New Blog Header

I’ve changed the ‘ol Kid At Art header, as you can see. Click the image below to see it in more detail.

It represents me at my day job (valet parking for a restaurant), drawing and day-dreaming while customers hemorrhage their brains. The concept came as I was free-form doodling and I like it a lot.

The execution I’m not so happy with. The drawing came out pretty good, and the watercolor is nice, but perhaps I should have put a street scene in the background for context. Also, a lot of tinkering in Photoshop was done, which makes it look very stiff compared with the draft versions.

Cartoonist Attacked

Lars Vilks, creator of the infamous cartoons depicting Muhammad as a dog, was head-butted today as he gave a lecture about free speech at a University in Sweden. The full story is here.

After Lars was attacked, “Allah Ackbar” meaning God is Great was chanted from the largely approving crowd.

Pretty intense video, huh? It’s strange seeing Muslims who’ve adopted the latest fashion trends, who embrace the medicine and technology for which science is responsible, who attend a university of knowledge and reason, who live in a country with a strong secular humanistic tradition, who enjoy the freedoms and protections western civilization has helped cultivate … it’s strange seeing them behave so irrationally based on such primitive beliefs. What an interesting time we live, a time in which we’re able to watch the modern and ancient worlds colide… on YouTube.

New Equation Needed: Apply Within

I valet at a restaurant. Often, at the beginning of a shift, I’ll check the reservations. This will let me know what kind of night to expect. Like most people in 2010, I need money to survive, so when I check the reservation book, I’m hoping it’s busy. The other night it looked rather slow, but there was a reservation for a large group of 20 people.

Upon seeing this, I caught myself thinking: “Here’s hoping they arrive in 20 cars.

I examined this thought and found it funny and strange. Another me, in a context outside of my job, would obviously prefer these people walk or carpool. It appears my ideals of conservation are at odds with my desire (and necessity) to make money. But it’s not just me. The car companies also hope these 20 people own automobiles and wear them out quickly. And the Oil Companies? To them, “carpool”, must be a dirty word. I imagine the word creates an uneasy feeling, like “cholesterol” or “diabetes” might to a McDonald’s executive.

My aim is not to vilify these companies. After all, they are largely made of people who, like myself, must earn a living. My scorn is directed at the system and our outdated modes of thinking, for as long as consumption = profit, it’s like we’re paid to burn our own house down.

(click to enlarge)

Here’s an Earth Day card for our planet, courtesy one of my favorite living artists, Richard Thompson.

Children’s book writers are allowed to cuss, right?

I was on my way to an a illustrator’s critique group put on each month by a few guys from the Austin SCBWI. It would be my first time attending and I was excited. I got it my car, headed west down Ceasar Chavez, north up I-35, west on 38 1/2 Street, and BAM! Traffic at a standstill. “Must be construction,” I thought as I cut my way down some side streets trying to find an alternate route. Detour signs littered the road. “Oh no! The Austin Marathon is on today!” I remembered, while cursing the chicken-legged men in their short shorts.

I spent a good 30 minutes trying to find a route to the critique group. I even went way north and tried to come down Lamar. No luck. The critique group was isolated, surrounded by a moat of runners.

“North Lamar… I don’t get up here often,” I mused. “Maybe I’ll stop by Half Price Books.” (the best used bookstore warehouse in the world, for you underprivileged non-Texans)

So that’s what I did, and even though it wasn’t my first choice, perhaps it was fate which brought me to cart away a pile of life changing books.

First up, The Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker. List, $60. HPB: $19. A huge book, weighing probably 15 pounds, it has every New Yorker cartoon published from 1925 to 2004. Many of the 68,000+ cartoons are actually printed in the book, the rest come on 2 CD’s. Some of these cartoons are so brilliant they give me shivers. I guess I’m weird that way.

These two were published in 1937.

And since graphic novels seem to be all the rage these days, I picked up a few titles from a great publisher called Top Shelf Productions. These aren’t your superhero comics, folks. These are amazing feats of visual art – and literature too!

My favorite so far is Dear Julia, by Brian Biggs. It has breathtaking artwork and a fascinating, suspenseful story which plays out like a foreign film (and not one of those crappy, hard to understand foreign films). I highly recommend this book.

Another Top Shelf book I found was an autographed copy of James Kochalka’s The Sketchbook Diaries. Basically it’s just a daily journal in cartoon form. Most of the entries I find pretty boring, the funny part is: I can’t stop reading it!

The drawings are so simple and the situations so mundane, it actually inspired me to start a cartoon journal myself! I’m no Indiana Jones, but my life feels a heck of a lot more exciting than his!

And then today, I was walking near the river/nature area near my house, when I was struck with an idea for a middle grade chapter book (I blame Because of Winn-Dixie!). It was crazy, everything just came to me at once! Plot, characters, settings, everything! And while I suspect it’s natural for a writer to fall in love with his own ideas, I really believe I have an objectively good book idea on my hands!

Cartoons, graphics novels, picture books, chapter books, short stories, long stories, dumb stories, smart stories.

I could go in any number of directions, but I still don’t know what the fuck it is I’m doing.