Monthly Archives: July 2019

Favorite / Not Favorite

This is assignment 8 in Ivan Brunetti’s Cartooning book. The assignment asked us to find a  pair of comics that we consider as our most and least favorite. I chose The Far Side as my all time favorite comic and at first I thought I have no least favorite comic, but finally chose Nancy as my least favorite. Now that I think back to my childhood, I also didn’t care much for Brenda Starr and Dick Tracy, but Nancy was the one that came to mind first.

In analyzing the Nancy strip, one thing that I noticed is the characters seemed ugly and angry all of the time. Of course, Nancy’s mother (or is it her aunt?) is drawn to be very beautiful as a contrast to the children characters, but she doesn’t appear very often. Also, I think the strip is pretty two dimensional in appearance. I don’t care much for Nancy’s prickly-pear cactus hairdo.

Speaking of cartoon hairdos, I think no one tops Gary Larson’s The Far Side beehives on his women characters. Each of his characters and scenarios are zany and imaginative.

Assignment 8 asks us to draw a “least favorite” panel in the style of the “most favorite” and vice-versa. I really love this assignment because it gets you thinking about the specific things you like most about your favorite but also helps you to identify aspects of your least favorite that are exemplary.

My first panel is of a Nancy comic drawn in Far Side style. The Far Side never has speech balloons inside the panel but rather has captions below so I’ve followed that format with this one:

Keep away from her… She’ll ruin
yer grammar with her jive talk.

Here is the original panel I used as a reference:

Nancy dedicates a lot of real estate to speech balloons and there does not ever seem to be much background detail. So when I drew Larson’s depiction of Hell, I removed most of the people and the hellish details. I think if I were to redraw this, I should probably re-do the composition allowing room to at least show some fiery flames. I think I took simple too far, and I didn’t leave enough room for the speech balloon.

Below is the original Far Side panel I reimagined in the new Nancy style.

Schwarzkopf’s Biography

I just finished reading H. Norman Schwarzkopf’s autobiography. It is an excellent read and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys books on leadership philosophy, military history, etc. I was surprised to learn that he spent part of his youth in Iran with his father who was some kind of diplomat there in the 1950s. When he was living abroad he gained an appreciation for unfamiliar cultures. In one memorable instance, he was offered some kind of repulsive delicacy, an eyeball of some kind I think and he turned it down. His father whispered that his hosts would be insulted if he didn’t consume it, so he gulped it down. It was just like the monkey brains scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom!

I felt that these childhood experiences helped to form him into the general he became. He seemed to bring his experiences as a combat veteran in Vietnam to bear, determined not to repeat those mistakes. From what I could tell, he always had the best interests of those serving our country in uniform in mind. He was tough but fair and he had a remarkable career.

Young Evel Knievel

Somewhere in the mid-1970s, like many kids of the time, my friends and I came under the influence of daredevil Evel Knievel. We decided to set up boards as ramps that we could jump our bikes over. If we were really daring (only the older kids tried this) someone would lie down beside the ramp and allow a bicyclist to jump over them.

Of course, no one ever heard of a bicycle helmet in those days, so all of our stunts were done without a safety net or any form of safety, really. Today’s cartoon is an assignment from the Ivan Brunetti Cartooning book and is a story about a childhood memory involving one of these ramps in the street in front of our house. It went something like this…

Note: I was ok. But wow, what a crash!

San Antonio, Texas

Last week, I accompanied my daughter Emily along with an FBLA group from her high school to the National FBLA conference in San Antonio. We did several activities while we were there, but the one thing I thought was strange was we were not allowed to see the project presentation that her group made for competition. Evidently there were so many of these that they couldn’t accommodate audiences for every presentation so only certain events were open to guests and visitors.

But we saw Sea World and on a separate day we saw the Alamo, and we also spent a day at Aquatica, the water park associated with Sea World.

One thing from the trip I thought was worth recording is shown in the photo above in which the importance of play in dolphin development is emphasized. I think we also need signs like this around the schools of our human children. It isn’t just dolphins, it is most creatures having brains that use play to learn and develop. Play seems to have taken a backseat to academic rigor, but it is playfulness that stimulates the mind towards the deep learning that lasts a lifetime. So I wanted to share that thought here.



Bloody Benders – Book

This weekend I finished up another book in my summer reading challenge. This one is called “Bloody Benders” by Robert H. Aldeman in 1970. The tag line is “A non-fiction novel about a female devil in Kansas, and her band of sexual slaves.” How could I pass up reading something as compelling as this?

I’ve been reading it between ball games at my daughter’s softball tournament this weekend. My wife took a look at this weathered old paperback and laughed. “That book looks like it’s twenty years old.” No, it’s almost 50 years old! It came in the collection of books my grandfather gave me when he was downsizing and moved into assisted living. He often asked if I had a chance to read any of his books, but while he was alive I never had any free time to read for enjoyment. I promised him I would get to them eventually, and I’m glad I have been able to find some time for it this summer.

It is based upon a true story that happened in Kansas in the 1870s. To give some context, this is about a decade after statehood, when homesteaders were still struggling to make their farm claims on the prairie pan out. A new, rough-looking family arrives in Labette county, Kansas and puts up a one room building to serve as a house, general store and inn.

Unwary travelers were invited to sit with their back to a partitioning curtain that divided the room in two for a meal, and when they weren’t paying attention, someone would crack their skull with a hammer then slit their throat with a butcher knife. Evidently, the youngest member of the murderous clan, Kate Bender, was something to behold. About seventeen, she was the brains of the operation.

She must have been something else, because young men came a courtin’ from miles around. These young men became her “sexual slaves” as they would run odd errands for her in hopes of getting her into bed. She easily compelled them to go to town for supplies, spread the word about her business, and sell the contraband she stole from her traveling victims.

The Benders made national headlines and evidently escaped justice. They fled just as a posse was closing in and never were heard from again.