Friday, May 28, 2010

History:Part 2

Thanks for coming back for round 2! In this article,
I will share some of the finest comics and notebook
drawings from my middle school and high school years,
spanning from 1997 to the early aughts.

It's pretty funny, if morbid, stuff, and the work I
created in these days is an important part of my
history as an (unknown) underground cartoonist.
Watch my sarcasm and draftsmanship become more
sophisticated before your eyes.

This post also includes comics that a couple of my old
friends had created. So if you think I deserve a taste
of my own medicine, enjoy the cartoon at the end,
drawn by a 13 (14?) year old Karl Arney. In his Friends
Forever series, he made some biting social
commentaries -- no, actually he didn't. He just made fun
of physical features that I can't/couldn't help, often using
artwork he stole from me as a guide for his own drawings.

These were some of the best years of my life, and
I gave myself more creative freedom back then...go
UNDER THE CUT to check out this treasure trove.

Random Insanity
We'll start out with some random drawings and one-shot comics
as a sampling of things to come. There's sort of a recurring theme

I'm not sure exactly when I created all of these images...
the fact that the above comic takes place at a college fair suggests
that it was done in my junior or senior year, but others may have
been earlier. Isn't it ridiculous that there was a spread of desserts
at our college fair, but none of them were available for the
students? Just the presenters. They were right there in plain
sight. I mean, let us have a couple doughnuts.

There is a recurring theme of death, horror, and the like.
Above, the grim reaper is about to get shot in the back with
a revolver. Some of these images are pretty cliche, I know,
but I just liked to draw them. In my comic strip series "Safe-T-Stix",
spanning 1997-1998, I used these morbid themes, but with a satirical twist.


Safe-T-Stix started out with the "Volcanoes are Hazardous to Your Health" panel,
a "joke" I drew at least 5 times and really patted myself on the back for.
Soon, these stick figure comics evolved into something more sophisticated:
I used them in Goofus and Gallant-like situations, to illustrate the
difference between right and wrong. The character who did wrong was
always punished in a disproportunately harsh old-testament style, but their
death was different than the death one might have expected:

Pre-South Park, by the way. At least, I wasn't watching it back then.

I thought the Safe-T-Stix were clever, and I even had some of
my friends draw their own Stix adventures. I made a lot of these, but
Karl wasn't a fan, and threw a bunch of them out the window while we
were riding the school bus.

Painful Ways To Die
More graphic than Safe-T-Stix, yet with a similar theme, was the "Painful Ways
to Die" series. I remember this series well, but could only find one "episode".

"Rather than being sliced by a pendulum, wouldn't BEING the
pendulum be twice as painful? A dizzy, nauseous sensation would
overcome you as you crash into the broken-glass decorated dungeon
wall." I don't know where I got the inspiration for this 1999 comic.
Must have been all those violent video games. Just kidding!! It was
Edgar Allen Poe! I never had a modern video game system back then!

The Devil's Triangle/Satan's Trio/Friends Forever/League of Annoyance

One of the assignments for the 9th grade World Cultures class
which was alluded to in Part 1 was to create a newspaper with current
events, entertainment news, etc. about a country we either selected or
were randomly assigned (I forget). My country was Morocco. This
newspaper wasn't supposed to be an Onion-like satirical piece, but that's
what I turned it into (I wasn't aware of the Onion yet, but had a Mad Magazine
subscription). I also included advertisements and comics in this paper:

I learned how to draw the above airplane from How to Draw Comics the
Marvel Way.

The comics by Jonathan Braun were a surprise; he wasn't my partner
for this newspaper project. All of us worked independently. So I'm not sure
why his comics appear in my newspaper...perhaps I asked him to draw a couple
strips to make my paper more authentic; most newspapers have multiple
cartoonists. It's funny that one of his characters is named "Duncan Heinz". Other
than that, I'm not sure what's going on in those strips. But let's discuss my contribution,
the "Devil's Triangle" comic above...the comic where one of the boys is wearing a
JNCO shirt, and another is listening to "Aicha," then the number one hit song in
Morocco. There's a deeper history behind these characters.

On my own time, from the period spanning Spring of 1998 until the next Fall,
I had created two series of comic books about three boys in my 8th
grade classes; Karl and his friends Mat and Aigy. These series, called The Devil's
Triangle and the more serious Satan's Trio, originally set out to lightly ridicule
the boys, as they had teased me in class. I did this sort of "revenge" comic a lot,
but Karl, not yet a bonafide BFF at this point, got a hold of issue one by grabbing it
out of my hands, loved it, and held it for ransom until I wrote more! He even made
notes for me regarding character development, and stories he wanted to read in future

I censored a word above. Try and guess what that word was.
Each time I made a new comic, Karl would keep it and in fact continues to possess
any Devil's Triangle/Satan's Trio comics that have not been lost to the sands of
time. Knowing this would occur, I created a guide of important events occurring in
each issue, to avoid continuity errors:

The Devil's Triangle series was essentially real-life adventures, though
with satirical exaggerations, similar to the sort of thing I like to do now. The Satan's Trio
comic was more in the superhero genre. Mat, the leader, was actually the son
of Satan, and had the power to resurrect his fallen friends from Hell. This made all the
characters essentially invincible, which got old after a while, so as a twist, I made the Aigy
character get saved while drunk at a party, then die. If memory serves, he was then
replaced by Guss, Karl's cat, and in a future issue the trio uses Guss's flying ability
to fly up to Heaven and see Aigy, whose spirit possessed the cat's body before they
all returned to Earth. 14 years old, folks. This issue came years and years before
the "Ladder to Heaven" South Park episode, an episode which horrified me in its
similarities to this storyline. By the way, I was Christian (as I am today)
when I wrote all of these comics; I never thought it would be cool to be pals with the devil or anything; it was all satirical. Both series had fake Mad Magazine-esque advertisements.

I "cancelled" these series early in freshman year of high school, as the trio had
sort of drifted apart, but I brought them back briefly for the "Morocco" assignment.
I apologize for anything in that strip that might strike you as less than P.C. This is
my history, and I understand now that the rice-harvester hat on Aigy is and was a little

Even though Karl loved these comics, he sought "revenge" by creating an even
shorter-lived series of his own, called Friends Forever, which made fun of me and two of
my female friends at the time. I had a decent-sized group of friends back then! I mean,
I was considered a big geek, but I was having conversations and playing on a regular
basis! It's been a while.

Ladies and gentlemen, Friends Forever. Don't worry if you can't make any sense of
this; I don't think it ever made any. Comics were my secret weapon! Nobody could
outwit me in that area.

Hang in there, thanks for reading!


Thursday, May 20, 2010

History:Part 1

This girl is a woman now; I've just received my MSLIS, and I can't
wait for someone to give me a chance to use it. In the meantime, I'm
back at home in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, and you know what that
means -- I'm gonna scan in a bunch of old stuff from my childhood!
This time, I looked through a bunch of old notebooks I saved from middle
school and high school, all of them rich with old notes; amusingly half-baked,
smart alecky, and/or brutally honest school assignments; sketches; comics;
plays; poems; raps...I was pretty creative back then.

Some of the stuff was pretty disturbing... I wrote some mean things targeting
specific classmates, even turning in some of it for a grade! I can't believe that
it was accepted, and even given decent marks. Very pre-Columbine. But the stuff I'm
including in this post is material I still like today. Even the little story above which
hints at harm coming to a dog...that was out of character, but interesting.

For Part 1 of History, I'll post the "writing" selections from the notebooks.
Coming soon in Part 2 will be the comics and sketches...including a comic my friend
wrote about me back then! I promise you that this post will include some

Freshman English Class (1998-1999)

Above is a list of things I, 14-year-old Chrissy, would do for love, an
assignment given while my class was reading Return of the Native. What
kind of sociopath was I back then? This sort of filterless writing was typical.
I don't think I was aware that anyone would find this list to be out of the
ordinary. Was I being sarcastic? I'm not exactly sure. All I know is that my
morals have improved since then.

This is an example of "symbolism" I came up with to describe the events
taking place in the book The Grapes of Wrath, a book I greatly enjoyed.
Lamely, I used a turtle to symbolize the Joads' journey, as it was slow, etc.
Was I for real here? There's no grade on this paper, so maybe it was just an
example the teacher gave. But it's so dumb...I could see myself turning
something like this in as a joke between me, myself, and I. It wouldn't
be the first time I completely made fun of an assignment for the benefit
of self-amusement, even at the risk of a lower grade. This was back in
freshman year of high school, of course...again, my morals and work ethic
improved as I grew older, and continue to develop.

The following three examples were from a journal we kept of Romeo and Juliet -related assignments:

Here is a "conceit" I wrote about unrequited love, although we were given
a choice between writing on this theme or writing on "love at first sight".
"Unrequited love is a disease like chicken pox/which you can give but
won't get back again," my 14-year-old hand wrote in the girly handwriting
which didn't come naturally, but which I briefly affected in an uncharacteristic
attempt to conform with others. Where did that little gem come from? That
wasn't bad at all! I don't remember being 14 years old and not wanting to get
out of bed in the morning... at least not because of unrequited love. I wrote some
promising poems back then (for my age), and now I never come up with serious
poems. I don't know where I got the information to write something like this, as I
never loved anyone in that way, nor had I caught chicken pox.

Above: In another example of sociopathy/honesty, my response to the question,
"What would you have done if you were on the streets of Verona and a fight broke
out?" Referring to the fight at the beginning of Romeo and Juliet. I also cussed
lightly. Some of this stuff is so embarrassing; I wish I had been more respectful.
It's stuff like this that kept me out of the top ten.

Above: We were to write a "fractured fairy tale", a.k.a. an alternate, twisted
retelling of Romeo and Juliet, and of course I made it so that Romeo dies,
but Juliet ends up becoming a necrophiliac. Of course. Boy was I an eerie kid.
I was apparently so innocent that I didn't know why this couldn't work out,
yet perverted enough that I somehow came up with this unique idea and found
it appropriate to submit to a teacher. Can you believe this?

Freshman World Cultures Class (1998-1999)

World Cultures was a class that I enjoyed and excelled in. I have negative feelings
about this class, however, because I was mean to the teacher. Early in
the year, I was seated next to two close friends, and I would converse with them
and eat Power Bars during class, which was disruptive and arrogant. I received
top marks on all the quizzes, but my friends received D's and F's, I think. After a
couple weeks, this disruption and distraction of my friends got old, and my teacher
rightfully reseated me. Being immature back then, however, I held a grudge against
this teacher for the rest of the year, turning in violently-themed and sarcastic
assignments that nevertheless received top marks. I feel horrible about my bad
attitude to this day. This was a good teacher, new at the time, and I think I wore
him down after awhile, or at least made a bad impression of myself. A student would
not be able to get away with stuff like this today. Maybe I feel bad because I know
what I know now...maybe we were all obnoxious brats back then, and I'm over
sensitive about it because I hang on to every detail. I seem to remember that
kids were more comfortable with my sense of humor back then. No one was
calling me a psycho early in freshman year. It's interesting to see these
assignments today, though. I remember that one of the lost ones had a
comment that I "have a future as a satirist".

Exhibit A: Was this even an assignment? There's not really an explanation
for it. An anti-death penalty statement, perhaps? I mean, the teacher commented
on it, and it's drawn in crayons, indicating that it was more than an in-class
doodle...but what on earth is this? By the way, the boy drawn in this picture
is based on my friend Karl, but I wasn't mad at him at the time or anything.
We always got along, but during our teenybopper years I guess we had sort
of a love-hate relationship.

Exhibit B: We were learning about the Chinese Zodiac and asked to create
our own Chinese-style zodiac sign. This wasn't so bad; "has very short
friendships" was kind of clever, as was "least compatible with other
cannibals". It was dark, but in that charming Grimm's Fairy Tales way.

The Greatest Thing I Ever Wrote?
Of course, I did a lot of writing during my free time, too, or while bored in class.
The following might be my greatest achievement to date; a play I started to write
about myself and my friends 20 years into the future (which would now be 9 years
into the future). It's based on the John Updike poem "Lament for Cocoa," which
my 9th grade English class read and I remember really getting a kick out of and memorizing. 

Read this script. It is truly excellent and eerie. I am so glad I found this, as I had completely forgotten about its existence. This is the best thing that has ever been published on my blog to date.

Tune in next time for more "history."
Again, part 2 will concentrate on my old drawings and comics.

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Monday, May 10, 2010


It's always nice when the Michael Jackson song title is obvious.

Here's a cartoon relevant to current events...

"Invacebook" by Chrissy Spallone

After awhile, dystophile...

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