting sick and the yard being full of poison ivy and the power clipping on and off like Moscow in wartime. Things have been being accomplished, just not posting to the blog. Mostly because writing about stuff like this is really boring:
--finished Happy Buddha Bud-- after two whole years--, and it came out really well.
--did the art for a whole bunch of new buttons, and along the way invented a new character for Kekionga.
--wrote a suite of short stories featuring the new character and thereby discovered how Soup and Iowa met for the first time. And yes, they "met cute".
--figured out what to do about the next issues of KEKIONGA, including titles and covers for each issue. They are going to have an actual theme. Yay.

2) So, as the above may suggest, I have been sticking close to home for the past few weeks. But I did get to Fort Wayne last weekend and ended up going to the zoo with Mr. Shark and Mr. Shark's Mom. This is a pretty good zoo, with a fair number of interesting critters that are high on the Sharkipede's personal zoo animal hit parade, including the number one rated BINTURONG. Two of these fine beasties reside in a commodious outdoor cage along the trail down from the tiger enclosure. Granted, it was a blazing hot summer afternoon, and the binturong is a nocturnal animal, so they were asleep. But one did have the good grace to wake up and turn around so we could get a good look at it.

There were also red pandas, one of whom got up, walked across the cage and took a crap in what was clearly its proper place in one corner, gibbons who brachiated enthusiastically for us in spite of the heat, a European eagle owl (very impressive), a fascinating display of Australian jellyfish who looked quite artistic and were accompanied by their own spooky jellyfish music, orangutans, bouncing wallabies, otters, several kinds of bats, and a colony of monkeys that had a spectacular and very noisy all out monkey fight much to the amusement of all the teenage boys in the crowd.

And a Komodo dragon.

Now, for the last few years it's seemed like the Komodo dragon has become some kind of zoo animal Holy Grail. Zoos that have them brag about them endlessly, and impress everyone with how dangerous they are, how hard they are to keep, and the specialized environments they need. Institutions that don't have them (*cough* shedd aquarium *cough*) go to great trouble and expense to borrow them.

Then there's the Fort Wayne zoo in exotic Northern Indiana, a very good medium-sized zoo but hardly a major world class attraction, where you can, for the cost of an ordinary admission, on any day of the week, see "Gorgon", a fine strapping young female Komodo. And she's outside (in the summer at least) in an ordinary cage made of plain old chain link fence, surrounded by ordinary local plants and lying in the plain old dirt. I'm no authority on reptiles, but she has clear eyes, shiny scales, big sharp claws, a very long tongue and is obviously very well nourished-- by all appearances a happy giant lizard in excellent condition. I'm sure the zoo is taking very good care of her.

And she is lying in the dirt. Plain old Indiana yard dirt just like I have in my yard. Lying in it just like my dogs do, and probably for the same reason. It's nice and cool in the dirt, on a hot day.

Controlled environment my eye.

Sharkipede

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Thursday, May 3rd, 2007
8:12 pm - Cool stuff in the neighborhood
I know, this was supposed to be more Columbus car spots, but it got trumped by a really great day of seeing cool stuff right in the old neighborhood.

TEXANS!: We have Texans! These wonderful old World War II era training aircraft are probably the most common "warbirds" kept and flown by private collectors, and it's not too unusual to see them in flight, especially around here where at least two of them are in residence at the local airport. This morning Mr. Shark and I were in the parking lot at Staples and were lucky enough to witness a flight of three practicing their formation flying.

One was in the standard polished aluminum, as commonly seen in Air Force service,
http://www.santafetopgun.com/images/texantrainer.jpg

One was allover yellow, which was favored by the US Navy training facilities and by the RAF,
http://www.vintageflights.com/images/texan_enlarge.jpg

and one was painted in full fledged WWII era Navy combat colors of two shades of blue above and haze grey on the underside
http://www.onmarkint.com/images/1/10103/10103a.jpg

The polished and the yellow ship are the locals, but I've never seen the one in Navy colors before. Perhaps he was a visitor, but I'm hoping the fame of our little local warbird establishment is growing, and this is a new resident. Our airport is also home to a Mustang, a Corsair, and a charming Stearman biplane.

High wheel bicycle: And it's not terribly unusual to see an old fashioned high wheel bicycle either, at least at parades and historical events. They are usually ridden by clowns and people in straw hats who otherwise resemble members of barbershop quartets. But I did not expect to see one being walked down the street by a young latino man in a tee shirt, shorts and Reeboks on a Thursday evening about four blocks from my house. I was even more suprised to see that his bike was not an antique, but a perfectly normal, modern bicycle with a tube frame and hand brakes.

I don't know if it was this exact model, but it sure looked like it:
http://www.bikeforest.com/coker_wheelman.php

Unfortunately, I can't tell you how cool he looked riding it, as he had had a blowout in his rear tire and was on his way home to make repairs. But it's an interesting bike, and I hope it, too, has come to live in the neighborhood.

Sharkipede

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Tuesday, May 1st, 2007
1:49 pm - car spotting in Columbus, and recovering from a really rather scary weekend.
I'm now ready to stick my head out again, after the events of the really rather scary weekend. Won't go into detail here, though anyone who is interested can drop me an email and hear the whole story. But I couldn't let the whole issue pass without saying, in public, that if I ever needed proof that my friends are the best possible friends anyone could have, well, I have it.

I know a lot of you read this. Thank you from the bottom of everything.

It didn't really take me eight or nine days to recover-- I also had an extremely valuable idea for radically improving Happy Buddha Bud by adding four pages in strategic places, and I've been pencilling and revising like mad.

But on to more cheerful topics. Columbus, Ohio, for reasons I have never really understood, continues to be a fertile field for car spotting. The Easton shopping complex, in particular, almost always yields a few notable spots, and our recent visit there was no exception.

For the big TEN POINTS, not 10 yards from where we parked, an Opel Omega. Now, there is nothing particularly notable about this car-- a midsize semi-luxury sedan from GM's Opel unit, based in Germany. The Omega was the basis for the late and not particularly lamented Cadillac Catera, and this specimen had that body shell, so it was probably of the 1998-99-00 vintage. Black leather interior, automatic, all the Eurostyle bells and whistles. Painted in a rather handsome two tone color scheme of dark silver over charcoal. A nice car, but so what, except for the fact it was never sold here in the US under the Opel badge. That gives it the automatic nine points for Not Sold Here, plus the extra bonus point for the two tone paint. Pretty easy ten for a leather lined executive express of no particular pedigree or distinction.

Note: several people have asked me how I define "Not Sold Here". In my book a car qualifies as NSH if either the make or the model was not sold in the US at the time the car was new. A Ford Fiesta or VW Lupo, both of which I've seen in the last year, would qualify, since those companies do not sell those particular models in their US dealerships. Likewise, any new Fiat, Citroen, or Peugeot would also qualify, as those makes are not currently active in the US market. Old Fiats, Citroens, etc. that were sold here when those companies had US dealers would not qualify as NSH, although they would get almost certainly get good scores for being otherwise interesting. A Citroen DS is an automatic 10, and goes straight to 11 if the driver shows me that the hydraulics are in good working order.

Next time more Columbus spots.

Sharkipede

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Tuesday, April 10th, 2007
1:52 pm - The many perils of cartooning in the modern world
I just spent the better part of an hour penciling a splash page for my new minicomic. A splash page featuring a large Asian takeout meal: chicken satays, vegetable lo mein, moo shu shrimp with pancakes, and all the splendors of a really large pupu platter, including crab rangoons, pot stickers, both spring and egg rolls, and shrimp toasts. And now I have a major problem.

I'm absolutely starving for Chinese food. Auugh.

As a side note, moo shu shrimp is really hard to draw. You sort of know what's in it, but how do you draw all the bits. I had to get on the Internet and Google it-- regular search for the recipe, and image for a couple of pics. Damn Google. In the days before the internet, I would have had to go to the China House and do some important research.

Sharkipede.

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Friday, April 6th, 2007
4:36 pm - The Eternal Question
I want to thank everyone who responded the question about what to do about Kekionga #2. I really appreciate the feedback. Right now I am leaning toward two volumes, particularly if I can think of two really good coordinating covers. Great idea, that. I have a little while to think about it, as there are two more stories in the pipeline now.

Deeper is the question proposed by John. How does one deal with the eternal conflict between being the best damn cartoonist you can be, and being "good enough"- -good enough to declare the work finished, good enough to meet the deadline. I realize every cartoonist feels this pressure, but I think its especially strong for the small presser, who lives and works in such a state of existential freedom that it is almost a void.

I know I almost always err on the side of the endless quest for perfection, but I hardly ever feel good about it. I almost would take on a regular schedule, and a regular deadline, if it was imposed from outside and had a good financial kick built into it, as a welcome change from working in the void. But, for me at least, any attempt to impose it from inside is doomed to failure. I just can't chain myself to nothing more than an intellectual game.

Eternal question? You bet.

Sharkipede

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Sunday, March 25th, 2007
5:29 pm - KEKIONGA #2 question
OK, this one is for all those readers of my Kekionga stories out there. I will soon need to make a decision regarding the contents of KEKIONGA #2. The new versions of all the scripts are finished. There are three linked stories, which take place in succession on a single night. I was planning to do a large comic of perhaps 56 pages which would include all three stories.

In the new scripts, the first story is a little tighter, and the second and third stories work better as a pair than they did before. This seems to open up the possiblilty of doing two comics instead of one, each being perhaps 32 pp long, considering that titles, indicia, etc. would have to be repeated.

The advantage of doing two comics is that the first one would be out a lot sooner, perhaps in time for SPX.

The advantage of doing one would be much lower printing costs, and some of the parallel story structures I have so carefully developed will be much more evident.

Ideas? Discussion?

Sharkipede

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10:49 am - i am Not Dead
Although I am suffering from at least sixteen potentially fatal diseases, including, but not limited to: Spring Fever, Novel-writing Warts, Easter Candy Addiction, File Cabinet Meltdown, Fear of Inking, and whatever disease it is that keeps you from being able to add up a long column of figures and come up with the same total every time even when you use a calculator.

I've been reluctant to write in the blog, at first due to total embarassment that my studio has turned into such a pigsty that I ***lost my Auto Show notes*** which were to constitute the next few entries, and then due to total embarassment that I let the thing go to long without updating. I am a bad, bad blogster.

But when it throws you, you get back upsy, right? So:
What I have been doing since the last time I posted.

1) Deciding to make a new TPB collection of my minicomics and stories. Deciding on a title, and picking out most of the contents.

2) Writing two new stories for the collection, plus a bunch of little one pagers and illos, and what I hope will be a rather smashing 3 page introduction to the cast and Kekionga itself.

3)Doing the art for the book cover, plus several of the one pagers.

4) Starting to finish the art for my Happy Buddha Bud minicomic, which has nothing to do with the new book, but which I hope to finish for the spring shows, since the new book will not be done till summer. And the hand silkscreen HBB covers are really nice and they've been done for ages, so I might as well finish the insides, right?

5) Working on the Dumb Novel, which continues to obsess me even after almost a year.

6) Hanging around with Mr. Shark, the dogs, and random pals who turn out for visits.

7) Watching HDTV on our little pilot setup.

8) Talking while working, using my new headset telephone.


So, hey: not dead. working hard. back soon!

Sharkipede

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Sunday, February 18th, 2007
10:38 am - More Auto Show stuff
Here's a few more Auto Show items, some with actual links! (yay.)

Fun at Mazda. I always like prowling Mazda's Auto Show exhibit. I don't think this company, part of the Ford family, can design an ugly car; all of them are at least sanitary, and some of them, particularly the 3 hatchback and the previous generation Miata, are some of the prettiest cars out there. One of the featured cars on display was a new Miata (not as nice looking as the old one, but still quite nice), painted a very handsome shade of dark blue over a tan leather interior. It was up on a riser, rather than standing on the floor, and I thought I knew why. Rather than being a roadster, like any other Miata I've ever seen, this one was a hardtop coupe. Sort of cool, I figured, and a logical new companion model, sacrificing some of the fun of the open car for the improved dynamics, lighter weight, and creature comforts of a fixed roof car.

I turned away and started looking at a CX-9, a very swoopy and cool looking minivan style item.
http://www.mazdausa.com/MusaWeb/displayPage.action?pageParameter=modelsMain&vehicleCode=CX9&bhcp=1 This one had a custom paint job featuring about a hundred huge and rather realistic spiders crawling all over it. It was enjoyable to contemplate just who might want a minivan (however avant garde) painted up to look like it had about a hundred huge spiders crawling all over it, and when I was done, I turned back to the blue Miata coupe. And damned if it wasn't a open roadster.

Well, I may not be the most rational person on the continent, but I think I know a closed coupe from a roadster when I see one. There was something funny going on here, and my suspicions were soon confirmed. Some bright guys and gals over in the home islands have figured out how to fit a retractable hard top onto a Miata. The salesman was glad to demonstrate it for me-- three roof pieces, plus a glass backlight, that fold and unfold in a complicated dance, forming a sealed hardtop with almost invisible seams that could pass as design elements, then disappear into the rear of the car where they are covered by a tight body panel. The whole thing takes about 15 seconds and it's cool as hell to watch.

There are plenty of retractable hard tops out there, Mercedes has several, GM has one on the new G6 convertible and VW on the Eos, and so on. But to fit one on something so tiny as a Miata, and have it work so quickly in such an elegant way, with a single touch of a button, well, that's very nifty. You have to be stopped, though-- no taking it up and down in traffic, but I suppose one can't have everything.

A car I was expecting to see. I was expecting to see the new Jeep Patriot, and I was expecting to like it.
http://www.jeep.com/en/patriot/
I did see it, and I did like it, but not as much as I would have if I hadn't just discovered something that does more or less the same thing in a tidier way. However, the Patriot is still very cool: if you like that kind of thing it's definitely the kind of thing you like. The thing being the old slabsided Jeep Cherokee. There's a lot of them still out there, and they have some very passionate fans. This little Patriot is pretty much a 7/8 or 5/6 copy of the traditional Cherokee and it's just as cute as all get out.

However, underneath it's still a Caliber, with that very odd relationship between the windshield, the dash, and the driver's position, and still a Chrysler, with a rather tacky interior which sacrifices refinement and ergonomics for 5 pounds of dubious "style" in a one pound bag. There are some other weirdnesses, too, like a CVT being the only automatic offered, and 4wd being an expensive option. If what you want is a Jeep, with the Jeep look and feel, this is the car for you, provided you drive a stick,(or like CVTs) and can put up with the windshield position. I'd probably test drive it if I was in the market.

But if I wanted a small, economical awd car with a great deal of charm, I'd also drive something else.
A car I was expecting to see, but not expecting to like: I'd seen this car advertised, and even seen one parked at the mall, but I don't remember being much impressed by it: the Suzuki SX4
http://www.suzukisx4.com/

But sitting in it made all the difference. Actually, Mr. Shark sat in it first, and hopped right out again, telling me to get in instead. Not his style, he said, but a great car for me. And I had to agree. It's one of those cars that fits me perfectly; all the controls are right where they should be, no muss, no fuss, and it has great sightlines. Check out the pix in the link-- those little extra windows at the front and rear don't just look cool, they really cut back on the blind spots and the car has HUGE truck size side mirrors. Full time awd, traction control, electronic stability, every kind of airbag, all standard-- with matching equipment it's $2K cheaper than the Patriot, and it has a good warranty that is fully transferable, which is good news for those of us who must buy used. It's got a regular automatic, too. Not much back seat leg room, but nobody's likely to ride back there much except the dogs, and they stay on the seat. Lots of cargo room, and the seats fold back.

It lacks the faux-tough pretend SUV styling and just looks like the handsome and slightly funky awd hatchback that it is. I did a little research later and found out why:
http://www.fiat.com/cgi-bin/pbrand.dll/FIAT_COM/showroom/showroom.jsp?session=no&categoryOID=-1073799685
reviews
It's a damn Fiat, a Sedici ("Sixteen"), and it's got a Giugiaro body. That explains a lot, doesn't it? I always did like Italian cars. That this one is also a Suzuki is only to its credit; our previous Zook, Buzz, was a super little car that we had for 12 years and drove and drove and drove.

I may buy one of these someday-- or now, if I come into a pile of money somehow. I can't decide whether I want a red one or an orange one. It looks nice in white, too.

More notes:
The new Lancer looks like an angry goldfish. I think they should call it that. "Mitsubishi Angry Goldfish" sounds cooler than "Mitsubishi Lancer". Or, if you want to be all Japanesy, "Enraged Koi".

Two of Mr. Shark's rechargable camera batteries are still rolling around inside a cranberry red Chrysler 300C; they escaped from his bag under sudden decelleration during one of the Chrysler Test Drives. I need to replace them, as it was my idea to take the ride. I also took a different drive in a new Sebring; riding in cars indoors is always fun, but I do not think I am going to buy a Chrysler. They are gimmicky and rather silly. I do not need a heated and cooled cupholder. I need a rational dash design and a minimum of creepy crawly plastic chrome.

Mr. Shark fits well in a Nissan Versa, but poorly in a Honda Fit. He still remains a Hyundai loyalist; if he had to buy a new car right now, it might very well be an Accent, like the one we sat in-- the only car at the show that still has manual locks and roll up windows, to my delight. What a nice, sane,and very cheap, little car. Mr. Shark commends Hyundai all around for displaying a wide range of vehicles with stick shifts, which were conspicuously absent from the other exhibits.

Next time: The whole Taurus issue, and wagony things
Sharkipede

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