Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I will be I...

The quote for the title of this posting, if I remember correctly, is from one of the poems by Chad Walsh in the "Psalm of Christ," and it is from the last line of a particular one, which was about Judas Iscariot at Judgment Day, and how he had no where to hide.

And I apologize for the huge gap in posting. December is always a rough month for me. And depression seems to get worse as the "holidays" approach.

We put our dog, Bosco, to sleep on the 26th. I've been upset by it since. Here's a picture of him...from happier times.

My wife and I made a point to "recycle" animals rather than doing the expensive "purebred" puppy routine, going to pounds or shelters if we were in the market for a pet. We found Bosco at a pound about a year after our previous dog died, and we couldn't believe what a happy fellow he was. Very friendly. As we had done with potential, previous prospects, we said if he were still there when his quarantine period was over and unclaimed, we'd take him. We had gone back other times only to find the ones we had wanted to be gone, either too late as others must have had interest as well, or claimed by owners. That time when my wife went back, he was there and we adopted him. Don't know what his name was before, but "Bosco" seemed to fit him. He became a part of our family. He was about 4 years old when we got him, and we had him for over 10 years.

We don't know what he was supposed to be. Mostly Corgi, I suppose. His tongue had some purple marbling on its tip, which we thought might be from some Chinese dog ancestry. And those bright eyes and expressive "bat" ears! What a character!

He had to sleep next to me at least part of the night, and would whine for permission before jumping up into bed. I usually sit on the floor to watch tv, and he would lie down next to me. I noticed that he would'nt jump up into bed this past month, figuring that he was getting older, and a couple of time would lift him up. He shuffled more and didn't act like he wanted to play as much as he used to. Recently I noticed he seemed to be a bit bloated, and I wondered if he hadn't gotten into the neighbors' trash and had over eaten. He could be a bit of little pig.

He also had an annoying habit of taking a mouthful of his dogfood and walk it over to the living room rug, drop it, and eat it off the rug. A bit irritating. A week ago he picked up some food and went to the carpet and dropped it, but walked off and left it. I didn't realize it at the time, but he'd quit eating. Christmas Day, I noticed he was lethargic and was unstable on his feet. He was never a traveler as he would get car sick, so we usually took him to the vet to kennel him. We were going to try something different, as he didn't like going to the vet, and had a "sitter" lined up...a lady from our church who works for a vet and loves animals.

On Friday, we called our regular vet as he wasn't better and seemed worse, but he wouldn't be able to see him until late in the day, and we were scheduled to go to the in-laws that evening. So we called the "sitter" and asked what she thought. The vet she worked for could see him that morning, so my wife took him while I did some last minute shopping. But when I called her around noon, my wife told me it "wasn't good."

I met her at home, and she had brought Bosco home with her. The vet discovered a large mass, somewhere between orange size to grapefruit size, and our options were limited. Bosco would die in a few days if nothing was done about the mass. He was also going blind, and he was over 14 years old. The vet said he didn't know if the mass were malignant, and wouldn't without operating. And even if he did operate, there was no guarantee Bosco would survive it. If the tumor was cancerous, there was every possibility the cancer would return. All the "head" information we use to justify and assuage our consciences.

We took him back to the vet to "put him to sleep." I held him and the vet injected him with an anesthetic. Bosco screamed and I began crying. He quieted and started going limp. Then the vet gave him the "other' injection and Bosco gave a final whimper. Soon, he was gone.

I took his collar, a sad momento, and his dogtag would make a "tinkling" sound...the sound I heard often when he trotted up the hallway, or outside, or when he jumped up on the couch or bed.

I tried to not be a "downer" at the in-laws Friday night, and hoped we might make it a short visit and go home Saturday evening. But we stayed, and returned home Sunday afternoon. My wife had been worried about me because I'd been depressed as Christmas approached, and now with this, wondered if it would be too much. I stayed away from everyone if I felt things getting to me, but it was tough. There were lots of pets around. Everyone had a dog. I had trouble sleeping, and early Sunday morning took my sketch book and started drawing in the bathroom. I'd never been able to "cartoon" Bosco before, but here's what I came up with...I plan on using it when I finally get off my butt and do the "Dibble" strip. I'd like to remember him as the happy, little guy he was.

I've been told I did the right thing, but I can't say it feels like it. I continue to look around for him here at home. I also found I can't jiggle his collar for the "tinkling" sound because the cat immediately begins to look for him. He misses him too. I've been told it will get better, that we do grieve for our pets. And others have shared their pain at putting down a pet and the heartache that accompanies it. For now, though, in my memory, I can still hear his crying out, and see his sad face as he died.

He was my friend, and I feel like I betrayed him.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

some roughs...

Brian Miller is going to do another book on comic book color, a follow-up to his book, "HiFi Color for Comics." (If you don't have the first book, you might put it on your list of stuff for Santa to bring.) BID. He's asked me to draw up some stuff, mostly in the various "animated" styles, but not anime as it isn't my "thang," and he has another artist, Dave Bryant, lined up to do it. And Dave is quite good at it. BID again.

Guess I'm a bit "out of it," so it's been a process of knocking the rust off. But instead of beating myself up over it, I bulled ahead, and came up with some rough sketches. Nothing earthshattering, but some things I could develop.

Brian and I are both big Jonny Quest fans, so years ago we came up with our own little character in that vein, and did a comic story with the intent on making it look as much like a '60's cartoon as possible. I've revisited her with this rough, complete with mummies...
He's also a big fan of the "later" Hanna/Barbera stuff('70's, '80's), which is where this one comes from...
I drew some characters in a more Disney-esque vein a few years ago. I liked the '50's motif and wanted to do more with them. The '50's had its own flavor and quirkiness that I enjoy, including '50's sci-fi, so...
And lastly, I loved the superhero craze of the mid '60's and the wild stuff that was done. Here's a rough in a more cartoony style...
Granted, these were all rough sketches. But we'll see what happens.

Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I contemplated the daunting task of finally cleaning out the pig-sty of a studio, which is mine. It seems like all that I started months ago got put on hold while I worked at Worlds of Fun, only now to find that it all seemed to "multiply" in my absense. Ah, well. There are plenty of trash bags.

First up is a drawing on my studio wall. I got it years ago from one of my favorite cartoonists, the late Fred Rhoads. He is one that won't have the "fanfare" a lot get in the "priveleged" circles, or among name-droppers. He worked on "Sad Sack" at Harvey, comics that have almost been forgotten. But I loved them as a kid, and was thrilled he did this piece for me years later.

Secondly, I was forwarded a notice that a KC based company was looking for someone to do "Archie-style line drawings"--something that is right up my alley. Couldn't quite figure out how to get the images through Craigslist as they kept bouncing my e-mails, so I finally settled on sending a jpeg of a commission piece I did for a friend. I may try to send more if I don't hear back from them. "Betty," of course, is copyright 2008 Archie Publications.

I also found a piece I did, and a page I started for a '70's style Marvel horror thing. I might not take much to finish off the pencils of the first page--maybe an afternoon of me getting off my lazy butt and leaving the presence of the "one-eyed god" in the living room. (There really isn't a whole lot on tv anyway.)

This character is a hoot, and it might be fun to do something with her, comics-wise. But only after I get "Pastor Dibble" launched. I may need to add a tail so she looks less like She-Hulk.

Finally, I'd like to put in a plug for Kerry Gammill, who I met years ago, and his online magazine, "Monster Kid." FM may be a fond memory, but those of us who love Uncle Forry are still out there. He had some really neat desktop images, so I used the one from "The Raven" as my current setting.

"Todah!" "Leilah Tov!"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans' Day...

Nothing to post, art-wise. I spent most of the day doing some stuff with the wife. She had Veterans' Day off. There were some neat movies at Best Buy I'm going to have to save my sheckles for. Of note is "The Shuttered Room," which I haven't seen in years and missed on TCM this year. I did pick up "Treasure of Matacombe" from Disney, because it was very inexpensive.

I watched "Fringe" tonight instead of "The Mentalist," which put my wife off--she likes the main guy on "The Mentalist." I find him annoying. If there is one thing I would change about "Fringe," it would be to put some menace to the doctor. The producers have him as irritatingly docile and kooky, but if he's suppose to be a bit of a "Dr. Frankenstein," there needs to be some sense of danger. He needs to be more of a Hannibal Lector, minus the cannibalism, but definitely with the narcissism and nihilism.

NCIS is better than it had been. I didn't like the whole "Frog" storyline the past 2 seasons. Hopefully, this "mole" storyline will play out a bit.

And don't get me started on "Heroes."

Monday, November 10, 2008


Wow! What a time hiccup! A lot has happened since I last posted. I had my 53rd birthday. My thanks to all who wished me well, most particularly Tony Isabella who always remembers to send me a greeting. (Yes, my family did to, but they're supposed to. And long time friends, too.)

Worlds of Fun closed for the year, and we got our operations there "put to bed." It was a tough season for me. Never quite felt in synch.

One of my favorite aunts passed away. My wife and I were in Grand Island, NE for the funeral. We left KC at 70 degrees to be greeted in Nebraska at 40 degrees! Yeeesh! There was "horizontal" snow because of how bad the wind was!

And, of course, the country elected a new president. It will be interesting to see how this event will play out. Hopefully, for the best.

Here's the "last" contest I was going to do at the park, since I got some complaints of others wanting caricatures. Again, I ran out of time and "gas." But hope to get caught up on a lot of things now. Here's the work in progress...

That's all for now.

Be Good!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Meet the Dibbles!...

As is usual with people of a priggish nature, I give great advice but rarely take my own. Such has been the case with a friend of mine who has faithfully been doing a weekly webcomic strip for over the past year. Oh, he seeks my advice, and graciously tells others how much he's learned from me. But in essense, he's doing what I should be. And hopefully that is going to change.

Part of my anxiety has been of a commitment nature. Picking a project and seeing it through. Not being worried as to whether or not it's "good enough," but doing it because I should. Hence I finally got off my fat butt and got that Sat-7 mini-comic to the point of now it just needs some gentle honing. But now it's on to the "Dibbles."

I read an article years ago about submitting to syndicates and the development of comic strips. One fine point made was to not do a strip based on "no one else is doing it that way," or just because there isn't a strip about a giraffe isn't reason to do a giraffe strip. Sadly and joyously, the internet allows anyone the access to put up whatever. And with the sheer amount of material available, it will be quite an adventure building an audience. Will the strip be good? Technically, I'm a fairly decent cartoonist, so on that level it will be competent. As to the writing, I'm looking at it as my own way of "throwing some rocks at the church windows."

The strip I am working on is to be called, "Pastor Dibble," and will be about the trials and tribulations of a goofy Baptist minister. I think it has some potential, at least for some interesting lampooning. Evangelicals do tend to be a bit thin skinned, so I'm sure I'll get some eventual "why do you hate us" stuff. But I am one of the "us," so who better to do it? And I'm not sure where "Bob Dibble" came from. While assuredly from my own twisted psyche, he seems to be from 2 Bobs, 1 Paul, and a Roy. And only one of them was a Baptist! It should be fun.

I showed a draft of "Dibble" in my last post, but here's a rendition of the he and his wife, Bailey...I asked my wife in the initial stages as to how the "Pastor's wife" should look, and was surprised that she thought she should be frumpy. So I went the opposite direction and thought there were more potential fireworks if she were "hot." Frumpy would've limited the appeal, and maybe been stereotypical. Certainly tv has not followed that, but had several goofy guys have attractive mates--Ralph Cranden, Fred Flintstone, George Jetson. And current shows such as "Family Guy," "World According to Jim," and "Still Standing." Even in the style guides for the "Simpson," it's stated that Marge has a sexiness to her.

My initial take on her was a bit stilted. Even the one above isn't where I want her to be. So I've gone back and done some additional study. I like the angular look to the animation style of the '50's and early '60's. Those guys did a lot with a little. One friend suggested making her more like Sarah Palin, who has certainly brought some "heat" to the current dreary election. To make it work, she needs to be busty and curvy. And why not? Where is it written that sinners get all the hot chicks? Will she be virtuous? Absolutely. Here's what I came up with tonight...I plan on starting out as a weekly. So far I have about 40 gags I like. But I still need to draw them, which is why I will be giving you all a "Leilah Tov"(Good Night!)

Monday, October 20, 2008

God Biz, part deux...

My son says I need to journal more often, but it often reflects whether or not I'm getting anything done, art-wise.

If you are "anti-religion," you may want to exit now, because there's going to be some "religious" talk, and of a "pro-religion" type vein.

I was asked by a missionary, who attend the church I'm at, to draw a "mini-comic" for the ministry he's affiliated. I had done one for him a few years back, and supposedly it was a success! (Hey, I'm stuck here in the midwest. What do I know?) So we kicked around the idea of a sequel. And I wanted a chance to do better job this time. Call it one of my psychoses, that I never think what I've done is ever "good enough." I'm dealing with it. I started working on it earlier this year, had knee surgery, had Worlds of Fun to deal with as it kicked into the full-time season, but finally got off my fat butt and decided I had no excuse and was going to finish the thing--PERIOD!!!

I got 1 hour's sleep between Friday and Saturday, but got it done. And the pages will follow thusly...Yes, I can see the "flaws" now that I've had some sleep, and self-editing is a pain. But I've started to work over tweaking what I've done to make it better. At least I got it this far!!! Oy Vey!!!

And with this mostly out of the way, I hope to work on some web comics. I have an idea for a strip about an eracible, somewhat cantankerous Baptist minister--kind of saying a lot of the thinks I normally think but don't. Call it "throw rocks at the church windows," so to speak. Here's what he looks like...

More stuff to come...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I love the fall. Love the colors. Love the feel in the air. There's a "home" feeling to autumn.

Tonight at sundown will begin "Yom Kippur," aka the "Day of Atonement." It completes a 10 day period that begins with Rosh Ha'Shanah, known as the "10 Days of Awe," during which time one should reflect, repent...essentially put their affairs in order. So I wish everyone on this "Sabbath of Sabbaths," that may your find mercy from the King of the Universe, and be inscribed for a good year.

I'm planning a contest this weekend, kind of something to make Halloween at Worlds of Fun more fun for the kids that work for Kaman's. And it gave me a chance to do some caricaturing/cartooning. I used 5 kids I work with(sorry, I only have reference pics for 4), and here they are......and here's what I came up with for a Halloween piece...You can view a larger, more detailed version at: http://www.ghotierman.com/Halloween_color_flat.jpg.

More stuff coming soon.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

laughing all the way to the bank...

The title sums up my feelings on Precious Moments, or PM as I've abbreviated it. And that is not in the context of them, PM, laughing at their audience, but at those who probably have found ways to criticize PM and what it does. Even my own cynical self found a few tears in my eyes walking through the Chapel tour and reading some the tributes there sent in honor of loved ones. I enjoyed taking the time to sit outside in the back of the Chapel gardens and just breathe.

As it turned out, Sam Butcher was there the day we visited. I didn't think much of it at the time, figuring that it was a common occurance. He was recovering from some kind of surgery on his ear and couldn't hear well, or at all. His "handler" was there as a buffer, but he was very friendly. Here's a pic, albeit badly lit, of Mr. Butcher and myself...According to Wikipedia, Mr. Butcher doesn't live in the US, but makes his home in The Philippines, only coming stateside during certain season to visit the Chapel. So for that, I feel very fortunate.

One thing I found of interest was his non-PM artwork, which showed a flair for color and cartooning. I liked this painting... And here's some greeting card art he had. Sorry for the poor pics...

The only thing bad about tours of this nature, particularly "Christian" type tours, is that there is a tendency to make things sound a bit too good to be true. Mr. Butcher is not from Missouri, but felt the LORD wanting him to build the PM Chapel at Carthage. Probably so. But it also corresponds to the time Nashville discovered Branson and decided to make it a new Country Music haven. Nor am I being cynical or terse--it made good business sense. The tour version of events was a bit too sugary, and there certainly are Butcher detractors,...but Wikipedia had a more "balanced" account. It wasn't all easy. Mr. Butcher, like us all, is a human being complete with his own flaws. There was some pain that went into the Precious Moments Chapel's coming into being, and that I can respect. My wife's immediate thought wondering if I could work for them. My own thoughts were of is there something I have yet to cartoon, draw, create, and leave behind with some pride and humility? By the way, here's another painting I enjoyed there...

I'm still processing it all, but have concluded in some fashion that I need to return to serious drawing. Too many things half done. Maybe that's what Sam Butcher did--he finished stuff he started.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Precious and few...

First of all, "L'Shanah Tovah!," or "Happy New Year" to all the "tribe" and those who love and care for them. For anyone who actually read the drivel I compose here and has no idea of what this is about--it's Jewish New Year.

Years ago, my mother was a beautician. She once told me I ought to consider being a male beautician because of the money I could make. Oh, I'd be made fun of for sure, with every gay joke, reference, and innuendo that could be made. But she also told me I'd laugh all the way to the bank. This actually has a point, as I'd like to begin to conclude the mini-vacation I took with my wife a week or so back.

The Friday we were to head back to KC we took a morning trip to the "Precious Moments" Chapel, which is outside of Carthage, MO. My wife drug her feet a bit on going thinking the whole thing would be "lame." As it ended up, I had to drag her(figuratively) out of the gift shop so we could head home! I'm sure that PM has its share of detractors. Most "serious" artistes would use words like "kitsch" or "pedestrian" in description. After all, true "artists" aren't suppose to do such things. I got a good dose of that in art school, as guys like Norman Rockwell were looked down on. And the true snobbery takes place by denigrating the audience, or customers, for PM. Similar to those who criticize Jeff Foxworthy for playing to the "Walmart crowd." Maybe so, but like Foxworthy, PM and Sam Butcher(the PM creator) probably laugh all the way to the bank. Or just don't care. Why should they? Maybe they've learned to appreciate those who like what they do, and ignore those that don't. It's what I need to learn to do. We'll start the mini-tour with a fountain that greeted us at the Visitors' Center...

The gardens there were beautiful and peaceful. It was nice to just walk around, see the flowers, enjoy the day, and we couldn't have asked for better weather. Finally we came upon the Chapel...

The inside of the Chapel contained artwork done by Sam Butcher and in the PM style(of course). Here's one of the big panels at the back of the Chapel...It had a very high ceiling. Butcher wanted to emulate what had been done at the Sistine Chapel...

The artwork was divided into scenes from the Tanakh(sorry...I don't like the term "old testament") and from the Messianic Writings(same distain for term "new testament"). This is from the Parable of the Pearl of Great Price...

Outside the Chapel were more grounds with a lake and a "castle"...Butcher made sure there was a cave on the grounds, so to have a place to commemorate the resurrection of the Christ. It's way off in the background of this pic......and here's a close-up with a PM "angel" to signify that He is risen, and not in the "tomb"...

In the gift shop were all sorts of things to buy, including what seemed to be a "'round the year" Christmas store. And huge statuary. Here's one with my wife to give scale. She's about 6', so you get an idea of how large this piece is... Here's Sam Butcher's bust... And another fountain as we were leaving...

I can't fault Butcher for finding something that works for him. It's not an uncommon formula or structure to the PM characters. It's been used before similarly in children's books and by Warren Kremer and the Harvey artists on Casper, Richie Rich and the like. All of them are very round and "child-like." I guess in conclusion, I admire what he has accomplished, but need to find my own "thang."

And tomorrow, I'll conclude with pics of Butcher's other stuff, a rare photo op as he was there that day, and some thoughts on what I may need to do to get myself started again.

Be good!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Every garden has a snake...

Technically, it IS tomorrow, and the anniversary of the second day of Creation. Now on with the pontificating...

I can take kitschy "Halloween." As an occurrance during the year and its appearance in the fall, its a great time. Horror movies generally don't bother me. I love the classic Universal monster movies, and still can't decide if I am more in the "Hammer" camp or "AIP" camp when it came to horror movies of the '60's and '70's. If you ask me, I blame the crop of "sympathetic" vampires, such as Anne Rice's, the Buffy tv show, and the current fascination with "Twilight" squarely at Dan Curtis and Art Wallace. Barnabas Collins was supposed to be a villain and would not be on the show for long. Staked and gone, on a show headed for cancellation. But Jonathan Frid became a daytime television heart-throb, and the show writers had to find some way to keep him, hence the "vampire with a conscience." BID.

Casper, Spooky, HotStuff--they were just neat little characters drawn by Warren Kremer and others for Harvey. When I decided I wanted to work in comics, one of my goals was to draw HotStuff. Sabrina was just a kooky witch at family-friendly Archie Comics. The EC stuff and early Warren mags were just "cool." I adored Burton's "Sleepy Hollow," and thought Gibson's "Passion of the Christ" was a pornographic orgy of over-the-top violence. Nothing more than a glorified snuff film. (You can imagine how well that plays with the evangelical church crowd.) My favorite movie is "The Wizard of OZ."

Oh, and I'm drawing up a caricature piece based on some of the kids at Worlds of Fun I work with. Here it is as a rough sketch...Somehow, this has helped me to get back to drawing.

So now the segue to our Carthage, MO trip...In my last post, I outlined the basics of our trip to south Missouri. All in all, Carthage was very peaceful, and my wife loved a lot about that community. We did find out that meth is a problem there, but most communities, large and small, have some kind of substance abuse going on. It's just a reality.

The people were friendly, the food at the restaurants was good(I heartily suggest eating at Iggy's Diner, by the way--wonderful burgers!) and it reminded me of all those movies from the past where small town life was good, decent, and wholesome. Lots of antique stores, as well. And in them was lots of Americana, religious stuff, etc. So imagine my surprise when I stumbled on to this...Needless to say, it stuck out like a sore thumb. The store owners were kind and let me photograph it. It had a $2400 price tag. Here's what the footings of the box looked like...Creepy, eh? Here's some more pics, with details of the frontaspiece and face...

I told my wife I'd found something creepy, but I wanted to see if she could find it herself. She did, and was stunned, too. Moreover, the most sour faced woman I'd ever seen seemed to be skulking around her when she went back for a closer look. Let me describe her as I was not smart enough to sneak a picture of her--she was dress "Amish" style with the apron, bonnet, etc. But not in the Amish black/gray motif. She was dressed in reds. I'm sure someone out there will correct me that she wasn't out of the ordinary, but she disturbed me more than that antique clock!

We told the sponsor lady at the library about this, but she wasn't surprised. Maybe there are more than realized who put on the conservative, church-going facade, yet go dancing naked, or chanting in druid robes, in the moonlight. Nor am I damning Carthage. I'm just reminded of Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Browne."

Nor is KC that great. Since we've lived in KC, there've been at least 2 serial killers caught--Bob Berdella and John Robinson--not to mention BTK in Wichita, KS. And up the road about an hour from us is Chillicothe, MO where an old couple were killing off migrant farm workers. Now you know why I titled this "Every garden has a snake." Sometimes plural.

Next up...a positive as I show some stuff from the Precious Moments Chapel...

a short trip...

My wife and I took a "mini-vacation" last week to Carthage, MO. I was scheduled to do a cartooning workshop at the local library, and thought it would make a great excuse to get out of town.

I didn't know much about Carthage. Doing some digging, I found out it's the home to my favorite salad dressing, "Otts." It also was the site of an important Civil War battle, and is on "historic" Route 66. The Precious Moments Chapel is there, too, and we stayed at the Precious Moments Hotel.

The library is one of the few remaining Carnegie libraries still in active use. And there was a great garden area around it with statuary. Here's one to "Alice in Wonderland"...This one is to Marlin Perkins of "Wild Kingdom" fame, who was born in Carthage...

The inside of the library still had the original decoration and columns......and a great domed ceiling...

All in all, it seemed like a view of real "Americana," and probably very right-wing, righteous, and Republican. Lots of huge churches of every flavor. Lots of history and community pride. And great big houses my wife fell in love with. I wish I could make it back for their "Maple Leaf" Festival, but I don't think that's happening this year.

Sorry for no drawings today. Probably not tomorrow, either. But I will have pics of "a snake in the garden" as I continue with our trip log, and lastly a mini-essay on our visit to the Precious Moments Chapel the day after. Then some drawings, I promise.

PS--Today also corresponds to Elul 25 on the Jewish calendar, and is considered by many Rabbis as the anniversary of Creation. If you are unsure of what I'm talking about, it begins with Genesis 1:1. "L'Shanah Tovah!"