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!



  1. Hahaha, awesome.

    I haven't seen my old handiwork in ages. Pure modern art.

    I didn't even remember the character suggestions until I saw them just now - kinda lame for the most part in retrospect, though some were used to impressively good effect. Didn't know you kept the continuity sheet either.

    The Pendulum one is hilarious, too.

  2. I loved Safety Stix, lol. And the Jamesway reference is priceless. :P What is it now? An empty Ames or did they actually do something with it (unlike the Acme in Easton)??

  3. Huh, I don't remember what happened to Ames. I haven't been around those parts lately, though I remember frequently joking that the Jamesway was still there, they just took off the "J" and the "Way". I was kinda sad when the K-Mart changed over to Sears.

    @Karl -- how are you reading this blog? I'm glad you are, but according to my Google Analytics stats, no one from China has accessed this site in the past month. Unless you're having your brother post for you...

  4. Nope, I just have a working proxy program again, so it probably doesn't acknowledge me as being in China because of that.