Letters to Holly

Friday, March 4

Spooky Ooky

Though Amazon, which I have realized is the world's bazaar, I have received two books that shaped my young brains.Now, remember that the '70s turned the supernatural into as valid an outlet for curiosity and speculation as any then-current events. As prevalent as today's reality shows, stories about weird encounters abounded. Bigfoot was Osama Bin Laden. The Bermuda Triangle was yesterday's Snooki. New Age mysticism and fringe psychology made anything seem possible, and aliens and vanishings powered conspiracies reaching everyone from Elvis to the world before Jesus. Consider Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Many approached it as a documentary. Those weird Batboy stories in the Weekly World News? Yeah, that was the 1970s, except the evening news did the reporting. And then there as In Search Of ... and Project UFO.

While scifi remained verdant as ever, the mainstream interest in scifi movies and TV shows stemmed from a semi-earnest hope that the filmmakers were onto something. The inclusion of the Force in Star Wars wasn't just a handy plot device; it was an acknowledgment of psychic events allegedly happening all about us. Late-night talk shows frequently featured Uri Geller, a supposed telekinetic and psychic. He was considered legit. His "powers" were a matter of constant debate.

So my little mind had no cynicism about such matters. Ghosts, the Loch Ness monster, aliens -- all as real as Lite Brites. When I found the above books in the Blackstock Elementary School library, I read them repeatedly, desperate to commit to memory documentations and suppositions that I took as gospel. I hadn't seen the books since I left the school. Until very recently. I found the ghost book at the local library, and it inspired me to see if I could buy used copies. New editions had no appeal. I wanted books that once moved through libraries. Luckily, you can buy almost anything from Amazon.

In a nice melange of Your Family and mine, I discovered only upon opening the shipping envelope that the ghost book came from Edwards Air Force Base. That gives it a slight patina of credibility. It's a government copy.

I considered that I was trying to mold the deputy into a new version of me, but I dismissed that. No, these books are for me, and he's welcome to them with no obligation of going as bonkers for them as I did.

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I stayed home Thursday to help Your Sister. She had a school appointment in the afternoon at the same time she was supposed to take My Mom and the boy to the weekly family-center visit. She was scrambling to polish her resume, and I could tell Wednesday night that she needed back-up. I took Mom and him to the family center for my first visit. It's a free activity center for kids, and the regulars and employees knew him. He doesn't seem to recognize them yet. Mom brought a heaping pile of photos to show Your Sister, many dating before me.

He is going to the doctor Friday morning to see about this stomach bug he seems to have developed. It's a horror show in his diapers, and he's refusing solid food. He's downing milk as normal, hopefully keeping him hydrated.

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I started inking, and it's fraught with peril at every turn. I move slowly for now. In a few pages, I'll have the hang of it again.

Wednesday, March 2

Pencils Down

I worked for about a half hour on the cover image before deciding that I couldn't focus so tightly on it. I had to start inking so I could start lettering so I could start coloring. For better or worse, I need to move on. I tightened the pencils -- darkening the contours and filling the shaded areas -- before tracing it on a lightbox. And here's the final pencil version after the earlier sketch work.

I'll ink it after I work through the pages. That way, my inking muscles will be the strongest when I tackle the cover.

We spent the evening with the TV set on a satellite radio station for '80s music. She organized work and tax information while I drew at the kitchen table.

The gun-control debate continues in the newspaper, and it's drifted again into people quoting long-dead presidents who never saw a revolver. I also got something in the mail I'll talk about in a few days. It deserves its own blogololy.

I picked up a new babygate and perused the Babies R Us safety section. We'll probably need to buy teething guards for the crib find a way to secure the TV. Tall widescreen TVs are wobbly.

Tuesday, March 1

Before and After

The image on the left is the cover as of Monday morning. The right image is what I've done since then.

I elongated her right arm (our left, her right) so the upper arm length is closer to that of her left arm and making that forearm look less stumpy. I grabbed my toy wrestling belt and posed for the camera to fix that arm. I took some images of my left arm to help me tweak hers, sculpting the foreshortened forearm better and reducing the size of the fist. It should still be a tad bigger than the hand holding the belt.I thought her left upper arm was too long, but I think now that the bicep definition is too big. If I shrink that, her arm should look fine.

I added the faceplate, and I can see now I need to scoot the letters up a bit so they're clearer; the P is lost. I worked on her eyes, and did a bit too much definition on the mouth. I want her to be beaming, but I don't want the mouth to be wider. I'll also need to thicken the waist and hips; I can spread her right side out a bit.  I may also draw the rest of her head when I move this image to another art board. The light on her tights is too far to her right, too. 

So, yes, work still in progress.

That's Your Sister's navel, by the way. I've told her for almost ten years now that I wanted to use it on a  comic cover.

We're debating what to plant in the garden, and I need to get further along in the comic work to give me time to start the garden earlier this year. As of now, almost half the garden will be potatoes, and half of that will be the sweet variety for the sidekick's dinner.

He's unquestionably adorable now. I can see personality and intention and contemplation. He's thinking and trying. He is officially at the stage where he ripples my heart.

As Your Sister put him down for the evening, I installed more cabinet locks. It is not an easy chore to hammer and screw upside down.

Monday, February 28


I have finished penciling the comic, much to my surprise. The deputy behaved himself enough for most of the weekend, and I could lay down a rough of the cover. It's very rough.

I see about 8 things I need to fix here (that left hand, for instance, is huge). The plan is to put the comic's logo on the belt faceplate. I knew this would be layer upon layer of marks and erasures, and I'll copy it it to another artboard for the inking.

You might remember that I had mark called "stat" for the championship belt faceplate throughout the comic. I intended to scan in a master image and place it digitally into those marked panels. I remembered how weird similar instances look in other comics, and I took about an half hour to draw the faceplate throughout the story. I'd like to polish the cover and then start inking the whole thing.

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We had a rough evening without the deputy, and we suspect he got too hot. It happened once before a few months back, and I worried it might happen with this patch of warm weather. Yesterday was very warm in the house, what with the oven and washing machines going strong. It took about an hour to calm and cool him down, and he was thankfully out for the whole night. The day before, I walked him in his stroller in the waning daylight, and he never made a peep. He's settling into a default gear of tranquility interrupted by needs at both ends. We can set him down and work on small chores while in the same room. I drew half this comic in the TV room. He is, so far, a good baby.

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We noticed our internet was cutting out more and more, and by Saturday, we couldn't connect at all. I wondered that my first try at rewiring the phone box had finally ended in failure, but the connections seemed OK Saturday morning. I called the tech support, and things went well until I marked a certain modem light was no longer on. The techie said he had exhausted his checklist and that he'd put in a work order. This was about noon. Just two hours later, a serviceman called from our driveway. He immediately noted the modem and said it was old and needed to go, and he reconfigured the wifi, and we're back in business. I offered him sodas for the road, and he wouldn't hear of it. Nice guy, quick fix. On a Saturday, no less.

He noticed the comic pages next to my laptop and made the common observation that graphic guys always use Macs. I told him in vague terms that my experience with Macs at the weekly paper scared me off them forever. Also, Macs are no longer so dominant in memory or speed for graphics programs. PCs can compete on those terms, making a full system switch unnecessary. I grew up using Macs in classrooms, but my home computers have always been PCs. It was only within the last few years that you could walk into a Best Buy and get a Mac. In Greenville, I had to go to a specialize warehouse store for office peripherals. There's nothing like that in our town, even when the stores are open.

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The Oscars stayed on as we traded shifts with the boy during his overheated meltdown. Your Sister lamented that we had seen none of the best picture nominees and suggested we begin a regular movie night to catch all the films we missed. I have no problem with this. Unlike previous years, I'm interested in all the major films from last year. I still have zero curiosity about Slumdog Millionaire. We'll get along just fine having never sat down together. I know this as I know Things That Are So.

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I got my season passes from the roller derby team. Behold the back.

Yeah. That's the logo I made, not the one used now in advertising. This is something of a cluster for the company. But my logo looks good in black-and-white.

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Your Sister got another GOP survey/solicitation letter in the mail, and we spent an hour answering it. The stilted, limited answers fired her up so much that she's now attending the local GOP open house in hopes of getting them off the talking points. It's a potluck dinner, and she found a recipe for a bean dish. She's resolved. She's going to stir the pot. She's a registered Republican teacher, and she's got things to say.