December 11th, 2006

Alright, back on track. Things have been hectic these past couple weeks, but they should cool off until the holidays, which are of course rapidly approaching. But at least I have some time for working on comics and such now.

First off, if you want an extra dose of my cartooning, I’m the guest artist on Ardra this week, so check that out! Wish I coulda colored it for him, though.

About that. I really want to get back to coloring the strips, but I’ve wanted to put extra work into the lineart lately, and really develop the visuals of the restaurant and the new characters I’m introducing. Sid’s jobs up until now have been very brief endeavors, but this one is going to last quite a while longer. We’re still only in the very beginning stages of this storyline. Not to worry, though. I haven’t forgotten about the other characters and as I’ve been doing already, other storylines will weave in and out as this one goes on.

Also, come January, I’m going to be taking a brief hiatus. But there will be some pretty exciting guest comics to keep you all entertained, and there’s plenty more Debt On to come afterwards. And if you’re an artist and would like to draw me a cool guest comic to feature on the site, I’d be thrilled to read it. Email me and we’ll talk.



December 5th, 2006

While cruising a couple comics forums this morning I found out that Phillippe “Sketch” St. Gerard of The World of Cottonfluff Hollow posted a review of Debt On for the new blog for Sapo Entertainment:

Debt On does not need a monstrous cast or any situations any more bizarre than those thoughtfully provided by real life to succeed. The situations that they find themselves in make the plight of the characters (to say nothing of ourselves) seem all the more sobering, when you stop to think about it.

Of course, there is the occasional curve thrown by the cast, or even sometimes to the cast that serve the dual purpose of lightening the mood as well as further illustrating the fact that changes are necessary, if not immediately in sight.

My thanks to Sketch for the shout out.

Doonesbury Passes the Buck

November 23rd, 2006

I was going to wait until the end of the week to do this, but I’ve had enough. This week’s Doonesbury strips feature three-war veteran B.D. along with pacifist Reverend Scott Sloan speaking to a group of Sloan’s ethics students, students who are pro-war but “quick to explain why they’re not enlisting.”

Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve railed on Doonesbury for its portrayal of young people, but here he isn’t just misrepresenting the younger generation, but laying the blame for the Iraq War at our feet. Trudeau must realize how truly unlikely it is that B.D., a man old enough to have served in Vietnam, actually saw combat in Iraq. This is not a war that is being fought by baby boomers: the people coming home dead or wounded are mostly between 18 and 23.

And the university students are not the complacent flag-waving SUV drivers that he’s describing here. Young voters turned out in record numbers to vote the Republican Congress out of office. Howard Dean was propelled to stardom because of the enthusiasm of young people. Yeah, young people talk about politics, but we say fuck and shit while doing it. I’ll take the Daily Show over Meet the Press any day, thank you.

This is not our war. This is a boomer war. It was started by boomers, it’s supported by boomers, and the only thing that we have anything to do with is that it’s our friends and our classmates that are out there fighting and dying by the thousands. So fuck you, Trudeau.

I understand that you are also making a statement about class here. That it’s the poor that end up enlisting because it seems like a way to pay for college and get ahead in life. But this isn’t some young trust-fund kid’s excuse for not enlisting, it’s a serious problem, and one that deserves more attention.

I read an article in the New York Times similarly pointing their fingers at the younger generation for never protesting. The fact is we did, hundreds of thousands in cities all over the world. Before the war, back when the Times was beating the drum for an invasion. And before 9/11, prostesters were out in the tens to hundreds of thousands for a global redistribution of wealth.

There’s been no protests because it’s apparently pointless. It didn’t work before the war started, it didn’t work in Vietnam, and we had our minds on bigger and more important problems until the boomers fucked everything up and started another pointless war just like their parents did. Now we’re so desperate to end this bloodshed we’ll try anything, even electing Democrats.

Sweet Linkage

November 18th, 2006

Hey a big thanks to Mike over at Crooks and Liars for featuring me on his blog roundup for today! For those who don’t know, Crooks and Liars is an excellent and extremely popular political blog specializing in video clips, cool music videos, and general lefty politics. If you haven’t seen it before, surf on over.

Hey! Where’s my color?

November 15th, 2006

Oh, yeah. Sorry about that. Attentive readers will notice I occasionally run late on the coloring, leaving it until the next afternoon, especially on Mondays. This week I really have to work ahead as the next storyline requires some planning, especially visually. And damn it, coloring is boring!

I’m incrementally pushing further ahead, and I’m expecting a little time off soon, so we’ll see how much time I can manage to work on comics. As I said in a recent cartoon, it ain’t easy. And the lack of color isn’t permanent by any means — before long I’d like to go back and color the ones I’m missing now to make the archives more complete.

Also, I’m getting work done on the site again! Like some behind-the-scenes stuff on the blog, and on the links page!

Sit down, please. War is the answer.

November 6th, 2006

When we are children, we are told that we are Americans, and that we will always be Americans. We stand for what this country stands for, we have to. When I was in second grade, we spent our time writing letters to soldiers, putting together care packages wrapped in popcorn, so they could eat it. Apparently in the first Gulf War, the troops weren’t very well supplied, either.

My letter to a soldier included a drawing of a swaying army tent, blasting music for the world to hear. Its lyrics went, “I want the real world, no war!” Over and over. The teacher wouldn’t let me send it.

I didn’t understand why and I never questioned it directly. Back then I didn’t even see the underlying message. To me war, justified or not, was something undesirable and we, everyone, would certainly want things to go back to normal. Now I realize an anti-war tone led the teacher to intercept my drawing.

I was no activist. In fact, I believed in the war, for no other reason than I had no choice but to believe in my leaders unless my parents showed some strong opposition to it. Certainly my teacher wouldn’t dare oppose it.

Later on that year, I read a story about several heroic soldiers in front of a panel from the PTA, with an illustrated yellow ribbon on the cover. The parents cheered and clapped, I was a minor celebrity.

What kind of society is it that reprimands children who see value in peace? I very much doubt I would have read an essay in front of those parents that read, in all childhood innocence, “war is bad at all times, and we should wish for this war to be over.” Everybody loves a good war.

I learned about big, important wars past. Like the Revolution, the Civil War, and World War II. Those wars were all for great causes, I was told, and we won them and we were right to do so. I was also vaguely aware of something past called Vietnam. Once as a child I remember quizzing my father about whether we won or lost certain wars. When I finally got to Vietnam, it was the only one when he said, “we lost.”

Many would like us to look at war that way, like a game, drawing up scorecards of winners and losers. In the arena in conflict, destruction and death, our team comes out ahead each time. The way to sell a war to the people is to tell them it will be easy, that we can take that country down with a minimum of deaths on our side.

Modern wars are quick and surgical, our planes do all the work, bombing a country into submission. In politics, only the tally on our side is worth any concern; Bush can dismiss the deaths of 30,000 Iraqis with a shrug.

Much is made that the United States is a “civilized” country. I contend that a country that glorifies and encourages war in rhetoric, action and popular fiction, and discourages peaceful thinking in children, cannot possibly be civilized. And even growing anti-war sentiment often represents the sinking heart of a losing battle. Everything we do is war: war on crime, war on drugs, war on poverty. We are bred to believe that war is the answer, but war only leads to monstrous deed and action, and therefore can never be the answer.

Why War?

October 27th, 2006

When talking about the Iraq War, the most baffling and elusive question has been “Why?” Why did they do it? What did they hope to gain?

I have my own theories, but we’ll get to that later.

First there’s the official explanations. We of course realize at this point that these were lies entirely. We all know these “reasons”: Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, he was working closely with Al Qaeda, we would set up a functional democracy in Iraq. Blah, blah, blah, he didn’t, they didn’t, and we didn’t.

Not only does it turn out that the reasons for the invasion were false, but that those who made the decision knew they were false. They hyped up the evidence of weapons of mass destruction and suggested a Saddam-Osama connection that didn’t exist. The CIA even actively fabricated evidence for use in Bush’s State of the Union address, the oft-referenced uranium yellowcake from Nigeria, that made Valerie Plame a household name.

So if they were actively inventing reasons, they must be covering for a real reason that is either too complicated or too dubious to reveal. But what could it be?

I read before the invasion a few discussions in the right wing news, (which paper I don’t remember now, something like the National Review) an article indicating that there were several schools of thought within the administration on this. Colin Powell imagined that a stable democracy in Iraq could spread the shining example of liberal democracy throughout the Middle East, but he didn’t think the occupation was feasible.

On the other side was Paul Wolfowitz, and by proxy, Donald Rumsfeld. Wolfowitz had a notion that once a U.S. Friendly government was established in Iraq (how we got to that point I’m not sure) they would pander to their political whim. Therefore, they could convince them to leave OPEC, and Iraq’s vast oil reserves would be available to them at a cost of their choosing.

Thus, the oil connection. But this explanation doesn’t work either. U.S. Troops never stopped insurgents from burning oil wells, a tactic expected well before the invasion.

Furthermore, their strategy indicates they are not at all interested in building a society based on freedom and the rule of law from the ashes of an abusive dictator. They photographed their people naked and humiliated. They established secret prisons for those captured, far, far away from where they were captured. Donald Rumsfeld has even admitted that the strategy of the war was to invade the country, while planning for the occupation was forbidden.

So what then? If at every point they were lying about the reasons for the war, and their strategy always seems to work only against their stated goals, what did they really hope to accomplish?

It seems to me that if their strategy is always working against their stated goals, then their goal in reality is to work against the establishment of a stable and democratic Iraq. Even the most rudimentary analysis of pre-war Iraq concluded that there was a distinct possibility that toppling Hussein would result in a civil war. It also seemed obvious that a truly democratic Iraq would not be as U.S. friendly as many imagined.

They knew that well and sought to plunge Iraq into civil war, imagining that by destabalizing Iraq, and drawing Al Qaeda there, the terrorists would be too busy fighting each other, and soon the chaos would spread from state to state. And from the constant discussion of taking the war to Syria or Iran, it would seem they’re trying to hasten that process.

Bush hasn’t done what he said he was going to do in Iraq. What he wanted to do was wrong already, but what he has done is completely insane. Unfortunately for the people of Iraq, whose deaths by the tens of thousands Bush dismisses with a shrug, their country’s invaders have no experience in cultivating democracy, and all their experience is in creating conflict.

I should be down with the Stylistics!

October 18th, 2006

Well, not really. I’ve long known my drawing style wasn’t quite up to par, and sometimes I looked at a strip and thought that something just wasn’t working. So, I hope you’ll all permit me to experiment a little. You’ll notice with these, instead of using my usual flash-bang shading and font routine, I’m hand lettering the strips and drawing the boxes, and using some very simple color separations. I do hope it’s still legible. :)

I just want to try some new things out, and see how they float. If you enjoy the strip, I’d really like to know what your favorite style of the strip has been, whether in full blown out fonts and colors, simple black and white, or with hand drawn lettering. Email me here. I may try to get a comments thing set up on the blog or something.. but they always get spammed!

John Steinbeck

October 10th, 2006

..just another day in the studio..

October 7th, 2006